Why tutoring is like personal training
Many parents wonder whether to enlist the help of a test prep tutor. Tutors who are highly qualified are also highly in-demand, which means they can be expensive and difficult to schedule. Working with a test prep tutor to working out with a personal trainer. You can get the same results on your own (see tips for studying without a tutor here), but the built-in structure and motivation of working with a professional can get you where you want to be more efficiently.
Based on your student’s starting scores, goals, and study skills, you may want to hire a tutor. Here are some of the benefits of hiring a tutor:
- Break Down Problems: Your student may need further explanation of concepts when explanations in books or videos are not cutting it. Sometimes, students understand a general concept, but may need help understanding how to apply it in a complex problem. Tutors can help students with problem decomposition, which is the skill of breaking down a complex problem into smaller, simpler sub-steps. This skill is essential for tough problems on the SAT and the ACT.
- Create a Routine: Students need to make test prep a habit. Meeting with a tutor once a week can help students to build this habit, especially if the tutor assigns homework between sessions. Students feel more of a sense of urgency to finish test problems if they know that someone will hold them accountable.
- Push through Plateaus: Test prep can be frustrating, especially when a student gets stuck on a particularly difficult problem. A tutor can talk through problems and help your student to verbalize their problem solving process. Sometimes, this is all a student needs to find a calculation error or a gap in their logic.
- Build Motivation: A well-qualified tutor has succeeded on a high stakes test and wants to help their students do the same. A tutor can help your student stay motivated by talking about their own test prep experiences and college admissions process. If your student hits a wall in their test prep progress, working with a tutor can help them get “unstuck” and find new ways to think through problems. Hitting learning plateaus is part of the process of building any new skills, and having the encouragement of a tutor can help students to persist through these periods.
The bottom line
There are many great resources to help students study for the ACT and the SAT. Even with these resources, a student may benefit from the motivation and instruction provided by a tutor. Your student’s success will be largely determined by the time and effort they put into studying, but a great tutor can boster a student’s confidence, motivation, and ability.