So, you’ve just decided to get a tutor. Now what? It is so rare to get personalized, one-on-one attention during your educational career, so when it comes around, you should take full advantage of the opportunity. Whether you’re looking to improve your MCAT score, get help on an academic essay, perfect your college applications, improve your language skills, or just be more organized, these general tips will help you make the most of your tutoring sessions. Try not to wait to put them into effect! Start off on the right foot, and it will pay off.
1) Taking notes is crucial
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s astounding how many tutoring students don’t do it. The nature of one-on-one tutoring is that with an expert tutor, it’s much easier to understand or work through a concept. But, after your tutoring session is over, it’s hard to remember exactly what your tutor said or did. If you are going to invest time into tutoring, you want to internalize the lessons you learn so that you can replicate the results on your own. Relying on memory isn’t enough. Take notes so that you have a guide for later and can retrace your tutor’s steps on your own. Writing has also been shown to help commit things to memory, so writing out organized notes and lists can help you remember and explain your process. If note-taking isn’t your thing, don’t worry. Ask your tutor for tips and tricks; they can even look over your notes with you at the end of sessions to make sure you got all the important stuff.
2) Don’t be afraid to ask questions
School can do a good job of making students embarrassed or less inclined to ask questions, ask for clarification, or repetition. You don’t want to hold up the class! But, understand that tutoring is just the opposite. Not only does your tutor want you to ask questions, but you’ll also get more out of your sessions if you do. If you don’t understand something, don’t let it go; ask for your tutor to explain it again, do the problem again, etc. If during the day or during school or while working alone you hit an issue or a question arises, write it down in your tutoring notebook (more on that later) so that you remember to ask your tutor to go over it. Those questions you have when you’re alone can be very valuable in guiding your sessions.
3) Keep a tutoring notebook
This can also be a tutoring google drive folder or whatever your preferred organization tool is. The point is: there’s the tendency to keep tutoring notes on your assignments or scattered over your work, when it can be much more effective to keep them separate. If it does not make sense to keep your tutoring lessons separate from your work during your sessions, take some time after your sessions to transfer any notes to one central location. This may be an extra ten minutes or so, but it will mean you have a log of every session -- what was covered and how -- to refer back to later. If your tutor’s lessons are scattered across your work, how will you be able to review it? Keep it in one place.
4) Review your sessions immediately after, and immediately before:
This is another tip for committing the things you learned in your sessions to memory. After your time is up and your tutor leaves, spend a few minutes going over and organizing what you accomplished. This is a good way to know what you should focus on next time, and it will help you see what progress you’re making. Furthermore, it can be very helpful to spend a few minutes before each session looking back at your notes from last session. Not only will this jog your memory about what you did and what questions still remain, but it will close the gap between sessions (especially weekly ones) so that there is more continuity and meaningful scaffolding in your tutoring. If you review what you did last session, you will be building more directly on it.
These are only a handful of tips to make the most of your tutoring session, but they will put you on the path to accomplishing your tutoring goals. Remember, do what works best for you, but don’t be afraid to try a new method or ask a question you’re a little sheepish about. These sessions are for you -- only you -- so take advantage of that by using your tutor’s expert knowledge to the fullest, keeping a log of your progress, and working to incorporate what you learn into practice.
Need a tutor to help you out? Wondering what options are available out there? Check out our website! Cambridge Coaching offers private in-person tutoring in New York City and Boston, and online tutoring all around the world!