How Long Should Your Tutoring Sessions Be?

How Long Should Tutoring Sessions Be

Effective tutors tailor their instruction to the needs of their students. At the first session for a new client, a number of key decisions must be made based upon pre-assessment data and a student's growth goals.

Ultimately, part of that decision-making discussion must include how long tutoring sessions should last and how often they should occur. While some test prep companies opt to standardize the process and their curriculum as much as possible, the best ones find ways to tailor fit the experience to student needs. Deciding upon the ideal session length for a student is one aspect of tutoring personalization that tutors and test prep professionals cannot afford to overlook.

Finding the sweet spot

Depending on whom you talk to, “optimal” tutoring sessions can run anywhere from 30 to 120 minutes (or beyond). Realistically, if a session is too short the logistics of handling materials and establishing focus could cut into a significant percentage of the instructional time. If a session is too long, there is a reasonable risk of losing students’ focus down the stretch.

Tutors must consider the fact that students with learning difficulties like ADHD may find shorter sessions a more ideal fit for their attention spans. On the other hand, students that qualify for instructional modifications like extended time may benefit from a longer session taught at a slower pace.

Time of day matters, too. If a student is attending sessions immediately after a full day of school, there is likely only so much fuel left in the mental tank. Weekends and evenings may allow for longer sessions if students have had a chance to decompress and come to task in a more energized state of mind.

Whatever session length you agree to with a client, be sure to also give some thought to the fact that there are some aspects of a solid test prep program that invariably will require longer sessions. For instance, full-length practice tests are just that – full length. Students should have exposure to what test day will feel like before sitting for the SAT or ACT. Obviously, that does not mean every session needs to be the same duration as the test it is prepping a student to take. That said, the first time a student sits for a full-length testing session shouldn’t be on test day.

When all is said and done, zeroing in on the timing sweet spot requires some thought into each individual student’s needs. The best test prep professionals weigh all the variables and include the relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process.

Better use of time trumps more time

Whatever timing conclusions you come to with a client, optimizing how you use the allotted tutoring time will have a big impact on student growth.

Consider how much time you spend in a session on non-instructional tasks or tasks students could be self-assessing:

  • Are you grading student work by hand?
  • Are you spending tutoring time checking homework?
  • Is the majority of your session spent working through the practice problems students completed between sessions?
  • Are your progress reports and parent updates taking place during tutoring time?

Switching to a comprehensive, custom-branded test prep curriculum like the one offered by Clear Choice Prep can remedy many of the major culprits of wasted tutoring time. The combination of digital accountability tools, self-assessing practice, instant student feedback with video examples, and automatically generated progress reports can take many of the administrative tasks off a tutor’s plate. This frees up more time for meaningful teaching and learning.

An optimized and personalized tutoring experience is not only effective, but it's marketable as well. Being able to assure clients that the time they are paying for is actually instructional time can be a vital part of your pitch when courting clients exploring their local tutoring options.

Click the link below to schedule a demo and see how our customizable, white-label test prep curriculum can help empower your tutors to maximize both their teaching time and student growth!

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Matt McCorkle