6 Signs of a Good Private Tutor (and How to Spot a Bad One)

Private tutoring is on the rise. Whether you opt to learn online or in-person, you now have more choice of tutors than ever before. But with an influx of top-quality tutors comes an upsurge of outright mediocre ones alongside them. So how can you be sure you’re working with the best tutors on the market?

Tutor House has some insider’s tips for separating the wheat from the chaff to help you identify the most professional and dedicated tutors for you or your child.


Many tutor in a casual capacity, but this does not mean they shouldn’t be held to professional standards. A dedicated tutor will be efficient in their communication, will always turn up to lessons on time and will ensure their technology is in correct working order prior to the start of sessions. Failure to do any of the above is generally a sign that they lack the dependability to be an effective teaching presence going forward. Competent tutors should be committed to earning their client’s respect each and every time they teach, so slipping standards should be tolerated.

A personalised approach

If you’re seeking private tutoring, it is likely primarily because the one-size-fits-all style of mainstream schooling has not been sufficient, so make sure your chosen tutor understands the importance of providing bespoke teaching. The best tutors will use their first session with their student diagnostically, establishing their level, where they’re at in their learning and, as far as can be ascertained, their learning style.


A good tutor will incorporate structure and organisation heavily into their approach. They will have considered each individual student’s requirements and will work to a specific timeline accordingly. This timeline will vary depending on factors including any upcoming exams a student might have or the wider context for their learning, but make sure your tutor is coming with a well thought out trajectory in mind. And don’t forget that all-important lesson plan – winging it is one of the deadly sins of tutoring!


Tutoring websites typically allow tutors to list multiple subjects under the areas they teach in. However, a rule of thumb to follow is: the more subjects a teacher claims to teach, the less effective they will be. Tutors who focus on a single area are guaranteed to provide more in-depth knowledge of their subject and a more focused learning experience for their students. There are of course exceptions to this rule, but when deciding on a tutor, it is best to go with one who offers more specialist tutoring in fewer areas in order to guarantee top-quality teaching.


Hand-in-hand with a structured approach comes adaptability. No two students are the same and tutors must be prepared to change up their methodology according to what is working with their students and what isn’t. The ability to be flexible is a key component of personalisation when it comes to learning, so make sure your tutor is not overly rigid in their approach before you book multiple sessions with them.


In a sea of competing tutors, the best way for a tutor to stand out is by being original. Anyone can employ the classic teaching methods we all know from our school days, but an effective tutor will set themselves apart from traditional schooling by changing up their approach. Whether they use games, songs or off-the-wall resources, your tutor should be constantly testing the boundaries and using creative methods to help their student better absorb information. Plus, creative lessons make for more enjoyable learning and will leave students eagerly awaiting their next session.


Tutors, given that they work outside a school setting, are not obliged to bring their own study material. However, the best will. An ability to effectively engage with resources and choose the correct ones for each individual student is a sure sign of a strong tutor. These resources might be assessment materials, textbooks or study aids. So look out for tutors who turn up to lessons empty-handed and run in the opposite direction.

Regular assessments


A good tutor will understand the importance of assessments. By assessments we don’t mean formal exams, we mean casual testing to find out what the student has learned and how best to address any problem areas. Systematic reviewing is vital to gauge students’ progress and help them consolidate the information they have taken in, so make sure your tutor is rounding off every few lessons with a low-stress review or test, whatever form that might take.


Though it’s one of the less quantifiable on this list, passion for teaching is a must. Even if a tutor is not in it for the long haul and is using tutoring primarily as a stop-gap prior to beginning a new career, they should still enjoy what they do and demonstrate a genuine enthusiasm for their work. Not only is it infinitely more pleasant to learn with someone who enjoys their work, a tutor who loves their job will more than likely thrive within it. They will want to do the best work they can and go that extra mile to make their student’s learning experience a successful one. So these are the tutors to hold onto.


Hand-in-hand with enthusiasm for teaching comes a tutor’s love of their subject. If a tutor speaks about their subject with passion and dedication, they will be more likely to want to do it justice and provide the best learning experience for their students. They will also have a greater chance of transmitting their interest to their students, so they too can develop a genuine enthusiasm of their own. Children in particular will benefit from this approach, and instilling a love of learning in our young people – isn’t that what’s all about?

Choose wisely!

Don’t get caught out by subpar tutors looking to make an easy buck. A bad tutor will be a waste of time and money, so make your decision shrewdly. Follow these telltale signals of a high-quality tutor and achieve the academic success you deserve.