As I’ve said in a previous post, when it comes to subject tutoring, there’s a lot you can do before, during, and after your tutoring sessions to help you extract the most possible value from your engagement with a tutor.
One of the great things about working with a private tutor, especially a Signet tutor, is that when you are studying with him or her, you can learn more than just subject matter.
In tutoring, you can learn about your own personal learning style, strategies for organizing your study time and materials, and even how to coach yourself through difficult topics. This brings me to the single most important thing you can do in a tutoring session, which is to...
Be prepared to learn. Your tutor will not be doing your work for you, but he or she will help you understand the relevant subject matter, as well as show you how to apply these concepts to homework or test problems. Be ready to soak up this material and learn new ways to use it.
Because tutoring is a learning experience, and not just one in which you review, you should...
Take notes during tutoring. Your tutor will cover the content you find challenging in a way that will be easier for you to understand. Make sure to write down your tutor’s explanations, instructions for working through problems, and sample problems and solutions, too. In some cases, it may even be appropriate to ask the tutor if you can audio-record your lesson.
To make this learning experience as efficient and effective as possible, it’s also important that you be honest with yourself about your own efforts and level of understanding.
As much as possible, explain how you approach or think about a problem to your tutor, whether it's about how you get through a problem, read for class, study on your own, or take notes. This will help the tutor figure out your learning style and where your strengths and stumbling points may be.
And, in the same vein...
Let your tutor know when a particular method of explanation really makes sense to you, or when one doesn’t. That way, your tutor can use methods that are actually helpful instead of confusing.
You should also structure your class and tutoring notes in ways you find most helpful, be it in a chart, outlined bullet points, a diagram, or regular sentences. We all have different learning styles, and the sooner you come to recognize your own, the sooner you can start studying more effectively and earning better grades.
One of the best things about having a tutor is the feeling that you have your own personal coach on the sidelines, explaining what you need to do next and giving you the support you need to do your best. Unfortunately, you can’t take your tutor to school with you, but what you can do is...
Internalize your tutor. Pay close attention to how your tutor approaches subjects, so that when your tutor is not around, you can ask yourself, “What would my tutor do in this situation?” and actually have an answer. Signet tutors always model good learning, study, and homework habits, so learning and mimicking what they do in your tutoring session can give you the advantage of having an internal coach when it comes to preparing for the big test and performing at your peak.
For maximizing what you've learned after your session is over, please read our related post.