Whether or not you use a tutor is entirely up to you. Many schools will advise against it, but most pupils who gain entrance to those schools will probably have had some tuition along the way. We recommend that if you do engage a tutor, you follow these simple steps to make sure you make the most of the opportunity:
1. Recommendations where possible
If it sounds obvious, it's because it is. Where you have friends or family who can recommend a strong tutor, put them right at the front of the queue. Tutors, just like every profession in life fall into three core categories: those who are great, those who are good and those who are not good enough. The problem is finding out which is which.
2. Sit in for the first two sessions
Time for a little controversy.
Parents who rely entirely on tutors to secure their child a place in a selective school may not be taking the task seriously enough. Parents who don't even take the time to vet and manage the tutor they are relying on risk failing their child altogether. Unless you know that your tutor is a guaranteed win for your child (which you might), then you need to check that they are the right calibre and the right person to help your son or daughter on this very important step in their life.
Joining the first two tuition sessions gives you the opportunity to observe the methods, communication style and initial effectiveness of the tutor. This can be done in a friendly way and doesn't need to be Big Brother. Speaking from personal experience I can assure you that it's better to stomach this potentially awkward moment early on, than to invest your hopes and dreams in the hands of someone who for whatever reason is not the right person to help you get the most out of your exam preparation.
3. Share your plan
Hopefully you have a plan ready that maps your journey to exam day. Share this with your tutor so that they can advise, contribute and understand the path you have set.
4. Home mocks
Sitting as many mock papers as you can is important for lots of reasons, not least that it serves as a binary, non emotional measurement of your journey to date. It is important to listen to and absorb your tutors feedback and advice, but the end goal here is not that your tutor is pleased, it is that the exam paper is successful. Periodic mocks and partial mocks should be a part of your weekly timetable and are the ultimate test of how the learning is progressing.