If you are in a hall of residence, you will have access to free group tutorials provided by your hall. Take the time to find out when these are and go along and see if they work for you. If you are not in a hall you should realise that everyone who is in a hall instantly has this “advantage” over you (besides being able to roll out of bed 5 minutes before lectures start and still arrive at St David’s on time) and consider doing something about it. The Otago University Students Association (OUSA) runs very cheap group tutorials for the HSFY subjects (we know because several of us used to tutor them), particularly for people who are not in the halls of residence (spaces are limited).
Although group tutorials can be an extremely useful resource for learning and revision it is very important to ensure that you are benefiting from the time you are investing in them. In a large group setting, the “keener” or simply the more confident students often tend to dominate the discussion and the tutor’s time. You may also find that things move along at a pace that doesn’t suit you – either too slow or too fast. While skilled and experienced group tutors will try to find a way to make sure most of the group is following them, the majority of hall-based tutors are simply 2nd or 3rd year medical students who attended the hall. This doesn’t necessarily endow them with the appropriate teaching and “people” skills to be able to communicate their understanding of the subject clearly to everyone. So if you attend group tutorials a few times and feel it just isn’t working for you then you should consider other options, be it private tutorials, small group study, spending the extra hour a week studying alone at your own pace, or even just spending the time doing something else entirely that you enjoy. In HSFY, your time is a limited and valuable commodity and chances are you’re paying little or nothing for the tutorials, so have the confidence to take responsibility for your own learning.
Private/Small Group Tutorials
Some students find it helpful to arrange private tutorials. These can often be done at a time more suitable to you than the group tutorials and since you are getting one-to-one attention many of the disadvantages outlined above no longer apply. However, there is inevitably a cost involved, with tutors generally charging upwards of $30 per hour. On the other hand, if you feel you would benefit from extra help, this is still a bargain compared to the costs and hassles of repeating the course (if you fail), or missing out on a year or 3’s earnings you could have made had you got in directly to the professional course that you came to University to do in the first place. When choosing a tutor it is a good idea to ask about their qualifications, experience in the subject, teaching/tutoring experience, and if you can, to choose someone recommended by someone you know. There are plenty of people out there doing private tutorials, so if you have a session or two and they don’t impress you then don’t throw away your time and money, just find someone else.