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How to be a good tutor ?

A good teacher has to possess great knowledge of the subject that he is to teach and be confident to carry himself in front of the student. Students will expect their tutor to be able to deliver the content of the subject taught and to be a good role model for them. 


Tutors can always approach weak students by first spoon feeding them the method to attempt the questions in practices. For example, teach them line by line on how to present the workings for a demanding Maths question. Demonstrate to them on how to apply the theory of that particular topic to the question and supplement the lesson by providing homework consisting of questions covering the particular topic. There are many questions in the maths textbook that are available for practice and to be used to prepare the students for tests or exams. Tutors can make use of some questions to prepare and teach the topic. Practice makes perfect is the saying that I always think of in guiding my students. In Maths, studying the theory is never enough. Students need to take the extra effort to practice a variety of questions as examiners can vary the question to ask for the same method of doing. For example, to solve a cubic equation can be asked in two ways: solve XX (equation) or to find the real roots of XX (equation). A teacher must be able to show his student that these are the different ways that the same question can be asked. 


Setting homework is always a must as it allows the tutor to evaluate his own teaching and at the same time test the student to see if they are able to grasp the concepts and apply them without supervision. Homework provides students the opportunity to gauge if they can attempt the practice questions without any guide. A teacher should check through the homework to correct any wrong presentation so as to do on the spot correction during the next lesson. As such, students will not face the problem of “practising their own mistakes”. 


As for stronger students, tutor should screen their work for small mistakes and correct them so as to allow them to improve further. Offering more challenging and questions can stimulate deeper and critical thinking that can be useful during exams. It brings them to a higher level. However, one should not go beyond the syllabus of the subject matter. 

Mathematics homework

Mathematics homework (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Do not pressurize students and set too high targets that are not within comfort zones and abilities of the student. Doing this might have reverse effects and result in a lack of interest in the subject – some students might not even try after repeated failures to achieve the targeted grade set by the tutor. 


Lastly, tutors can provide study tips that they have tried themselves and provide encouragement to motivate their students. One method which I have tried is putting them on progressive targets ie. F9 -> D7 -> C5 -> B3 -> A2 -> A1 (if you think your student is unable to achieve that high A, do not force it on him). Words of encouragement before exams can go a long way in helping them deal with exam stress that inhibit students’ full potential. Never overstretch them.


There are many methods that tutors can use to support their students and my methods are purely suggestive and not all are applicable to students. Tutors need to use methods with practicality when dealing with students. Not all students are the same and tutors need to understand their learning abilities.  

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