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Is it possible to make a living from just A level tutoring.

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by briancant, Dec 19, 2019.

  1. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    I'm into my third year of tutoring now and would say I prefer A level. The time seems to go more quickly, I find the students very responsive, I can tutor during the day etc. I find key stage 3 the most difficult. Does anyone make a living from just A level? I don't know if it would be possible.

    I tutor Maths and Physics, but only have one A level physics student this year. I'm thinking of dropping the physics totally because I'm also finding it hard to keep my own subject knowledge up to date. I would like to start to offer A level further maths instead. Do any maths tutors offer further maths and is there much of a need?
  2. colacao17

    colacao17 Occasional commenter

    I have found less demand for FM, maybe because those who opt for FM tend to be the ones who can self study / self teach.

    While I think it would be possible to make a living from just A-level, it's not necessarily reliable. Some years I get a couple of students early on and am then inundated with requests via their recommendations. Other years it's much quieter.
    ninariley likes this.
  3. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    David Getling, who used to be a regular poster until about 18 months ago, only did A level tuition and apparently got enough students to make a living.

    I offer maths, physics and chemistry but not further maths. I don't think there is a great demand for further maths and so don't think it would be worth the effort to make sure I was confident with all the syllabus. I agree that A level is more enjoyable and generally easier as the students know what they want to do. I don't think I could make a living from only A level. I have roughly half and half GCSE and A level, but quite a few of my A level students are ones I tutored for GCSE and have carried on to A level.

    Until this year I've had very few A level physics students but I suddenly got four this year. There is usually much more demand for A level (or IB) chemistry, mainly because it is required to study medicine, but I haven't got any this year. Numbers seem to fluctuate for no obvious reason.
  4. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    This might be of interest. There are more than twice as many entries for A level physics as for further maths. I don't know how this relates to demand for tuition.


    Just to add I do find it more satisfying when I've tutored students for quite a few years and see them do well, rather than just for one or two years. When I started tutoring I even did a bit of 11 plus tutoring. I had one student who I started tutoring in year 5 and continued (with a couple of breaks) until he got a place at Oxford to study medicine.
  5. BG54

    BG54 New commenter

    I offer Maths and Chemistry at A-level and currently have two Maths and one Chemistry student, all in Year 13. I tutored both Maths students at GCSE, one of them starting in Year 9 and I agree with @gainly about the job satisfaction from long-term tuition of a student. That's three out of nineteen students in total, so if I depended on A-level tuition to make a living I'd be selling Big Issue! I certainly prefer A-level tuition as I find it more interesting but I guess GCSE will remain the "bread and butter" for the foreseeable future.
  6. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    Thanks for the comments.

    Those that offer 2 and 3 A levels how do you manage?

    I have taught both Maths and Physics but would say I'm really a maths teacher. When I turn up at a students house and they say to me can we go over Integration or differentiation etc. I find it easy with no preparation. When they hit me with one of the more obscure Physics topics I struggle a bit more. What I'm getting at is that as a teacher if I'm teaching, say particle physics, I will have prepared and it's easy but as a tutor we can be asked anything without preparation. To have instant recall of every aspect of two or three subjects at A level is quite a challenge (well for me anyway). Not to mention the variation in the different exam boards particularly with physics.

    For this reason I'm thinking of dropping Physics and like I say I was thinking of Further maths instead.

    I would be interested to hear how people cope with so many different subjects and of course guess it may be you're just cleverer than me.

    I think I get more A level than others because there just aren't many A level tutors in this area. Last year I had 13 on and off.
  7. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    I find the main problem is keeping track of what's in the syllabus with the frequent changes and differences between exam boards. I use an exam board specific textbook or revision guide, mainly as a reference to what they need to know and then can elaborate around that. The one topic I do struggle with is organic chemistry as it is more about remembering loads of facts rather than understanding.

    You could try searching for further maths tutoring jobs on TH, it would give you an idea if there is much demand in your area.
  8. BG54

    BG54 New commenter

    I agree that the exam boards introducing small but significant differences between the individual specs can be an issue, e.g. AQA have a sentence relating to the workings of a time-of-flight Mass Spectrometer in their Chemistry A-level spec whereas OCR and Edexcel focus solely on the analysis of the data. This almost tripped me up recently as I hadn't previously tutored AQA Chemistry.

    One problem for me with Chemistry A-level is the scarcity of tutees, I recently took on a year 13 student but it was two years since my last Chemistry A-level tutee and inevitably some parts of the spec. can be difficult to recall off-hand without reference to a textbook. I have a Ph.D in Chemistry but that is no protection at all from a deficient memory.

    Maths A-level is less of a problem for me as I tend to have one or two A-level students each year so it keeps the topics fresh in my mind.
  9. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    I agree it is a problem if you don't teach an A level subject for a year or two. I always have some A level students for maths and usually for chemistry but up to this year I hadn't had any for physics for a couple of years.
  10. bramblesarah

    bramblesarah Occasional commenter

    You could always try cutting out KS3 first, see if you can fill all your spaces with just KS4 and A level. Then maybe start being more picky with your KS4 students. Only students sitting higher tier or only students with an interest in taking A level Maths. Maybe if you rebalance your timetable more towards A Level you may find it interesting to teach the odd younger student. I have one year 4 child who I starting tutoring in year 3. Though the maths is very basic I am actually learning lot by trying to explain such simple content. I wouldn't want to tutor alot of year 4 students but I enjoy the change.
  11. treeickle

    treeickle New commenter

    I tutor A level biology only and that with exam marking is my sole income. OH works part time and is part time PhD student.

    It doesn't compare to teachers salary, but the mortgage gets paid, the dog gets fed and the migraines have all but disappeared.

    Do you have nearby colleges? I live a ten minute walk from the big local college and students come to me in their free periods. I don't tutor after half five, I think that makes a difference too.

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