Online or in-person? This is an ongoing debate in many arenas today, including SAT and ACT tutoring. Some tutors offer both, but many are staunchly in the online only or in-person only camp. While a good argument can be made for either side, the bottom line is that a student should choose the option that fits well with his or her learning style, motivation, and schedule.
Attending virtual tutoring sessions via Skype or Facetime becomes more popular every year. This option enables students to have access to the best tutors, regardless of location, and is particularly beneficial to students in geographic areas without a large supply of local tutors. The biggest advantage to everyone is that online tutoring sessions are generally much more flexible as far as scheduling, and there is no wasted time (for the student or the tutor) on commuting to and from another location. This often results in a less expensive hourly rate. According to Sean Quinn at Arbor Bridge, there is also less wasted time with things like small talk and getting a glass of water, so the sessions become more efficient. Arbor Bridge uses Zoom, a new technology platform with added bells and whistles like an interactive whiteboard and the ability to record, which mitigates some of the concerns that students and parents have about online sessions.
However, online tutoring is still a very distinct experience which requires a different skill set from both the tutor and the student. For example, according to Isabela Guimaraes at Wheelhouse Learning, the online setting requires the tutor to be able to ask the right questions to assess comprehension. It can be harder for the tutor to see what a student is doing when a moment of hesitation hits, so the student needs to be a strong communicator who can express when he or she doesn’t understand a concept.
For many students there is just no substitute for a face-to-face in-person meeting. To have a productive relationship, you need to connect with your tutor, and this is often much easier in person. There is also something to be said for the commitment and investment of in-person meetings where students may feel more accountable. And anyone who has ever been on a Skype call with a bad connection can definitely appreciate the value of meeting in person.
Both options have pros and cons, and students should take advantage of free introductory lessons to figure out which method will be most effective in helping them achieve their goals.