Hiring Tutors in Singapore: How Much is Too Much?

You can always tell when the PSLE or “O” Levels come around. People involved look haggard, and if you gave them a syringe they’d start mainlining coffee and chicken essence. I’m not talking about the students either; I’m talking about the parents, working two jobs to pay off the tuition fees. But with every one’s out to hire the best, how much should good tuition cost?


Not pictured: A childhood


In general, tuition fees depend on five factors:

  • Whether the tutor is private or from an agency
  • The qualifications of the tutor
  • The hours involved
  • Whether the tutor travels to the home
  • The school grade of the student (which takes into account several of the above factors)


1. Agencies vs. Private Tutors

Some tutors may be Ministry of Education (MoE) teachers, who are not allowed to give more than six hours of tuition each month. In addition, they cannot register as an employee of a tuition agency. As such, they act as private tutors instead.


Grimacing teacher surrounded with kids

The teacher’s facial expression will accurately suggest the tuition fees.


Because they are actual teachers and have limited hours, these private tutors are in very high demand. It’s not unheard of for prices to hit $70 an hour, even for upper primary.

Agency tutors, on the other hand, adhere to a market rate. They are usually cheaper than private tutors and the rough breakdown based on school grade is as such:


Student’s Grade Level

Average Cost

Primary 1 – 3

$15 – $18 per hour

Primary 4 – 6

$18 – $20 per hour

Secondary 1 – 2

$22 – $25 per hour

Secondary 3 – 5

$25 – $30 per hour

Junior College

$35 – $40 per hour


2. Tutor’s Qualifications

Usually, there’s no price difference between diploma and degree holders. However, tutors with National Institute of Education (NIE) qualifications often charge 50 percent above the market rate. Tutors who are currently teaching in schools may go as high as double the market rate.

Another factor is “industry relevance”. This is related to the industry the tutor is currently working in. For example, getting an accountant to teach maths, or a physicist to teach science. For enrichment purposes (such as Maths Olympiad training), industry relevance might commend a 50 percent increase over the market rate.


Singaporean Parents: Would barely meet their standards


3. Hours Involved

Most tuition plans are one hour a week, intensifying to two or three hours a week as exams near. For this reason, it’s become unpopular for tutors to charge a monthly fee.

Some tutors provide value added services; for example, they may not charge for time spent correcting homework. In these cases, they usually give an additional half hour for free. Some tutors may charge more per hour on weekends; this is uncommon and not a local convention.


Child checking watch against background of Dali's clocks

“Thanks teacher. 20 minutes into your maths lesson, I understood what infinity feels like.”


4. Travel Costs

Most of the time, travel costs are borne by the tutor. Because it’s not a local convention to ask for travel expenses, most tutors will simply turn down a job that’s too far away.

If you have your heart set on a particular tutor, and they turn down your offer, ask if it’s due to travel expenses. Very often, offering to pay those expenses will make them change their minds.

Some tuition agencies have their own centres and classrooms. You might get a slight discount (less than 10 percent) by travelling to them instead. Private tutors sometimes teach in their own home, and may give you a similar discount if you’re willing to travel there.


Cost Breakdown

What could be more appropriate than a breakdown for PSLE and “O” Levels?


PSLE Tuition Costs“O” Levels Tuition Costs
Base Cost$20 per hour$30 per hour
Tutor QualificationsNIE trained (+ $10 per hour)NIE trained (+$15 per hour)
Number of Hours60 minutes per session, 8 sessions per month90 minutes per session*, 8 sessions per month
Travel CostsTravel to tutor’s house (- $3 per hour)Tutor travels to home
Total per Month$216$360

*30 minutes used to correct homework is discounted

Between using NIE trained tutors and tutors who are currently teaching, I suggest the former. It’s not as if the syllabus changes dramatically every five or even 10 years. And you’ll save a lot of money.


Do you hire tuition teachers for your child? Comment and tell us how much it costs!

Image Credits:
HughchisholmRenato GanozaTajaio5comfotologic


Get more Personal Finance tips and tricks on www.MoneySmart.sg

Click to Compare Singapore Home Loans, Car Insurance and Credit Cards on our other sites.

More From MoneySmart

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippines backs support for small enterprises at APEC meet

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines' top trade official on Saturday called for support for the integration of micro, small and medium enterprises in global trade, which he said would help reduce poverty and inequality in the Asia-Pacific region. …

  • US renews travel warning to Mindanao
    US renews travel warning to Mindanao

    The US State Department renewed its warning about the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu archipelago, certain regions and cities of Mindanao and the southern Sulu Sea area. In an update on Wednesday of a travel warning it issued Nov. 20, 2014, the State Department said US citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu archipelago due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there. …

  • Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda
    Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda

    The Philippine initiative to put the interests of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) front and center in global and regional trade has made significant progress following the conclusion on Thursday of the 2nd APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings in Boracay, Aklan. Called “The Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs,” the Philippine proposal calls for a host of specific, concrete and practical interventions that APEC economies can implement to provide MSMEs wider …

  • Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week
    Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week

    The Philippines will join a 15-nation meeting in Bangkok, Thailand next week to address the migration crisis involving thousands of Rohingyas who escaped persecution in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima bared this yesterday after meeting with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) representative to the Philippines Bernard Kerblat. In an interview, De Lima said the Philippine government has been invited to the meeting. …

  • Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon
    Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon

    LEGAZPI CITY—A magnitude 4.2 earthquake hit Prieto Diaz town in Sorsogon before dawn yesterday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. …

  • Drought-resistant rice breeds bared
    Drought-resistant rice breeds bared

    SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija – Amid the searing heat, the Philippine Rice Research Institute central experiment station here has identified nine rice breeds which have been proven to be drought-resistant and produce high yields in temperatures as high as 38°C based on a recent study. Thelma Padolina, lead researcher of the study titled “Screening of rice-induced mutants for heat and drought tolerance,” identified the breeding lines as the Ballatinaw lines, PSB Rc72H and Azucena lines. …

  • Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning
    Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning

    The United States military will continue air and sea patrols in international waters even after the Chinese navy repeatedly warned a US surveillance plane to leave the airspace over artificial islands China is creating in the disputed South China Sea. The Philippine government also declared it would continue activities in the region, calling on China to respect freedom of navigation and aviation. “Our position on the importance of letting freedom of navigation, freedom of aviation and …

  • MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned
    MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned

    Electricity and mobile phone services would be cut throughout Metro Manila, and all private and government offices and businesses, including shopping malls, would be closed. That would be the situation on July 16 between 3 and 8 p.m. to simulate the scenario of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has warned that an earthquake of that magnitude could occur and kill at least 33,500 people and injure at least 113,600 others following a …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options