Debunking myths of tuition centre adverts

(This post by a tutor who wishes to remain anonymous first appeared here on Domain of Singapore Tutoring Experts on 20 January 2014.)

By Anonymous Tutor

Being the owner of one of the many tuition centres in Singapore, I have seen and studied the flyers and adverts of many tuition centres. Often, I cringe at some of the content they used because I know fully well it means nothing, but unknowing parents may "fall for it". At times, the focus on marketing by the tuition centre is greater than the focus on quality teaching and delivery, which makes me feel even more sad.

The intent of this write-up is to explain and tear apart some of the common marketing techniques of tuition centres. Parents should always put focus on the tutor teaching the class, his way of teaching and his qualifications, and less so about the marketing fluff of the centres. Here's some common fluff:

1) Registered with MOE

All tuition centres have to be registered with MOE. At least those doing this business legally will have to. The tutors are also required to be registered with MOE.

2) Adherence to MOE School Syllabus or well versed in latest school syllabus

Which effective tuition doesn't?

3) Assessment materials provided

Duh? All effective tuition centres should be providing this!

4) Qualified, reliable and dedicated tutors

Which tuition centre will say their tutors are bad or lousy?

5) So and so is our student and scored distinction!

How about the other xx students (if any at all)?

6) XX% of our students scored distinction or a 3 grade improvement.

Key thing is that distinction percentage is masked by the "3 grade improvement". 3 grade improvements really means nothing because that's typical between prelims and national exams. It's common knowledge prelims are usually much tougher.

Just ask about the percentage of distinctions will do. See how many try to talk you around it :)

7) A certain tutor once said most of his students come from top schools. Then he claimed after that the results of his students are comparable to top schools.... See the statistical link? Does it really mean effectiveness? It's just marketing, but this tutor I mentioned is not bad to be fair. Just that one student I knew and not from a top school scored C after 2 years of tuition with him.

8) Organised and Structured curriculum

Like? Easy to use vague words, but what curriculum is there? To be fair, they probably have, but parents would do well to ask about it. To be noted, most schools teach different topics, and following a fixed curriculum usually kills students.

9) Spirit of the Enterprise award

So the tuition centre receives an award for being able to market well and not an award for teaching well. Do you want to buy into their marketing fluff?


Some tuition teachers figured out the system and beaten it, which is why they got so rich.

My friend's tuition centre dream turned into a 5 year nightmare.

7 reasons why so many teachers are leaving MOE