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MCAT tutor advice

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by member10101010, May 20, 2014.

  1. member10101010

    member10101010 2+ Year Member

    Jun 17, 2012
    I was thinking about getting a tutor for my MCAT exam. This will be my third time taking it. Has anyone had any success with a tutor before? Please let me know.

    Thanks alot in advance.
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  3. Gauss44

    Gauss44 5+ Year Member

    Oct 28, 2012
    I've found many good tutors on www.wyzant.com And I think Wyzant's payment and satisfaction policies are far more fair than companies that make you pay for a bunch of sessions up front with someone you've never even met.
    Strudel19 likes this.
  4. Sammy1024


    Dec 12, 2013
    I had a kaplan tutor and it wasn't helpful. I feel like tutors only know so much and I would recommend watching chad's videos before going down this expensive venture.

    If you're worried about content, I can say that you should be able to do it on your own if you buy the proper materials.
  5. BerkReviewTeach

    BerkReviewTeach Company Rep & Bad Singer Exhibitor 10+ Year Member

    May 25, 2007
    SDN Exhibitor
    In some cases, getting a tutor can be the perfect plan for improving target areas. There are a few things I would strongly suggest when shopping for a tutor.

    1) Meet with them before you put any money down to make sure they match your style, have a welcoming personality, and can deliver information and answers. Try a few tutors out before deciding on the one that is best for you.

    2) ONLY go with one-on-one tutoring IN PERSON! No matter how much technologies like Skype and the like allow us to video conference, there is a disconnect in terms of body language and natural flow. The time delays, even ones less than a a second, can be bothersome. In person is far more effective than via a computer screen.

    3) Do not overpay. Stretch your dollar. If there is a middleman, then you are paying not only for the tutoring but also the other people in the process. If you can find a high quality independent tutor for $50/hour, then you can have more than twice as many hours as you'd get with a program's tutor where they are known to charge over $100/hour. Because you pay more does not make it better.

    4) Search for an independent tutor in your area, preferably one with experience. Private tutors can be found on many campuses. If you try four out at $50/hour and then use the one you like best for an additional ten hours, you've spent $700 for 11 hours with a tutor you know you like. This is far cheaper than the ten-hour packages that can cost nearly $1500.

    5) Send materials to your tutor in advance of when you meet, so they can go over them and be ready. Spending part of your time together in silence as the tutor reads material for the first and then contemplates it is not the best use of your time together.

    6) Control your lesson plan. Before you meet, have materials you wish to cover and topics you wish to review already in mind. Some tutoring programs will try to push a pre-fab lesson plan on you, but if a generic lesson is what you want, then save money and take a review course full of lesson plans. The reason you use a tutor is not have a pre-fab lesson plan, but to instead cover material specific for you. It's okay to have them teach you a topic you wish to learn, but make sure you dictate what it covers.

    7) Be prepared before you meet. Review material for an hour before you meet for an hour. Start your session primed to cover material.

    After reading what Gauss posted about Wyznat in another thread, I have to say it sounded like a good place to start. I don't know much about them, other than what Gauss posted, but apparently they let you try out a tutor before committing. This is HUGE!

    Good luck!
  6. clairephillips

    clairephillips 2+ Year Member

    Aug 24, 2013
    I can vouch for wyzant as well. I found my tutor through them. I like the fact that you get to email the tutor multiple times before you start, that they are independent tutors, mostly medical students and people in gap years who have taken the MCAT themselves, and you don't have to pay if you decide that they weren't a fit for you. I paid $40 an hour for a medical student at my dream school, who had previous good reviews from other people on wyzant, to spend an hour with me, doing physics problems and helping me practice MCAT math skills. I prepped by working problems so I had specific questions to start from, and we accomplished everything I needed to accomplish. If you happen to be in Austin, Texas, I'll give you his name. :)
  7. MCAT Professor

    MCAT Professor

    May 20, 2014
  8. Strudel19

    Strudel19 5+ Year Member

    Jul 14, 2011
    hSDN Member
    hSDN Alumni
    I'd second wyzant. I'm actually a wyzant tutor. It's a great system.
  9. MCAT Professor

    MCAT Professor

    May 20, 2014
    Just a few notes regarding above comments
    - Definitely agree that you should shop around for tutors to find the best fit.
    - Disagree that online tutoring does not work. The tutoring itself really depends on whether the tutee/tutor really fit each others' learning/teaching styles. Online tutoring really saves money when it comes to travel costs. I, for example, charge $40/hr for online tutoring but $60/hr for in-person tutoring as the time and mileage add up quickly. This saves money for both me and the student. Rarely is there a delay or disconnect, and in the rare instance it occurs, the cost savings far outweigh this.
    - Agree that avoiding the big test prep companies is the way to go when it comes to one-on-one tutoring. I am sure Wyzant is fine, but this is still a "middle man" company. I myself post on craigslist (i.e. in the services > lessons section) - you just have to be on the lookout for certain credentials (i.e. "current med student", "MCAT instructor for...", etc), as there is no screening for tutors. Finding a private independent tutor can lead to HUGE cost-savings, as 20hrs with a private tutor through a test prep company may cost upwards of $3000+, while working with a private tutor for 20hrs may cost less than $1000.
    - Completely agree that it is better to prepare in advance. I usually have my students complete questions (i.e. Examkrackers 1001 Physics book, AAMC practice tests, etc.) before we meet, and we only focus on the problems the student has trouble with. This maximizes the tutoring time.
  10. BerkReviewTeach

    BerkReviewTeach Company Rep & Bad Singer Exhibitor 10+ Year Member

    May 25, 2007
    SDN Exhibitor
    I just to clarify here that I never said online tutoring didn't work. I don't want that idea tied to me. What I said was that in-person tutoring is better because of the full experience. Here are just some of the differences I have felt doing online office hours versus in-person office hours.

    1) Body language can get lost via Skype. You can see things about the way a student attacks a problem when you are face-to-face that you can't see via video.

    2) In person, it is easy to switch materials (change books) where it takes a while on line because you have to figure out which book they are using.

    3) There is no camera angle issue in person where some things aren't visible on a page like you get online.

    4) Writing and drawing pictures by hand is WAY faster and clearer than the best online programs.

    5) In person, you don't have as many issues with mis-communication about what question to go over. The student can pick what they want by opening their book or notes and it's right there. The tutor doesn't have to search for it.

    6) On line requires two copies of a book, and in the event the tutor doesn't have a copy, then you have to get creative and waste time trying to get the question to them. In person, a single copy can be shared easily. This allows for a much broader array of question sources.

    7) Learning is so much more efficient on paper than a computer screen.

    8) Issues with service providers doesn't impede in-person tutoring. A slow feed or dropped connection is a killer. No matter how good my connection may be, the exchange between myself and the tutee is only as good as the weakest link (usually their end).

    9) Perhaps the biggest of all, and it's applicable for me because I'm doing office hours rather than one-on-one tutoring, is that when I have two or three people present, I can work with all of them on the same question and they often help each other by providing a different perspective on the problem. It rapidly deteriorates when you try to add a third person to a cyber conversation.

    These are just some of the reasons I much prefer office hours in person over cyber-methods. Granted, it would be so much easier for me to do this via the internet, but it's not as helpful to my students. Sitting in traffic is not what I enjoy, but because of how much better it is to meet in person, it's not really a choice.

    As for Wyzant, I'm not sure what their middleman fee is. It would be nice for people who used them to post that information. Your prices are extremely reasonable and I seriously hope people fishing for a tutor choose to use you rather than the outlandishly overpriced corporate packages. I always shake my head when I hear that someone opts to pay $125/hour for tutoring (which equates to $250,000/year take-home pay at 40 hours per week for a 50-week work year) to get into medical school where they'll make less per hour than they're paying for tutoring. The insane prices are just not right. Thanks for keeping yours price in a fair cost range!
  11. clairephillips

    clairephillips 2+ Year Member

    Aug 24, 2013
    I don't know the middle man fee, but I overall pay 30 to 70 depending on the tutor for Wyzant.
  12. BerkReviewTeach

    BerkReviewTeach Company Rep & Bad Singer Exhibitor 10+ Year Member

    May 25, 2007
    SDN Exhibitor
    $30 to $70 per hour seems like an incredibly fair price. It doesn't sound look Wyzant is taking much of a cut at all, especially when you consider that corporate tutoring services are consistently well above $100/hour. If you are lucky enough to have someone like MCAT professor in your area that is charging $40/hour with those credentials, that's great. But if you are not, it seems like Wyzant is a fabulous option.
  13. MCAT Professor

    MCAT Professor

    May 20, 2014
    Wyzant takes up to 40%:
    That said, this is still much better than the corporations who charge $150/hr and pay their tutors $30-40/hr. Also, I am sure most Wyzant tutors (just like tutors from other organizations) tutor the company's clients on the side, which although somewhat unethical, is also totally understandable considering the 80% cut the company takes.

    Just some other counter-points to the points above (not trying to argue, as you are not either, lol - totally agree that if two options were in-person-vs-online for the same price, then in-person would be better):
    (1) Would have to agree to disagree on this one. I totally agree that body language is extremely important for tutoring, but at the same time, I find that conveying this through Skype (tone of voice, facial expression) has been just as effective for me as a tutor.
    (2) Would have to agree to disagree on this point also. Most of the time, the material I review with my students is digital (i.e. AAMC practice tests online). Thus, we can usually share their screen via Skype and I can walk them through the problem easily.
    (4) Again, agree to disagree (but it is very user-dependent). Experienced online tutors are accustomed to using pen+tablets that it becomes second nature. Online drawing, in my case, is actually more effective - not necessarily the initial draft, but rather, erasing and re-drawing is easier digitally than with pencil. That said, most of my students do not have the pen+tablet, so are unable to draw themselves, but I cannot remember the last time that a tutee drew something in-person either, so I guess it is not a huge issue.
    (5) Have not found this to be a major issue.
    (6) Agree that this can be a hassle, but does not happen often in my case, as most of the students I tutor use the same high-yield materials that I have access to.
    (7) Would have to agree to disagree on this one also. This is likely dependent on whether the tutor and/or tutee would prefer paper-vs-computer learning. These days, I have found that I and my students are more accustomed to digital learning, as everything seems to be moving in this direction. That said, there are some students and some tutors who prefer paper.
    (8) I would have to say that in the last 100+hrs I have tutored, I have not had one session that was significantly delayed because of computer glitches or dropped connection. Maybe once or twice Skype was dropped for 30seconds. I guess FIOS has been good to me and my tutees, lol. Like you said, however, this is completely dependent on what service provider the tutor and tutee have, so it may be an issue for some students.
    (9) Have never done office hours with a tutor:tutee ratio of 1:3, so would not be able to speak to this.

    I too was skeptical about starting to tutor online, but many hours of practice, it is now seamless.
    Last edited: May 26, 2014

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