How to Become a Successful Tutor

By Altiné Moumouni
As with becoming a good teacher, there are ways to establish yourself as a good tutor. Here are 7 helpful tips to becoming a good tutor and reaping all the benefits.

Becoming a tutor is an excellent idea, particularly during difficult times. It is a great way to earn extra, and perhaps to become your own boss. However, it also comes with a lot of responsibilities. 

As with becoming a good teacher (and avoiding becoming a bad TEFL teacher), there are also ways to establish yourself as a good tutor. Here are 7 helpful tips to becoming a good tutor and reaping all the benefits. 

1 Set specific and measurable goals for every student

Ideally, you should use your first session to assess your student’s level and establish objectives. This will help you quantify your student’s progress.

You can also ask the students what to expect from every tutoring session. As a tutor, your most important role is to help your student become an independent learner. Therefore, avoid doing your students’ homework; show them the steps, and let them try independently. 

Here is a sample of questions to help you set goals for your students:

  • What subject does your student need help with?
  • How old is the student?
  • What are your student’s current grades?
  • Which grades do they want to achieve?
  • Which areas or subjects are they struggling with?
  • What universities or schools are they planning to apply to?

2 Before every session, prepare a time-based outline

It will help you become more productive with your student. It is good to plan what you will be doing throughout the session, whether tutoring a group or one-on-one. 

You don’t need a written timeline, but ensure you review the chapter you will be discussing and prepare exercises before every session. For example, if you are tutoring math, work out all the exercises and think of examples beforehand.

3 Be professional

Always be mindful of how your students perceive you. Watch your posture and body language. The way you behave tells your students how much you care. 

Nodding and smiling are excellent ways to show your students you are engaged and listening. 

Here are a few things you should avoid: 

  • Leaning back in your chair
  • Appearing angry or impatient
  • Crossing your arms

In addition, being late, particularly for your first lesson, will hurt your reputation as a tutor. If you are teaching online, ensure your online teaching tools work correctly, including internet connection, camera, and microphone. 

Most importantly, have your student’s phone number in case you experience any delays due to public transportation.  

4 Motivate your student

Throughout your tutoring session, acknowledge your student’s effort and hard work. At the end of each session, point out a few things your student did well.

Always try to find the right words to encourage your student to strive to do their best and reach their goals. 

One of the best ways to motivate students is to share your experience. Let them know you also struggled with some subjects and share ideas on how you overcame them.

5 Build a rapport with your students and their parents

One thing to keep in mind is that most of your clients as tutors will come from referrals. Be honest, flexible, and patient with your students before, during, and after every tutoring session. 

Show your students and their parents that you genuinely care about them and their success. 

Flexibility is also essential; sometimes, your students will call you to cancel a session. And sometimes, your students might need extra support during the weekend before their exam. Try to think about long-term relationships and be understanding. 

6 Adjust your tutoring plan as you progress with your student

Not all students learn the same way; if you adopt a method and notice it is not giving good results, don’t be afraid to adjust. 

Ask your students or their parents for feedback. Don’t try to be a teacher (or a friend), be a guide or coach. Instead of lecturing, ask many questions and let the student be in charge of their learning. 

Your goal should be to make your student fall in love with the subject you are tutoring. When they start enjoying learning, they will improve their school grades. 

7 Periodically communicate with your student’s parents

Talking to parents is particularly important for younger students as high school students can explain their course objectives. 

It is also essential to discuss with students’ parents any progress and challenges. If possible, discuss the long-term schedule with their parents. 

Ask parents how often they would like tutoring sessions as some parents might want you to tutor their kid throughout high school, particularly if they are happy with your service. 

Written by Altiné Moumouni for Teflnet May 2022
Altiné is from Toronto, Canada, and currently teaches mathematics at a high school in Guangzhou, China. He has a master's degree in International Economics and Finance from Ryerson University in Canada and is passionate about helping people worldwide through his blogs. He writes about TEFL Teaching and Health and Fitness. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, running, traveling, and anything that allows him to experience the beauty of nature. You can find him at
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