Types of tuition services

June 30, 2017

In my earlier post "How to interpret test results", I have shared with you on how to gauge whether your child needs tuition. Suppose you have decided to engage a tuition service, the next step is to know what each type of tuition service has to offer. I will share information on the fees in the next post here (subscribe!!).


From my personal past experiences in the tuition industry and looking through various tuition requests through agencies, I have an impression that there is a significant proportion of parents having limited knowledge on tuition. Here, let me try to share with you what are the various types of tuition services are available and what they have to offer. In the comparison, I am assuming that we are having the same tutor for all the different tuition services.



1. 1 to 1 home tuition


1 to 1 home tuition is probably the most effective. A good 1 to 1 home tuition service will have the following advantages and disadvantageous:



  • Can arrange tuition at student's place, no need to travel.

  • Lesson is 100% customised for student's learning needs.

  • Easier to arrange for makeup or extra lessons compared to group tuition.


  • Costly.

  • Student may rely alot on tutor and hence become less independent.

I had a student in school who does not do the work nor pay attention in class. When I asked for the reasons behind this poor attitude, the student said he has a private tutor at home who can teach him and help him with his homework.

  • Not easy to find a good tutor available as there is a limit on the number of 1 to 1 students a tutor can take in.


2. Classes at tuition centres

From a business point of view, a tutor conducting tuition classes is probably more profitable than 1 to 1 home lessons. This is why we see a surge in the number of tuition centres in Singapore in the recent years as everyone wants a slice of this billion dollar pie. The question is how effective are these lessons? Are they performing as well as they claimed?



  • Cheaper than 1 to 1 home tuition. The fees for attending a class taught by a former MOE teacher can at most fetch the cost of a tutor who is not MOE trained for 1 to 1 home tuition.

  • Student will have a chance to mix with students from other schools and have a feel of their standards.

  • Students can still receive help from tutor at the same time learn to be more independent as the tutor cannot be at his/her side all the time.



  • Order of topics taught in tuition centre may not be the same as the school, especially at A level as different schools teach in a different order.

  • Traditional tuition classes is pretty much uni-directional, i.e. the student has to follow the pace of the tutor which is pretty much the same as school's teaching.

  • Materials and teaching methods are not customised to individual student's learning needs. A student may not catch up with other students in the same class.

  • If you miss a lesson you still have to pay the fees if you cannot attend other sessions. 

  • Some classes can be very huge from the perspective of running a business but it has negative impact for student's learning.



3. Private small group tuition


This tuition service is a hybrid of 1 to 1 tuition and classes at tuition centre. This is especially beneficial to parents who cannot afford a quality 1 to 1 home tuition yet hope to reduce the number of disadvantages of attending lessons at tuition centres.


Basically for my small group, I meet students in a group of size up to 6 at a rented place and the students will be doing assigned individual work while I go around and coach the students on a 1 to 1 basis (consultation style).



  • Includes all the advantages same as tuition centre. Some small group tuition are actually cheaper than lessons at tuition centres because the cost of operation is low.

  • Students will be able to follow their school syllabus because the coaching is done at a 1 to 1 style.

  • Small class size means students can get more attention from the tutor compared to a tuition centre lesson with big class size.



  • Facility may not be "as pretty" due to lower operation cost.

  • The amount of attention is not as much as having 1 to 1 tutor.

  • It takes alot of effort from the tutor as the tutor may end up teaching 6 different topics in 1 lesson and preparing 6 different materials (all for the good of the students).

  • There is no mass "re-teaching" of the topics so the small group session is used mostly as clarifying doubts.


4. Online tuition


This is the digital era where students can learn alot through the information available online. In other countries whereby it is very difficult to travel a long distance for tuition lessons, online tuition is very common to them. In Singapore, online tuition is still at the infancy stage but slowly it is growing. Many apps have appeared in the recent years whereby students can upload pictures of questions and there will be tutors answering them online. Alternatively "live" tuition sessions can take place through online conferencing.



  • No need to travel, have 24/7  access to materials if they are uploaded online.

  • Cheaper than 1 to 1 home tuition, probably one of the cheapest option around.

  • Very convenient to arrange for makeup sessions online compared to face to face.

  • Parents can observe the lesson online also.


  • A possibility of being distracted by other online things.

  • Certain concepts are not easily taught online compared to face to face.

  • Possibility of other disruptions such as poor network, etc.

  • "snap & ask" mode makes students overly reliant on others to solve the questions for them. Students will lose the skill of deriving their own answers since they are no longer doing the "thinking process" and asking for express answers instead.


There you have it, the 4 different types of tuition services available and now you have to weigh the advantages vs disadvantages of each type of tuition service.



To the student's success.

Wei Cang


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