Exam stress is not new. The most effective strategies for managing exam stress tend not to be new either. However try explaining that to a teenager who rolls their eyes and sighs at the pathetic lack of originality shown by their despairing parents. Finding solutions to exam stress that they have not come across a dozen times before and that are not gimmicks is not easy. That’s why we like Sian Rowland’s approaches which were featured as a TES Pick earlier this year. https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/tackling-exam-stress-three-ways-11598979.
For example, Sian suggests that the student starts by picking the three things that are the main causes of their exam stress.This helps the student to break down their anxieties. The simple act of defining the causes can help make the overwhelming sense of anxiety become less daunting. (They may not even be able to think of 3 causes!). When they have done that, have them come up with 3 simple actions they can take right now to help tackle each source of their exam stress – you may have to help them with this. Looking at practical solutions also helps alleviate the anxiety as the student sees that they can actually do something about it. They are no longer just dwelling on a huge, indeterminate weight but taking action about specific, defined and therefore more manageable issues.
Many of the tuition enquiries we receive at Realtime Tutors are about help with specific aspects of study, revision, time management, confidence, and many other sources of anxiety for the student. That;s why we have developed the Study Skills programme, an individual coaching plan to help develop productive study habits that address the student’s individual study problems in a way that works for their personality. http://www.realtimetutors.co.uk/study-skills-programme
Parents have the best intentions when it comes to supporting their children through the exam period. There is a huge amount of information out there about practical ways in which parents can provide this support. Much of it reiterates advice about study breaks, diet, sleep, exercise, study plans – we suspect that there is a good reason for this – quite simply that such steps do make a difference. We particularly like this article from 2017. The author, Andrew Webb, does indeed repeat what we should by now know, but he adds several points that even the best intentioned parents might overlook. ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff” and the alert that, for all their good intentions, parents voicing their expectations about their child’s likely outcomes may be adding to the pressure rather than being seen as a vote of confidence. https://www.thespark.org.uk/tips-for-parents-during-exams/
Seriously, she does. Charlotte is a native English and French speaker and a great French tutor. She won a a first prize in French Literature on completion of her International Baccalaureate and speaks Nepali and Spanish too!
Charlotte has loads of experience as a French tutor, delivering one-on-one tutorials in French to British children aged 6 years old through to GCSE Level, teaching grammatical rules, vocabulary and how to develop writing and conversational skills.
She recognises the value of languages as a competitive advantage in the workplace and as a tool for discovering and interacting with a vast number of cultures. She also describes mastering a language as ‘simply really fun’. That’s what she can share with your child.
Charlotte acknowledges that learning a language can be tough, especially French with all its rules, exceptions and counter-intuitive spelling! She understands the pressure to succeed in exams in top of many other ongoing pressures, so as well as experience, expertise and enthusiasm, Charlotte brings empathy to her students. If you need help with GCSE or A level French, why not book a free Meet the Tutor session with Charlotte and find out just how this great French tutor can help you. https://www.realtimetutors.co.uk/author/charlotte/
Who applies to 4 top medical schools and gets 4 offers? Anastasia, that’s who. In her third year at King’s College London, she is not only a top science tutor, she’s creative too, with an A* and an international award in A level Art. Did we mention that she has a top grade in Further Maths at A level?
Anastasia’s key goal as a tutor is to ensure that her students understand rather than just learn facts. She will also help develop your study skills by sharing her top techniques and ways of memorising and retaining a large number of information. And clearly her techniques work!
One of Anastasia’s unique strengths and passions is coaching students for what is arguably the most stressful aspect of a university application – the interview. She will prepare her students to take that huge step from interview workshops surrounded by other students to that unique experience where you are finally on your own – a very different and unknown environment.
If your ambition is a top grade in A level Science, Maths or Art, choose Anastasia. She’d love to meet you free of charge and find out more about what you need from this top science tutor.
Benjamin Clayton’s article in the TES last week highlights the importance of factors outside the school on delivering an effective learning experience.
In addition to the fundamental need for a safe and secure home in which to study and be supported in learning, the article points out the importance of good transport links, not just between home and school but between school, home and the carers’ workplace.
We at Realtime Tutors found the article interesting and we concur with the points being raised. We also got a tad irritated. Not with Mr Clayton or the TES but with the wider academic infrastructure.
The students whose learning is affected by the problems identified in the article are more often than not living in tough circumstances. They are de facto also likely to be missing out on another resource that may play a positive contribution to an effective learning experience – private tuition. Realtime Tutors believe that all parties – tuition companies, schools, government – should be contributing to bringing accessible private tuition to more disadvantaged students who are considered to be likely to benefit from this kind of support.
We are actively looking for an academic partner or partners to work with us to trial a free or low cost tuition programme specifically for students from disadvantaged homes. Numeracy among 16+ students who have not attained a Grade C or above in GCSE Maths is our subject of choice because this is an educational priority. Tuition would be delivered online, so students who lack a suitable home environment for study could use school computers and study in an appropriate environment.
If you are interested in potentially partnering with Realtime Tutors to in an initial trial to assess how effective such an intervention might be, please do contact us https://www.realtimetutors.co.uk/contact-us/
Where was the personal statement when today’s parents and carers were completing their own university applications? Probably nowhere near as high on the priority list as it is today.
It is an intrinsic part of the admissions process. The personal statement may be the university’s only means of getting a sense of the individual behind the academic profile. For competitive courses it may be the difference between an offer and no offer. On results day, if a student is just shy of the required grades, a compelling personal statement may tip the scales towards an offer. It deserves as much attention and input as the student can give it.
Most schools offer excellent support and guidance on how to write an appealing, credible and persuasive personal statement. This still leaves quite a bit of work for the student and they may will turn to their parents for assistance.
We’re not going to try to re-invent the wheel by regurgitating some of the great advice that is readily available to help you. The UCAS site is as useful as start point as you would expect it to be :
Three additional practical recommendations.
Like anything, you need to understand the desired end result, from the perspective of the end user ie the university. Take the time to check out the role of the personal statement and the ways it may be used by universities you are considering in the context of the specific courses.
Give it enough time to draft, redraft, edit and polish to perfection. The stipulation about length is crystal clear. To make the key points as succinctly and persuasively as you will wish to will need craftmanship.
The first sentence is often the trickiest. Wrap your head around what experience and evidence indicate to be effective and what is a turn off. Either write it after you have completed the rest of the personal statement or resign yourself to several rewrites. Check out the advice given in this article by Alan Bullock published on the Which University website:
Good luck with your personal statement, If you need still need help, Realtime Tutors selected undergraduate tutors have recent experience of the process and will be happy to provide coaching, so please do get in touch https://www.realtimetutors.co.uk/contact-us/.
Parents searching for the best private tutor for their child tend fall into two camps: those who believe that the tutor must be a qualified teacher and those who believe that this is not a prerequisite and happily hire undergraduates, trainee teachers and even A- level students as tutors.
Who is right? If your child is at KS1 or KS2, where tuition is likely to be addressing core subjects such as literacy and numeracy, or preparing them for 11-Plus or Common Entrance exams, then they should have a qualified teacher who knows exactly how such subjects are best coached and what is appropriate for their age and stage. The same applies to a child who has recognised learning difficulties and needs specialised support.
For students at KS3, KS4 and A –level, the waters become slightly muddier. This is a function firstly of the range of very specific and different needs students have. A 15 year old looking for a Geography tutor may be seeking help with one specific topic and another might need ongoing help to prioritise their study and answer exam questions within a timeframe. Yet a third may seem to need tuition but is actually very capable and needs to build confidence. Alongside this is the necessary development in their attitudes to and approach to learning, from the anxiety driven (over) worker, to the (apparent) ‘would rather be doing anything except studying and you can’t make me’ and a myriad of personalities in between. The role of the tutor at this level is generally much less about formal teaching than about skill or subject specific coaching, delivered in a way that suits the student’s unique personality.
While they will not suit every student or every learning requirement , undergraduates are often excellent tutors for teenagers because of 5 qualities that they very naturally and easily bring to the tuition environment .
Syllabus and Subject Specialists
Cynics may protest that in the current period of change to examination structures and grades, there are no syllabus experts out there at all. Whether or not they are correct is immaterial – parents and students still have to choose from the best available.
Undergraduates, who have been accepted to a top university are by definition superb in their chosen subject and often excellent in others. That’s one of the reasons they have been accepted. They are currently studying their chosen subject at the highest level for their age group.
Yes, of course teachers ‘know’ the syllabus structure and content and what examiners are looking for, but they relate to it as teachers, delivering knowledge, understanding and skills. Undergraduates have very recently been on the receiving end of the delivery of that content and the application of those exam requirements as students. As such, they understand, in a way that no one else can, how specific subjects and questions ‘feel‘ to the learner and what the learning challenges are. They have not simply observed from the outside, they have lived and worked through them. They ‘get it’ and if they have the top grades in the subjects they tutor, they will have developed or otherwise acquired their own effective techniques for getting to grips with the problem areas. That is gold dust for parents and students.
On average, the relationship between a tutor and student lasts for between one and three terms. The learning process will work better if they engage with each other and develop a relationship of some kind. This is inherently easier to achieve with an undergraduate than with a teacher. Even the youngest teacher is still going to be at least 5 years older than the oldest student and is moving already in a different world with different priorities. Do your squad* speak the same language as your teenagers? Do you know the difference between a (Snapchat) streak and a story? If you don’t, most teachers are in the same boat. And teenagers can be brutal about those who try to be ‘one of them . Undergraduates do not have to try. They are in a similar space, use the same social media channels, follow the same bloggers and vloggers, shop in the same places, stream the same music , stress over the same things. The basis for a relationship is in place from the outset.
There has not been a generation in living memory who have not responded more positively to their peer group than to their elders – or “the olds”. If Mr McCartney, 32, with 7 years teaching experience or Mrs Jones, 49, teaching since before Johnny, aged 16, was born, says that the world will be invaded by aliens from the planet Zogg, it’s likely to be greeted with a response somewhere between apathy and automatic resistance. If Cristina, 20, second year International Law and Spanish at Bristol says the same thing, Johnny just might give it due thought and consider it. Nuff said.
Many, but not all, teachers are hugely enthusiastic and similarly, not all undergraduates are enthusiasts. On balance however, undergraduates by virtue of their age and stage are at a point where life is exciting, learning is fresh new experiences abound and are there to be explored. And that enthusiasm can be delightfully infectious. Add to this the fact that the undergraduate tutor recognises that doing a good job will help them build their client base, whether they are working independently or for an agency. They know that great feedback from students enhances their CV to a degree and in ways that non skilled jobs do not. Most acknowledge that tutoring helps their own competence in their subjects.
Key skills in tutoring include the ability to listen, to question, to explain, to plan, to organise, research, evaluate, manage time, and give feedback. Many of these are inherent in the undergraduate’s ‘day job’ so they have little difficulty applying them to deliver top quality tutorials. The savvy ones also appreciate that tutoring develops the skills that they perhaps lack and which will enhance their employability. Indeed, being able to show how tutoring has helped them to develop same is a very handy interview tool.
There is a growing recognition within the private tuition industry that many tutors need training in the skills identified above and this is becoming more readily available. For example, The University of Worcester deliver a two week Diploma in Private Tutoring and Realtime Tutors offer all their tutors a self study, assessed training programme at no cost to the tutor. Those who meet the required standard automatically qualify for a higher rate of remuneration.
There are lots of keen and capable undergraduate tutors out there. Giving them the opportunity of working with your son or daughter may just be a win all round.
*Teenspeak for ‘gang’. Just in case…
On international Day of the Girl #Dayofthegirl what a great opportunity to remind your daughter of the value of her education. http://www.un.org/en/events/girlchild/.
According to the Global Partnership for Education, an estimated 131 million girls worldwide are still denied enrollment at school. Overcoming the barriers to education and addressing global gender equality is a key objective for the GPE. http://www.globalpartnership.org/focus-areas/girls-education
If your daughter is young, you could get her thoughts on how different her life would be without education. An older girl may have some great ideas about how she and her peers can contribute to global efforts to give all girls the education that they accept as the norm.
The season for university interviews is fast approaching and your son or daughter is having to prepare for this on top of their studies and other activities. The university interview is not just about the questions, the answers and the discussion between the interviewer(s) and the student, but about the whole experience. There will be travel to arrange and perhaps an overnight stay. They may need to find their way around a new city and environment. They might have to handle being on their own or indeed take the initiative in meeting new people. That’s in addition to preparing for one of the most influential meetings they will ever have experienced. Rosie Crawford’s vlog, Oxford Interviews, is a great way of helping your child to get their head around the whole process. It’s almost 10 minutes long so watch it over a coffee and don’t be put off by the fact that it’s Oxford – most of the tips and experiences apply to any university interview experience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QC3r5P7TuUk&feature=youtu.be
If your son or daughter needs coaching for their university interviews, Realtime Tutors’ team come from Russell Group universities and have recently been through the process themselves, so they are the ideal people to help. Just get in touch https://www.realtimetutors.co.uk/contact-us/ and we’ll introduce you to the best qualified tutor for your subject and university.