How to get the most out of your tutoring session

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At some point or another, everyone utilizes the tutors here on campus. These invaluable souls can often make the difference between passing and failing, understanding and incomprehension, or calm confidence and frantic cramming. To get the most out of a tutoring experience, however, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Come with specific topics. It is a lot easier to help someone who says they have trouble identifying the direction of magnetic fields rather than someone who simply says that they don’t get magnets. This will ensure that you get the help you need and not waste precious time reviewing concepts you already understand. When you go to the Writing Lab, mention something you often struggle with, for example, consistent verb tense. Alert your tutor to specific areas to look out for. If you are so lost that you do not even know where to begin, try to identify the concepts that you do comprehend, so that the tutor knows what they have to work with.

2. Do not be afraid to ask questions. This time with the tutor is dedicated to solidifying your understanding. It would be completely wasted if the tutor kept using a term you are not familiar with, or assumed you knew something you had never learned. When this happens, do not merely keep nodding your head or staring blankly. Stop and ask them to go back. If your tutor asks if you are following, answer honestly. You might feel bad for still not understanding, or you might feel frustrated and just want to move on. However, if you want to make this time worthwhile, it is important to ensure that everything is perfectly clear.

3. Persevere. There is nothing more frustrating than just not grasping something, especially after trying time and time again. If it comes to this, you may start to give up on the prospect of ever understanding. When you are with a tutor however, it is vital to remain engaged the whole time. The tutors are donating their time and talent to working with you. They want to help. They will almost always find a way to help you understand when you stick with them. Conversely, tutors will notice if your attention starts to dwindle. They will continue to try to help you, but it is always discouraging to try to explain a concept to someone who has no interest. Work with your tutor by remaining responsive.

4. Be polite. It may seem like an obvious, self-explanatory social skill, but being courteous can go a long way. A simple please or thank you can brighten up any day, let alone any sentence. When you and your tutor are on good terms there is a much better chance of achieving a breakthrough. Tutors, like all humans, cannot read minds. Therefore it is pointless to be rude or irrational when they do not know exactly what you need. Communication is important to help bridge any gaps in understanding. When words fail, however, you can simply rephrase your question. Acting rude does far more harm than good by distancing you from your tutor and preventing you from getting the help you need. Being polite will help the two of you to work together.

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