As an AP® Calculus teacher, Meryl saw her students struggle in math for the first time. She became an AP® Calculus BC tutor to help those students realize they can improve their understanding and test scores. She provides questions to ask in order to hire the best AP Calculus BC tutor.
My heart raced and my foot anxiously tapped the ground as I waited for the web browser to load.
You’ve been there, with the circle spinning for what seems like an eternity.
It was June of 2015 and I was eagerly awaiting my students’ results from the recent AP® Calculus exam.
Starting as a AP Calculus Teacher
It was my first year teaching AP® Calculus, but not only that, it is was my first full year teaching in a K-12 setting.
On top of the typical novice teacher concerns about classroom management, building rapport with students and parents, and simply being a good teacher, I worried I didn’t know Calculus well enough. What if a student asked a question I didn’t know the answer to? What if I couldn’t explain abstract concepts simply enough for them to understand?
My small class of 14 AP® Calculus BC students worked hard and we learned together.
I recognized the importance of teaching concepts from multiple perspectives, using graphs, tables, and functions to reach all students. I explained concepts in different ways and learned to break abstract concepts into smaller, concrete chunks.
My students quickly realized the rigor of the AP® Calculus curriculum. To truly excel in the course, they had to not only complete homework regularly, but also practice some of the difficult application questions.
The Roller Coaster of Emotions
I had a pit in my stomach, sensing that some students weren’t prepared for the AP® exam based on in-class exam performance. But I was optimistic about a handful of students.
The webpage finally loaded. A 15% pass rate. My stomach dropped. The national pass rate was 80% for that exam. Students that I knew should’ve passed the exam didn’t. Was it my fault? Could I have done more to help them prepare?
Over the rest of that summer break, I completely revamped my instruction on infinite series. I wasn't confident in my instruction of that topic and my students voiced the same lack of confidence in their own understanding of series.
I also prepared to start each lesson with a warm up of previous AP® released test questions. Students practiced problems of topics we were currently working on, but also cycled back to include topics from earlier in the school year to keep concepts fresh in students' minds.
I knew I had 36 students sign up for BC Calculus that upcoming year and I was going to try to make more of an impact.
Fast forward to June of 2016 when I watched the same spinning circle, waiting for the same webpage to load the scores. My students’ pass rate was 71%.
Yes, you read that right. From 15% to 71% in one year.
Not that passing this exam was the only metric for success, but I was overwhelmed with joy that so many of my students earned college credit, many of them passing an AP® exam for the first time.
Transforming to an AP Calculus BC Tutor
Now I am an AP Calculus BC tutor to provide personalized instruction to students in one-on-one and small group settings. I hated standing at the front of the classroom seeing that some students had mastered the content and others were falling behind.
I didn't have enough time in the classroom to give everyone the individualized instruction they needed. And I thought, if I could make such large gains in classrooms of 20-30 students, I dreamt of the impact I could have helping one student at a time.
In being an AP Calculus tutor, each lesson is personalized to to fill in any gaps in understanding and build confidence in current topics. Typically, students are able to cover a week’s worth of content in one hour!
Just last month, one of my students had a surgery that left him out of school for over a week. In one hour, we were able to cover an entire unit that used to take me 1.5 weeks (6.5 hours) in the classroom.
In switching from a teacher to tutor, my impact may be on less students, but the results for those students are magnified by efficient use of time and individualization.
To date, for my AP Calculus students who reported their results in an anonymous survey, 100% of students passed the AP exam: 61% earned a 5, 22% earned a 4, and 17% earned a 3. Additionally, 80% earned an A in class and 20% earned a B.
How to Hire the Best AP Calculus BC Tutor
I believe telling my story is relevant to know the kind of tutor I am. I present content in multiple ways to see what best resonates with students. I build my students’ confidence while also challenging them with rigorous AP® level questions. Practicing those difficult questions helps improve test scores, as I often hear Calculus tests are harder than the homework questions. I constantly have students review concepts from earlier in the year so they have a solid Calculus foundation.
Read more tips for how to pass Calculus, as many of these ideas are incorporated into my tutoring sessions.
If this is aligned with your goals of tutoring, I could be a great fit for you. If you are only looking for homework help, I may not be the best fit because you can find a cheaper tutor.
The following questions will help guide you to hire the best AP Calculus tutor for your goals.
1. What Calculus tutoring rate are you comfortable with?
If you can afford it, consider the value in hiring a certified teacher, who is an expert in both Calculus and teaching others. This ensures they know how to teach Calculus as opposed to someone who just passed the class the previous year or semester.
Do you find test questions to be harder than homework questions? When I taught AP Calculus, my tests were composed of released AP exam questions. A tutor who is a current/past AP Calculus teacher could provide you with past tests and more AP exam level questions. Getting more practice with these questions (that are likely aligned with your test questions) will help improve test scores.
Bonus tip: has the teacher graded (been a "reader" for) the AP exam before? In doing so, I learned tips to earn extra points (and not lose points for notation errors!) on the AP Calculus exam.
If you look for a tutor on a tutoring website like Wyzant, their rates will be high as the company takes a portion of the hourly rate. Also, be aware that several of those tutors are college students, who may not have formal teaching experience.
2. What results have other students got, as seen in reviews or testimonials?
Does the tutor have a history of student successes in Calculus, in AP® exam scores, improved grades, and more confidence?
3. Do they offer AP® Calculus tutoring online or in person?
I have found online tutoring to be as effective as in person tutoring but some students prefer sitting face to face with a tutor.
4. Ask the potential tutor to explain a concept you've struggled with in class.
This will demonstrate their teaching style and ability to communicate difficult concepts in a way that you can understand.
5. Do they provide any support or resources outside of the tutoring session?
I've found a lot of students never learned how to study for math tests. The best way is to practice more problems, so I compiled the best resources to study for AP Calculus tests. These are great resources for students to continue to practice Calculus and study for tests between sessions. I know AP Calc students generally have a lot of homework each night, so I offer optional extra practice between sessions.
Making a Difference, Differently
Now, instead of being tormented by the spinning circle, waiting to see my students’ AP® scores, I wait for emails from parents about the success of their child:
I know your child can have similar results. And I would love to help them reach their potential.
I have three options to help your student succeed in Calculus: individual tutoring, Calculus Crew, or VIP Calculus Crew (a combination of both).
First, with individual tutoring, we can cover a full week’s worth of class content (and sometimes more!) in one hour. Therefore, students typically attend tutoring once a week for one hour. Fill out the New Student Form and we can begin tutoring as soon as possible.
Second, I lead Calculus Crew, a Calculus community where AP Calculus/Calc 1 students meet me online for group tutoring sessions on twice a week and have access to extra notes and practice problems between sessions in a Google Classroom.
While I love tutoring one on one, I am excited about the progress that students have made in Calculus Crew meeting multiple times a week and having constant support. This group is ideal for students who understand the homework and can apply the various Calculus techniques, but the test questions are more challenging than the homework. Group sessions focus on those challenging questions and incorporate previous AP exam questions, along with answering any questions students have.
The third option is VIP Calculus Crew, a combination of individual tutoring and Calculus Crew. In addition to the two weekly group sessions through Calc Crew, students get a 30 minute individual tutoring session with me each week.
Join Calculus Crew today!
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