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1:1 vs Group Tuition: which is better?

948936No one learns in the same way. During your revision you may work best by taking reams of notes, you might make flashcards, exclusively use past papers, watch videos, or study with your friends. We’re all individuals, and we have different needs when it comes to learning, just as with anything else.

Therefore, when it comes to getting a bit of extra help in the form of tuition, you may be torn between two options: one to one sessions or group classes. In this post I aim to simplify the decision for you, hopefully helping you to come to a decision.

Firstly, you have the option of learning one to one, which allows you to tailor the lesson to exactly what you want, and concentrate on a specific nuance that needs to broken down slowly before you’re able to understand it. Thus you’re able to learn at your own pace, including the opposite case where you progress quickly and may feel held back by working with students of mixed abilities.

The great thing about learning in a grouped environment is that you’re able to share ideas on tackling a problem, and others can provide a unique approach that perhaps hadn’t crossed your mind. Also, less pressure is put on any one student, giving them the freedom to recall knowledge they have under their own steam. It also gives the chance for more varied questions to be asked of the teacher, so that the width and breadth of a topic has been completely covered. Healthy competition can also be encouraged, pushing each student to excel. This fosters a livelier, more stimulating environment, which in turn enhances the social skills of a child.

Ultimately both methods have their merits and downsides depending on your level and personality. A combination of both may be the way forward, as you gain the advantages of both types of tuition, but in the end it is down to you.

Luckily for you, here at Luton Tutors we offer both individual and group sessions, with a new class beginning on Sundays at Luton Sixth Form College offering GCSE Maths, English and Science. Contact us for more details if you’re interested.

Tips on doing well in GCSEs – Part 1

In this series, I will collate all the tips, tricks and knowhow I’ve learnt and used over thegcse-results-2014_edited-1 years to do well at school, in any subject and at any level, although I’ll be focusing on GCSEs primarily. I’ll cover everything from study techniques to last-minute revision, right up until what to do on the day of your exam.

In this part I will be taking the long view. It is coming up to Christmas, and for many of you the real work starts now. For many more of you however, this is a holiday to kick back and savour your last few days of freedom before you promise yourself that you’ll begin revising. Do not fall into this trap. At the very least begin to make a timetable, print out some past papers, buy any equipment you need, get in the mindset and maybe read over some lesson notes to keep fresh.

Once you’ve decided to actually begin, a good place to start is exam papers. Just to see where you’re at, complete one past paper for each module you’re going to sit. Mark the papers in detail, writing full corrections under wrong answers. Don’t panic if you get a bunch of U’s. It’s natural to forget things you’ve learnt earlier in the year without the benefit of even a quick 5 minute read of your notes. The point of this exercise is to see what you know without needing to refresh your memory, so that you can begin to focus on the topics that don’t come naturally to you. Make a list of said topics, and then start revising in the area where you’re weakest. This is also a good strategy to use before mock exams, where you may not have time to write out reams of notes for every subject.

I found that making a Google Document with all the details of my revision (exam papers printed and done, grades achieved in them, topics to revise) was an extremely useful tool, as it can be accessed anytime, anywhere, on any device. It helped to structure my revision, make it as efficient as possible, and ensure that I progressed week by week.

One of the most important things to do during term time is keep on top of your homework and assignments, and do the best you can in them. That way you’re naturally on track with what you’re meant to be learning, and means that you’ll spend less time having to relearn content from scratch later on in the year. I learnt this lesson the hard way, make sure you don’t.

Any questions or further tips you may have are welcome in the comments section below. Good Luck!

Methods we employ to ensure good grades

aHere at Luton Tutors, we use proven, tried and tested methods to ensure real progress in our students. In this post I’ll go through the process from the first lesson through to sustaining improvement over the long term.

First, we assess the level of the student. So in English we would set a few writing tasks e.g. writing a short story, description of a setting, newspaper article, persuasive advertisement, etc. In Maths and Science we’d give several questions on a variety of topics and at different difficulties. This is all to pinpoint exactly where they need most help. We can then tailor lessons accordingly, and also to mirror the schoolwork they’re doing, so as to boost their understanding on specific topics and challenge their current working level.

We use online resources such as MyMaths, Maths Genie, Physics and Maths Tutor, BBC Bitesize, as well as past papers from the various exam boards. Methods we employ include spoken quizzes, short tests at the end of each session, going through exam paper questions by topic, looking at exam markschemes and examiner’s reports to explain what they look for in exam papers and to improve exam technique. Regular 30 min. homeworks are set, so that students come to the lesson having practised and mastered the skill we taught them last lesson, and are able to move on to more advanced questions, or a new topic.

The ultimate goal is to make the student an independent learner, capable of tackling any exam question with the correct mindset, knowledge and methodology, so that they can achieve the best possible marks in every exam they sit.

The importance of having fun

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Fun and exams. Two words you never hear in the same sentence. I think that’s wrong. Let me explain.

From a young age, it is drummed into us that doing well at school and getting good grades is only achieved by studying 24/7 and never going out. Our parents try to soften this by assuring us it’ll all be over when Year 11 ends, and we can relax. I don’t subscribe to this theory.

Say you do work from the moment you wake up till your head hits the pillow again in the evening, every day for a year. You do your exams, and then the summer holiday arrives. Admittedly this holiday is the best you’ll experience in your time in secondary education, but it doesn’t last. College is right around the corner, and is a massive step up. If you thought you had to work hard in your subjects last year, now you have to double the work, which is at double the difficulty. And this is for two years now, rather than one. There is no let-up.

Now, unless you’re a robot, there is just no way on Earth you can survive three years of non-stop study, with little or no social or relaxation time. It’s just not possible. We see this in a lot of the students who aced their GCSEs: they can’t handle the realisation that this year of complete dedication wasn’t a one-off, so go off the rails. I was one of these students. I’d worked my socks off in Year 11, and the effort paid off, but when I began my AS-Level at college, I couldn’t muster up the motivation. My teachers and parents were telling me at every turn that I had to work, work, work. More, more, more. In the end I just gave up completely, and did next to no work for a year.

This meant that I didn’t do as well as expected, so I decided to move to a different college to make a new start in my second year. My attitude improved and I stayed on top of my work throughout the year, ultimately doing much better in my exams at the end of the year.

My own experience is a perfect exemplification of my point: I went through the extremes of working 150% to 10% to 150% in three successive years. This isn’t healthy, believe me. Even in the year I barely worked I was stressed out, because I knew what the consequences of my inaction would be. And in my final year the workload took a toll on my physical health, as I had to study for 15 exams due to doing retakes of modules I’d failed the year before.

Balance is the key word. Your life shouldn’t be skewed in any one direction, aim for an equilibrium of priorities at all times. As I go onto university, I’ll make sure I have moments free of work and worry with friends and family or on my own, relaxing or going out and doing something fun, recharging the batteries, which will help me to study stronger and for longer when I have to.

Why reading is the key to success

I am very fortunate, in that from a very young age I was exposed to the world of books. My mum taught me how to read through phonics before I joined school, and used to take me down to the local library every week, without fail, to take out as many books as my junior card would allow. I used to love the magical creations of Roald Dahl, accompanied by the vivid illustrations of Quentin Blake, and the great mysteries of Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven and Famous Five.

As I grew, I moved on to the likes of The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis and the incredibly rich descriptive delights of Michael Morpurgo. Eventually I would upgrade to the ‘Young Adults’ card, and could finally take out 15 books. I went through the inevitable Harry Potter phase, and then began to read some of the most captivating, amazingly well-written series for teens out there: GONE by Michael Grant, Alex Rider and The Power of Five, both by Anthony Horowitz, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, CHERUB by Robert Muchamore, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth and in my older days, anything and everything by John Grisham. I devoured every new story I found, for the best part of a decade.

Eventually I burnt out and began to read less, the purchase of my first smartphone helping to accelerate that process. It is a regret that I haven’t properly read a full novel for over 2 years (audiobooks don’t really count), but the literary basis was set in stone. The fact that I can string together coherent and even mildly interesting paragraphs is down, in full, to my reading from a very young age, no doubt about it. The fact that I can write a full personal statement for my university application that resulted in an offer from University College London (UCL) without an interview speaks for itself. It is an invaluable tool that leads to success in any and every field. The shopkeeper who misspells his shop sign will tarnish the image of his business and may lead to less custom, the lab technician who cannot write up a proper risk assessment will endanger his colleagues, the accountant who cannot prepare notes on financial statements and strategies for clients will be out of a job quicker than they can say “but I got an A* in Maths”. And this is neglecting all of those jobs whose primary action is writing: lawyers, journalists, teachers, researchers, novelists, playwrights, etc., as well as the fact that every single job requires you to have a legible CV to even apply for it. 

Reading and writing are opposite sides of the same coin, it improves the vocabulary, spelling, punctuation and grammar of a child manifold. Its a natural process. This isn’t just for the benefit of writing by the way, their speech will become more varied, more complex. You find that a child who reads is so much more engaging and willing to have a lengthy conversation rather than replying with one word answers; they are more rounded personalities.

I believe that if you instil in your children a love of reading, you bless them with a skill for life. If you read, you can speak and write with so much more panache, and are all the better for it.

Who are we?

Hello and welcome to the Luton Tutors blog, my name is Musab Patel.

As well as being the founder of Luton Tutors, I myself am an experienced tutor who has achieved success with a number of students over the last 2 years (see testimonials)  I am a higher education student who started tutoring after I got some brilliant (if I do say so myself) GCSE results and decided to not wait to put them to use. Since then I have transferred my know-how, exam techniques and revision ‘shortcuts’ (there are no real shortcuts to success in this life) to my tutees, who have massively benefited from the fact that I was part of the education system not so long ago.

The reason I continued tutoring after the summer following my GCSEs was because I found that I enjoyed it. The moment when a child learns something you taught them that they hadn’t understood before is just magical. I appreciate that all sounds overly clichéd, but trust me, I never understood why anyone would want to be a teacher till I started tutoring.

This blog will document experiences I face while tutoring, whether that be funny tales from sessions with one of my younger (naughtier) students, or a brush with a pushy prospective client (why haggle when your child’s future is at stake?). I’ll also post some articles and opinion pieces on topics that interest me within the framework of education and learning.

Please don’t hesitate to contribute to the discussion by commenting beneath any post, and of course you can contact me via the relevant channels if you’re interested in tutoring for you/your child.