What Makes a Great Tutor?

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9 March 2015

With Singapore’s education system becoming more competitive, more parents are turning to private tutors for additional help in their children’s schoolwork. To accommodate this surge in demand, and also to make ends meet, more people are taking part-time or full-time private tutoring jobs.

This article highlights the characteristics of a great tutor based on our very own experiences and the reviews of parents. Firstly we need to know that there is a vast difference between having the accolades and certificates to show that you can study, and having the ability and skills to impart the knowledge to students.

  • Proficiency in Subject Matter

Great tutors display a deep foundation in the subjects they are teaching, and even continue learning to keep up with the ever-advancing world. They are able to serve content and concepts with enthusiasm and inculcate in their students a lust for learning.

  • Expectations, Clear Objectives

Great teachers and tutors believe that learning depends on the effort put in by both the student and the teacher and that the ability of the student is not a major factor. Therefore effective tutors will set high yet realistic expectations for their students to achieve. This is done by setting concise and detailed objectives for the students to clear for each lesson, making every lesson fruitful and meaningful.

  • Interesting & Engaging

Having great interest or love for the subject matter is very important as whatever sentiments towards the content being taught during the lessons will more often than not be passed down to the tutee. Passion can always be felt when it is right in your face, and so can disinterest.

Effective tutors use interesting and/or fun facts to excite their students, and by asking open-ended questions, students can explore possibilities with their minds and this also makes sure they are following the lesson.

  • Inspire

Great tutors are able to inspire their students with their teachings, be it academic or practical teachings. They impart lessons not just regarding the subject matter, but also their own experiences in life.

  • Organized

Great tutors are well prepared for every lesson, arriving early and ready to teach. Their lessons are delivered in a clear and structured way, and they are not easily distracted during class.

  • Relationships

Great teachers are warm, generous and charismatic. They form strong relationships with their tutees and parents, letting them know they care about them. They never hesitate to pick up a phone to call or receive calls from parents or students to answer concerns regarding lessons. Having empathy for their students also means that they understand the troubles the tutee may be going through and either they give him time to get through it, or they may even provide aid by giving advice or helping him out.

  • Patient

As the saying goes: “patience is key”. This is especially important for a tutor. They are not quick to anger; neither do they easily run out of patience. They accept that everyone learns at different speeds, and they are willing to put in the effort to slowly go through the thicker concepts with students who face difficulties understanding.

  • Flexible

Great tutors are able to bend their lessons in a way that lets students look at issues from a different point of view, a different perspective. They do not always just enforce their styles of teaching on their students and expect them to understand. For example, if a tutee is having trouble understanding a complex mathematical or scientific concept, a good tutor is able to explain it in layman terms or even teach it using simple blocks or visualized images to aid the tutee’s understanding.


The best educators know how important it is to be a lifelong learner. Even professional teachers are constantly looking for ways to improve themselves. Ultimately what we want to do is to groom the next generation of learners and inspirers, and this begins with education. Happy tutoring to all!

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