What Makes a Tutor Unique? How to Offer the Best Tutoring Experience


  1. The tutor-student relationship 
  2. First impressions count
  3. Delivering an effective first lesson
  4. Understanding your student
  5. The role of homework
  6. The importance of flexibility


The tutor-student relationship is unique in many ways. Often working in a one-to-one capacity, outside of school hours, your role is to support your students to build confidence, take responsibility for their learning and ultimately reach their academic goals. So, what makes a great tutor great?

Whether you are teaching a primary or secondary school student, we are here to help you be the best version of yourself while you tutor! Read on for advice on offering the best tutoring experience, from making a positive first impression to understanding your students, lesson planning and setting homework.👇tutor-2

The tutor-student relationship  


Unlike parent-child or teacher-student relationships, the tutor-student relationship relies on choice and transaction. You can’t choose your family, but students can and do choose their tutors, and this active choice sets up a sort of social contract between you both. 🤝

Collaboration is key to a successful tutor-student relationship. You have a shared goal – enhancing your student’s understanding or knowledge of a subject – and you must work together to achieve it. Working one-to-one speeds up getting to know one another, so you quickly make bonds, build trust and map out a personalised and bespokethe route together.  

Honesty is also crucial. Without it, the tuition process can fall flat. What’s more, it must be two-way. Within this framework, your student can take responsibility for their learning, feel confident making mistakes and build on their self-esteem. Meanwhile, you can encourage, support and feedback effectively. 👌

Lastly, as a tutor, you are less easy to pigeonhole. Where parents and teachers can seem two-dimensional – rarely existing outside of the home or school – tutors can move beyond those caricatures, bringing personal anecdotes, alternative experiences and real-life know-how into the frame.


First impressions count


Let’s start from the top. You’ve booked a trial session with a new student and are keen to work with them. Being intentional about the impression you make and your preparedness is key to making this first interaction a positive one that, hopefully, you and your student would like to repeat.

In a bid to plan the perfect trial lesson, it can be easy to overlook some of the more basic elements involved in delivering a great online tutoring experience. Think about what you are wearing; comfort is important, but also make sure you look clean, presentable and professional. 👕

Consider your environment and ensure it is tidy, quiet and non-distracting. If you haven’t already, test your equipment with a friend. What works best, looking at your screen or directly into the camera? It’s essential to connect with your student and convey thatreassure them that you are both knowledgeable about your subject and easy to get along with. 😀

Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself before you embark on that first trial lesson:

Personal presentation

  • What are you wearing?
  • What can be seen behind you?
  • Are there background noises?
  • Where are you looking?


  • How are you starting the lesson?
  • How are you showcasing that you are the tutor for them?
  • How are you demonstrating your education in the subject?


Delivering an effective first lesson


So, you’ve introduced yourself and talked a bit about your background and subject knowledge. Now it's time to get to know your student and try out a few activities together.

Before diving into any pre-planned teaching or tasks, take the time to ask your student questions and understand their objectives. What are their learning goals? What is their learning style, and how do they like to receive information? By familiarising yourself with your student’s wishes early on, you can implement backwards planning to ensure you meet their long-term needs. ​​🎯

Here are some tips to help you plan and deliver an effective lesson:

Effective lesson tips

  • Use the first sessions to understand your student and their needs best 
  • Have a backup plan with the flexibility to switch things around if needed
  • Use backwards planning: what does the student want to achieve, and how will you get there?
  • Find or produce high-quality resources – like the GoStudent summer learning schedules – to support your lessons


Understanding your student


How can you best understand your student? Asking relevant questions and being an active listener are critical. It will help you understand your students' needs and how best to work towards their goals. 🥅⚽

Always make time for discussion and feedback and ensure you implement it too. Listening to your student’s likes and dislikes or strengths and weaknesses will help you decide how best to structure your lessons and what to focus on – are topic-based, skills-based, or revision exercises most suitable?

Consider asking these questions to assess the best way to approach your student and lesson planning:

Questions for your student

  • What does your student enjoy?
  • What do they like to use to learn and revise?
  • What do they find challenging?
  • How much time can they allocate to homework?


The role of homework


Research on homework shows that the average British school student spends around 3.5 hours on their homework per week. Of these, primary students spend 2.2 hours, secondary students spend 4.3 hours, and sixth form students spend 5.3 hours on homework per week on average. While these numbers aren’t worrisome, they are still over the standard limit most child health bodies prescribe. ✍️

So, if you are keen to set homework, you must be deliberate and thoughtful about it. We recommend setting small, achievable tasks that focus on recapping what was learned in the lesson or delving deeper into a topic your student enjoys. 

It’s also important to consider how much time your student has to allocate towards homework, what activities they are most likely to engage with, and when you would like to receive their homework. Do you want to mark and return it before the next lesson? Or would you like to run through it together? ✅

Ask yourself these questions before setting homework tasks:

Approaching homework

  • Is the homework you are assigning intentional?
  • Does it align with the outcomes the student is working towards?
  • Will your student feel motivated to complete this homework?
  • Will your student have enough time to complete this homework?
  • When will you mark and give feedback on this homework?


The importance of flexibility


Tutoring can be unpredictable at times. It is hard to know the pace at which your student will work through lesson content – not to mention lateness, missed lessons or technical difficulties playing havoc with your plans. You may also find that getting to know your student and their preferred learning style takes time. 💪

Making a contingency or backup plan by having alternative activities and flexibility built into your lesson plans will mean you can easily cope with any last-minute changes and easily accommodate your student's needs. 👍

Employ some of these strategies to ensure you have a backup plan:

Examples of flexibility

  • Plan for two or more approaches to the session in case priorities shift
  • Have a variety of resources available to choose between, including videos, quizzes, textbooks and websites
  • Have material to work with if you finish your lesson early. Pause for discussion or write a short paragraph about what they learned
  • Always have revision flashcards on hand to recap skills and plug an unplanned gap in your lesson

If you haven’t already, why not join us as a GoStudent tutor?! Some of the many benefits include working remotely and managing your own schedule. Moreover, we connect you with the students, so you don’t need to advertise. Sound good? Sign up to become an online tutor today! 🎒