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Home Vs Online Science Tutor: What’s Best for You?

11/01/2024 / Science Tuition

Whether a student is in Key Stage 3 or preparing for GCSEs and A-levels, science education can be challenging. There’s a host of new vocabulary words to remember, chemical formulas to understand, and even mathematical equations to use.

That’s not to mention difficulties that can arise from life events like school moves or exams that mean so much when it comes to getting into a student’s ideal university.

That’s why one-on-one science tutoring can be a great choice on so many levels.

Classroom distractions like chatty classmates are gone. There’s no need to hesitate to ask a question, as there’s no-one around to judge and no other students who need a chance to ask their own questions. Material can be covered at the student’s own comfortable pace, which might be faster or slower than the pace used in their classroom. And if a student has additional needs, a well-qualified tutor can shape lessons to suit that child’s individual learning style and requirements.

However, parents and guardians who have decided to opt for science tutoring then have a choice to make. Should they look nearby to find a home science tutor who can provide in-person tutoring? Or should they go for an online science tutor?

As with many aspects of teaching and learning, there is no universal answer to these questions. However, there are questions you can ask yourself to help make this decision, and we’ve gathered some of them below.

1. How much choice do you want?

The biggest difference between hiring an online science tutor and an in-person one is that you have far more options when you’re looking online.

If you live in a rural or less densely populated area and you’re looking for a home science tutor, it stands to reason that there will simply be fewer people within a reasonable traveling radius of your home.

Within that smaller sample of people, there will be a limited number of available tutors. And of those few people, how many are actually seeking work tutoring and would be willing to drive to your home?

In this scenario, you might end up settling for a less qualified or specialised tutor, who can’t give your child the high-quality tuition they deserve.

On the other hand, if you live in a densely populated city, there are other issues you might face. There may be more qualified science teachers near you, but city traffic and driving issues may still make it difficult for them to get to you, especially at times like rush hour. That can make in-person tutoring unattractive to qualified candidates, especially when online tutoring is so popular and is far easier for them to do. Ultimately, you might still end up with fewer options for qualified and experienced tutors than you’d like.

In contrast, online tutoring simply allows you to choose from a much, much larger pool of tutors. That doesn’t just mean that you’re more likely to get a qualified and experienced science teacher who can provide the best quality tutoring. It also means that you have a better chance of finding a tutor who just “clicks” with your child and who fits your child’s individual personality traits and needs especially well.

If you already know a qualified science teacher in your area who gets on well with your child, in-person tutoring could work for you. Otherwise, it’s typically preferable to give yourself more choices when it comes to online science tutoring.

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2. Do you want tutoring in colder, darker months?

Some families do opt to go for tutoring in the summertime only. This can be a good choice in some cases – it can help to protect a student from learning loss during the summer, or it can prepare a rising Year 7 student to start off strong in a highly selective grammar school.

In this situation, icy roads aren’t really a concern, and the late sunset makes it easy for tutors to find your home for evening tutoring, so perhaps in-person tutoring is okay.

However, if you’re considering science tutoring throughout the rainier or colder months when roads might be flooded or unsafe, an online science tutor might be a better option. That way, you won’t have to deal with frustrations when physical obstacles delay or prevent your tutor from driving to you. This also holds true for other issues like road accidents or roadworks that cause closures.

3. Do you want a tutor at awkward hours?

We’ve mentioned that online tutoring allows you to choose from a wider pool of tutors. As a result, it’s easier to find a tutor whose availability matches the times you need.

What’s more, online tutoring can open up options for tutoring times into time slots that would be difficult for in-person tutoring.

Let’s say you have a student who wants to fit some physics tutoring in on Saturday morning so that the rest of their weekend is free. If this tutor were to come to your home at 9am on Saturday, they would need to factor in travel time. A 45-minute tutoring session for you could be a 2-hour visit for them.

This can make scheduling more difficult for a home-based science tutor, and you might struggle to find somebody to help in the early mornings or late evenings.

4. Does your student prefer tactile learning or need help with physical experiments?

Science is a little unlike maths and English in that it does involve working with physical objects (beyond a protractor and pair of compasses). Obviously, a student’s science curriculum will involve physical experiments, even if these physical experiments are quite simple for younger students.

Given this factor, is it important to have in-person tutoring so that students can interact with physical things?

Generally, the answer is no, since a home science tutor isn’t going to do experiments with a child in any case. Their job is more to help a child understand the practical experiments they’ve done in school and write correct lab reports about them.

It is true that some physical objects can still help a student to understand scientific concepts. A wrench could demonstrate the concept of a lever in physics, for example.

Yet the action of a wrench can be demonstrated perfectly well over video – and a tutor can always contact a parent to arrange for a similar object to be available for the student’s use. While some students who do prefer learning with physical objects may benefit from having a tutor with them in person to provide demonstrations, most students either don’t require that sort of tactile learning or are happy to watch the tutor using these materials online, perhaps following along at home.

Many other things about a student’s home can serve as great, concrete examples of scientific concepts without needing the tutor to demonstrate them at all. Burned sugar on a baking dish can provide a lesson about carbon, for example. Even the smell of cooking wafting from the kitchen can provide insight during a lesson about diffusion.

5. Are you happy to pay travel fees and higher rates for tutors based around London?

There are some cost drawbacks associated with in-person tutoring. For one, most home science tutors will charge a fee per mile of travel, which can get costly if the journey is long. Moreover, a science tutor in a high cost-of-living area like London is likely just to charge more than tutors elsewhere.

An online science tutor won’t charge any fees for travel time, of course. And since you have access to tutors from all over the UK, you aren’t restricted to the higher rates typically charged in London and similar areas.

If you strongly prefer an in-person tutor, then these costs may be worth it. However, if you don’t have a strong preference and you want the best value for money, online tutoring may be the better way to go.

Finding your perfect online science tutor through Principal Tutors

If you’re looking for an online science tutor, there’s no better option than Principal Tutors. That’s because we prioritise matching your student with exactly the right tutor to suit their learning needs, goals and personality. And since every tutor in our wide tutor pool is a fully qualified and experienced teacher, you know you’re getting the high-quality, competent tuition you deserve.

Our science tutors know the UK curriculum inside and out, so they ensure that each student’s learning is shaped to fit the requirements of Key Stage 3, GCSE or A-level studies. Looking to chat more about the benefits of online science tutoring, or ready to get started boosting your child’s learning with an online science tutor? Either way, our expert team is available on 0800 772 0974 to answer your questions and help you reach your tutoring goals. You can also start the tutor matching process right away through our online form.


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Very happy with the Tutor who is working with my daughter for the 11+. He always replies to emails promptly, engages my daughter during the online lesson, and she's enjoying the work. Thank you.


We were recommended a tutor for our needs very quickly and were able to start immediately. My daughter is getting tutoring for her 11+ exam and according to her, the tutor is amazing. There is a long way until the exam but she managed to bust my daughter's confidence in Maths. Thank you!


Thank you for recommending such an amazing physics tutor for my son. We are now confident he will achieve the graded he needs to get into the uni of his choice, which is all down to the support we received from Principal Tutors and our wonderful tutor.