A Guide to Finding an Effective Tutor

There’s no denying that school can be challenging at any level, even for the most driven and academically inclined student. You might be studying toward a traditional university degree or participating in a certificate program such as the government-run SkillsFuture series. Wherever you might be in your educational life, you can expect that managing your time, honing your skills and developing your comprehension of difficult material will all take constant practice and patience.

If you find yourself falling behind at school, working with a tutor may help you improve your academic performance. Besides assisting you with learning-related challenges, a qualified tutor will also make sure that you learn the necessary subjects and concepts as thoroughly as possible. With their support, you’ll likely have an easier time accumulating the knowledge and developing the skills necessary for a successful future.

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Are you in need of private tuition but unsure about who to ask or where to start? Use the following practical, actionable tips to find a good tutor:

Assess Your Needs

Once you determine that you might need a tutor, the first thing you should do is develop a very clear picture of what you’re looking for. The following are some important questions you may want to ask yourself before you start investigating your options:

  • What academic needs or problems do I currently have that a tutor can help resolve? For example, do I need assistance with a particular subject, or am I looking to improve my general academic performance?
  • Once I start working with a tutor, what are my goals or desired outcomes?
  • What information can I provide to a potential tutor about my learning style, difficulties, physical condition, mental health and any other factors that might affect my performance as a student? What do they need to know to determine if they can help me?
  • Are there any practical factors that would help me learn more effectively? For instance, would I be more comfortable being tutored online or face-to-face? For how long per session? How often?
  • What are my economic or budgetary constraints?

Ask Around for Recommendations

Tutoring is a sizeable industry in Singapore, so there are many places you can look in order to find someone who’s a good fit for you. Reputable tutoring agencies, for instance, will employ a wide range of experienced tutors who specialise in different subjects and different levels of education. When you find a tutor through an agency, you can be sure that whoever you work with will have been vetted and even trained by qualified experts.

Schools, training centres and other educational institutions can also be great sources of tutoring recommendations. For instance, if you’re a college student, your school may have a student support office of some kind that provides academic advice, tutoring, counselling and other necessary services for student welfare. Certain departments may also have dedicated tutoring centres. And even if you can’t find a tutor at your university, the school may still be able to refer you to external individuals and organisations that they’re familiar with and can vouch for.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth when it comes to connecting people. If you have any friends, relatives or schoolmates currently using tutoring services, ask them about their experiences and possible recommendations. You might feel better about working with particular tutors if they or the organisation that employs them have the endorsement of someone you know and trust.

Research Your Options Thoroughly

Once you have a shortlist of places you can look for potential tutors, you’ll then have to draw up a shortlist of likely candidates. It may help you to consider some or all of the following criteria when you start vetting your options:

  • References – Do the tutors you’re considering have references they can show you? Have they passed initial screenings and background checks with the schools or organisations they work for? And if you’re considering a private tutor who isn’t employed by any particular agency or institution, you’ll definitely want to ask them for a list of character references.
  • Academic and professional credentials – What specific kinds of expertise and educational accomplishments should your ideal tutor possess? Note that even the most accomplished expert in a certain field may not necessarily have the interpersonal skills required to teach well. Start by looking for tutors with at least a few years of teaching experience and good track records with their students.
  • Teaching style – Just as all students learn in unique ways, all tutors and teachers will have idiosyncratic teaching styles. Find out what your prospective tutors believe about teaching, their favourite strategies and methodologies, their most important values and more. This will help you get a sense of whether their teaching philosophy matches your own learning style.

Set Expectations with Your Tutor

Once you choose a tutor to work with, sit down with them and discuss your desired outcomes. It’s imperative for the two of you to be on the same page about the kind of help you need and what you want to accomplish together. Don’t hesitate to ask them what their plan is for formatting each tutoring session and to make suggestions for activities or approaches that might help you. It’s best for your plans and objectives to be clear before your first session, so make sure that these details are discussed before you formalise your engagement.

You’ll also want to hash out the more practical parts of tutoring, such as where you and your tutor will meet, how often and for how long. Clarify how much you’ll need to pay them and how frequently, whether upfront per session, weekly, monthly or something else.

At the end of the day, a tutor is meant to help you overcome academic challenges and achieve your goals. Connecting with the right person and getting the assistance you need will ultimately do wonders for your motivation, focus and performance.