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What constitutes a good private tutor

There are many factors parents and students consider when choosing a effective private tutor. Some considerations can include age, sex, experience, qualifications, reputation/track record, budget, etc.

Given that there are many tutors around, how then could you as a tutor stand out? I shall share a few factors which I think is important.

1) Passionate and knowledgable in the subject you are teaching

This is an important criteria that you must fulfill. Other than previous grades in school, a good tutor has to demonstrate a good track record, and be able to make references to the why and how of tackling the concept or question.

Most importantly, a good tutor must be able to put seemingly difficult concepts into simple terms, making sure that the student can absorb and assimilate the details.

Passion is also important because a good tutor must want to impart his skills, knowledge as well as passion to his/her students. He/she must want to target for full marks, and not just sufficiently high grades, for his/her students.

2) Active tutoring

There are tutors who are tutoring passively. That means, they sit around and watch the students do their homework/schoolwork. There are tutors who simply tell the students to try and try again, without offering much active help. In my opinion, this is clearly a waste of money by the student. Why pay so much to employ a guardian to watch over you do your own work?

Active tutors take the initiative to provide notes and questions to their students, and teach in such a way that it helps the students think, comprehend, analyse, and understand concepts and questions. They repeat this process again and again. They train the student to grasp concepts, to utilise effectively every tool in their hands (calculators, rulers, etc) and to make full use of exam strategies to reduce their careless mistakes or take advantage of the structure in which questions are set.

3) Motivating

This is to me the most important factor to be present in a good tutor. To do so, tutors have to be able to build good rapport with their students. They have to create the hunger, the want, the confidence to score in their students.

Many a times, I have come across students who are desperate, dejected and totally low in confidence. They seeked tuition from me as a last resort, as if I'm a miracle pill to at least help them pass a subject. And luckily for them, I managed to instill more confidence in everyone of them, give them hope, and finally, they achieve a grade that is way better than a pass.

There are also students who have totally no idea why they should study a particular subject. I have this student who plans to go into game design, and cannot think of any reason to study and do well in physics, other than to make the grade. That unmotivation remains, until I explained how mechanics and physics are also required in games, and went into some details on how the programmer needs basic knowledge in these aspects in physics to create a realistic game.

There are many more stories, but I would have to stop. In short, a good tutor will be able to help students break out of their rut and work hard for their goals.

4) Be responsible

A good tutor will take responsibility for all of his/her students. Being responsible as a tutor means
i) willing and want to take the student all the way to the end of the year
ii) do not teach the wrong things. When unsure, state so, and do extensive research before teaching the student the correct things. It is a hideous sin to make the student unlearn wrong things.
iii) ensure that the student improve in grades

To your success :D

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