I am a tutor for a student and I work with him 7 days a week, for about 2-3 hours a day. The student severely struggles with math, although I am a tutor for every subject (he is in high school). His first chemistry exam he got a 77, and I brought it up to a 96. I studied with him for history and he received 100 on that test. However, his first math test was a 73. I spoke with the parents and told them that the homework he is receiving is very different (in terms of difficulty than the exam). The homework is much easier. So I decided that despite how easy his homework is, I will come up with challenging problems that are similar to his exam problems.

He had the test today and said he really messed up on it. I spent 4 hours yesterday and 4 hours the day before preparing with him. I gave him a mock exam, I came up with questions that are similar to his review sheet. I did everything I thought I could to help him. So now I am scared I am getting fired. What should I do?

Is there something I should say to the client? Obviously they want their son to do well and won't continue with me if his grades aren't going up but at the same time I can't control how he performs on actual test day. I noticed that during the mock exam, he could barely answer any questions without turning to me to ask for clarification and then he would stop midway and though his logic was sometimes correct, he would make silly errors.

Is there anything I can do in order to fix this situation? I feel responsible for his bad grade. What more can I offer to help him, or what more can I do in order to make him succeed?

I feel like I failed him, and that it's my fault. During the sessions I am very attentive and any small thing he doesn't understand, I make sure he gets it. So I don't know what to do. I've never experienced this before. My job is dependent on how he performs, and so far I've been getting results but this feels like it's out of my control. What can I do?

  • How to talk to the client, and also if there is anything else I can do to help him? Nov 1, 2018 at 18:51
  • 1
    Have you had any communications with the student's parents regarding his progress in the non-math subjects? I mean, his grades are going up (even math could be improving, from what you wrote).
    – Upper_Case
    Nov 1, 2018 at 19:28
  • Was your tutoring strategy the same for other exams which he did well on?
    – Kilisi
    Nov 1, 2018 at 20:31

1 Answer 1


I don't want to make assumptions about your tutoring style, as I don't know you, have never seen you tutor, and so forth - however, it sounds like you could potentially be coddling the student. By answering his questions every time he turns to you during mock exams, it builds a reliance on you to answer his questions. He knows that he has an easy out, which many people will subconsciously take.

You need to make sure that when he takes mock exams, he takes them in pseudo-exam conditions. Until he learns to think for himself, he won't improve. Don't teach him answers to questions until he completes the exam. When you teach him the answers, give him the same question twenty minutes later to see if he actually absorbed it. You might even have to give him the question a third time a couple days later to really make sure.

In order to communicate with his parents, speak to them about his progress every week. If they are very involved parents, which it sounds like they are, you should make a point to do a "progress report" with them weekly - and let them know to expect it (perhaps, every Friday? This is usually when grades are given back) Track his mock-exam scores, and track his actual grades, and show a line of progression. It may not look favorable to you, but they are accurate representations of the students progress. It's up to you to take action to improve his understanding.

I would also add that for tutoring techniques, a great place to ask questions would be the associated Academia SE


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