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How do you get students to succeed in the maths GCSE retake?

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by briancant, Jan 25, 2019.

  1. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    How can a tutor help students with their resit in maths? Please help me. I just can't make an impact. I've just had a fantastic student who wants to study medicine at uni and needs to improve her maths GCSE grade and after about ten hours of sessions I was unable to push her grade up! I'm as upset as her. This has become a pattern for me. Students like me and feel they are progressing but when it comes to the retake they don't improve. I just don't know what to do. Twenty years teaching the GCSE haven't helped nor being an examiner. I've been successful in the other areas of tutoring just not the retakes. Advice greatly appreciated.
  2. davidmu

    davidmu Occasional commenter

    This seems to be very unusual but the student has to take responsibility here. In my day all potential medics had to have an O level in Latin and there were no exceptions. That is why all Grammar Schools offered it to all higher ability students. Technical apprentices in the Services have to reach the standard and if necessary repeat and repeat until successful. I used to be aware of recruits from RAF Cosford learning a great detail and testing each other on the train home after their initial 6 weeks of tuition. The medics in my family would almost certainly state that an A level in Mathematics is highly desirable. Make up lots of typical papers and set one a week for months if necessary. I do question whether medicine is a wise gaol for a person with such a low mathematical understanding.
  3. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    I think it is more difficult to get improvements in retakes, maybe because they have already tried and failed. I have only done this occasionally. I think they have mostly passed at the second attempt, probably more due to random fluctuations than any real improvement in their maths.

    Ten hours of tutoring isn't really very much when you think they have been doing maths for ten years. Before starting lessons I would say that it wasn't possible to cover everything in 10 hours and ask them to make a list of topics they found most difficult. Then concentrate on past exam questions in those topics.

    I have tutored very many students who have gone on to do medicine. Although A level maths is not required, they have almost all got A or A* in A level maths. I wonder if her ambition to do medicine is realistic.
  4. BG54

    BG54 New commenter

    Further to that I always ask retake students to request the marked copies of their papers via their exams officer asap after results day, then I'll go through them and identify the areas that need most attention.
  5. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    Thanks for the comments. I did think that ten hours wasn't really enough and did wonder if this student was right to think of medicine. The local college where I live has lots of students who are retaking their maths and with only two hours of lessons offered with a variety of different teachers I get a lot of inquiries about tuition. Most are quite poor and even ten lessons adds up to a lot of money. I do hammer home how much work will be required to improve on their previous grades but I'm having limited success as I say. I can explain the concepts but I can't seem to change their study habits. I want to be blunter as I would if I were still in a school but I'm in their homes and they pay me so I think I'm being too soft.
  6. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    If the main problem is their study habits (or lack of) they should definitely forget any thought of doing medicine.

    It is difficult to be too hard as a tutor. If you try to be too tough they may well just stop lessons altogether. I sometimes get enquiries form parents who say the main problem is their child is very lazy. I just say there's not much I can do about that and decline.
  7. Ian1983

    Ian1983 Occasional commenter

    If the main problem is their study habits (or lack of) they should definitely forget any thought of doing medicine


    OP, I assume you're asking in general though, not just about this specific student. I made a detailed thread a few months ago about developing students' work ethic and levels of personal responsibility. I'll link it below for you, hope you find it useful!

  8. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    This is just the advice I was looking for. Thanks.
    Kateray1 likes this.
  9. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    Good advice from Ian. Just to add, the main reason I suggested getting the student to make a list of topics was to get them to take some responsibility. The current education system encourages them to put all the responsibility on the teacher or tutor.
  10. Kateray1

    Kateray1 Occasional commenter

    I got a grade 3 gcse last year I’m redoing the whole year again but I’m 30 Marks away from grade 4. I’m looking at my final attempt this year and I’ve put in much more time and effort in studying, some of it is still impossible for me, hard ratios, hard algebra, and most of this is a poor memory recall.

    It’s not just a teachers fault so don’t blame yourself, it is attitude, time effort and all that other stuff that blocks learning.

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