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Savvy Tutoring Explained

Google defines being savvy as possessing “shrewdness and practical knowledge, with the ability to make good judgements.” Any savvy approach to tutoring or coaching will take into account how an adult or child responds to strategies and identify the most engaging learning experiences and skills a student needs to succeed. The Savvy Tutor’s approach is to focus on building skills that will be useful in multiple domains while taking into account long-term outcomes. The Savvy Tutor is process-oriented and can solve student problems in all areas of academia.

What is Savvy Tutoring?


The Savvy Tutor, and any tutor who is truly savvy in their role, wears multiple hats. This means being an effective content tutor, but also acting as a skilled advisor, advocate, and coach. The Savvy Tutor helps students and families figure out the best courses and school program options for students based on their unique needs, goals, strengths, and preferences. This includes figuring out if and which AP courses are most appropriate, as well as collegiate and vocational options post-high school.


Savvy tutoring also entails communicating with school administrators and attending IEP, 504, and other informal school meetings as needed. High-quality tutors and coaches will be able to articulate students’ needs and goals as well as the most appropriate, evidence-based instructional methods and interventions for students. While not legal specialists, the best tutors will understand how education law impacts their students and how to optimally solve problems that arise, big and small, without going through the court system.  

Study Skills Coaching

Savvy tutoring entails teaching students not just content, but coaching them on effective study skills, time management strategies, and resourcefulness. Essentially, how to be an all-around successful student. Sessions can focus on skills such as note-taking, effective study strategies, scheduling and managing time, and how to use available resources. Building students’ confidence is another hallmark of high-quality coaching as students will learn to implement the strategies that enable them to be successful. High quality coaches will also help students build their metacognitions and senses of self-efficacy for success in all academic settings.

Study Skills.
Savvy Tutoring Teaches Study Skills

Content Instruction

Content instruction, or tutoring, is the most obvious service provided by a tutor. A high-quality content tutor will do just that: provide instruction in their area of expertise, such as reading and writing, or math, or science. Some tutors provide instruction in multiple subjects, while some specialize in a single area or course. The Savvy Tutor can help you or your child improve their reading skills, grades, and confidence levels, among other skills.

Qualities of a Savvy Tutor


Being savvy means being responsive to each student’s changing needs. Students need help for different reasons and during different seasons, and being adaptive as students’ needs and goals change is indicative of a high-quality tutor or coach.


A savvy and high-quality tutor will be just that: qualified. This entails being a certified teacher with a Master’s degree in Education or a related field.


Lessons with a tutor can be fun or boring, and anywhere in between, based on each tutor’s teaching style, lesson plan, and rapport between tutor and student. Sessions with young students should always incorporate fun activities that get learners excited.


High quality tutors, like all professionals, will be timely, honest, communicative, and follow-through on stated actions. When you hire a tutor for yourself or your child, you are entrusting them with an important task, and you must therefore trust their character and abilites. It doesn’t matter how technically capable someone may be in regard to teaching a reading class, for example, if they are untrustworthy, frequently late, or otherwise not dependable.


The most effective teachers reflect on their experiences, including both successes and areas needing improvement. Tutors who learn from their mistakes as well as their victories and those of their students are generally the savviest and most effective.

Reflective Teaching. University of Manitoba.
Reflective Teaching Is Savvy, University of Manitoba.


Knowing Common Core Standards and how to implement them and being interested in professional development are important standards for an awesome tutor. The best tutors stay current with the literature and best practices in behavioral science and education, as well as their subject areas.

Who Can Benefit from Savvy Tutoring?

In a nutshell: everyone. Anyone who is seeking to learn a new skill or hone an existing one. Kids who need reading or math instruction to get to grade level and increase confidence. Tutoring can help students of all ages, including those in college and graduate school, improve their communication, thinking, and self-monitoring skills. Students who struggle with work completion or those who want to excel and go the extra mile.

Most of the skills a student learns during tutoring sessions are ultimately life skills and will serve that student thoughout the course of their life, both in school and out.

Struggling Students

Many students can benefit from tutoring at different times and for various reasons. Students who are struggling in school, especially in the lower grades, will likely benefit from tutoring in fundamental skill areas such as reading and literacy. Students struggling with foundational skills such reading and math will see greater gains if provided small group or individualized instruction. Breaking concepts down for students and allowing them to practice at their own pace will greatly increase their chances of mastering those concepts and skills.

Students on Summer Break

In addition to tutoring during the school year, many parents smartly seek out a tutor to maintain or increase learning over the summer. While it is debated how much learning loss occurs over the summer, it is logical that children will make progress if they are engaging in learning activities when not in a formal class setting. A great tutor can teach your child the skills they need for a confident and successful start to the following school year.

Homeschooled Students

Parents who are homeschooling their children may want to hire a dynamic tutor to keep their child excited about the curriculum. It is easy for students to become bored, and a tutor can provide an outside perspective while filling any gaps in a parent’s knowledge.

Students Completing Research & Special Projects

Hiring a tutor may become necessary, or at least helpful, when embarking on a special project or completing a dissertation or clinical research. Students who are working on long-term research projects such as the Regeneron Science Talent Search or completing doctoral healthcare research may benefit from a tutor who can coach them through the research and writing processes. A writing coach can help you review the literature and your work at every step of the way, and provide proofreading, editing, and revision services.

Students Applying to College & Graduate School

Applying to college and graduate school is overwhelming for many students. Hiring a savvy professional who can guide you through any and all aspects of the admission process can alleviate much of the stress of the application process. An excellent tutor can also help you write an effective essay that will get you noticed and leave admissions counselors impressed.

Savvy Reading vs Savvy Tutoring

Savvy Reading is an online reading program for students in grades K-5, according to their company website. This company provides small group and 1:1 reading support in 25 minute sessions via an online platform. Savvy Reading uses their own proprietary curriculum, which may be a problem for struggling learners. Students who are struggling need more adaptive lessons and differentiated curricula and methodology. The Savvy Tutor provides in-person tutoring services for students in Westchester and Greenwich, as well as online sessions for those who live outside of the Metro New York area.

Unlike a prepackaged program, The Savvy Tutor provides highly individualized lessons based on each student’s unique abilities, goals, and interests. A high quality reading tutor will ensure your child not only knows sight words and can decode, but understands the material. Teaching reading comprehension can be a complex task. However, a great reading tutor will provide your child with the comprehension skills they need for research, summarizing, thesis development, and other key literacy skills throughout their academic careers.

How Frequently Should You Meet with Your Tutor?

Frequency of meetings depends on your goals, needs, schedule, and budget. Most students meet with their tutor once per week for an hour. Students may sometimes choose to schedule an additional session or two per week when working on a large project or studying for exams.

How frequently you schedule a session is up to you. Frequency will ultimately be based on your goals and needs, and how quickly you want to make progress. The more frequently you attend sessions, the more quickly you will likely achieve your goals.

It is worth remembering, though, that your success is ultimately up to you. When you are living your life, it will be your choice to follow through on the strategies and skills you are taught. If you are struggling with the follow-through, it is essential to let your tutor know! A savvy and responsive tutor and coach will approach the problem with empathy and creativity. When you communicate your needs, as well as what is working and what is not, you will maximize this professional relationship and build confidence and skills for life!

Contact The Savvy Tutor to find out if tutoring is right for you or your child

Alex Yoken author photo

About Alex Yoken

Alex Yoken is a New York State certified teacher with over a dozen years of experience tutoring, coaching, advising, and providing advocacy services for students of all ages. She is passionate about helping individuals achieve their unique goals through tailored plans and the most effective strategies. She has given numerous workshops on college success, writing, and special ed advocacy.

Alex’s students have received Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholars and The Journal of Trauma Nursing Literary Excellence Awards. She has helped dozens of students get admitted to college and study at prestigious institutions, including Cornell, Pepperdine, Tulane, and Duke.

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“Patient, understanding and very supportive …”

Having Alex as a tutor was amazing. She is patient, understanding and very supportive in many ways. Alex not only helped our son with his writing and vocabulary, she helped him organize his thoughts and strengthen his study skills. I highly recommend Alex as a tutor.

–Celina M., Greenburgh, NY
“Personalized teaching style, depth of knowledge, attentive manner”

When there are so many great things that can be said about a person, it is hard to find the right words that truly satisfy that person’s character. I first began working with Alex when I was a freshman in high school. Not having success with previous tutors, I concluded that tutors simply are not for me. However, Alex showed me otherwise; her personalized teaching style, depth of knowledge, attentive manner, and even sense of humor is above any tutor I’ve ever encountered. Beyond the skills that make Alex an effective yet enjoyable tutor, she also provides insight and guidance to those who are struggling in certain areas of their life. I have sought Alex’s help with challenges both big and small, and she always steers me in the right direction while teaching me important life skills in the process. As I am now approaching my senior year, I am overwhelmed with feelings of confidence and excitement because I know that I will have Alex by my side.

–Victoria L., Armonk, NY
“Effective, Articulate Advocate”

I hired Alex to help me obtain a private school placement at the district’s expense for my 3rd grader, who is nonverbal and autistic. After hiring an ineffective attorney for the same purpose when my son was in first grade, Alex was able to accomplish this goal and got my son a placement in a specialized, private school program. While this endeavor took months of work, meetings, emails, and school visits to accomplish, my son is now in an appropriate program where he is able to learn and thrive. Additionally, Alex was able to get the school district to provide every single service, accommodation, and technology that I was requesting for my son. Alex is assertive, articulate, and knows the law and best educational practices. As such, she effectively and vociferously advocated on my son’s behalf and accomplished all of my goals. I highly recommend her to anyone in need of an advocate!

-Angela F., New Rochelle, NY
“High Quality Tutor”

Alex is a highly skilled and knowledgeable writing teacher. Warm and nurturing. Reliable. Made learning meaningful, engaging and fun. Definitely recommend and will use again.

-Wendy D., Tarrytown, NY
“Knowledgable and Dedicated”

I must admit that I was absolutely fortunate when I stumbled upon Alex’s website during my internet search a year and a half ago. I was desperately looking for someone to proof read my papers and assist in guiding me throughout the pursuit of my doctorate degree. With the guidance, support, and constructive criticism from this very knowledgeable, insightful, and patient individual I received As in all my courses. I truly enjoyed working with Alex.

-Jessie M., White Plains, NY
“The Best Tutor”

Alex is very well-versed and knowledgeable about many subjects. I have not been in school in over 20 years and now I am back to obtain my doctorate degree. Alex has helped me get organized and has assisted me with my APA citations, grammar, and word choice. My writing skills have improved significantly and every one of my papers has received an A. Alex has provided me with the skills I need to continue my studies. I am so lucky to have met Alex.

– Renee C., Yonkers, NY
“Awesome Teacher and Person”

Amanda: I am a student of Alex’s. I would recommend Alex to other students because she pushes you, gives you confidence, and she has a great sense of humor. She turns around any of your negative feelings into positive ones so you can believe in yourself to succeed.

Doretta: I am Amanda’s mom. Alex has a tremendous amount of patience. She is creative, funny, and very knowledgeable of her material. Alex tutored my daughter to obtain a driving permit. This was a major challenge for Amanda. Aside from needing help to learn the material, Amanda also has severe test anxiety. Amanda also has had many many tutors throughout her life. Alex not only helped Amanda learn the material and prepare for the test, but also made her believe in herself and decreased her anxiety. She is truly an awesome teacher and person. I highly recommend her to any struggling student.

– Amanda and Doretta Tarangioli, Eastchester, NY
“Hardworking and dedicated”

Alex is a hard working and extremely dedicated person. Not only is she able to help me better understand what I am studying but she also has a way of inspiring me to learn more. I have had many tutors and I know for a fact that Alex is by far the best. She pushes me to better myself and helps me become increasingly more interested in school. Alex helps me with whatever I need to improve on and is always the first and most excited to congratulate me on my accomplishments. After studying with Alex my grades have dramatically improved. This made it possible for me to get into a high honors English class after years of special Ed. Also with her help she made looking and applying for colleges an enjoyable experience. She is an amazing tutor and person and I can go on forever stating how much she has helped me become a confident student.

– Nicole L., Armonk, NY
“Extremely knowledgable about the admissions process”

My daughter struggled with writing her college application essay. We were fortunate to meet Alex who not only helped our daughter select the appropriate subject matter and prepare a well-written essay, but minimized the stress and drama that comes with this process. Alex has great writing skills and she is very creative and extremely knowledgable about the admissions process. Alex is a pleasure to work with.

–John S., White Plains, NY
“Knowledgeable and Helpful”

Alex helped me with my personal statements for graduate school. It was helpful to brainstorm ahead of time because it made our sessions more productive. However, we brainstormed more throughout our sessions. She made me feel confident in my writing and the writing process less stressful. She took notes as we talked and cares about making a connection with her students. I definitely recommend her assistance! It was such a pleasure to work with her and I will be sure to keep in contact with her for future assignments!

– Desiree, R., Homer Glen, IL
“Far exceeded expectations”

Alex has worked with my son for three months and the improvement we have seen has been tremendous. My son went from failing in math to exceeding his peers in class. He enjoys his sessions with Alex and as a matter of fact, looks forward to her coming to tutor him, he refers to it as “so much fun and interesting”. Alex provided our son with the necessary strategies to apply to solve math problems and we can see him applying those strategies in his homework assignments.  Our son went from 60’s and 70’s to 95 in scores for his math tests.  We are incredibly lucky and grateful to have found Alex. She has done wonders for our son and has been able to teach him in a manner where he understands and retains the information.  She has far exceeded our expectations in so little time.

–Nadira B., Scarsdale, NY
“Insightful, inspirational, and enthusiastic professional”

Alex has been working with our 2nd grade daughter for over a few months now, and she has had an amazing, positive impact on her. Alex is knowledgeable, hardworking, and extremely patient with our daughter who has been having some challenges reading. Alex was able to identify our daughter’s weaknesses and help provide the necessary strategies and techniques to help her improve her reading skills. Alex is an excellent tutor who my daughter says “makes reading fun”! She eagerly awaits and looks forward to her sessions with Alex as Alex never fails to have a clever game and fun worksheets for them to work on together. With Alex’s help, our daughter’s confidence has really grown, and her reading has significantly improved –she will actually read aloud now! We are so grateful to have found Alex – she has truly been able to teach our daughter in ways that she can understand and learn. We can’t thank Alex enough for all her hard work, and would highly recommend her. If you’re looking for an intelligent, dedicated and incredibly responsive tutor, look no further!

–Eileen B., Tuckahoe, NY
“Dedicated, professional, reliable”

Alex is an inspiring tutor, full of enthusiasm and knowledge. Her lessons are always personalized and tailored specifically to my daughter’s needs.  My 5th grade daughter always looks forward to meeting with Alex, as Alex always includes activities and games that make learning fun for her. I noticed her increase in confidence and it showed through her improvement in grades. Dedicated, professional, reliable – what more could you ask for! I would highly recommend Alex without any hesitation. Thank you, Alex!

–Jen A., White Plains, NY
“Excellent tutor, very helpful”

Alex worked with me very diligently and helped me with several college supplemental essays. Alex knew exactly what college admissions officers were looking for which helped me include critical information in my essays. Also, I was able to engage in conversation with Alex about how to go about revising my essays. She approaches the essay sentence by sentence and makes sure that the essential question: “so what?” is always answered within the writing. I recommend Alex as a tutor for anyone in need of help for any piece of writing.

–Brian W., Greenwich, CT
“Professional, effective tutor and advocate”

I hired Alex as a tutor and an advocate to help me prepare and receive accommodations for an NASM personal training exam. Alex was critical in helping me successfully study and prepare for the test by teaching me effective study skills and test-taking strategies. Alex was able to get NASM to provide me the full extent of accommodations that I was legally entitled to. She also made sure that the reader for my test was competent and prepared by personally escorting me to the testing center to make sure that they were following the appropriate procedures. I am extremely thankful to Alex for her dedication to my success and for helping me pass the exam.

–AJ Sauer, Tarrytown, NY
“Terrific tutor”

Alex is well prepared and detail-oriented and works hard during the sessions to make sure my son understands what she is working on with him.

–Bonnie Y., Scarsdale, NY
“Professional problem-solver”

My adult brother has been working with Alex for the past few months. She is amazing! I have never known someone in this profession to be so patient, insightful and so good at breaking down challenges into pieces of a puzzle in order to find the best possible solution.

–Andrea Weinberg, New York, NY
“Competent, knowledgeable, and committed”

Alex was able to help me improve my study and test-taking skills and I’m so glad I hired her! I am a nursing student in a competitive program and I felt lost given the vast amount of material that I had to study. Alex helped me use recall strategies like mnemonics to remember difficult terminology for exams. She was also helpful in teaching me metacognitive strategies for focus and self-monitoring during testing. I am especially grateful to Alex for helping me navigate through the difficult “red tape” of my program. She taught me effective self-advocacy techniques so that I was able to attain the outcome I was seeking by being assertive about my rights. I am now much more confident about going into my next semester of school and feel like I have the necessary skills to succeed.

–Sam Kudelka, Pleasantville, NY


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