Which tips help students with academic tutorials?

This is the first of two lessons about One-to-One Tutorials. To complete this course, read each lesson carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.   

– Introduce the concept of academic and personal tutorials

– Focus specifically on academic tutorials about EAP assessments and how to prepare for them

– Learn eight tips for getting the most out of academic tutorials

Lesson 1

While most students will have heard of the term ‘tutorial’ before beginning their undergraduate degree, many may not fully understand how these interactions differ to other tutor-learner experiences. High schools may better prepare students for the concept of a tutor-lead lecture or a group-focussed seminar than a one-to-one tutorial. However, because students will no doubt experience these three learning environments regardless of where they study or which course they complete, it’s important to become familiar with the expectations and outcomes of all three. 

Tutorials are generally divided into two types at university. These are academic and personal tutorials. Because the purpose of each is quite different, this short-course will deal with each in turn, with Lesson 1 first focussing on the preparation methods and tips for academic tutorials and Lesson 2 exploring the similar features of personal tutorials. To check your understanding of the upcoming information and improve your English proficiency, don’t forget to unlock, download and complete our Lesson 1 and 2 Worksheets after reading.


What is an academic tutorial?

An academic tutorial is usually a one-to-one meeting between a student and their tutor that’s intended to discuss progress on a particular assignment, perhaps based on recent feedback. Academic tutorials are usually:


  • private meetings
  • between 15 and 30 minutes long
  • student led, requiring consideration and preparation
  • scheduled in a classroom, in the tutor’s office or in a dedicated meeting space
Although 15 to 30 minutes may be the average length of an academic tutorial, precisely how long you talk with your tutor depends on a number of factors. A final-year or master’s dissertation meeting should be allocated more time than a first year’s five-paragraph essay for example, as would a student who’s struggling to meet the expectations of the course.

How can I prepare for an academic tutorial?

While tutors may make time during the year or in their office hours to discuss your academic work, a well-timed academic tutorial guarantees that every student has the opportunity to interact with their tutor in a one-to-one environment. But without preparation, the benefits of these meetings can pass you by. To make sure that doesn’t happen, the eight tips below are intended to maximise the benefits of this opportunity if followed carefully.

Tip 1: Review Task Requirements

Academic tutorials are usually scheduled after students have received feedback about an assignment such as a research proposal, a presentation outline or an essay plan. Because it’s important not to waste tutorial time having your tutor repeat information that should already be known, it’s usually a good idea to review any task requirements and lecture input that may be relevant – preferably before the submission. Hand in an assignment that’s not to the best of your ability and you may end up discussing things in your tutorial that you deep down already know.


Tip 2: Review Feedback

Similarly, if you’ve received feedback on a piece of work before your tutorial, study that feedback carefully and consider how you could address the issues your tutor has raised. Rather than use the tutorial time to brainstorm ideas that you could have had yourself, show that you understand what to do next to progress the task. Focus on confirming new ideas with your tutor, on agreeing an appropriate plan of action and on querying any aspects of feedback that you didn’t fully understand.


Tip 3: Know the Duration

It’s also important to know exactly how long a tutorial is and to be practical about what can be achieved it that time. It will likely not be possible to cover all the points you wish to receive confirmation on. Instead, consider the most salient issues. Decide what you most need guidance on and prioritise those concerns.


Tip 4: Arrive Early

Another way of maximising tutorial time is to make sure that you arrive at least five minutes early to your appointment. It’s very likely that your tutor will have a number of tutorials to complete, so being punctual will ensure that you do not lose any time – and may even result in you being seen a little earlier (or for longer).

Tip 5: Prepare Questions

It’s helpful also to have a few points already written down to discuss in your meeting. Because being in a one-to-one tutorial can be a little daunting, this will help to ensure you and your tutor cover what needs attention the most. Keep in mind though that your tutor may not know the answers to all your questions or wish to give explicit, clear-cut guidance. Tutors will want to guide you while ensuring that your ideas and writing are still your own.

Tip 6: Summarise Your Progress

In academic tutorials, students should be able to articulate concisely what they have done and why to bring their tutor up-to-speed. This is not because your tutor doesn’t care about your work, but simply because they will likely have a great number of students to deal with at one time. Reminding your tutor of your progress, of what guidance they have previously offered, and of what you have done to make improvements is an effective way to ensure success and progress in a short tutorial.


Tip 7: Keep Notes

Successful note-taking skills are not only useful during your lectures and seminars or when reading but also in other academic settings. It’s always a good idea, for example, to take notes during an academic tutorial too as these meetings can move along quite quickly, meaning that it may not be easy for students to later remember everything that was discussed.


Tip 8: Reflect on the Discussion

Finally, it’s likely that tutors will have scheduled tutorials at a time that will be most useful for the development of their students’ assignments. It’s therefore important that students promptly reflect on what was discussed and act on the advice that’s been provided. To do this successfully may require looking back over previous feedback that the teacher has provided and/or conducting additional research on the identified areas of language proficiency or topic knowledge that may need improving. 


Well done for reaching the end of this first lesson in our short course on one-to-one tutorials. You can review the information here by completing our Lesson 1 Worksheet, moving on to Lesson 2 to compare how academic tutorials differ to the more pastoral focus of personal tutorials.

1 of 2 Lessons Completed


Once you’ve completed both lessons in this short course about One-to-One Tutorials, you might then wish to download our Lesson Worksheets to check your progress or print for your students. These professional PDF worksheets can be easily accessed for only a few Academic Marks.

Lesson 1 explores the topic: Which tips help students with academic tutorials? Our Lesson 1 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button. 

Lesson 2 explores the topic: What is a personal tutorial and pastoral support? Our Lesson 2 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button. 

To save yourself 1 Mark, click on the button below to gain unlimited access to all of our One-to-One Tutorials Lesson Worksheets. This All-in-1 Pack includes every lesson, activity and answer key related this topic in one handy and professional PDF.


There are currently no PowerPoint activities, additional teacher resources or audio and video recordings created for this topic. Please come back again next semester.


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