February 22, 2021

How to Prepare for Your First Tutoring Session

By pschmetz

By Anna Sharabura, M3

Congratulations, you’ve already done the hardest part: asking for help. Whether you’re here because an instructor recommended you see a tutor, or you want to grow to your full potential and master a difficult topic, the next steps will be the same. It is important to prepare a few things.

First, make sure to tell your tutor which class and material you want help with. If there are practice questions that you keep getting wrong, or if an explanation of a topic doesn’t make sense, write it down and send it to your tutor as soon as you can. This gives your tutor information to help you with your specific concerns. If you just say that “nothing makes sense,” your tutor will feel pressure to reteach the entire course during the tutoring session: an impossible task! Instead, you could ask them to review a quiz, help with explaining a presentation from class, or learning how to use the resources provided. There are no stupid questions, and no one other than the tutor and coordinator will know the specifics of what was discussed.

Once you have given your list of difficulties to the tutor, you can specify whether you want them to review the material, create a set of practice questions to test your understanding, or both. The tutor will prepare by reviewing class material, outside resources, and any materials you shared. You should do the same! Look over the questions, highlight things that don’t make sense, and be prepared to walk through the material with the tutor. They will want to know your understanding of the material and your technique to answering questions. This will allow them to make suggestions that improve your understanding of the topic and your approach to subsequent topics.

There are several things you can do during the tutoring session to maximize your outcomes. First, minimize distractions by letting your family and friends know that you’ll be busy for the hour. Turn off notifications on your phone and computer. If you’re attending the session virtually, make sure that your internet connection is stable, and you are alone. Get comfortable, and have your study material close. If you are attending the session in person, bring your study materials and prepare to jot down a few notes. Make sure to ask questions as they come up and refer to your list of concerns to make sure they are all covered. You may need more than one session to cover everything if you have a long list of concerns.

After the session, give feedback to the tutor. There is an online form you can fill out to tell the coordinator how much you learned, whether the tutor was prepared for the session, whether you prepared, and what the tutor could have done better. If you are comfortable with it, you can give the tutor feedback directly after the session. Comments about any aspect of the tutoring session are helpful to personalize further sessions and make the experience better for other students. If the session does not help you, you can meet with other tutors.

Tutoring is a partnership in which each person has a set of duties that must be completed to have an effective session. Prepare the list of material to be covered and be familiar with that material before meeting with a tutor. The tutor must use the list to design a session that adequately addresses concerns and prepares the student for their exams. By following these suggestions, we hope that you have a great tutoring session and achieve your academic goals!