Tips From an Irvine Private Academic Tutor: Assessing Improvement in Test Scores

One of the biggest issues parents worry about is if their child’s tutor will be a good personality fit. Some children will need a nurturing tutor while others will need somebody who can provide more structure. Most parents who hire a private Orange County tutor who quickly responds to their children in a positive way will be very happy. However, what happens when the next set of grades or test scores come out and there isn’t any improvement?


1.  Test scores are different from actual learning

Learning material and absorbing information is different than being able to demonstrate knowledge on a test. Younger children, especially in elementary school, will take any number of short quizzes or longer exams that are generally meant to genuinely test the child’s knowledge. However, standardized testing (which is starting much younger these days) is entirely different and something the classroom teacher has absolutely no control over. If the child is performing poorly on standardized exams but there is an improvement in homework grades and general concentration, the issue is probably with test prep. In this situation, parents should sit down with their Orange County tutor and ask if they can integrate test prep into the sessions.

In order for a tutor to do this they will need some information about the type of standardized exams being given. The parent should try and provide a copy of the specific test that was given and graded by the classroom teacher so the tutor can spend some time reviewing the material. On the other hand, if the child is performing poorly on short quizzes written by the teacher, the parent may have to dig further to evaluate the issue. Although standardized test prep is a subject in and of itself, basic short quizzes should not be as difficult. A discussion with the classroom teacher will be helpful to identify if the issue is the subject matter, concentration, or something in the classroom environment (READ: “ACT Tips From a Private Irvine Tutor”).

2. Communicate with the tutor about the specifics of the session

If the sessions are going well but test scores are still low, parents are advised to have a conversation with the tutor about what they covered in the session. Some parents provide specific topics that they would like the tutor to cover (often based on advice from a classroom teacher) while others ask the tutor to take responsibility for the material. If this is the case, it’s possible that the tutor is doing a great job covering geometry when the classroom teacher has since moved on to algebra. Communicating with a tutor about what’s going on in the classroom is the key to keeping sessions fruitful (READ: “10 Study Tips from an Irvine History Tutor”).

3. Still not working?

If the parent has worked with the Irvine private academic tutor, their child, and the classroom teacher to get on the same page but there is still no improvement, alternate arrangements should be considered. This is a tough scenario with no right or wrong solution. It may be time to switch to a new tutor, but this is challenging if the child already has a good rapport with their current tutor.

The first thing that parents should think about is how long the child has been with their tutor. If tutoring started less than two months ago, it may not even be enough time for the child to have fully learned new concepts. In this case it’s recommended that parents continue to be in communication with both the tutor and classroom teacher to stay organized and wait until the end of the semester. However, if a full semester (three months or more) has passed and there has been no improvement, a new tutor may be needed. If parents are concerned about the transition, they might start by hiring a second tutor and have them work simultaneously. For example, if the child was working with their tutor four hours a week, the student can continue to work for two hours a week but work with a different tutor for the other two hours during the adjustment period (READ: “5 Reasons to take a Practice Test Before taking the AP Exam”).

In short

Success in supplemental education can be just as tricky as in the classroom environment. The important thing is that the student has the opportunity to improve and that they have a good rapport with their tutor. At the end of the day, tutors want their students to learn whether it’s with them or somebody else. However, without communication and organization, parents often find that tutoring progresses much slower than they would like.

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