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How to choose a high school math tutor

How a high school math tutor can help set a strong foundation for college and working life. Plus, tips for finding the right math tutor for your teen.

If you’re the parent of a high schooler, then you probably know how confusing high school math can seem to teens (and parents). Many families decide to use a math tutor to help their teen navigate the challenges of high school math and set a strong foundation for college and working life.

But knowing how to choose the right high school math tutor for your teen can be tricky. 

So, to help, we've put together this handy guide to show you how a tutor can help and the best ways to find the right one for your teen.

How can a math tutor help my high schooler?

Hiring a math tutor can help your teenager navigate the often tricky world of high school math in several ways.

Explaining new concepts

High School is awash with new concepts, and high school math is no different! Your teenager’s tutor can help them develop a secure conceptual understanding of high school math concepts, and we’ll explore some of the areas of math that high school kids may need help with in the next section.

Developing confidence

Researchers have proved that a high level of self-confidence (which researchers often call self-efficacy) in a high school subject, such as math, can significantly impact students’ SAT and ACT test scores in that subject. The individualized support offered by an expert high school math tutor is a great way to help build your high schoolers' math confidence.

Increasing test scores

Research has shown a clear link between the amount of tutoring a child has and their SAT test score, with 13 hours of 1-1 tutoring leading to an average increase in SAT score of 30 points. Other studies have also shown similar positive impacts of private math tutoring on ACT test scores.

Helping with homeschooling

High school math is full of advanced topics that may be challenging for homeschooling parents to teach. A high school math tutor can help your teenager with any aspect of high school math, and they’ll also be able to provide helpful guidance and tips to help you support your child with the demands of high school math. 

What areas of math may high school kids need support with?

High school math covers a wide range of advanced topics, which build upon the concepts and skills learned in middle school. The topics covered in high school are often more abstract, which requires teens to use a higher level of critical thinking and problem-solving skills to understand and apply these new concepts.

High school math also focuses on solving a wide range of algebraic equations, which often requires perseverance and logical thinking.

So, even kids who were super confident with math in middle school could benefit from the expert guidance, support, and helpful math tips a high school math tutor can provide. 

Here are some of the main areas of math that high school students may need help with.

Foundational math skills

The advanced math topics covered in high school require a strong foundation in middle school and elementary math skills, including fluency with calculations and a strong understanding of fractions, decimals, and percentages. 

A good high school math tutor will be able to help your teenager fill any gaps they may have in this knowledge so that they can master the topics covered in high school math.


Your teenager will have been developing their algebra skills throughout middle school, and these skills are taken to a new level in high school. If your state’s curriculum is based on the Common Core, your kids will be introduced to advanced algebra topics such as quadratic equations, polynomial functions, and linear inequalities. 

There is also a greater focus on solving a wide range of algebraic equations in high school math, which often requires perseverance and logical thinking. While this level of algebra may seem daunting, a good high school math tutor will be able to explain these advanced algebraic concepts in a way that makes sense to your teenager. 

Complex Numbers

Teens are also introduced to complex numbers in high school. Complex numbers are made up of a ‘real’ part and an imaginary part. While the real part is the same type of number they are used to working with (for example, 2, 5, -3), the imaginary part is different.

Imaginary numbers have their own set of rules and behave differently compared to ‘real’ numbers.

Complex numbers are abstract — they can’t be ‘seen’ like real numbers, but they do serve a very useful purpose in advanced math and engineering. This abstract nature can be very confusing for high schoolers, and an expert math tutor can help them get to grips with this ‘new world’ of numbers. 

What should I look for in a middle school math tutor?

When starting your search for the perfect high school math tutor for your child, there are some general things to consider including:

What curriculum(s) do they support?

There are many different high school math curriculums used by schools and homeschoolers across the country, so it's important to make sure the tutor you choose can support the curriculum used in your kid's school or that you are using for homeschooling.

What qualifications do they have?

Many high school math tutors will have direct experience teaching middle school math. However, some tutors more than make up for a formal teaching qualification with the first-hand experience gained through many years of high school math tutoring.

What do other people think of their tutoring?

A good math tutor should be able to provide reviews and testimonials from previous families and students they’ve worked with. Finding a tutor online can help with this—for example, all online high school math tutors on Outschool have honest reviews and ratings from families.

Tutoring high school math can be very different from tutoring middle school or elementary math, so when looking for a math tutor for your high school student, here are two specific questions to consider to ensure you find the perfect math tutor 

1. Do they have experience teaching or tutoring high school math?

When you are searching for high school math tutors, you may notice that a lot of tutors hold a math degree, and this may make them look like the perfect fit for high school math.

But, as well as the technical knowledge of math, a great tutor also needs great teaching skills, which requires an understanding of pedagogy—in other words, they need to know ‘how’ we learn and how best to explain tricky math concepts to teenagers.

This means it’s important to ensure the math tutor you use has direct teaching or tutoring experience. In addition, as high school math builds on your child’s middle school math school to having knowledge of high school math topics, they also need to know how to teach core middle math skills in case your teen needs any further support with these areas.

The great news is that by choosing an online math tutor from Outschool, you can rest assured that they have the perfect combination of subject knowledge and teaching skills.

Outschool reviews all tutor applications before accepting a tutor onto the platform, including looking at their teaching experience, subject matter expertise, and motivation for tutoring.   

2. Do they have the experience and knowledge to help with test prep?

85% of high schoolers take either the SAT or ACT. Unsurprisingly, research has clearly identified that they are a common source of stress, anxiety, and even poor sleep among teenagers.

A perceived lack of preparedness can increase test anxiety, and a great way to help your teens feel prepared for these tests is by using a private math tutor.

So, if your teen is taking one of these tests, make sure the tutor you choose has specific experience working with that kind of test prep. They can help your children feel prepared and share specific test-taking tips and tricks. 

Outschool can help you find the perfect high school math tutor. At Outschool, you'll find hundreds of experienced online high school math tutors ready to help demystify the world of high school math for your child. You can easily search and filter our high-quality online tutors, and check out their reviews and specialties to find the perfect tutor for your child.

Plus, all of Outschool's teachers are screened for their subject matter expertise, motivation for tutoring, experience, and class content, so you know your teen will be in knowledgeable hands.

As well as online math tutoring, Outschool offers a wide range of online math classes, including high school math whole curriculum online classes and classes that focus on specific areas of high school math, such as algebra, geometry, or statistics.

By joining an online math class, your teen will get to learn alongside a small group of other high schoolers and benefit from the expertise of Outschool's fantastic math teachers. Get started by finding the perfect high school math tutor or class for your child today.

Tim HandleyTim is an experienced educator and author who has written over 70 textbooks, workbooks and guides to help support teaching and learning. When he's not writing, he loves spending time at the coast or getting lost in a good book.

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