Ever since I started tutoring, around 9 years ago now, I have seen there is a definite pattern to the timing of enquiries from new students. We start off with those that come in during late August, trying to get in before the start of the new school year to take advantage of a whole years’ worth of help.

Then there is a lull.

Until October Half Term. Usually towards the end of the week or into the first week of the new Term. That is when the new A Level students get in touch. The break has given them a brief respite from the relentless workload. Finally, time to have a breather and take stock. And acknowledge in the peace of the short holiday that A Level maths is HARD. Much harder than they thought. It is the realisation that, even if they secured the coveted grades 8 or 9 at GCSE, they have not really been prepared for what lay ahead.

Then is the time to get help. Not necessarily by getting tutoring, though that gives a great avenue of support. Maybe they just need to speak with their teacher or friends and look at what support is available “in house”. Failing that, the help that an outside tutor can bring can be invaluable. I can get students to look at maths, and maths problems, in different ways; seeing methods not used in school. More importantly, giving them time to focus on areas of difficulty when the teacher has moved on – constrained by the timetable. Mathematics doesn’t lend itself to fast learning and doesn’t take kindly to time allocation in a regimented way. It likes to be understood and appreciated.

If you are one of these new A Level students, take a moment to think about where you are with your learning and get a plan in place to move ahead successfully. Above all, make sure you enjoy your study of mathematics.