How to Tutor Science

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To tutor science, the tutor needs to be very familiar with the area of science that he is tutoring, whether he is tutoring biology, chemistry, physics or another area of science. The tutor also needs to make it clear that science subjects cannot just be memorized and regurgitated. Learning science requires the student to actually learn the concepts as he works through his courses. A student cannot cram for his science exams and expect to be successful by the end of the term, nor can a tutor work this miracle for him.

    Teach science vocabulary terms. Each branch of science has keywords that a student must learn to be successful. When you tutor science, focus on the root words because those will help the student learn how to decode new vocabulary words in any science class.

    Review relevant equations. Some branches of science, such as chemistry and physics, rely heavily on certain equations, and the student is not going to be successful until he masters those equations. Make sure you cover those equations until the student knows them by heart.

    Emphasize that scientific concepts build upon one another. A student cannot study for a science test in one night. Each scientific concept builds upon the next. When you tutor science, stress that the student must keep up with the lessons as they are taught in the classroom so that the tutoring time for a science test is a review rather than learning new information.

    Introduce general concepts before tackling more specific ones. For example, a student must understand what a biosphere is before she is ready to move on to understanding the cellular level. Start with the big picture and work toward the details.

    Discuss labs with the student. Tell the student to attend all labs. Labs help the student take the theoretical information they learn in the classroom and apply it in a hands-on way. Make sure that the student understood what he did in the lab, and answer any questions he might have about the lab experiment.

    Tell the student to look up and learn unfamiliar words. Whenever the student does not know what a word means (whether a scientific term or other word), tell the student to look it up in a dictionary. The student will need to know what the word means in order to understand the lessons he learns in science.

    Review the student’s notes. Make sure that the student comprehends what he wrote down in his notes (versus just copying information off the board). When you tutor science, ask questions based upon the student’s notes, and explain any of the science concepts that the student does not appear to have grasped.

    Assign homework. Once you identify areas in which the student needs a deeper understanding, assign some form of homework to help the student reinforce what you covered during a tutoring session. Check the homework and make sure the student grasped the concepts.


    • Go over old tests with the student when you tutor science in preparation for upcoming tests. By reviewing old tests, you can also identify problem areas for the student. Suggest that the student bring a camera to the labs and take pictures of everything she does. You can go over the photos together and have the student explain what happened during the lab. This is another way to assess the student’s knowledge of scientific concepts. Science textbooks generally have study questions in the back of each chapter. You can use these questions when assigning tutoring homework.

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