In teaching and coaching alike, nothing drives performance like individual attention. Yes, many topics and skills may be learned in a group setting, which is one reason why classes still work in education. However, one tutor or coach working elbow-to-elbow (in-person or live online) can focus on exactly what an individual learner needs to hear in a given moment without leaving other students behind. Even better, tutoring allows certain material to be skimmed or skipped altogether based on existing mastery; why waste time reviewing content a student already knows when so much more remains to be taught?
Pacing in a class tends to serve the middle of the pack, with some students struggling to keep up and others bored out of their minds. Tutoring, on the other hand, moves as quickly or as slowly as a student requires, which makes this mode of instruction ideal for those with learning disabilities, asymmetric skill-sets, or advanced abilities seeking even greater levels of accomplishment. Even better, tutoring programs can, given sufficient notice and teacher flexibility, conform to student scheduling requirements. No wonder so many student-athletes embroiled in both sports and testing seasons have to engage private tutors: coaches certainly won’t work around prep commitments 😉
That said, choosing tutoring over classes or any other form of prep leads to additional choices. Apart from who to work with and when to start, you may need to consider the right student-teacher ratio for you. 1-1 instruction may be the default, but small-group tutoring offers some compelling benefits as well.
Private tutoring sets the gold standard for individualized instruction. What could be faster or more focused than a program revolving entirely around the educational needs of a single student? I founded Chariot Learning as a tutoring organization primarily because 1-1 SAT/ACT prep tends to lead to the biggest gains in the shortest time. Freedom to arrange instruction at times that don’t conflict with other academic or extracurricular commitments facilitates crucial consistency even during busy times. Best of all, tutors and students have the opportunity to develop the kind of rapport that improves learning. Basically, 1-1 tutoring is awesome.
On the other hand, small-group tutoring offers the same opportunities for customized instruction and scheduling, especially when students self-select into groups. We often work with siblings or close friends with the same general levels of ability and motivation. In these cases, when a single instructor can work with 2-4 compatible students, a small-group tutoring program can deliver almost 100% of the benefits of 1-1 at a discount of anywhere from 20-50% off. For that amount of savings, some trade-offs may be worth it. As an added bonus, small-group tutors can leverage peer instruction and the protégé effect to significant advantage, wherein teaching information to others helps students learn that information themselves. Learners in these settings also tend to support and motivate each other, at least when they are compatible!
HOW TO CHOOSE
While individual tutoring is almost always available from test prep providers, small group tutoring–especially the kind that matches students that don’t already know each other into compatible teams–can be hard to find. If you like the idea of small-group tutoring, start by speaking to your friends or the parents of your child’s friends. Putting a group together yourself almost guarantees that a tutor will find a way to work with you. Alternately, look for the best test prep provider you can find and ask about your options. Getting the right prep is ultimately more important than choosing a inferior educator because you want a certain class or tutoring option. We’ve just expanded our small-group tutoring options substantially at Chariot Learning, so give us a call: we’ll help you figure out whether individual, small-group, or a class is best for you.