If you have your sights set on a career in biology, or even if you just love studying biological science and want to improve your grades in the subject, a tutor could be beneficial — while tutors are essential for students who are struggling, you don't need to be failing to engage a biology tutor.
In fact, there are many reasons to study biology and learn more about this fascinating subject with the help of a tutor.
Tutoring is not only about studying for an exam or catching up on missed work, it is also about learning how to study biology.
While most tutors will obviously help you do this, they also have a realm of experience and knowledge you can tap into and will love to answer your questions and broaden your understanding of tricky biology content.
With one-on-one tutoring, you're guaranteed to have your learning needs met by teaching methods that are tailored to suit you.
Just one extra lesson a week can be effective in increasing your confidence and achieving the best results you are capable of.
You can find online and in-person biology tutors in Sydney, biology tutoring in Melbourne or tuition anywhere else in Australia. But with so much choice, how do you know who will be the best tutor for you?
It's okay because here at Superprof, we've compiled a list of tips, useful for any stage of learning from primary and high school through to university, to help you narrow down your search.
What Qualifications Should a Biology Teacher Possess?
Don't be shy about asking a potential tutor a few questions about their experience and teaching and tutoring or subject qualifications.
At the same time, beware of ruling out tutors who don't have a degree as a science or biology teacher, or who have undertaken a degree in another science field such as chemistry, because they may still have the experience in biology that you need.
The most important thing to find out is whether a tutor has the level of knowledge and experience with the biological concepts, methods and content that you need help with. Perhaps, last year, they were studying the same course as you are now. They may be a university student who studied biology as a major during high school (and did well) and is now studying for an undergraduate degree in biological science.
They may have already spent several years tutoring students in biology. Or, the tutor you're considering may be a retired primary or high school biology teacher with extensive knowledge of the curriculum and a repertoire of the best teaching and learning methods and resources.
If you're considering engaging a private tutor who works independently, ask questions about who they already tutor and what personal study experience they've had. Request to see qualifications and/or testimonials or references.
On the other hand, if you're going through a tutoring agency, you can be fairly confident the tutors will have already undergone these checks and provided notes on their experience and credentials — but it still doesn't hurt to ask.
Testimonials from Past Students are Important
Testimonials establish the credibility and experience of potential employees — read them carefully. A good testimonial is more valuable than a paper qualification.
Written or verbal accounts from past or current students can tell you more about a tutor than the qualifications listed on their CV. If the biology tutor you're considering can't provide testimonials or references, ask yourself why this might be.
Points to look for in a reference include:
- the referee's name and contact details — if they're not there, ask why
- evidence of areas of improvement achieved by students
- comments about the methods used by the tutor
- statements about value for money
- feedback on the best qualities of the tutoring experience.
If you can speak to the person who has referred this particular tutor, make sure you ask them similar questions.
Have a clear understanding of the qualities you value the most — you might have a specific budget, perhaps you only want a qualified teacher or a tutor who has work experience in the field you're studying, maybe you'd prefer a tutor who has recently completed the exam or course you are enrolled in, your preferences may also come down to personality or whether the tutor offers online tutoring — and ask questions to find this information.
You should be able to find testimonials on the tutor's website or their CV. If the tutor has a profile on a tutoring platform, such as Superprof, you should be able to find testimonials from students there.
Once you think you've found a tutor, the last thing to do before you employ them is to meet them in person, or at least face-to-face in an online setting.
Talking to potential tutors is the only way you'll get a feel for whether they are the right fit for you and your study goals — and vice versa.
And, at any stage - if either of you doesn't feel you have a connection, it may be best to thank each other and move on. You will not learn with a teacher you don't 'like' — and a teacher cannot effectively teach students with whom they can't connect.
Consider the Tutor's Availability and their Location
The amount of time you will need to invest in tutoring really depends on your goals and the level at which you are studying. If you're a primary school student in the upper years or studying biology in high school anywhere from Years 7-10, an hour a week will probably be sufficient study time with your biology tutor. However, if you're studying a biology major in Years 11 and 12, or if you are a university student, you may want to consider at least 2 hours a week or more, especially in the lead-up to an exam or other assessment task.
This is where the time availability and flexibility of the tutors you're considering are very important. There's no point if you find the ideal tutor, only to discover they can only fit you in at your preferred time for an hour a month.
When it comes to tutoring, short-term service still needs to achieve long-term impact.
The other important consideration is location — yours and your tutor's. Unless you are specifically looking for online biology tutoring, make sure you filter your online search (or check the advertisements) to capture tutors who work in your area.
If you are going to work and study face-to-face with a biology teacher, you don't want to spend hours of your time travelling to and from the venue. Likewise, if the teacher is coming to your house, you'll need to allow for an extra fee to cover their travel expenses and time.
Weighing up the pros and cons of travel time versus convenience versus quality tutoring is an important factor.
Ideally, you want to find a teacher whose place of work is nearby and who has a tutoring schedule with flexible time slots so you can maintain momentum in your learning and easily book an extra class or two during exam periods.
What to Do Before Engaging a Biology Tutor
As mentioned above, nothing is more detrimental to learning and teaching than student and teacher not being able to establish a good connection. Both of you will dread each lesson and you'll both feel drained at the end of class instead of motivated.
If you've found someone, via an online search, who seems like they'll be a good tutor, or even if you've had a tutor recommended by someone you know — you'll never really know if your rapport will be good until you've met and spent a little time with the tutor in question.
Most reputable tutors will understand this and will want to arrange an initial meeting with you anyway so they can spend time finding out what your needs are, and your preferred learning styles.
Even better, some biology teachers, like those on the Superprof platform, will offer the first tutoring session for free as a trial. This is a brilliant opportunity for students, and tutors, to see if they can work well together.
So, to summarise, if you're keen to find a biology tutor who can help you learn how to study biology and meet your goals, make sure you:
- know what your priorities and preferences are
- narrow your search
- ask questions
- check qualifications and experience
- read testimonials
- ensure the location and time suit your needs
- meet the tutor, have a chat and take advantage of a free trial lesson.
Gain the confidence, grades and knowledge you desire with the right biology courses and tutors.