6 Warning Signs of a Bad Tutor

If picking a tutor is hard, changing one is even harder. No one likes to have “that conversation”, where a tutor gets fired. Unfortunately, bad tuition can be much worse than no tuition, if you let things drag on too long. Here are some warning signs to look for:



1. No Presentation of Qualifications

Be wary of tutors who don’t present their qualifications. There have been numerous cases of outright lying, or tutors who use “degree mills” (certification from online “Universities”, which don’t run courses but simply award the qualifications to anyone who pays).

When a tutor says they have a “degree in mathematics”, always insist on the specifics – ask which University it’s from, and check that the same documents (logo, font, stamps, etc.) are shown on the University’s website.

Alternatively, you can search our database of tutors, whom we’ve already verified and vetted.



2. Poor Responsiveness

When you call, text, or e-mail the tutor, how prompt is the response? Beware of tutors who take a long time to get back to you, or don’t do so at all. If it happens once or twice it could be circumstance – but if it happens all the time, be sure to raise the issue.

Some tutors are overcommitted; they teach as many students as possible, or have jobs that take too much of their attention off your child; and the most common sign of this is poor responsiveness.


3. All Practice, Minimal Teaching

The tutoring process has two sides – teaching, and practice. The process of delivering the information is teaching, and the piles of assessment books, past exam papers, etc. is the practice.

Some tutors pick a lazy option that makes them look like they’re working – they simply pile on the assessment books and exam papers,  and silently watch as your child fills them out. Sure, this helps the learning process somewhat – but it’s hardly something you need to pay for!

Tuition fees include the teaching process. This means engaging your child, trying to raise interest in the subject, and genuinely widening their spheres of knowledge. Lazy tutors don’t do that, because it’s much harder than throwing worksheets at your child.




4. Excessive Texting During Lessons

Good tutors don’t stare at their phones while your child is filling in worksheets. They are either looking over the work, or just being attentive and watching your child hesitates.

It’s fine if a tutor needs to use their phone once in a while, but make sure it doesn’t become excessive. This tendency, by the way, tends to go with point #3. The tutors who want to stay on WhatsApp while handing out assessment books aren’t teaching like they’re meant to.


5. Your Child Hates the Tutor

This is when bad tuition becomes worse than no tuition. Some children actually can improve under coercion (i.e. grades are improving even if they hate the lessons). These are children with a low resistance index, and they are sadly the minority.

Most children, particularly young teenagers, are more likely to push back. The responses range from deliberately writing wrong answers (to infuriate the tutor), to just not doing any of the work.



This may or may not be the tutor’s fault – it’s besides the point. The issue is that the tutor will spend more time on class management than actually teaching, and that’s not a good use of your money. Besides, it keeps your child unhappy.

(That said, it’s usually the sign of a bad tutor. We can spot these on our end, when multiple students start to dislike the same tutor. Another reason to let us vet them for you!)

You should switch to a tutor who is also able to engage and motivate your child. If you need help with this, drop us a message on Facebook!


6. Lateness or Confusion with Timings

As with point #2, this is a common symptom among tutors who have taken on too many students, or are too busy to properly tutor as a side job. Even if that’s not the case, it’s difficult for a disorganised tutor to keep up with your child’s lesson plans and exams.

You can see signs of these problems as early as the first day. Just inquire about the tutor’s lesson plans, or how their schedule works. The organised ones will have a coherent answer, whereas the more scatter-brained will give you confused answers.

Remember that lateness is more than just inconvenient: it affects when and how your child gets homework done!

Ever had a bad tuition experience? Having one now? Comment and we’ll help you out!

Image Credits:

Simon Shek, Nadya Peek, Melina Sampaio Manfrinatti, Seth Woodworth,