How to Be a Science Tutor

Three Methods:Tutoring EffectivelyTutoring ProfessionallyTutoring Your Peers

Science can be a fascinating subject to learn, but many students have trouble learning science. Sometimes students need additional help to master the concepts involved. In those cases, students or their parents may want to hire a science tutor to help them. Tutors can earn money while sharing their love and knowledge of science with others. They can also derive satisfaction from helping those they tutor develop their own love of science.

Method 1
Tutoring Effectively

  1. 1
    Vary how you present information. The more ways you present a topic, the more chances your student will have to resonate with the information you offer. Try working problems, discussing prominent scientists in the field you are tutoring, and allowing the student to connect to different aspects of your topic. This makes the topic more engaging and digestible for students.[1]
  2. 2
    Keep a light touch. Science can sometimes be pretty technical and tedious. Introduce a bit of humor and fun to the lesson. Make jokes about your subject matter, even if they are nerdy science jokes. You can also use flash cards or other systems to create fast paced quiz games.[2]
    • An example of a chemistry joke might be “You know why I don’t trust atoms? Because I heard they make up everything!”
  3. 3
    Practice often. Your students will need to have frequent opportunities to work through science problems and concepts. Allow them to work through an idea from start to finish, and then give them constructive feedback about their process. Make sure that you explain the concepts involved when correcting them, and ask them to explain the concepts back to you.[3]
  4. 4
    Encourage critical thinking. Allow your students to talk more than you do. If you are tutoring multiple students, give them a chance to discuss problems with each other. Any time a question, or answer, is given, allow the students to reflect on the science concepts behind the question.[4]
    • For example, if you are covering material related to the shape of a water molecule, you might ask the students to consider why it is a different shape from another three atom molecule, such as carbon dioxide. Rather than telling them the answer right off, prompt them to think about the electrons on oxygen. You might say “What is it about oxygen that would push the hydrogens closer to each other giving water a bent geometry?”
  5. 5
    Vary your study place. A change of scenery from time to time will give your tutoring sessions a natural, relaxed feel. Get out of the classroom and go to science exhibits, or do your own experiments that are relevant to the topic you are tutoring. This breaks the monotony of the classroom.[5]
    • For example, if you are teaching a chemistry lesson, you might go outside and demonstrate how some household chemicals react.
  6. 6
    Get feedback from students. Your students will be able to tell you if they are learning well or not. Listen to what they have to say. If they seem hesitant to speak up, provide a survey for them. The survey questions should prompt them to tell you what you are doing well, and what you could improve on.[6]
    • Try to make your survey anonymous and say something like “I need your feedback to make sure that I’m meeting your needs.”
    • An example survey question might be “How comfortable are you speaking about the material we cover in a tutoring session?”

Method 2
Tutoring Professionally

  1. 1
    Graduate high school. To be a successful tutor, you will need a background in science. High school is designed to lay the foundation of several different subjects, including the sciences. A high school diploma is also an important stepping stone to higher education.[7]
    • If you did not graduate high school, you can obtain a graduate equivalency degree, or GED.
  2. 2
    Obtain a college degree. With a college degree, you can specialize in a particular science in a way that high school does not offer. Major in physics, chemistry, biology, or another science program. You also have the option to get a teaching degree with a science concentration.[8]
  3. 3
    Complete a tutor certification. A tutor certification is important for getting hired on to some tutoring companies or school boards. There are multiple certifying organizations such as the National Tutoring Association, and the American Tutoring Association.[9]
  4. 4
    Start with your area of specialty. People often choose tutors because the tutor is a specialist in their field. Having the experience and knowledge beyond that of the average person will allow you to structure your teachings with direction and purpose. Look for tutoring jobs in the field(s) that you specialize or have degrees in.[10]
    • For example, if you have a degree in chemistry and research experience in biochemistry, then tutoring in biochemistry would be a great option for you.
  5. 5
    Look for openings in related areas. If you are struggling to find a need for tutors in your specialty, you can branch out to closely related topics. This opens up more opportunities for you to tutor, and will enhance your skills on topics related to your specialty. Advertise yourself as a tutor in several different, but closely related subjects.
    • If your specialty is biochemistry, you could advertise yourself as a tutor in chemistry, biology, and biochemistry.
  6. 6
    Gauge what students need. Ultimately, what you teach will be governed by what students need to learn. If you are having difficulty finding students in need of your tutoring services, ask some students what topics they need assistance in. It may be outside your area of expertise, but you could possibly still offer assistance.
    • Many students need help in mathematics for example. Even though math is not in the title of a biochemistry major, you will need to complete several chemistry courses that require relatively strong math skills to acquire your degree. So offering assistance to students in basic math courses would not be out of the question.
  7. 7
    Compare job options. Different tutoring jobs come with different pay and benefit packages. Sometimes, you can be hired as a tutor by the local board of education and be paid a set rate. Alternatively, you could tutor as a private tutor and set your own schedule and rates. Tutoring agencies also offer a good way to connect with students and keep steady work.

Method 3
Tutoring Your Peers

  1. 1
    Look into peer tutoring options at your school. Many students choose to apply themselves as tutors in a class that they find enjoyable or easy. They elect to tutor other students in that particular subject. This is generally contained within a particular school or institution.[11]
    • For example, a student of one college or high school would rarely ever be a tutor at another.
  2. 2
    Tutor for subjects in which you excel. It is important that you understand the course that you are tutoring. Most places require that you have taken the course you wish to tutor. Usually you must have earned an A- or better in the course. Sometimes, a lower grade will be accepted if the professor recommends you.[12]
    • Sometimes you can tutor for a class that you tested out of.
  3. 3
    Complete tutor training. Most institutions have a specific training course that you must complete before being instated as tutor. This is to ensure that you can properly communicate information to your fellow students. After completing the training, you will generally be listed in the institutions tutoring center where students will come for study help.[13]
  4. 4
    Be aware of interactions with your students. As a fellow student and a tutor, your interactions with the people you tutor can sometimes be tricky. You might often run into a student that doesn’t recognize your authority on the subject because you are a student. You should also recognize that, to some degree, you hold a position of power over your fellow students. Be careful not to abuse this position, such as asking for favors in return for tutoring.


  • Private tutors are not required to have any certification or licensing.
  • Studying teaching/learning theories may provide valuable insight.


  • Do not present dry, dull material.
  • Do not dominate the conversation with lecture style teaching.
  • Do not handle chemicals or other dangerous lab materials unless you understand exactly what you are doing.

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Categories: Teaching