Before, during, and after the school year, lots of students and parents recognize the need for amazing tutors. But once you start shopping around, you likely become a bit overwhelmed by the sheer volume of options out there for academic tutoring and test prep. Should you go with a private agency? A fellow classmate? A retired teacher? After school, or only on weekends? One-on-one, or in groups? And what if you plan on taking both tests? Does it even really matter?
If these are some of the questions rattling around in your head as you search for a tutor, maybe take a step back and ask some questions about yourself instead. You’re one-half of the student-tutor relationship, after all, and to know what to look for in a tutor, you should understand what you want out of tutoring. Consider the following:
- Have you ever taken the SAT or ACT? Just getting a feel for these tests and understanding how they work is a learning curve in itself. If you’re brand new to the world of national standardized tests, you might want to seek out someone who knows how to guide beginners.
- Have you taken it before, and you just want to improve your score? A tutor who’s good at fine-tuning student’s test-taking skills is probably what you need. They can help you learn to work faster and smarter while also filling in gaps in your knowledge of foundational material.
- Are you trying to get into a competitive college? If you’re shooting for the moon, you’ll want a test prep tutor who can bring out the big guns. They’ll be a master of every subject on your target exam and have the schedule to work with you for hours of intensive practice a week, so you can get the scores you need to stand out.
- Do you have ADHD, autism or any other learning disability? Neurodivergent students learn best with tutors who really gets the way their brains work. Seek out educators with proven experience working with neurodivergent and twice-exceptional students.
- Do you, like so many high schoolers, have a jam-packed schedule without a lot of extra time for test prep? A tutor with a flexible schedule can meet when you’re able so you still get that practice in. And of course, remote tutoring is more of an option than it’s ever been.
Taking a second to identify your needs will help narrow down your search for the perfect tutor by a lot. Then, of course, careful vetting should begin. Securing the perfect blend of expertise, experience, and chemistry won’t bring immediate relief to your academic woes; tutors are not fairy godparents! You still have to put in the work, but finding a tutor that meets your specific needs will make all the difference.