The Best Online Tutoring
How We Found the Best Online Tutoring
3 top picks
The Best Online Tutoring
The best online tutoring programs should be easy to use and connect you with a wide range of education experts. Furthermore, the learning tools and the curriculum offered by these platforms should be affordable and appeal to a wide range of students including those with special needs. We tested out 16 of the top online tutoring platforms around — and found three top performers to kick off your search for the best online tutoring.
The Best Online Tutoring: Summed Up
How We Chose the Best Online Tutoring
We started our search by a list of companies that offered live, full-service tutoring — that is, they’re not a marketplace for hiring outside tutors. All of the sessions, tools, resources, scheduling, and payment should go directly through the site. We also wanted companies that offer help for general coursework, not just standardized exams (which would fall under our test prep review rather than general tutoring).
One of our main focuses was on the versatility of the curriculum with special attention given to those that appealed to the most possible students. How many students can benefit from this service? How many grade levels does it cover? How many individual subjects? Services that catered to the most grade levels and offered help in the most subjects scored highest. We searched for tutoring across the educational spectrum, from Pre K through to college. We also gave special consideration to companies that include test prep options and special instruction to students with learning disabilities.
One of the main benefits of online tutoring is the convenience it affords you in scheduling sessions. If not for the flexibility of online learning, most would probably go the traditional route and hire an in-person tutor.
“Online tutoring is superior to in-person tutoring in many ways - it's more accessible, more convenient, and deeply personalized.”
We looked for services with one-on-one instruction, scheduled sessions, on-demand sessions, offline help, and 24/7 availability. Those with the most choices scored the highest.
The best services require their tutors to hold valid teaching credentials — proof that they have the knowledge and skills to help you learn. If a service's tutors aren't licensed teachers, it should require them to hold some form of official certification (usually obtained through a series of reference checks, background checks, and training courses). Services that require teaching credentials scored the highest in our review, with services that require a certification scoring slightly lower.
It’s important to point out that we only researched whether a service requires all tutors to have credentials or certifications. It’s possible to find a credentialed tutor through most services if you search through all of their listings, but we wanted to highlight companies with the high standards across the board.
A good tutor should be able to effectively teach a subject regardless of the medium, so the digital tools utilized in online learning are less important than who is operating them. That said, everyone learns differently. We looked for the tutoring services that offered features like virtual whiteboards, audio and video chat, and recorded sessions.
“A good tutoring service will be able to customize a program to your student. There should not be a one size fits all; as every student learns differently and has different challenges.”
We recorded the price for an hour of tutoring with each service — the most common session length. Those with the cheapest rates scored highest. We then looked for ways to help you protect your investment by giving special consideration to services that offered free trials and satisfaction guarantees.
Overall, we found that quality comes at a cost — services that only utilize credentialed and certified tutors cost more than those that don’t. In cases where a service allows its tutors to set their own prices, we averaged the cost for an hour of time-based on all of the rates listed.
The 3 Best Online Tutoring Platforms
- Skooli -
- Club Z! -
- SpecialEdTutoring.com -
Best for Special Needs Students
Why we chose it
Highly qualified tutors
Skooli was the only service to receive the highest possible score in our credentials metric. All of Skooli’s tutors are fully-credentialed teachers, so you can take comfort in knowing that all of their instructors are fully qualified. Even when you need to find a tutor on-demand, you’re guaranteed to always have a qualified tutor, no matter the circumstance.
Skooli offers K-12 and college tutoring in over 70 key subjects using a virtual classroom. In addition to scheduled learning sessions, it also offers instant homework help at any time of day. Skooli is also one of the few services with a full-featured mobile app, so you can access the help you need from anywhere.
Pay as you go
Skooli has recently done away with its packages in favor of focusing on pay as you go. This simplifies matters without students having to worry about extra fees or committing to more time than they need. Furthermore, it helps ensure that you’re only paying for exactly the amount of tutoring you need.
Points to consider
High price tag
While you can pay as you go at $0.82 per minute, Skooli can still be on the pricier side. This rate works out to about $49 per hour, and there’s a minimum session time of 15 minutes. That’s because all of its tutors are fully-credentialed teachers, something we didn’t find anywhere else. If you’re looking for the absolute best online tutors, you’ll have to pay a little more.
Why we chose it
With the highest rated curriculum offerings in our review, Club Z! provides tutoring for Pre-K through undergraduate students in hundreds of subjects, as well as test preparation for the SAT, ACT, GED, GRE, and even the ASVAB. No matter your student’s age or subject of interest, Club Z! will have tutors trained specifically for your needs.
Club Z! has some of the most impressive learning tools we looked at. Tutoring sessions are conducted in a virtual classroom that utilizes a digital whiteboard, audio and video chat, and easy document and screen sharing. All of its sessions are also recorded so you can play them back whenever you need to review that particular material.
Although Club Z! is known primarily as a nationwide chain of after-school learning centers, and although we thought its online tutoring program is one of the best around, we liked that you have the option for face-to-face tutoring as well. If at any point you want to get extra, in-person attention, you can always visit one of its 400+ locations.
“Successful online tutoring requires human connection. It’s not enough to share excellent content; we must engage and inspire our students to stick with the material to reach our shared learning outcome.”
Points to consider
Lacks on-demand sessions
The only major drawback to Club Z! online tutoring is the fact that it does not offer instant homework help or on-demand sessions. While it does have all-day availability (even on weekends, holidays, and during school breaks), you will need to schedule all of those sessions in advance.
Why we chose it
Tailored specifically to special needs students
Like the other companies in our review, SpecialEdTutoring.com offers one-on-one online instruction in a virtual classroom setting using all of the latest digital tools. However, all of its curriculum is tailored specifically to the needs of students with learning disabilities, and all of its tutors hold degrees in Special Education. It’s the only online service we saw that’s dedicated entirely to special needs tutoring.
Partner with your child’s school
If your child has already been approved for special education services in their school, a dedicated tutor from the company can work with both you and the school to support your student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). It also offers tutoring designed to help children (and their parents) who are homeschooled – the tutors can either work with your current curriculum or provide you with complete lesson plans tailored to your child.
Some special needs students can really benefit from online tutoring because it takes place in a familiar setting. It can take a lot of time for some children to open up to a new teacher, and being in an environment they’re already comfortable with can expedite the process. “One of the greatest challenges online tutors have is gaining a personal connection with their students,” says Sam Thompson, VP of Product of Newrow. “When sitting in the same room, this is something natural, but online it's more difficult. Good audio and video helps bridge that gap by making tutoring personal and human again.”
Points to consider
In-home tutoring may be more beneficial
An online tutoring service might not be right for every student. If you think your child would benefit more from a private, in-home tutor, there are a lot of great options. During our research, we found some resources that we thought were really beneficial. We highly recommend checking out Varsity Tutors and Care.com. They both have search filters that can help you find experienced teachers living in your area who specialize in your student’s disability. You can also inquire with your state’s department of education – most have a list private agencies that offer tutoring services for students with disabilities.
Tips for a Successful Tutoring Experience
Try to identify subjects, assignments, and tests that will require a tutoring session as early as possible. As the semester goes on, tutors get busier and their schedules get harder to coordinate. The best online services will still be able to find you a tutor on-demand, but there is no guarantee that your preferred tutor will be available if you wait until the last minute to book an appointment.
Take notes in class
Tutors are supplemental teachers. Your primary source of learning should always be your classroom instructor. Your tutoring session will be much more effective if you attend classes regularly, take notes, and attempt your assignments. Your tutor can use your classwork to identify your trouble areas and formulate the best plan to help you improve.
Try your homework before your session
Your tutor is more than willing to work through your homework with you, but remember that your time each session is limited. If you attempt your homework ahead of your appointment, your tutor can quickly review it to identify the areas where you need help. If you wait until your session to start it together, you could end up spending the entire session working through problems that you understand before you get to the ones you don’t.
Bring your materials
It might sound obvious, but make sure you bring your textbooks, class notes, assignments, and anything else that will be useful during your sessions. If you don’t have the materials you need, your tutor will not be able to effectively teach you what you need to know. Save time by having them laid out, organized, and ready to go for your session. If your school utilizes a coursework website, send your tutor the link ahead of time (if possible) so they can see exactly what you’re working on for themselves.
Log in early
For each session, power up and log on at least 5 to 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment. This will give you time to fix any last-minute problems that might cause a delay, such as lengthy system updates or a bad internet connection.
Take notes during your session
You will most likely have a virtual whiteboard to work on problems with your tutor, but you should also bring a notebook to take physical notes during your session. Those physical notes can help you in your classes and on future assignments.
Tutors want to teach in a way their students best understand, so it’s important that you not be passive during your sessions. If your tutor’s style isn’t working for you, speak up and say so. If certain activities make it hard for you to stay focused, let your tutor know so you can try a different format in a future lesson. Your tutor can’t make changes if you don’t voice your concerns.
If you have a long session, you might start to lose focus after a long time of sitting and staring at the computer screen. Let your tutor know if you need a quick break. Take a minute or two to get up, stretch, get a drink, and do whatever you need to quickly reset your mind and body for the rest of the session.
Schedule regular sessions
Tutoring often works better as an ongoing process rather than the occasional cram session. Regular appointments can help you keep up with your school material and avoid the stress of last-minute studying.
Consider small groups
If you are uncomfortable with one-on-one tutoring, or are having trouble engaging in your sessions, consider small-group tutoring. Some people learn better in a multi-person environment where they can exchange ideas with their peers. Small groups offer you more of a “classroom” experience, while still giving you the personal attention that you might not get at school.
Set realistic expectations
Successful tutoring takes time. Just like you wouldn’t expect to learn an entire year’s worth of knowledge in the first few weeks of school, you also can’t expect to raise your grades from a “D” to an “A” after only a few tutoring sessions. It’s important to set realistic expectations before you start so you don’t get discouraged or frustrated along the way.