Supertutor on Carousell: I'll do your homework!

It seems these days anything and everything can be traded on Carousell. A certain Amelia Tang who goes by the handle supertutor recently announced on a fresh sales page (listed on 8 October 2016) she is willing to help one with his/her homework problems for a fee, and that she is able to attend to "all levels from primary to tertiary level (JC/Poly/ITE)". A seriously tempting offer-should students even consider her proposal?

What is so SUPER about this self proclaimed supertutor?

She makes mention of the fact she is currently pursuing her MBA at the National University of Singapore (NUS), having previously graduated with a double Bachelor's in Business Administration and Life Science. Hmm, impressive enough. Then again, how do we know she is speaking the truth without a proper presentation of her academic credentials for vetting? To press forward the point she is more than competent in delivering as promised, she says this:" 95% of my students have achieved at least a three point grade jump (From B4 to A1) in just 2 months." Woah, hang on, 95% of how many students exactly? A fantastically surreal improvement in such a short span of time-what magic potion mix did she feed her charges? A little too good to be true? Where is the evidence to back her somewhat boastful assertions?

Oh, and by the way you can ask Amelia just about anything. "English, General Paper, Mathematics, Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Business Studies. I will answer any homework queries or conceptual misunderstandings you may have." Nice. Then she obliquely sneaks in a sentence afterwards (possibly her real agenda?) of offering one to one personal tuition, though she "does not recommend it." Hang on, why not? Aren't you a supertutor? False modesty? Feinting right when actually striking left?

Why is she offering such a service?

As she so elegantly explains:"If you are unable to get the right solution, you won't want to wait for the next tuition session to ask that question right? With an online tutor you can get help 24/7, whether it’s at 10 PM after an away game or 6 AM the morning of your test. As a student, the immediacy of acquiring the right solution is imperative to learning well."

In other words she will always be there to assist come rain or shine. She will wake her sleepy ass up at 6am just to help solve a teeny weeny problem, or soldier on between bottles of chicken essence at 3am in the morning to ensure some dude gets his stuff sorted out. Hey, in a way its a noble endeavour all right? We ain't questioning it, but just wondering how long a period she can remain so steadfast in her conviction to help. If we may be allowed to add, most students are probably fine with waiting till the next lesson to address their standing queries, but they are definitely not fine with not being allowed to play Pokemon Go immediately on their smartphones.

Unless you are asking really basic questions, basically you need to pay

She also wrote: "Depending on the number of questions you have and level of difficulty, I will charge at different rates from as low as $0.50 to $5. However if you simply needed a conceptual clarification, just drop me a message with your doubts and I'll answer you for free."

Come on people, she posted this on Carousell, of course she is looking to earn some moolah. A few quick points: what exactly constitutes a conceptual clarification? Is there a minimum monetary amount that must be incurred before the answering service can be triggered? What about additional surcharges for questions solved in an extremely early or late part of the day? Or entertaining rich spoilt lazy brats seeking someone to finish their assignments entirely?

Accuracy of solutions provided

This is probably what matters most. Well Amelia made it clear that her decade long of tutoring experience vouches for the correctness of answers rendered. She added: "Should there be a question that I failed to answer correctly, there will be a 100% refund of any fee paid. Additionally, if there is a question I am unsure of, I will not attempt to answer it as I will only solve questions I am absolutely sure of." Bravo for being ethical, and we sincerely mean it.

At the end of the day, try hard as we may in distilling the truth about such online sales propositions as far as tutoring services are concerned, it is still very much up to the consumer (yes you the student and/or parent) to be adequately discerning and not simply buy into everything as claimed by complete strangers. Approach Amelia (or anyone else for that matter) with caution; it's better to be safe than sorry.

PS: As of 14 October 2016 when this piece was penned, one single positive yet curt remark has been left on Amelia's page. And nope, we don't think it was posted by that foul-mouthed local radio deejay Glenn Ong who took turns marrying all his workplace colleagues, save for one Flying Dutchman.


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