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Is it Worth Getting a Tutor for GCSE?

GCSE tutors are worth it for most students. Tutors quickly find where students are struggling and make an impact, improving confidence and enjoyment along the way. 1-on-1 sessions can be flexible making sessions much more efficient than classroom learning.

Why Tutoring Can Help Any Student

For some students, the value of tutoring is obvious. They could be struggling to keep up with the class or meet their target grades. Students may have faced a crisis of some kind and missed several months of school, the recent pandemic is a clear example of this.

The impact of the pandemic on students was quickly forgotten as things returned to normal, but the reality is that students from years 1 – 11 missed out on a good chunk of their education. Sure, they may have had some cobbled-together learning. But this was unlikely to be the same quality as you would expect from in-school education. This means that there will be 10 years of students who go through to GCSE having a disadvantage compared to previous years.

To drive this point home, not until the final students leave school in the 2030s, will the damage of the pandemic be out of the school system. Unfortunately, the picture is even worse than this as these students will then go on to do A-Levels, BTECs and eventually head off to work or University and this impact will trickle its way into broader society. 

So it is clear that all students will be behind to some degree but how can a tutor help? Tutors can help to identify the weaknesses in students’ skills and knowledge and make an informed action plan to fill in the gaps. Class sizes are swelling to larger and larger numbers which means each student is paid comparatively less attention.

Despite the best efforts of good quality teachers, there is just not enough time to attend to everyone during a 1-hour lesson. Even students on track to get the top grades will have some misconceptions about subjects and could benefit from some close attention from a professional tutor.

Check out our other page: How Much is GCSE Tutoring?

Who Are GCSE Tutors?

This brings us to the next point. Who are these tutors anyway? Are they qualified? And can I trust them with my children? All of these questions will be answered in the following section. 

To start off with, let’s get to the most important question. Can I trust these tutors with my children or the children I care for? This is what we really want to know if they will be safe with GCSE tutors. The answer is an absolute yes! GCSE tutors are highly trustworthy and it is an industry-standard to expect all tutors to have an Enhanced DBS check which reviews their background for any criminal or otherwise questionable history. This means that you can be sure that students will be safe and in good hands. 

The next two questions can be combined to ask “Who are these tutors and what qualifications do they have?”. Tutors are often recent graduates with Bachelors Degree’s in maths, biology, chemistry, physics or sometimes even maths and physics! Some tutors may have Master’s Degrees in their subjects or even a PhD and could have several years of experience in an academic workplace. Yet other tutors are fully-fledged teachers with qualified teacher status, although this is not a government requirement to become a tutor.

Overwhelmingly, tutors are people who enjoy teaching and helping students to achieve their academic goals. Some work part-time, some full-time and others volunteer to be tutors in order to help the less fortunate. At the end of the day, these are trusted members of society who love what they do and have a passion for teaching. 

Is your child struggling to revise? Have them try our Science Quizzes!

How Much Improvement Can I Expect?

While you should expect to see improvement, there should be a clear relationship between total hours of tutoring and a student’s performance. For example, if a student receives a single hour of tutoring, they may be able to make some progress on a single topic.

The problem is that GCSEs are multi-year courses with tens of topics and a single session is unlikely to make a difference at this scale. On the other hand, students who receive continued tutoring for say 1 hour per week over the 39 weeks in a school year will probably be much better off than a student who had little or no extra help.

To demonstrate this effect we will discuss the following example: a student in Year 11 studying Edexcel GCSE Combined Science receives 39 weeks of tutoring, 1 hour per week. 

The student, let’s call her Sophie, will be following the curriculum the same as all of the other students in her class. The difference is that she will be able to review the content she learned in class with her tutor and reinforce it in her mind, ensuring that when the exams come, she will be ready. Alternatively, Sophie could work on topics with her tutor before she learns them at school, that way when she does she will have a head start and once again the information will be more secure in her memory.

GCSE Edexcel Combined Science has 32 topics to cover which is a lot of information. These 32 topics are typically learned over the course of two years (10 and 11). A skilled tutor could help Sophie to review the entire curriculum over 39 sessions with the most difficult topics spread over two or more sessions. 

It is not easy to say precisely how much improvement a student could have from tutoring but it is obvious that it could be substantial. Take the example of Sophie the Year 11 student. She would likely achieve at least a letter grade higher in the old grading system and one or two numbers higher in the new system (9-1). The impact could be greater if the student is inspired to work harder independently and they may surprise everyone with their outstanding performance. 

As another example of what a tutor could do, consider the case of a physics and maths tutor. They could help a student to understand demanding topics in maths whilst providing suitable examples and homework materials. Working with indices and surds, for instance, a tutor can gradually introduce complexity by outlining the laws of indices and then moving through indices in brackets, then negative indices, followed by fractional indices and then tie all of these concepts together with worked examples on a digital whiteboard.

Unquestionably, the student would be better equipped to answer these complex questions after receiving tutoring and their grades would likely reflect it!

Value For Money

“those who achieved just one grade higher than their counterparts in one subject saw an increase in their lifetime earnings by an average of £23,000” Department for Education

GCSE tutoring can be of excellent value when you consider the long-term benefits of achieving good grades. Recent research by the Department for Education has found that there is a strong link between GCSE attainment and lifetime earnings.

The research looked at the effect of higher GCSE grades on lifetime earnings in more than two million people and found that people who achieved a single grade higher in one subject than their peers, earned on average £23,000 more over their lifetimes. Even more astonishing was the finding that if someone achieved a single grade higher than their peers in all subjects, they earned an average of £207,000 more over their working lives!

The value of tutoring therefore cannot be understated. In fact, we have done a calculation for you to understand just how good this investment is. Discover Tutoring’s price per hourly session is £30 and if a student had weekly sessions for 39 weeks which is the length of a school year, the total price would be £1170.

Seems expensive when you look at it like that, but wait, we should consider the government research and calculate our return on investment. So, if the student was able to achieve a single grade higher across one subject thanks to the efforts of an online tutor, they would likely earn on average £23,000 more! That is an incredible investment that would yield a 1865% return on your investment. Simply astounding value for money.

GCSE tutoring is typically carried out in 1-hour sessions and the standard rate is approximately £30 per session. Sessions could be once per week or more for students who need a lot of help to achieve their goals, although bi-weekly tutoring can still be effective. Some students also receive one-off sessions to help with particularly difficult topics and exam practice, which tutors are well equipped to help with.

Discover Tutoring offers sessions at the going rate and also has a price plan which can help to reduce the cost, with a commitment to several sessions paid upfront. You can read more about how much tutoring costs here.

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Additional Skills and Benefits Gained from Tutoring

At this point you might be wondering, how could a tutor help to make such a large difference in earnings potential by working on a single subject?

The key to understanding this is the impact of tutoring on students’ ability to learn independently and reason for themselves. A skilled tutor can utilise homework to provide opportunities to build these skills which are missing from the school curriculum.

Employers look favourably upon people with the skills and mindset to be flexible and effective under stressful situations. Additionally, they expect employees to be capable of working independently and thinking on their feet. This requires skills that are often learned during university study, but at this point, there is little time to practise before entering the workplace. A much better approach would be to develop these skills whilst still doing GCSEs, and so a student would have more time to practice independent learning and implement flexible thinking into a variety of situations. 

Not all students will wish to become an employee and instead will focus on starting their own businesses. Entrepreneurship is an endeavour in which these same skills are absolutely necessary. Those who struggle to learn effectively about important aspects of their business like competition will be less likely to succeed in a highly competitive world. 

Success in post-school life is not all about money, however, and the skills and attributes that a GCSE tutor can provide for a student can have a remarkable impact on other important aspects of their lives. High achievement in GCSE science and maths in particular are brilliant opportunities to help a student gain the upper hand in life.

Is your child ready for their exams? Have them try our Digital Mock Exam Quizzes!

The Value of Confidence

Students who experience success at school and who are effectively encouraged and recognised for their achievements are likely to have greater confidence in themselves as people.

Tutors can help with this in a more personal way than teachers in class as they can build a deeper connection with a student. This allows the tutor to find the best ways to build the confidence of a student over an extended period of time.

Giving students positive feedback during sessions and regularly reviewing their progress is a natural way of increasing confidence, but there are a few extra tricks that Discover Tutoring employs to give students another boost.

One excellent strategy is demonstrating to students that it is possible to achieve very high marks in exams. This is achieved through repeatedly answering many exam questions where students will be shown the correct way to answer them and how to correctly think about their answers. Oftentimes questions contain much of the information needed to reason towards the answer with little background knowledge.

The second strategy is to show students a host of memorisation techniques and how these can be applied to remembering the curriculum. Students will be surprised at how straightforward exams can be once they know how to answer questions effectively and they have utilised various techniques to commit information to memory. 

Confidence in one’s abilities is a great step towards developing healthy relationships which is an essential part of personal development. Students who get a solid start during their GCSEs will reap the benefits throughout their lives and ultimately feel happy and fulfilled.

Good mental health is another important aspect of personal development and people who are well adjusted to living in our modern society often achieve great things and make positive contributions to the world. Yet another reason to get the best online tutoring available for your children. 

Still unsure? Check out our blog on Work Done in Physics to check our expertise!

Modern Approaches to Tutoring

Tutoring quality and the opportunities available to students has improved rapidly over the last decade due to the advent of video conferencing software and improvements in internet speed.

No longer do tutors need to travel to your home in order to do sessions and in fact, online tutoring has certain benefits that in-person tutoring fails to achieve easily. For example, tutors are able to deliver presentations more naturally to students in a way that more closely resembles classroom teaching. This is facilitated by video conferencing software which allows tutors to share their screen, whilst a student is also able to see the tutor in video form. This brings great flexibility to a tutor as they can quickly switch resources and ensure that the most relevant and suitable content is available at any time.

A further benefit is that there is no need to be concerned about a guest coming to your home and all that they will need is a device and an internet connection. Online tutoring can also be cheaper since tutors do not need to cover travel costs! 

Another benefit of online sessions with Discover Tutoring is our use of specialist software aimed at increasing the retention of information learned during the programme. By utilising strategies scientifically demonstrated to improve information retention increases the value of each session to the student and makes sure that when a student is struggling to understand a concept, a tutor is able to spot this and take action to resolve it.

Unfortunately, it is human nature to want to say yes to people and sometimes this leads to students saying that they understand something when they don’t. This is counterproductive and the software we use allows us to identify these moments and make a difference to a student’s learning.

Alternatives to Tutoring

If you’re unsure about whether tutoring is right for you and your children, there are alternatives which involve self-study and could also be used interactively between parent and student. 

We have compiled a list of resources below that we regularly use and recommend with links to our preferred place to buy revision resources – AbeBooks. We have been buying from AbeBooks for nearly 5 years and have always had a great experience. 

Maths – 

Mathematics for GCSE and IGCSE (Higher) – CGP

Mathematics for GCSE (Foundation) – CGP

Mathematics for KS3 Book 1 – CGP. Note: answers for these books are in a separate booklet, available here

Mathematics for KS3 Book 2 – CGP. Note: answers for these books are in a separate booklet, available here:

Mathematics for KS3 Book 3 – CGP. Note: answers for these books are in a separate booklet, available here:

 

These books are used by our maths tutors because of their intuitive layout and easy to understand explanations. Maths doesn’t always need to be hard and CGP does a great job explaining maths in an accessible way. For KS3 – Book 1 is intended for Year 7, Book 2 for Year 8 and Book 3 for Year 9. 

Science

AQA GCSE –

Practice Makes Permanent Combined Science Trilogy – Hodder Education

Practice Makes Permanent Biology – Hodder Education

Practice Makes Permanent Chemistry – Hodder Education

Practice Makes Permanent Physics – Hodder Education

 

These books by Hodder Education are a great way to build on learning at school and at home. They contain hundreds of questions and answers based on the curriculum which are in exam style. Using these resources can help students to firm up their learning on specific topics, finding these questions in past papers would take precious time away from a busy study schedule.

We will be regularly reviewing this list and adding new resources that we are comfortable recommending. Let us know if you have any questions about these books and we would be happy to help!

All GCSE Science Students –

Combined Science in Two Weeks – Collins

Biology in a Week – Collins

Chemistry in a Week – Collins

Physics in a Week – Collins

 

The books by Collins are dual functions, acting as a revision planner and schedule as well as providing essential information in a condensed form. We recommend these books to any GCSE student as an essential part of their exam preparation. For students studying separate sciences, there are books for each topic. However, the combined science book would offer good value to separate sciences students as well. 

Free Resources

Discover Tutoring has made GCSE Science Quizzes available to all. These quizzes will when complete, cover the entire specification, including all major exam boards. 

Students can also revise and learn for their GCSE Science exams on the following links: 

We have also made a science mock exams feature which simulates GCSE exams, providing only questions which could be on each particular exam, based on the specification. This is a premium feature which currently costs £5 per year to access. With this premium option students also gain access to topic overview quizzes and a bunch of other benefits. Find out more here

We hope you find these resources useful.

Summary

GCSE tutoring is valuable for any student, even those who are on track to perform well. The recent pandemic has impacted the quality and quantity of education and it is our responsibility to make amends. Whether it is weekly sessions or a one-off, tutoring is capable of helping any student and should be considered carefully. 

Tutors are trustworthy professionals who have enhanced DBS checks and so you can trust them to take care of students. Many tutors are educated to the highest levels with Degrees in the subjects they teach or in closely related fields and therefore are capable of understanding and communicating complex topics to students. 

In terms of improvement, you can expect the amount of improvement to increase with the number of sessions. However, there are still tangible rewards gained from even a few sessions and tutors will make sure to apply their expertise to gain the most out of each hour of tutoring. One session per week is recommended to see solid benefits, but the exact number and schedule of these sessions should be determined by how much help a student needs. 

Tutoring can be of superb value for money and a recent study by the government demonstrated a remarkable difference in lifetime earnings for students with higher grades. Sessions can be paid for weekly to increase affordability and pricing plans are available to reduce the overall cost. 

Students who receive tutoring can develop additional skills such as independent thinking which improves their employability and earnings potential. Entrepreneurs can be made from students who are flexible, take the initiative to look for opportunities and think differently from the crowd. 

Achieving better grades can increase the confidence of students which will lead to a healthy life. Mental and social health is important and personal development will be an asset to well-adjusted students who can make their mark on the world. 

Online tutoring is perfectly suited to the modern age and there are a host of perks associated with remote learning. Video conferencing software and much faster computers and internet connections facilitate flexible and modern learning approaches which can lead to outstanding results. 

Discover Tutoring hopes that this article has helped you to understand the question of whether GCSE tutoring is worth it. We are available to help new students and are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about our tutoring approach. 

If you want to find out more please contact us on this page, see our FAQs, or feel free to call or email Discover Tutoring directly.

Discover Tutoring is a participant in the AbeBooks Inc. Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to abebooks.co.uk.