Tips On A Successful Tutoring Session


A successful tutoring session is one where a lot is accomplished. However, a wide range of descriptions can characterize the result of a tutoring session. The student and tutor can have different views on how the tutoring went. In the worst case, the student may feel it was a waste of time and still feels lost and unsure on what to do. In the best case, the student may feel they learned more in that one session than they ever learned in all the math classes ever taken. Obviously, most student descriptions would be somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

In the worst case, the tutor may think this student is lost and needs to retake one or more previous courses to be prepared for this material. In the best case, the tutor may think that this student is completely in tune with the material and doesn’t need a tutor. Again, most tutor thoughts are somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

In this article, we will focus on a successful tutoring session. The key to a successful tutoring session is being prepared. The tutor and the student should to be prepared prior to the tutoring session. Preparedness between the tutor and student is discussed separately.

Let’s begin with The Tutor.

The Tutor

A prepared tutor should be skilled in a variety of ways. Following is a list of skills a prepared tutor should possess. Although not an exhaustive list, it should serve as a guide to a successful tutoring session.

Mastery of the Material

This is necessary in order to understand where a students’ understanding is breaking down and to be able to provide instruction to guide the student to understanding.

Good Listener and Communicator

The tutor must be able to listen to the student in order to understand where the students’ understanding is breaking down. The tutor must be insightful and be able to communicate well in order to deliver instruction that is catered to the students’ level of understanding. The goal is always to have the student attain understanding and to become proficient. If the tutor loses sight of this goal and not stay on task, both student growth and session effectiveness are at risk.

Service Oriented and Responsible

A responsible tutor realizes they are being paid to provide a service. The service they provide is concentrated and focused teaching. The tutor is not being paid for their own personal past performance in the subject matter they are providing guidance in.

Respectful and Motivational

The tutor should be respectful and personable to the student. If not, the student is most likely to neither respect the tutor nor respond well to the tutors’ instruction. The tutor should be patient and view at the students’ mistakes as an opportunity to gain insight into the students’ thought process. This gives the tutor a better understanding on how to guide the student. The tutor should praise the student for a job well done since this will encourage and motivate the student to keep up the good work.

The tutor should be approachable and to make the tutoring session pleasant. The tutor should never force the student onto new material before the student is ready; that simply does not work. This can only make the student dislike the tutor and dread the next tutoring session.

The Student

The student knows what they understand and therefore is able to help guide the tutor into the areas they are having difficulty. This way tutoring session is spent giving the student the guidance they need most and not going over problems or material they already understand.


The student should be well prepared by making a concentrated effort to do the work on their own. Ideally, the student should bring any class notes, texts and the results of the material they are having problems. This way the tutor can get a better understanding where the student is having difficulties and to begin to guide the student.

Tutor and Student

Both tutor and student should work together with the goal of having the student gain an understanding of the material they are studying. This will encourage communication between tutor and student, giving them a sense of responsibility and accomplishment.


When the above is true, the amount accomplished during individual tutoring sessions is maximized. In reality though, both tutors and students are human and are not perfect. We should always keep our expectations in check and hope for the best. Both the tutor and student should always be striving to excel. The tutor should strive to deliver better instruction and presentation. The student should strive to better understand the material and to be well prepared prior to the next tutoring session.

Hope this article helped and good luck on your next tutoring session.

Brought to you by:

Personal Tutoring

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Your Personal Tutor in Mathematics and Computer Science

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