How to get the most out of your first online tutoring session.

online-tutorsHow to get the most out of your first online tutoring session.


When it comes to online tutoring, you will most surely be rewarded for the time and effort you invest. The initial stage of your first lesson will focus on getting to know you and your goals. The free twenty minute trial with Spires is perfect for this: by having a trial lesson with a tutor, you can decide if you are suited to each other before you fork out for lessons. If not, you can look for another tutor that may be more suited to your needs.

Create a list of questions or bullet points that you can refer to throughout the lesson. It can be difficult to remember everything you wanted to mention, or the specific topics that you want to focus on. Having a couple of cues will help rescue you from ‘stage fright’, helping the lesson flow  and creating focus points to get you started.

Establish your goals and expectations – what would you like to achieve in your tutoring sessions, both long term and short term? This will help both you and your tutor to prepare and plan the techniques and activities that will benefit you most. Are you building up to exams? Do you have an assignment title that you’d like to plan for? Is there an ongoing topic that constantly baffles you?

Recognise your weak points and failures! Although failing can feel completely soul crushing at the time, it is a great way to identify areas of improvement so that you can accept it, work on it and move forward. Helping your tutor identify your weak areas will speed up your progress in every area, such as Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Maths, Further Maths, and anything else that is considered impossible by mere mortals.

Don’t be afraid to tell your tutor how you enjoy learning and what you find demotivational and dull. It’ll be a waste of time listening to your tutor’s voice for an hour, if you learn better visually. Some tutoring platforms, such as Spires, have interactive whiteboards that are brilliant for explaining topics and questions through drawings, colours and diagrams.

Don’t forget to smile and relax! It is important to build a productive relationship with your tutor and you’ll feel much more confident in asking questions if you’re not meek and totally afraid of them. More importantly, your tutor will feel more inclined to put time into your lessons plans and ensure you progress if they warm to you!

Top Tips: Approaching the GCSE School Year

Image result for GCSEs
Students celebrating the reward of a good plan and hard work

GCSEs are a time of trepidation for all, for most students it is the first time they will write exams of consequence. As we sit gazing into another academic year, parents and children alike need to begin implementing a plan. I am going to try and give 10 simple tips that will make the whole process relatively stress free and actually rewarding.

  1. Get a plan in place early

And by early, I mean now! Look at all your subjects of choice, and honestly evaluate where you are strong and where extra work is needed. For example, someone with a flair for mathematics who struggles with his languages must not make the common mistake and cracking on with Maths papers but ignoring his Spanish vocab. Also, look to the year ahead and figure out when you are going to be on holiday, when you have extra-curricular activities, and when you are going to rest! Once you have this template in place, you will start to be able see how your year is going to go. All of this is aimed at avoiding unexpected surprises!

2. Everyone is different…

This follows on from the first point –  now is the time to figure out what will be smart revision for you even if your best friend is going about it in a different way. Some students like working independently, whereas others may prefer an online tutoring platform. It is always good practice to reflect on the past and realise what has worked for you and what hasn’t. This will help GCSE preparation no end.

3. Find a great tutor

An often quoted fact about the world in which we live, is that education is the one pillar of our society that is exactly the same as it was 100 years ago. However, with the recent emergence of online tutoring there are signs that this may be changing. Online tutoring provides a service that is flexible, dynamic and provides a new relationship between student and teacher. Your traditional easter family holiday doesn’t have to end now when he can get great tutoring from anywhere in the world. Spires is a national leader in this service and can be found here.

4. Make a revision timetable

This is crucial to GCSE success. Your timetable must be tailored to suit you. There is no point in having a timetable with 2 hour slots if you know that your attention span is half that time. I would recommend placing the STEM subjects (Maths, Science etc) in the early morning as studies have shown this is most effective.

5. Find time to rest and enjoy yourself

Above all, keeping perspective is crucial! Everyone has hobbies and friends – it is important not to neglect them.  The most common downfall for students is when they become encompassed by the pressure. Entering an exam with a clear head is absolutely essential. Whether it is heading down to the park to kick a football around or taking part in a school play, kids must keep active and doing what they enjoy doing the most. Life isn’t all about Maths and Physics!

Early revision…how early is too early?






Stress, stress, stress…

A particularly familiar feeling that any GCSE, A Level or University student has experienced from the age of fifteen onward. What if there was an easier way? What if a student could ace a whole year of assignments and homework, without skipping a beat? Then roll into summer exam season with a smug feeling that everything has gone swimmingly.

‘How’, you may well ask?

First, no matter what your abilities are, there is no substitute for sweaty, grueling, hard work. Secondly, there is nothing more valuable than an experienced tutor’s pearls of wisdom. Thirdly, there is nothing that kicks you harder in the teeth than hindsight. In short; failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

Three weeks before A Level exams:
This is the University student philosophy of high risk but high fun methodology. This will suit you if you are an ‘upper-average to fast’ learner (or just plain disorganised), who wants to still be a socialite. You can nail the revision last minute and only have to glue yourself to a book for the last month or so.

Effectiveness – Poor to average, unless you’re at Brooks and doing Geography.

Difficulty to pull off – Easy when at University, but hard otherwise difficult with your mum and dad champing at your heels.

Damage to your health – Rising blood pressure through stress, sleep deprivation.

3 months before entrance exams:
First of all, starting revision with ample time left until the exam period is not many University students’ life style of choice. However everyone knows that, as a school student, you will find yourself in ‘prep sessions’ or in my case ‘enforced prep sessions’ by your mother or school which will help you crack down early.

Effectiveness – Medium to high, hard work is on your side, intelligence may not be.

Easiness to pull off – Not easy, many will fall by the wayside through motivation deprivation.

Damage to your health – Lack of social life may lead to chronic boredom and loneliness forever.

Online Tutoring;
This can help you pace your revision and other studies on low cost, high output sessions starting as early in the year as you need and finishing with high grades and high happiness. Friendly, motivated individuals will guide you in your way to glory.

Effectiveness – High, successful and motivated people are on your side.

Difficulty to pull off – Easy. All you need to do it turn up for your weekly, or more frequent, online tutoring sessions and do your homework in-between and Bob’s your uncle.

Damage to your health – Negligible.

Why don’t you take a look at Spires?

In conclusion,

Two brains are better than one, and Universities are becoming no less competitive.

Life as an Oxford Student: Part 4 – Social Life


Matriculation marks the start of your time at the university, and is a real social occasion.

As with any university, going to Oxford triggers a certain sense of trepidation. Wondering what the university, people, and town itself are like is something that you can only ever truly know when you get there. However, it is always worth gaining a bit of insight into what you can expect. Therefore, over the next few blogs I’m going to take you on a merry adventure and describe what Oxford life is really like. Here, in part four, I’ll be looking at the social life in the University. Continue reading “Life as an Oxford Student: Part 4 – Social Life”

Preparation & the Exam Countdown

The countdown to exams is all about good preparation.

Preparation is king. As the spring becomes summer, the topic on everyone’s mind is exams. Whether it be GCSEs, A Levels, or University exams, they are nye-on unavoidable. However, the best way to tackle exams (and the stresses that come with it) is to see them as a collection of small hurdles. Not en masse as an imposing twenty-foot wall. To do so, you need to have a clear idea of the time frames involved.

Continue reading “Preparation & the Exam Countdown”

Life Inside an Oxbridge Ball

Fireworks are an Oxbridge May Ball staple – here’s Queen’s from a few years ago

One of the quintessential ‘Oxbridge’ experiences is going to a May-time ball. Although not always set in May (because that would be far too mainstream), they are the type of event that you hear so much about throughout the year. So, what can you expect; before, during and after?

Continue reading “Life Inside an Oxbridge Ball”

Exams – Helping Your Child Through Exams

Across the country, exams are a necessity at every level of education

To get anywhere in education, exams are integral. Whether that be the 11+, GCSEs, A Levels or university exams, there is sadly no escaping them. People deal with this rigmarole in different ways. These tips will help to ease the stress levels, and hopefully provide the best possible results!
Continue reading “Exams – Helping Your Child Through Exams”

Life as an Oxford Student: Part 3 – The College

All Souls’ College is one of the most prestigious colleges in the world

As with any university, going to Oxford triggers a certain sense of trepidation. Wondering what the university, people, and town itself are like is something that you can only ever truly know when you get there. However, it is always worth gaining a bit of insight into what you can expect. Therefore, over the next few blogs I’m going to take you on a merry adventure and describe what Oxford life is really like. Here, in part three, I’ll be taking you through the trappings of College life.
Continue reading “Life as an Oxford Student: Part 3 – The College”