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Is Tutoring Important for Academic Success?

There’s no formulaic path to academic success; different things work for different people – for some, writing notes or using flashcards are essential whereas others may just use practice questions or simply just memorise. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to studying for academic success; however, tutoring services often seem to be a commonality within high achievers.

This brings up the question: is tutoring important for academic success?

No – tutoring isn’t essential. You don’t need tutoring to succeed – many students succeed without the extra help from tutoring.

However, while tutoring isn’t needed, it certainly helps. Whether it be the students who need an extra push or already high achieving students or any students in between, tutoring can be equally benefitting to all. Here’s some reasons why:

  • Individualised attention – School teachers may attempt to provide individual help and feedback to students; however, it becomes tricky when they have to handle a class of 30 students whilst simultaneously teaching a lengthy syllabus. For this reason alone, tutoring can be seen as a huge plus – with students gaining personalised feedback to help them attain their academic goals.
  • Increased motivation – whether it be a group tutoring session with multiple students, or a one-on-on tutoring session, they each serve their own benefits. With a group tutoring session (with around 3-5 fellow students), for example – being surrounded by like-minded people who are striving for better results and success, you’ll also be encouraged and motivated to try harder. You’ll be inclined to put your all into your work and to apply your full potential to anything academic. Similarly, one-on-one tutoring sessions provides you with increased motivation as you see improved results due to personalised feedback from a tutor.
  • Understanding concepts on a deeper level – adds onto the content you’ve already learnt at school, developing your understanding of tough concepts on a deeper level. Vice versa, if you touch on a new idea at tutoring – your understanding when learning the same idea at school will be on a deeper level since you’ve already been exposed to new content.
  • Provides a challenge – if a student is complaining about their classwork, or that the “homework is too easy!”, it’s probably a sign that they need a challenge. This is often the case for high achievers – completing their work as soon as they are assigned it, only to be left waiting for their classmates to finish. Tutoring is perfect for this – exposing them to harder types of exercises and further sharpening their already clever minds.

Although tutoring isn’t necessary – it’s still extremely beneficial, whether it be for the high achievers or for the students who need an extra push. Students will gain something from tutoring, for example, positive study habits or a greater interest in a subject they previously disliked. So, if tutoring is an option – why not?

Don’t Stress – You Will Make It Into University

The ATAR is a major source of stress all year round for HSC students, the fear of not attaining the guaranteed ATAR for their dream course looming over their heads. It’s a stressful time – students believing that they’re not capable of attaining a high ATAR or the fear of missing out on their number one preference by just one or two ATAR points. You get reassured a lot – “Don’t worry, there’s so many pathways into university. There’s a lot of options” – but what exactly are these pathways and options?

Here are some examples:

  • School Recommendations Scheme (SRS): The SRS is by far one of the easiest ways to gain entry into an undergraduate degree prior to even receiving your HSC results or ATAR. You simply just apply to your course preferences via the SRS Check and Change webpage, with participating universities examining your Year 11 results, your school’s recommendations of your aptitude and any other select criteria. The University Admissions Centre (UAC) does it all – you barely have to lift a finger! You may then receive an unconditional offer (doesn’t take your ATAR into account in the slightest) or a conditional offer (where you have to achieve a certain ATAR – usually lowered from the guaranteed selection rank).
  • Educational Access Scheme (EAS): EAS provides you entry into a course through taking into account any disadvantages you may have had within your final two years of schooling. This includes different categories of disadvantage such as financial hardship, illness, excessive family responsibility and more as long as you meet the varying criteria for the different categories of disadvantage. For example – the University of Sydney’s E12 scheme – which lowers the guaranteed ATAR for select courses, provided you meet the EAS requirements.
  • Macquarie Leaders and Achievers Scheme: provides you with an opportunity to obtain an offer from Macquarie University for select degrees prior to even sitting the HSC exams, with offers being made based on the merit of leadership within the community as well as Year 11 results.
  • Academic merit: includes Macquarie University’s Academic Entry Program, the University of Sydney’s Academic Excellence Scheme as well Western Sydney University’s True Reward Program, all rewarding you for success within specific subjects. In spite of not having met the guaranteed ATAR for your first preference, you may still be eligible for entry into the course provided you do well in HSC subjects corresponding to the undergraduate degree you are applying for.

As cliché as it sounds, there are a lot of options – ensuring that you will make it into university.

Why Tutoring May Be Right for Your Unmotivated Child

Motivation is defined as “a desire or willingness to do something,” and is often the reason we strive towards a goal – whether it be better grades, saving up towards something or sticking to a New Years’ Resolution. It provides us with the drive to keep moving forward towards a goal, even when it may seem unattainable or impossible.

With academia, however, it’s often that children find the little motivation they already had slipping away quickly. It’s no surprise – given that they may have teachers who only briefly cover content and move ahead quickly or that the pile of assignments and homework seems endless. The HSC in particular proves difficult – with no end in sight as students try to juggle the assignments that keep piling on, the exam notifications they keep receiving and any semblance of a social life. They’re told, “Get your act together; it’s the HSC,” but it’s hard; especially when their motivation slowly withers away.

As a parent, it may be even harder – struggling to figure out why exactly it is that your child has so little motivation for school or how to help them. You might have considered tutoring before, or maybe you haven’t – but here are some reasons as to why tutoring may be right for your unmotivated child:

  1. Expertise of tutors – unlike school teachers who may not be able to cater to the specific needs of every student in a class of 30 students, tutors are able to focus on the specific weaknesses of their students. Their thorough understanding of syllabus content combined with their expertise of different learning methods allows them to adapt to the individual needs of different children and to focus on their weaknesses. This allows tutors to explain concepts and ideas in a way that is effective and enjoyable for their students whilst also covering all of the syllabus content.
  2. Passion – students often lack motivation for a specific subject due to their lack of interest in it. This may be influenced by fellow classmates, who also have a preconceived negative perception of the subject or a result of school teachers who teach topics in an uninteresting way. Tutors, however, are incredibly passionate about the subject they teach – the tutor’s passion automatically translated into how they teach. The tutor’s interest in a subject allows them to engage with the student as they implement more interesting ways of explaining complex ideas.
  3. Removal of distractions – unlike in a classroom environment where teachers may not be able to give one-on-on or individual assistance, one-on-on tutoring provides an environment where the tutor is focused on your child only. This removes any factors that hinder your child’s learning that may be present within the classroom – for example, copying answers from friends or copying worked solutions. This allows your child to develop the personal quality of persistence as they combat negative attitudes of “giving up” on difficult concepts and achieve a better understanding of difficult ideas.

It’s hard to figure out how to help an unmotivated student; but it’s not impossible. All you need is a passionate and patient tutor!

Do’s and Don’ts to Smash HSC English Creative Writing

It can be tricky to figure out what the expectations for an impressive creative writing piece are; especially with the new English syllabus. This list of do’s and don’ts for creative writing, however, are here to help: 

Do’s: 

  • Use language techniques – and lots of them! Especially in the new syllabus, the Craft of Writing module often requires students to reflect on their own creative pieces of writing – encouraging students to actively integrate language techniques (for example, simile, symbolism, metaphors and lots more!) within their writing. Markers are specifically looking to see how effective your control of language is – that is, they are especially on the lookout for how well you are using literary techniques. So use as many language techniques as you can! 
  • You can never really predict what scenario or stimulus you will be given in the HSC English Exam – so the best way to prepare? Practice! By doing past HSC English papers which provide you with different stimulus for creative writing, you expose yourself to different kinds of questions that can be asked. Some examples of stimulus that you may be given:
  • Quotes – With certain questions, you may be required to construct an imaginative piece that immediately continues from the quote given whilst in other questions, you are required to only take inspiration from a quote given. Another type of question includes one which requires you to insert the given quote where it fits appropriately within your creative piece. 
  • Visual stimulus – in which you are provided an image and required to compose an imaginative piece inspired by the image. The image may provide you a setting – in which you are expected to compose a story which reflects the setting which you are given. For example, for Module C, the 2019 Standard HSC English Exam provided an image of an alleyway as the stimulus – requiring students to utilise the given setting within their imaginative piece. 

Don’ts: 

  • No clichés! HSC markers have seen it all – they’re tired of the same ideas and plots being used by students over and over again. Thinking about ending your creative piece with “It was all a dream”? No! Scrap that idea! For example – sure, the phrase “brave as a lion” utilises the literary technique simile, but it is completely void of any creativity. Instead, instead of implicitly calling the character “brave as a lion” – show their bravery through character traits and actions. Anything you do, avoid clichés at all costs. 
  • Don’t overcomplicate it! Of course, be creative; however, with that being sad, don’t make it harder for yourself. For example, don’t add unnecessary characters. Keep it at a minimum (1-3 characters is plenty) – this way, you don’t need to flesh out the personalities and features of various characters. Another example – avoid tricky genres. Complex genres such as historical or other niche genres require lots and lots of historical research for context and key events of the past. Just stick to what you know best!

Most of all – have fun whilst writing your imaginative writing for English! After all, it’s giving you a chance to stray away from the constraints of an essay; make the most of it. Be creative, have fun and write about something you’re genuinely passionate about! 

Tips to improve your writing for HSC English

Whether it be essays, creative pieces or persuasive texts, we can always find one way or another to improve our writing capabilities. Particularly when our writing is going to be under the scrutiny of very experienced and very thorough HSC, it’s important that we are actively looking at ways we can improve our writing. Make it even better. Here’s some tips to help you out:

  • Drafts – and lots of them! J.K Rowling certainly didn’t perfect Harry Potter the first time around – it takes time, editing and patience. And she certainly didn’t write Harry Potter overnight – so make sure you start you essays or creative pieces early enough that you are able to compose your drafts, receive feedback from teachers and edit it to achieve absolute perfection!
  • Take inspiration! You’ve probably read at least one or two novels that you’ve genuinely enjoyed – so why not take inspiration from those? Figure out why exactly it is that you’ve liked certain novels – is it the writing style? The genre? The authors’ use of literary techniques? And once you’ve figured this out, try to take your own spin on it. Emulate the writing features that you’ve enjoyed within your own narratives. For example, if you’ve enjoyed reading a story written in third-person – why not try it yourself in your narratives? Or if you really aren’t a book person, take inspiration from a movie you’ve enjoyed!
  • Keep a thesaurus on you at all times! If you’ve been sitting at a desk endlessly trying to write up an essay or a narrative, it’s easy for your mind to become muddled and end up circling back to using the same words and phrases over and over again. To avoid this, make sure you’re actively being aware of the words you’re using repeatedly. This is especially important when writing English essays to avoid using the phrase “This shows” repeatedly. There’s so many other options, like –  “This displays”, “This demonstrates”, “This indicates” and so many more. Grab a thesaurus and find some alternatives!
  • Get others to edit your work! Of course, you’re going to ask your teachers for feedback – but go beyond that! Ask your friends for help, and edit each others’ work. Especially during the HSC, when everybody is trying to lift each other up and achieve high marks – this can be extremely beneficial. This way, you’re receiving feedback and criticisms that you might not have even considered – ultimately improving the quality of your work.

You might experience a lot of fear and uncertainty in your HSC year – questioning if your writing within the HSC English course is of a high standard. It can be discouraging receiving a bad mark – but the best thing to do most of all is practise. Write lots and lots of drafts. Edit your work. Ask for help. This way, you’ll see improvement.