Hiring a tutor is not necessary for pupils struggling with their Biology studies; you don’t have to be failing in the subject to benefit from some extra help. Nor do you need to know what you want to do in the future (academically or professionally), as getting the best possible start in your education will only contribute to opening up more opportunities for you.
Even if you aren’t set on a career in the sciences, there are many reasons to love Biology.
Success can mean different things to different people, but having the best start in life in terms of your education can open up many doors for the future. Photo credit: José Morcillo Valenciano via Visualhunt.com
Tutors are a very worthwhile investment as they are able to offer you one-on-one teaching assistance, which means benefiting from teaching techniques that are better suited to your learning needs and the pace at which you work. Plus, a tutor can really help to build your confidence in the subject.
So, even if you feel that you are not a strong biologist, a good tutor can help you to see that you can in fact succeed in the subject. You might even be surprised at how effective the extra sessions are and how much more you enjoy the subject than before. They will be able to exemplify how, by breaking the challenging topics down into smaller and easier chunks, you can begin to understand the complicated concepts of Biology.
To gain as much as you can from your tutor, you need to make sure that you choose the perfect tutor for you. While that is easy enough to say, how do you know who is the best person to choose? And what if you hire a tutor and then come to realise that the relationship just isn’t working out? Here are a few tips to help you to pick the right tutor.
One of the main things to consider is your prospective tutor’s educational background. For instance, if you know or find a tutor who specialises in Chemistry, they may not have the precise skills and knowledge required to successfully tutor you to a really good grade in Biology.
That said, many tutors specialise in multiple related fields so don’t be hasty in ruling someone out before you’ve discovered their interests. Someone with a Masters degree in Chemistry may well have studied combined sciences at Bachelor level and thus be perfectly able to tutor you in the field of Biology.
Whst’s important is knowing that your tutor has themselves taken the exam that you are currently studying for, and is therefore fully aware of the level of knowledge required to pass the exam and how to reach those higher grades (i.e. if you are enrolled on an A Level Biology course, you ideally want your tutor to be educated to at least A Level or equivalent in Biology).
In addition, it is very useful for the tutor to be familiar with your particular syllabus, whether this be as a result of their past teaching experience, through having taught numerous other candidates on the same course, or thanks to their own children recently having completed the same modules. Tutors are able to pass on knowledge but they can also give you tips and tricks on how to maximise your score in exams!
Finally, you should always check that your tutor is genuine. The best method for doing so is to choose someone who has been highly recommended by peers, parents or teachers at your school or, alternatively, to select someone from a professional agency.
Tutors found via tutoring agencies will have undergone checks to ensure that they are as qualified as they state they are but also to be sure that they don’t have a criminal record which prevents them from working with children under the age of 18.
While hiring a tutor from an agency means that they are suitably qualified on paper for the role, how do you know if they are actually any good at their job?
References are a very good way of discovering who are the most influential and talented tutors available for your chosen subject. Ideally, you want someone who is passionate about Biology as it will make their teaching so much more effective.
Most experienced tutors, whether they work through an agency or independently, will have taught enough pupils to be able to provide some feedback on their tutoring service, including a great track record when it comes to their past pupils’ grades. Seeing those high scores will often be proof enough of their ability as a tutor!
If you found your tutor by word of mouth, be sure to ask questions to the person who referred them and find out if they have a website or profile you can look at online before booking in to see them.
If, however, you happen to come across what appears to be the perfect tutor all by yourself on the Internet, then take into account any testimonials and don’t be afraid to call them or even request to meet with them before you enter any financial agreements.
Searching for a tutor online doesn’t mean you have to take a chance on a stranger. Photo via VisualHunt
It is a good idea to meet or interview your chosen candidate, especially if you have no mutual connections, to make sure that they are real, in the first instance (it is always good to be certain!), as well as genuine, and that they are the right fit for you and your educational needs.
Remember that, to keep the momentum going, you should ideally be having at least a two-hour session once a week (or perhaps just an hour if you are under 14 and not studying towards a mainstream qualification). If your preferred tutor can only fit in one or two short classes in a month, then you may have to consider looking for someone who can spare more time to accommodate your needs.
With tutoring being a relatively short-term service, you should be seeking maximum impact to ensure long-term gain.
It may seem obvious but when you start your search for a tutor, particularly when searching online, be sure to filter your search to professionals working in your area.
In some cases, the best tutors might be located a bit further out than you’d like, but you will need to weigh up the pros and cons of a long-distance tutor.
Ask yourself these questions, for example: Are they willing to travel to you or will you need to find a means of transportation to meet closer to them? If they will be doing the travelling, do they have enough time to dedicate to your learning needs on top of that? If using petrol and mileage to reach you regularly, will they charge you for these extras? And, would they agree to tutor you via Skype or using other technology?
Will your tutor come to you or will you need to travel to them? Photo via Visual hunt
In an ideal situation, your tutor will live or work close by so that you can fit in regular catch up sessions to keep the momentum of learning up, while also giving you the opportunity to schedule more classes in the run up to your exams.
Finally, as briefly touched upon above, it is really important to make sure you have a rapport with your tutor. Nothing can be worse (for you and the tutor in question!) than dreading your next appointment and hating every minute of your time together.
This is why, in some ways, a personal recommendation is one of the best ways to discover a tutor. If they have done a great job with someone that you know, and you have heard nothing but praise about their methods, then the chances are that you too will profit from and even enjoy their tutoring service.
However, as not everyone is lucky enough to know somebody with this level of skill in Biology, many people turn to the Internet to find a local Science tutor.
This, however, does not mean that you have to take a chance on a biology tutor that you have never met before, as you always have the opportunity to meet with a tutor before committing to hiring them.
Most tutors will be used to meeting with pupils and their parents, and are usually equally keen to meet face to face so that they can gain a mutual understanding of what they are needed for and what level you are currently working at. That way, they can be better equipped to confirm how regular your meet ups need to be.
So, when hiring a tutor for the very first tine, try to organise a meeting with the tutor in person, accompanied by your parent or guardian, to get a feel for their teaching methods and how they might be able to motivate you.
Meetings such as these can have a positive impact on your attitude towards tuition and can cement the relationship between tutor and pupil from the offset, giving you confidence in your ability to improve and making you look forward to those extra lessons.