Element #3 of Highly Effective Tutorial: 1:1 or 1:2 ratios

At Tutors for All we are fortunate enough to boast extremely successful programs. We believe much of our success can be credited to the organization of our programs and what we call “The 7 Conditions for Effective Tutorial,” which are:

  1. High Quality Oversight
  2. Professionalization of Tutors
  3. 1:1 or 1:2 Ratios
  4. Balanced Collaboration and Autonomy
  5. Regular Assessment and Progress Monitoring
  6. Tutors for All (not Some)
  7. Leveraged Subsidies for Service

This is a closer look at the third condition: 1:1 tutor-student ratios. One-on-one (and sometimes, less ideally, one-on-two) tutoring holds many advantages over traditional classroom learning and even group tutorial.

C-71Tutor-student relationship: One of the major advantages of one-on-one tutorial is the rapport built between student and tutor. The direct and unabridged interaction between student and teacher does wonders for the scholastic ability and outlook of students. The tutor can become something of an academic mentor, and students can look at their mentor and be inspired by his or her educational success. As student and tutor learn and grow together, the student becomes more comfortable and communicative, often asking questions and voicing concerns they would otherwise be hesitant to voice.

Skills for future success: It may be surprising for some people to know students enrolled in tutorial programs perform better in all subjects, not just those addressed in tutorial sessions. This happy symptom of successful tutorial manifests because although tutorial sessions may focus on one or two subjects, the skills a student acquires apply to all learning. In tutorial, students learn to break down material, study effectively, manage their time and expand their capacity for reasoning. These skills diffuse through all present and future learning.

Student Confidence: Confidence, non-academic and academic, can play a deceptively large role in a student’s learning and performance. Often struggling and even successful students struggle with low confidence, second guessing their answers and giving up too easily when faced with challenging material. Together, tutor and student set rigorous, high academic standards, and as the student improves and works towards these lofty goals, supported and encouraged by the tutor, he or she becomes more intellectually sure footed.

Individual and Undivided focus: Students all learn in different ways; are they being taught in a way that is best for them in a classroom? The answer is most likely not. A teacher’s responsibility is to a classroom, while a tutor’s undivided focus is on an individual student. Very quickly, after just one or two sessions, a tutor can identify a student’s strengths and weaknesses, learning styles and pitfalls and orient lessons accordingly. Similarly, the pacing of lessons in a classroom may not be optimal for an individual. One-on-one tutoring addresses this as well, moving as quickly or slowly as a student requires. In a group or classroom setting, it is easy for a student’s lack of preparedness to not be exposed, affirming and encouraging the academically harmful practice. In tutorial sessions, students are unable to hide. Together, tutor and student share a greater obligation toward learning.


There are many criteria that must be met to run a successful tutorial program (seven to be exact), one-to-one tutor to student ratios is an essential piece of the academic puzzle. Tutors for All’s expansive and supportive educational supplement would not enjoy the same success without one-on-one tutor-student ratios.



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