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How to Use and Prepare for a Tutoring Session

Think about what you need help with

You should try to do all your homework before coming to see your tutor. Many students simply do their homework in front of their tutor, but this isn't the most effective use of your time. If you do the homework you can figure out on your own first, then you'll have lots of time to spend on the hard questions and to have your tutor teach you tips and tricks.

Use the session wisely by telling the tutor exactly what you need help with.

Even the best math tutors cannot read your mind. If you only need help with a certain question, don't sit there silently while the tutor re-teaches you the entire topic. And, don't just nod and say, "Yes, I get it," if you feel lost. You're not supposed to still be confused after getting help. It's amazing how many students don't realize that after tutoring, you're supposed to "get it" -- crystal clear. Your tutor should spend just enough (no more and no less) time on any one topic than you need. But, it's your responsibility to honestly tell the tutor when you do or don't get it.

Prepare by bringing your notes, tests, exams, textbook

The best math tutors know that your chances for success increase tremendously when you do questions the same way they were taught by your regular teacher.

There are many reasons for this. Most importantly, the teacher obviously prefers and understands their own method -- or they wouldn't have taught it that way in the first place. Your tutor absolutely needs to see what your teacher's expectations are if they are to help you succeed in class.

Every teacher is different, and has their own quirks, and your tutor runs the risk of teaching you something very different from your regular teacher if you don't provide examples of what your teacher wants.

Give yourself enough time

Give yourself enough time to use what you learn during a session by choosing a tutoring time that still gives you the opportunity to do some math after the session.

If you meet with your math tutor the night before a big test or assignment, you may not have enough time to practice the skills you learned in tutoring. Remember, the real purpose of seeing your math tutor is to get questions cleared up and concepts understood. But, simply "getting it" doesn't mean you're ready for your big test.Now you need to practice by answering as many questions as you need until you are getting them right most of the time with little trouble.

Have a plan

Decide ahead of time what your goal for the tutoring session will be and tell your tutor exactly what you hope to accomplish within the session.

Do you simply want to do your homework with the tutor watching so that they can catch any mistakes? Do you need to have earlier math homework explained to you? Do you want a comprehensive review of the whole chapter right before the math test? When you know exactly what you want, the tutor can customize the session just for you.

Your math tutor should be able to judge how much can reasonably be covered within the tutoring session. Don't be disappointed if your tutor says that you can't finish everything -- work with your tutor at the beginning of the session to decide what is the highest priority, and what can be left, if necessary, until next time.

Do not spring a whole new set of problems on your tutor five minutes before the end of your tutoring session! ("By the way, this was tonight's homework . . . ").

The beginning of every tutoring session should be a quick (less than a minute) discussion of what is to be covered in the lesson.