There are many key concepts, tips, and tricks that allow a student to better his or her SAT score. However, if the tutor the student is working with is not on the ball then even great information will not end up as valuable as it should be.

Everyone remembers having teachers that they loved and everyone remembers having teachers that they hated. You want your tutor to be the former. I can’t tell you how many students I have started with that had a tutor for months that they were unsatisfied with, but stuck with anyway. “We didn’t know anyone else” is the common refrain I hear. Initially, I found this shocking to hear.

There are tons of tutors out there! But the more experience I gained in the tutoring field, the more I realized that there are a lot of mediocre, and even terrible, tutors out there. For one, the national average tutors bring up SAT scores is 30 points. When I first read this statistic I almost fell on the floor. I consider a 30-point increase to be not nearly enough for my students. While increases vary depending on the student and the students’ circumstances, the idea that a tutor’s average would be 30 points is very depressing.

With this in mind, I thought it would be helpful to lay out just what a parent should be looking for in a Teacher-Thumbtutor. There are three main criteria I would urge parents and students to consider:

Is your tutor invested in your student’s improvement?

This probably seems like an incredibly obvious criterion, right? For many people, it’s not. I have tutored at libraries too many times to count in the past and when I wait for a student to arrive, I find it informative to glance around at other tutors to see what they’re up to (and you can always find many in a library on a school day afternoon). Sometimes, I see great rapport between students and tutors. Sometimes, I see a tutor who is disengaged and just drily delivering material.

It’s easy for a tutor to say that they know what can raise your child’s score. The real test comes during the interaction. Does the tutor interact with the student as if she or he is a person or does the tutor act like a machine, giving out information like a computer, as if all students are the same?

Every student has a different personality and every student has different needs. You should expect your tutor to pick up on this.

Does your tutor click with your student?

Even the best tutors don’t match with every student. I mentioned above that all students have different personalities; the same goes for tutors. Some tutors are more laid back and some are more aggressive. If you have a child that is a little bit on the shy side then you don’t want a tutor who has more of a sports coach approach. If you have a child that is smart, but not motivated then you want a tutor who is willing to push and convey the importance of effort.

I cannot stress enough that the bond between a tutor and student is imperative. The students who I see the best results with are always the ones that I have best clicked with.

Does your tutor know the content?

This is probably the toughest area to judge because the SAT and ACT are mysteries to many parents and students. How do you know if your tutor has any idea what he or she is talking about? Sometimes you have to take a chance, but your best bet is to ask around and go with a solid recommendation. Ask the parent of a senior who has already gone through this. Did they work with a tutor? If so, what were the results?

Don’t be afraid to take some time searching for a tutor. I know the urge is to always start as soon as possible, but it’s better to get the right tutor than it is to get a tutor as soon as possible.

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