How Can I Help My Child Get The Most Out Of Tutoring?

Term 1 starts this weekend! I thought this would be an excellent time to give some tips on how parents can help their children get the most out of their classes at Spectrum Tuition. Obviously, as tutors, we try to make your job as easy as possible. We do the hard stuff. We ensure that each student know exactly what they have to do and has all the necessary information required to get the most out of their classes. However, there are a few simple ways in which you, as a parent, can help.

Young Boy Being Tutored by His Teacher

1. Make sure your child has all the necessary resources.

This includes any pens, pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners, rulers and calculators that they will need throughout the lesson. If your child is attending more than one class, it is also a good idea to make sure they have a snack and a drink. For more information, check out this post on our help centre.


2. Make sure they complete their homework each week.

Each week your child will be given an amount of homework to complete before the next class. The point of this homework is to ensure that your child retains the information that they have learned during the class and to prepare them for the next week’s quiz. Students who do not complete their homework are unlikely to get the most out of the class, so students, parents and tutors have to work together to ensure that this task gets done.


3. Make sure you sign the homework schedule every week.

On the second page of each week’s book is a homework schedule. Each week, students will be required to write their homework in this section. There is a space for the schedule to be signed by the tutor, the student and the parent each week. It is important that you sign your child’s book each week. This is not just so you can see what homework they have; this section of the book is also a valuable place for the tutor to write messages for you to read or for you to write messages for the tutor to read. See this post on our help centre for more information. By signing it every week, you can ensure that a line of communication is established between you and your child’s tutor.

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New Updated VCE Program

Spectrum Tuition have been hard at work throughout the school holidays, updating our popular VCE courses. We are pleased to announce that, starting in 2014, we will be introducing a brand new, updated, VCE program and a new line of course books for VCE Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Maths Methods and English.

The new course is more exam-focused than ever before. Through a close analysis of the previous 5 years of exams and examiners reports, we have devised a course that focuses on the most important topics and questions types that consistently come up on the exams. The new course, developed by our highly talented and experienced tutors, is designed to ensure that, by exam time, each of our students are as prepared as they can possibly be to face the challenge of their final exam.

One of our brand new course books.

One of our brand new course books.

In order to achieve this, we have developed a considerable amount of brand new exam-style questions that are designed to prepare our students for even the most challenging exam question. Each week, students will be required to complete a set of exam-style questions and, each five weeks, they will be given a cumulative mock exam, to reinforce everything they have learned in the course up to that point.

We have worked extremely hard to ensure that our VCE course not only provides our students with the knowledge they need, but also give them practical experience in how to approach, interpret and master even the most challenging types of exam questions.

If your child is starting year 11 or 12 this year, and you want to give them the extra advantage they need to succeed in Physics, Maths Methods, English, Chemistry or Biology, then give us a call or come in and see us this weekend. Term one starts on Saturday, so now’s the time to start!


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Last Minute Preparation For Scholarship Exams

We’re at the end of January already. You know what this means? It means that in just over a month, thousands of year 6 students across the start will be sitting their exams in hope of gaining scholarships to the private school of their choice. For these students, the chance of getting a scholarship is often a once in a lifetime opportunity to get a high-quality education at an affordable price.

For this reason, many students have been preparing for this moment for the past year. Others are going in having never seen a practice test in their lives. If your child fits into either one of these categories, whether they have been attending scholarship classes for a year or whether they are at the first stage of their exam preparation, there are some very specific things that they can do in the next month to maximise their chances of success!

1. Get Informed

Before you start preparing your child for a Scholarship exam, it’s important to have all the possible information at your disposal. There is a lot of information out there about the specific areas covered by each of the exams. It is important that you look at this information carefully to find out exactly what your child has to prepare for.

Check out our website for a useful summary of each of the scholarship exams. It is also a good idea to check out the website of the exam that your child will be sitting.


2. Practice Writing Under Time Limits

One of the most difficult parts on the scholarship exam is the writing component. Students will be required to produce a creative narrative and a well-structured argumentative essay under an incredibly strict time limit. As a guide, students will only have around 25 minutes to plan and write each of their writing tasks. For students who are unfamiliar with writing under a time limit, this can be a nearly impossible task. But, as always, practice makes perfect. Start by getting your child to write a practice essay in 40 minutes. Once they are able to do this, shorten the time limit to 35 minutes, then 30, and then eventually 25. As a guide, here is a suggestion for how long your child should spend on each section of their essay.

Planning – 2 minute

Introduction – 3 minutes

Body Paragraphs – 16 minutes

Conclusion – 3 minutes

Editing – 1 minutes


3. Focus On Essay Structure

This relates to the point above, but it deserves emphasising. If your child is going to be successful in the argumentative writing component of their exam, then they need to have a clear sense on how to structure an essay, and what to put in each section. This will make their essay clearer to read, and also help your child to structure their ideas in the strict time limit. Every essay should include the following sections.

1. Introduction.

-Usually around 5 sentences.

-Introduces the topic.

-Clearly states the contention, or main opinion of the piece.

-Summarises the 2-3 main arguments that support the contention.

-Concludes by linking these argument to the contention.

2. Body paragraphs.

-2-3 paragraphs, one for each argument. Each paragraph should focus on just one argument.

-Should start with a topic sentence that links the contention to the argument. For example “Smoking should be illegal (contention) because it is bad for your health (argument).”

-Gives evidence and reasons why the argument is correct.

3. Conclusion.

-Summarises all the arguments given in the body paragraphs.

-Ends by restating the contention.

For more information on structuring and writing creative pieces, check out this blog post.


4. Get On Top Of Mathematics Skills

When it comes to maths, the scholarship exams can get a little rough. They aim to single out the best of the best, so they often cover work that may be over complicated or even unfamiliar to most grade 6 students. It is important that your child is on top of their basic mathematics skills. They should be able to solve times tables quickly, add and multiply fractions, deal with percentages, follow the orders of operation (BODMAS) and interpret patterns and graphs. The exam also relies of some basic algebra, which is often not taught until high school, so it may be a good idea to introduce your child to the basic concept of x’s and y’s before they sit the test.


How Can We Help?

This may sound very daunting. It’s hard to face such a task alone. Fortunately, Spectrum Tuition offer a range of options for students who want some last minute help preparing for their exams. Though it’s too late to enroll for our Scholarship Preparation course for this year’s exam, there are still a number of options available.

Exam packs

We offer a range of custom-made practice Scholarship exam packs. These practice exams are based on our years of experience preparing students for the exam, and cover all the areas that the Scholarship exam covers.

Our exam packs can be used as general study tools, but they can also be tailored to focus on specific areas of weakness. In addition, we offer an extra essay feedback service, in order to give your child a chance to dramatically improve their argumentative and creative writing skills.

Check out our website for more information.

Private tutoring

If your child still has a specific area of difficulty and needs a bit more personalised attention, then private tutoring is a great option. Many of our university educated private tutors have sat similar exams themselves and are able to give specific feedback and instruction where your child needs it the most. For more information on private tutoring, check out our website.


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The 5 Biggest Lies VCE Students Tell Themselves

In less than a week, the 2014 school year will begin. For year 12 students completing the final year of their VCE or IB diplomas, the clock is ticking; the game is on. The time to work for VCE students is now. Successful students understand this; a successful student has already spent their holidays reading their English texts, getting organised and trying not to forget how to differentiate polynomials. A successful student knows that, from day one, they have to be organised, focused and ready to work.

Unfortunately, for some students, now is the time to start making excuses and compromises, to start telling themselves little fibs that make them feel better about the disorganised procrastination ahead of them in the next few months. Students are great at justifying their own bad behaviour; they tell themselves that they will study later, that this test isn’t all that important, that it’s ok that they got a D on their SAC because the rest of the class did poorly too. Unfortunately, these little fibs can have make the difference between a student who achieves their goals and one that falls short. So today, I aim to cut these fibs off at their source. Below are the 5 most common lies that VCE students tell themselves, and why they are completely false.

1. My SAC scores don’t matter as long I do well on the exam.

I have heard this one many times. A student, unwilling to work hard on their SACs throughout the year, reassures themselves that, come exam time, they will make up for their poor performance with a last minute display of genius. This is dangerous thinking for two reasons. Firstly, SACS actually do matter very much. The SACS given throughout the year are used to rank the students in each class. Based on this ranking, the study scores for each of their subjects may go up or down. A low ranking student who does well on the exam might actually get a lower study score that a high-ranking student who does slightly worse on the exam! Secondly, studying for SACS is a great way of practicing the valuable study skills required to achieve success on the final exam. After all, who do you think will be able to study better: a student who has cruised through the year, or one who has diligently studied and revised their notes for every single one of their assessments?

2. Subjects like Psychology are the easy subjects.

There is a common myth that some subjects are ‘easier’ than others because they are scaled down. Subjects like Psychology, Graphic Design and Physical Education are considered less strenuous than subjects like Physics and Specialist Maths. Some students take this to mean that these subjects are “easier,” that they don’t need to work as hard at these subjects to do well. This could not be further from the truth. A student studying Psychology not only has to contend with the inevitable scaling down of their study score, they also have to compete with the above-average number of students completing the subject. While the exam may be easy, it will be equally easy for the other tens of thousands of students sitting it. Whilst doing average in Specialist Maths might yield a good study score, doing average in Psychology or Design is simply not good enough; to get a good score in these “easy” subjects, students have to stand out from this crowd. The good thing is though that the higher a student’s study score in these subjects, the less it gets scaled down. A 50 in Psychology stays a 50. That is not easy, but it is worth aiming for.

3. If you do harder subjects like Specialist and Chemistry, you’ll get a better ATAR score.

This myth goes hand-in-hand with the one above. There are students who believe that some subjects are inherently good and some that are inherently bad. Subjects like Specialist Maths are tricky because they are a good idea for some students, and a terrible idea for others. On one hand, students who excel at Maths and take Specialist are likely to increase their chance of getting a high ATAR score, because Specialist is scaled up quite significantly. However, students who aren’t highly competent in their mathematical abilities and are just doing Specialist for the sake of the scaling are likely to struggle with the advanced coursework and receive a consequently poorer score than they would have if they had simply done Methods. The trick is that each and every student needs to assess their own abilities, interests and pick the subjects that suit them and their future goals.

4. I don’t want to be a mathematician, so I don’t have to do Methods.

That said, a student should think very carefully before turning their back on maths. Some students find mathematics painful; they have been baffled by x’s and y’s since they started high school. However, before deciding to drop maths, all students should think seriously about the University courses they wish to apply for, and carefully check the prerequisite subjects for each of these courses. A lot of courses, particularly in the fields of science, economics, engineering and biomedicine require students to have completed Maths Methods.

5. I can’t start studying for my exam yet.

Yes you can! Yes! Start now! It is never too early to start studying for an exam. Students who leave their exam study for SWOT VAC are doomed to a week of panic and confusion. Students who want to be successful will spend their entire year developing revision sheets, refining their notes, attempting exam questions, going over each of their SACs with a magnifying class and making sure they  learn all the skills and keep all the necessary resources required to be as prepared as possible come November. VCE is not a sprint to the finish; it is a marathon, a long haul, and the sooner students start applying themselves to the challenge, the more successful they will be.

Are you worried that you’re not exams ready? Why not call us to discuss how we can help. FREE call us on 1800 668 177 and we’ll explain how we can help you get you ready for your VCE exams.


The Spectrum Tuition Help Centre Is Back!

At Spectrum Tuition we strive to ensure that all of our customers receive the very best service all the time. That’s why we’re happy to introduce our improved help centre.

The revamped help centre is here to answer all your burning questions about  Spectrum Tuition. We’ve taken the time to add some of the most common questions we receive from parents and students about our classes with detailed answers that are sure to be helpful.

The Spectrum Tuition help centre is where you'll find answers to all your burning question.

The Spectrum Tuition help centre is where you’ll find answers to all your burning questions.

The new help centre can be reached at

We hope you find it helpful and remember if you have any questions that you’d like answered feel free to send them through to