SmileTutor Blog Tutors Tutoring Tips 6 Signs That Your Student is Struggling During Your Tutorial Classes

6 Signs That Your Student is Struggling During Your Tutorial Classes

As a tutor, I’m sure you’re aware that learning is not a one-size fits-all method. Each students learn differently from the other.

According to the VARK model, there are 4 learning styles which were identified after countless hours of observing classrooms –  visual, auditory, kinesthetic and reading/writing.

It is important for you to know and recognize these learning styles to see which activities will be best for your students. Failing to do so can cause your student to struggle in your tutorial classes.

Apart from having different learning styles, other factors that can cause students to struggle in class include learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, language processing disorder, or dysgraphia.

Struggling learners find it hard to keep up with the lessons presented during sessions. Finishing tasks and understanding what you teach is a bigger challenge for them.

It’s important to detect the signs of a struggling learner to give them help especially in your one-on-one tutorials. Here are some key signs that you need to watch for struggling learners.

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1. Student Takes Longer to Complete an Activity or Doesn’t Even Bother

A key sign that shows a student is struggling is when they take longer to complete a work compared to others. Sometimes, they disregard doing the activity and procrastinate as much as possible due to frustration. They might even outrightly refuse to do it.

In some cases, they might have forgotten the solution for math problems or probably have trouble remembering specific details for written tests.

In other instances, students might have a hard time expressing their thoughts for essay questions.

It’s important to monitor your student during the tuition class and see how they start doing the activity. This will help you keep track and know at what point they lost interest and start to disengage from the activity.

2. They Get Easily Agitated

student struggles

Attitude change is another tell-tale sign of struggling learners.

Their frustration will show even when solving the simplest questions or listening to discussions. They’re also more likely to spark arguments with other students when doing lessons together.

This attitude might also reflect on their friends and family which can eventually lead to relationship issues.

As much as possible, try to keep calm when a struggling student is acting out. Take a quick break to calm things down and give them a time out. This can help you restart the topic on another level or take a different approach.

3. They Feel Overwhelmed with Studies

A student can easily lose interest in what they’re doing once they feel overwhelmed. They’ll then difficulties following directions since they might be thinking of other things that they should do.

This will cause them to work longer with little to no improvement on the task given. The overwhelming feeling can also cause them to lose the motivation that is necessary to improve their studies.

While this can happen in other academic levels, it mostly happens with secondary school students. As a tutor, you need to know how to manage a student’s frustration.

You can help them prepare for upcoming examinations and offer all the support that they need to perform better in their grades.

4. Disorganized and Make Careless Errors

Have you noticed that your student is organized in their work and they make uncommon errors? Well, this may be a sign that they are struggling with their studies. Struggling students will most likely be disorganized in their homework or activities.

They don’t have a system for managing homework due dates, tasks, and even exam dates. They might also forget books or reading materials which can delay the session. Apart from that, they can also make frequent and careless errors on their works.

If you notice this in your students, you can use certain studying methods such as the SQ3R Method, Feynman technique, spaced practice, and the PQ4R method. Working with them using organizing apps can also be useful for both of you.

Furthermore, an organized system gives them more time to review any errors on their works.

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5. Makes Negative Comments on School or Receives Misconduct Notes

During tutorial sessions, take some time to inquire about your student and how they are doing in their activities at school. Their answers can help you figure out if they are struggling. If they make a lot of unfounded negative comments on school work and teachers, consider what they find difficult.

Struggling learners are also most likely to receive misconduct notes from teachers. This may be as a result of their lack of interest due to learning challenges.

Carefully assess your student’s misconduct and negative rants to determine if they have learning or behavioural issues. The two things might be related, and it’s best to see which issue to resolve first.

6. They Receive Low Remarks

struggling students

Frequent low grades are obvious signs of struggling students. An occasional low grade is not a serious concern, but a report card full of it is. This can cause added frustration to the student, especially when they put in a lot of time but still get bad grades.

If possible, request report cards from previous years to see the pattern of their grades and analyze the situation.

Talk with their parents as well and discuss a plan to resolve it. Making parents understand is also key.


Knowing your student is struggling with their school work is a key step in helping them. Tutors need to use effective, easy, and efficient practices which they can adjust based on a student’s problem area.

Once you detect the problem, you can constantly adjust your lessons and techniques to fit your students. Remember that you need a student’s commitment and the support of the parents to make this a success and help them achieve their full potential.



Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.