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I've been privately tutoring Mathematics online for 3+ years (11+/13+/GCSE/A-Level) - AMA
23

alexandercobb · 08/08/2022 15:06

Hi everyone,

I have tutored Mathematics to all ages and abilities, in-person and online, to help fund my Mathematics degree at Imperial College London. I have taught roughly 700 hours and have had numerous successes (e.g. a student receiving the King's scholarship at Eton this year, another student gaining admission to both Eton and Harrow etc.).

The tutoring market is not very transparent and any online information you do have is from somebody trying to sell you their services, so feel free to ask me anything and I'll give you my un-biased opinions!

P.S. this is not intended to be self-promotion: as well as helping anybody with questions, I am doing this AMA as market research for a tutoring company I intend to start. I understand mumsnet doesn't allow self-promotion and I don't want to break any rules!

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PinkyU · 08/08/2022 15:14

I’m teaching my 9 year old BOMDAS/BODMAS.


The book I’m using says M&D as well as A&S are ranked equally, so once B&O has been done you then work left to right regardless of wether M or D comes first (obviously either done before A or S).

However, my eldest is adamant that it’s BODMAS and must be completed in that order.

Who is correct?

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alexandercobb · 08/08/2022 15:29

PinkyU · 08/08/2022 15:14

I’m teaching my 9 year old BOMDAS/BODMAS.


The book I’m using says M&D as well as A&S are ranked equally, so once B&O has been done you then work left to right regardless of wether M or D comes first (obviously either done before A or S).

However, my eldest is adamant that it’s BODMAS and must be completed in that order.

Who is correct?

Your book is correct. M&D and A&S are pairwise reciprocals of each other (e.g. dividing by 9 is the same as multiplying by 1/9 or subtracting 9 is the same as adding -9) so they are technically the same thing.

BODMAS is taught in school because it easy to remember. BOMDSA doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

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Spottybotty20 · 08/08/2022 15:35

Have you tutored in person at all? I’m interested to know how online compares to in person tutoring. I’m a maths teacher and prelockdown had a decent extra income from in person tutoring. I haven’t done any since covid (as I had a baby and too busy) but am considering restarting and interested to know if I should look into doing it online instead.

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alexandercobb · 08/08/2022 15:48

Spottybotty20 · 08/08/2022 15:35

Have you tutored in person at all? I’m interested to know how online compares to in person tutoring. I’m a maths teacher and prelockdown had a decent extra income from in person tutoring. I haven’t done any since covid (as I had a baby and too busy) but am considering restarting and interested to know if I should look into doing it online instead.

Yes - my first few clients were online before covid hit. Once I realised covid would render everything online, I invested in an external tablet and interactive whiteboard and find the lessons far more productive.

I have, of course, improved as a tutor over the last 2 years (since I moved to online) but my current students find online lessons more engaging since I can easily share my screen and resources with them and allow them to interact with my whiteboard. Additionally, online tutoring has no travel costs, so the lessons are cheaper for parents without sacrificing quality.

Hope this helps!

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alexandercobb · 08/08/2022 15:49

This message has been withdrawn at the poster's request

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Mustardfan · 08/08/2022 18:00

How does the external tablet and interactive whiteboard work? Are they two separate things, or is the interactive whiteboard on the tablet or your laptop? Does the pupil need a tablet too?

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alexandercobb · 08/08/2022 21:09

Mustardfan · 08/08/2022 18:00

How does the external tablet and interactive whiteboard work? Are they two separate things, or is the interactive whiteboard on the tablet or your laptop? Does the pupil need a tablet too?

The external tablet is a pen + tablet you plug into your laptop and the whiteboard I use is the 'professional' subscription to Zoom. This allows me and the students to annotate everything (websites/ textbooks/ plain whiteboard) and lets me share recordings/ screenshots of the lesson.

My pupils do not have a tablet and I don't think they need one (they can use a mouse or, as is usually the case, explain their thinking vocally). However, a cheap one can be bought for ~£20 which could be a useful investment.

Hope this helps!

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BuffaloTings · 08/08/2022 22:59

How would you describe your pedagogy? Have you any kind of teaching qualification?

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alexandercobb · 09/08/2022 12:32

BuffaloTings · 08/08/2022 22:59

How would you describe your pedagogy? Have you any kind of teaching qualification?

I do not have any official qualifications but before I started tutoring professionally I helped teach a GCSE class for my Gold DofE.

However, I would say that a PGCE-type qualification is not necessary for private tutoring. Student's come to their tutors for their expertise in a particular subject - you are generally not teaching the student new material, you are helping them understand material already taught to them by their PGCE qualified teacher. From my perspective, whilst I now have a First in Mathematics, I was never the extremely gifted one at school (every year seems to have one). My accolades have been achieved via lots of hard work and late nights trying to understand the Mathematics I had been taught, not automatically understanding something on my first try. This means that when I have a student struggling with a particular topic or question I have a good inclination as to what the issues are and where I can step in to guide them towards understanding.

My pedagogy is summarised with two points:

  1. The student only learns through tackling and solving a question themselves. Whilst I will often do preliminary examples to display methods and thinking, the student has to complete the question without my guidance before they fully comprehend a concept. Of course, this comprehension is built up via increasingly difficult or involved questions.
  2. The adage "“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime” is an axiom to my teaching philosophy. If I can teach a student the underlying concept behind a question they can answer every other question based on the same concept. School curriculum, however, seems to have a foundation in learning by repetition, which only teaches students how to answer specific questions they have seen before. This not only takes far longer (since many questions need to be answered to cover all bases) but also means the students have acquired no absolute knowledge: they have just been taught how to answer a specific set of questions. In teaching them how to fish, they improve holistically as mathematicians and acquire the knowledge to answer any such question within the topic.
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MojoJojo71 · 09/08/2022 12:37

How did you get into tutoring? Do you work for an agency? My son has an MEng in joint maths and computing from Imperial and is just about to start a self-funded Masters in neuroscience at UCL. He’s looking for some flexible part-time work to get him through as the fees alone are eye watering. I’d appreciate any advice if you think this may be a good idea for him

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alexandercobb · 09/08/2022 14:21

MojoJojo71 · 09/08/2022 12:37

How did you get into tutoring? Do you work for an agency? My son has an MEng in joint maths and computing from Imperial and is just about to start a self-funded Masters in neuroscience at UCL. He’s looking for some flexible part-time work to get him through as the fees alone are eye watering. I’d appreciate any advice if you think this may be a good idea for him

Most of my clients now are from word-of-mouth. I initially got most of my students from SuperProf though. I paid to be promoted at the top of people's searches. Agencies seem effective but they usually take ~50% of your fee so expensive for parents + you don't see a lot of the money and they look for people who already have experience. An agency will find you clients though which is helpful in the beginning.

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DonnaHadDee · 10/08/2022 22:46

I’m delighted to see these types of efforts in the science and tech areas and hope you are successful. It makes a huge difference, when an interested student connects with a good tutor. There is a spark, and it can stimulate a young person’s interest beyond the routine coursework.

it would be great if you could have options to support small on line groups too. Coder Dojo has done that successfully too. Good luck!

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Endofdaysarehere · 10/08/2022 22:59

What age do you generally start extra tutoring? Is earlier better?

What do you charge and what is the ball-park market rate?

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Lillith111 · 10/08/2022 23:14

Biggest cf parent story 😅?

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alexandercobb · 11/08/2022 13:23

DonnaHadDee · 10/08/2022 22:46

I’m delighted to see these types of efforts in the science and tech areas and hope you are successful. It makes a huge difference, when an interested student connects with a good tutor. There is a spark, and it can stimulate a young person’s interest beyond the routine coursework.

it would be great if you could have options to support small on line groups too. Coder Dojo has done that successfully too. Good luck!

Thank you very much! I do also teach online groups (up to 3 students) which are similarly successful. They make lessons cheaper for parents whilst still reaping the benefits of private tuition.

The only challenge in group lessons is in making the sure the students are of a similar ability. I usually have an individual session before I put a student into a group so that I can gauge their ability.

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alexandercobb · 11/08/2022 13:40

Endofdaysarehere · 10/08/2022 22:59

What age do you generally start extra tutoring? Is earlier better?

What do you charge and what is the ball-park market rate?

I have had students as young as 5 and as old as 27. As is the case with everything, the earlier you start the better. The same goes for how many lessons you have a week.

I currently charge between £40 - £60 p/h depending on level and the number of lessons per week. For someone of my position (First-class Honours Imperial College Mathematics graduate, incoming Cambridge Economics graduate, 3 years' experience etc.) the market rate is around £90 - £100 p/h but I find that a bit extortionate. My rate with agencies is higher since they take a cut of each lesson, but my take home pay still remains within the £40 - £60 p/h level.

Hope this helps!

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alexandercobb · 11/08/2022 13:49

Lillith111 · 10/08/2022 23:14

Biggest cf parent story 😅?

Not particularly. Most clients are very reliable and grateful for the tuition.

I have had some clients try to claim the first lesson as free (I offer a free consultation but generally not the first lesson) but beyond that I have had no cf moments.

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Setyoufree · 11/08/2022 13:56

Can you tell which children are going to pass the 11+? Have you ever been surprised by someone that you'd expect to pass not managing it, or vice versa?

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alexandercobb · 12/08/2022 11:27

Setyoufree · 11/08/2022 13:56

Can you tell which children are going to pass the 11+? Have you ever been surprised by someone that you'd expect to pass not managing it, or vice versa?

Yes I'd say I can tell pretty immediately (1-2 lessons) whether a student will pass the maths component or whether they will be able to pass it with targeted tuition. I have not had any surprises (all of my students have passed the 11+) but I can imagine the stress getting to an 11-year-old during the exam and causing some upsets.

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MojoJojo71 · 13/08/2022 12:24

Could you recommend a good agency that my son could approach with a view to getting some work? What kind of rate do you think someone new to tutoring could attract? He has a first class MEng in JMC from Imperial but apart from helping his 9 year old sister has no formal experience

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alexandercobb · 14/08/2022 15:50

MojoJojo71 · 13/08/2022 12:24

Could you recommend a good agency that my son could approach with a view to getting some work? What kind of rate do you think someone new to tutoring could attract? He has a first class MEng in JMC from Imperial but apart from helping his 9 year old sister has no formal experience

I would try Superprof as a website. Just set your fee and pay to be promoted as a top result (£50 per year). New tutor should expect £25 - £40. Try figtree, titanium, bright heart or minerva for agency.

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tottielottie · 18/08/2022 19:17

Hi Alexandercobb - do you help tutor Alevel and Degree Level too?

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alexandercobb · 23/08/2022 10:46

tottielottie · 18/08/2022 19:17

Hi Alexandercobb - do you help tutor Alevel and Degree Level too?

Hi, yes I do tutor A-Level. Degree I can help with but it's not my expertise since I have only just graduated.

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