Tutoring uniquely provides an open opportunity to customise tutorials to the talents and aptitudes of the student. This is the reason why I enjoy tutoring with the Access project so much.

Revision can be seen as a chore, a thankless trudge through familiar territory. I seek to turn that perspective on its head. 


For the highest performing students, revision is a celebration of achievement and a rewarding opportunity to parade their talents. We can concentrate on extending and stretching, sound in the knowledge that the fundamentals are secure. I would start with some warm-up exercises, limbering up the brain cells with a tricky general problem-solving question perhaps finding key relationships or examples to fit. Next, we would work through some challenging exercises on the revision topic of the day. We would focus on illuminating deeper understanding or explore an alternative perspective. Even the best students can panic under time pressure and part of this is caused by an unwarranted fear that there is insufficient time in an exam to complete the questions set. This is then exacerbated by a reluctance to abandon any question if it is taking too long. Timed exam practice dispels that fear and taking pride in the skill of strict time boxing will serve them well in life. I therefore end sessions for these students with time limited questions, challenging them to demonstrate finely tuned exam technique and their success feeds a virtuous circle of justified confidence.

On the other hand, for a more typical student, revision is an opportunity to plug any weaknesses.. A typical revision tutorial would focus on an area that we would have jointly identified as less secure. Then, without any sense of urgency or pressure, we would start back at first principles and rebuild the knowledge from a position of strength, winkling out any confusion. There is nothing more satisfying than mastering a previously opaque topic and it is a joy when those gremlins are spied and sacked.

For students where mathematics is just a mystery, revision is an opportunity to build confidence in what they do know and what they can do. Where insecure students have reached the point where they cannot absorb much more theoretical teaching, most will be gained through practice questions. A revision tutorial would focus on topics where the student has shown a reasonable, albeit incomplete, understanding in the past. In the first instance I would select easier example exam questions. Success at these will build confidence after which we would tackle similar questions but presented in different ways. This helps increase their ability to meet problems head on and avoid risky blind reaction to half recognised formats.

Although the pace, structure and content of my revision tutorials differ significantly by individual, the theme is constant. My objective is to build confidence as the essential engine of success. The holy grail is that students enjoy their work, and without doubt, success is fun.

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