elm village tutors

elm village tutors private tutor London


Private Tuition

Private tuition is often the key to a student’s educational success. Experience has shown that personal tuition gives a student a greater understanding of subject matter that they may have failed to grasp in a conventional classroom environment. This understanding can mean the difference between success and failure. It can also help students enjoy subjects that previously were inaccessible.

Private tuition is beneficial for many reasons, including:

  • If students are falling behind, it enables them to catch up.
  • If they are aiming for places at top universities such as Imperial, Oxford or Cambridge, it can help them ensure the required grades.
  • It can help them during stressful periods such as the run up to exams.
  • It can offer extra educational and emotional support.
  • It can keep the gifted interested in their studies, enabling them to reach their true potential.

Exam Revision

Working one-to-one with an experienced tutor often helps to substantially improve a student’s performance in exams by:

  • Helping to increase confidence and in turn decrease exam nerves.
  • Ensuring the student has a thorough knowledge and understanding of the syllabus.
  • Going through past papers. This is essential and doing so with a tutor who not only knows the subject matter but all the tricks of the trade gives a student a real advantage.
  • Having someone to whom you can ask those questions that you have not perhaps had the time, opportunity or confidence to do so at school.


Students who are applying to study in America would normally sit one of two admission tests – the SAT or the ACT. Taking at least one of these is required by most (but not all) universities in America.

The SAT comprises three sections – Mathematics, Reading, and Writing and Language. It lasts for 3 hours.  SATs can be taken at various times throughout the year at any of a number of centres throughout the UK. Students often sit their admissions tests in year 12 so that if they are not happy with their grade they will have the opportunity to sit the test again later.

The ACT has four sections – English, Reading, Mathematics, and Science. It lasts for just over 3 hours. There is an additional, optional, Writing section which might be required by some American universities. Like the SAT, the ACT can be taken at a number of times throughout the year. 


Generally, a student in England will take three A-Levels between the ages of 16 and 18 in order to secure a place at university. Students can of course take more depending on their ability and the policy of their school.

A-Levels are usually two-year courses which will generally be assessed by written examinations at the end of the course (in May or June). Students have the option of sitting exams after the first year of their studies (AS-Levels); these are a stand-alone qualification and do not count towards the final A-Level result (as they historically did). The AS syllabus, however, will be the same as the first year of the A-Level course. Some schools will choose to enter their students for AS exams at the end of the first year whereas others will not. If AS results are available they will be used by universities as part of their selection process. Some students may choose to sit 4 AS-Levels in their first year and carry on with their 3 best subjects to complete full A-Level courses in these.


GCSE stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. These are the courses that students follow during their last few years of compulsory schooling, usually between the ages of 14 and 16. Students often take around eight GCSEs (sometimes more and sometimes fewer depending on their ability and the policy of the school). Core subjects, like Maths, English and Science, must be studied.

GCSEs are usually two-year courses which will generally be assessed by written examinations at the end of the course (in May or June). Grading is from 9 (highest) to 1 (lowest) as opposed to the old A* to G system. It may be possible to re-sit certain subjects (for example, Maths and English) in November.

After completing their GCSE exams, students who wish to go to university generally study for their A-Levels. As a rule of thumb, A-Level colleges and universities require at least 5 GCSEs.

Common Entrance

We prepare children for their Common Entrance Exams and for the Scholarship papers set by various schools such as Eton, Harrow, Westminster, Winchester and St. Paul’s.

Common Entrance (11+ or 13+) is the exam taken by students aiming to secure a place at independent secondary (senior) schools. The candidates generally sit the exams at their prep (or junior) school, with the papers being marked by the senior schools to which they are applying. The exams are set either by the ISEB or by individual senior schools themselves. Each school has its own pass mark for the ISEB exams. Some students choose to sit Scholarship papers set either by the ISEB or by their prospective senior school; these are often harder than the standard Common Entrance exams – but can lead to assisted places.

University Entrance

We offer advice on how to apply to universities in both the UK and the US: which courses to study, how to prepare a good application form and how to handle interviews and assessments (arranging for students to have mock interviews after which their performance can be assessed).

In the UK, filling in a UCAS form and writing a good Personal Statement is essential to a good university application; we can offer detailed advice about this to help students prepare the best possible Personal Statement.

Additionally, we can help to guide students through the difficulties of applying to American universities, including how to write application essays. We also help prepare students for the SAT and ACT exams.

Before starting James Layland Tutors and Elm Village Tutors, James gained many years’ experience offering university entrance advice in school and, as a former Principal, he has advised many students on their future education.

Essay Writing Surgery

Imagine that you are given the ingredients to bake a cake, but no recipe. How would you get on?

Writing essays can present a similar challenge: you may know your subject inside-out, but unless you also know how to add your thoughts in the right order and spice it up with quotes and references, you could end up with a half-baked mess.

Not fun to write; not fun to read. 

We would like to change that. We offer practical advice on how to plan and structure essays, as well as how to sculpt your content and find the right tone. While we have the general recipe to help you get started, this is a personalised service that aims to identify your unique strengths and weaknesses, giving you the tools to write well on any subject.

Please note that this is not an essay writing service: that would be cheating. So if you’re here to learn, we’re here to help.