The importance of tutoring

University and UAI
The HSC is highly competitive

In today’s competitive HSC environment, university places for courses high in demand, such as commerce, law, medicine, pharmacy and engineering are becoming increasingly scarce year by year. Entrance ATAR’s for these courses are continually being pushed up, and for places at the more reputable universities, they are already well into the 90s, some even requiring 99+.

As a result, the places for these courses are always reserved for the best and brightest HSC graduates each year. The fact of the matter is you need to score a high ATAR to get into the course you want. In order to do this, you need to achieve higher than your peers. For example, a ATAR of 90+ roughly puts you as the best out of 8 students. In other words, out of 8 randomly selected HSC students, you need to score the highest. Think about that for a minute. Each HSC student is trying his/her best at their HSC, and doing the best for his/her future, and YOU need to beat all of them if you want that ATAR.

If you don’t get the ATAR you need for your desired course, that’s definitely not the end of the world. However you might need to settle for a second or third choice, which is probably OK, but not ideal. You will miss opportunities in life, your future career might not flourish as fast as it would have, and there are long-term repercussions to the choices you make when entering university. Without exaggeration, your ATAR is very important to your future.

Importance of tutoring

We are not saying that you NEED tutoring to get a high ATAR. There are always students who are naturally bright and/or hard working enough to get into the 90s with moderate effort. But there is always room for improvement. Quality tutoring can give students the right exam techniques and advice which helps them perform in exams. Knowledge of the subtleties and nuances (the small things) alongside with the core content adds up, and is what separates a 95+ student from the rest. What we are saying is that all else equal, tutoring will raise your chances of getting the ATAR you want.

Is school work not enough?

You may wonder “is school work not enough?” We wonder this too. Why would there be a demand for tutoring if people believed school work is totally enough? Our view on this is that higher calibre schools cover things well (e.g. top 50 selective schools, some private schools). Students from these types of schools benefit from tutoring by learning well ahead of their peers and essentially being exposed to the entire syllabus content at least twice throughout their HSC. Students learn the content at tutoring, do quizzes and practice exams months ahead of the school. By the time schools start and finish learning the same content, and sets an assessment task, the tutoring student would have seen the same contents (and nearly all the variants of the questions possibly asked) two to three times. Therefore the beneficial effect of this type of accelerated learning tutoring provides is significant, even for students from “good schools”.

The more common and unfortunate case is that most comprehensive schools (local government schools) fail their students in terms of teaching quality. Teacher quality is inconsistent within any faculty of a school. For example, a faculty may have 1 or 2 good teachers out of 4 or 5, on average. Whether students are assigned to a “good” teacher (knowledgeable, competent, engaging, motivated teachers) is really up to the luck of the draw. The effect on students’ HSC results by being assigned to an unmotivated and/or incompetent teacher is devastating. Students are motivated if their teacher is motivated. Students are competent if their teachers are competent. The way the HSC works is that you’re entrusting your entire HSC to your class teachers at school.

Another downfall of most schools is their poor coverage of the content. For example, most comprehensive high schools would have tiny Maths Extension 2 classes of one or two students. Their teachers would spend the entire Term 1 on Complex Numbers, then Term 2-3 on the next 4 topics, leaving the last 3 topics to be rushed in the last few weeks after the trials. Teachers often imply or outright say to their students to not be concerned with the harder topics in Extension 2, and just rely on the scaling. It’s depressing, we think, to allow students to be content on not aiming for 100% at anything they do. Another example is in Maths Extension 1, where teachers often cram binomial theorem and a few other later topics in the last few weeks before the external exams, despite the fact that they actually deserve MORE time because they are inherently more difficult topics. The reason being is those schools have low expectations of their students, and cover the entire course only for the sake of complying with BOS requirements. These are unfortunate situations, but are happening in many schools all over NSW each year, and it is unfortunate that students are let down in this way by their schools.

In our view, this is where the demand for outside tutoring originated. Students who want to do well in their HSC would benefit from tutoring, both from the valuable effect of learning ahead of their peers,  as well as learning independently from their school (which often fails them in terms of teaching quality, for most comprehensive schools).

In terms of learning ahead of your peers (and we mean whole terms ahead), we don’t mean rushing through things. Teaching in small groups with a motivated, knowledgeable and competent teacher works wonders on how fast you can really learn. Being exam focused, we only teach the things that are relevant to your exams, meaning we always stay within the syllabus. This does not mean we ignore all the necessary background knowledge that is required to understand concepts. We don’t advocate memorisation, but rather true understanding of concepts. Learning ahead can be immensely beneficial to your internal assessment, which is all about your rank against your school peers. If most people at your school are learning at a slower pace, by the time each internal exam or assessment task comes, you would be more experienced, better prepared and knowledgeable than your peers.

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