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students with many gaps

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students with many gaps

2018-08-03T00:34:02+00:00 Posted in All Categories, Starting Tutoring, Structuring Lessons by

If a student is struggling with MANY topics, how do you help him catch up in a short period of time?

Depends on the nature of the struggle, is it comprehension problems throughout, too much content to recall at once, gaps in knowledge?

If the student is struggling because of gaps and they’ve never actually learned that information then somehow you will need to cover it. Teaching concepts from scratch rather than offering revision and support takes much longer. They need to learn the content, do practice questions, review challenge areas etc. It’s Impossible to be teaching them 5 topics from scratch in 1 hour per week. You may suggest having longer tutorials or an extra lesson each week. You should definitely suggest that the student see his teacher at school for extra help so that he doesn’t get “stuck” between tutorials and maintains their momentum.

If the student has learned the content previously but can’t remember properly or whatever, then you may want to consider:

  • Practice tests – as many as possible. Even easy ones or past exam papers that have already been done.


  • Practice tests are great because they force a student to remember lots of different topics at once.


  • Get the student to make notes on each topic (they already should have this); not copy formulas out of  a textbook but write their own notes – this helps to retain info. Get them to actually read their own notes too.


  • Do chapter reviews.


  • Set homework across topics to get him familiarised with as much material as possible so that at least the easy questions in a test will be answered. For example: “do 2-3 questions from each exercise of the first 5 chapters”.

When you are in a situation like this, once super important thing is to manage the process of learning. If you just work on whatever is the immediate challenge then you will never truly cover all that needs to be done, rather you will be quenching the student’s cravings for answers instead of building up a student for true success. Make a plan:

  • What content exactly needs to be taught from scratch?
  • What content needs to be revised?
  • What do you plan to cover in each tutoring session for the next month?
  • What homework + revision will you set for each tutoring session in the next month?
  • What tests are coming up, what is the most relevant content you need to do ASAP?
  • If there isn’t enough time with the current tutoring schedule, how will you boost the support he receives?
  • Can he ask school friends for help?
  • Can he ask the teacher for extra help?
  • Do the parents and student understand the gravity of the situation and the limitations of your tutoring regimen?