The 6 traits of an amazing Math tutor

Finding the perfect math tutor is a bit like searching for the perfect pair of shoes: you may not go into it knowing exactly what you want, but you know it when you find it. Luckily, you can take the mystery out of your tutor hunt by knowing which skills and traits make for great math tutors. Math is an ultra specific, technical subject, and you want to tailor your tutor checklist to meet that challenge.

Unlimited Patience

Math is a complex subject, and once you’re dealing with university mathematics, there will be layers and layers (and more layers) of ideas at play. At that level of complexity, odds are you’re not going to get it right away — and that’s okay! A great math tutor will understand that and be willing to explain and re-explain a concept until you’re completely comfortable with it.

Break-Down Know-How

Speaking of complexity, when you’re looking for a math tutor you want someone who can take difficult ideas and break them down into smaller, more digestible parts. A strong math tutor can make an art of rephrasing, putting ideas another way, and expressing things differently — see what I did there? Killer dance moves are an added bonus.

Legit Maths Credentials

Some disciplines, particularly within the humanities, are highly transferable, meaning that a world literature major can probably help you out with your English class. The same is not true of math. Because math is such a specific branch of knowledge, you want to find a tutor with a strong background in the subject who has either majored or minored in mathematics during their own studies. Further, you need a tutor with expertise on your specific math topic, whether it’s algebra, calculus, or geometry.

Mad Experience

When it comes to a subject as difficult as math, tutoring experience is a huge plus (after all, practice makes perfect). So you want a Yoda. While a fresh-faced youngling could be as well-trained as a veteran, someone with a successful tutoring track record already has statistically proven success. And statistics are an essential part of math, so why not put them to use from the get-go?

A Supportive Spirit

While having a good relationship with your tutor can make your sessions pass more quickly, it’s equally important to find someone who makes you want to do your best. Good tutors know what you’re capable of and they know how to draw it out of you. They’re the perfect combination of a study buddy and a stern teacher: they make you simultaneously excited about your tutoring sessions and committed to completing your homework.

Pal Potential

It’s no small secret: math can be a real bummer. If you already find that equations give you the blues, find a tutor who you like spending time with. Working with someone who gets you will make those hours spent studying way more enjoyable. A good pal can make even math fun.

Math is a hard subject, and you deserve the best help you can find. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need when it comes to your tutor’s skills, qualifications, and even personality. Asking to meet potential tutors before hiring them can be super helpful when it comes to finding out if they’re the right fit for you. Once you find the right one, you’ll know.

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Originally published at blog.thegraduate.com.hk on April 27, 2016.

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