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Mathnasium vs. Sylvan (Which Math Tutoring Service is Better?)

If you're searching for a math tutoring service, here's what you need to know about the tutors, structure, benefits, cost, and more at Sylvan and Mathnasium.
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Mathnasium vs. Sylvan (Which Math Tutoring Service is Better?)
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It's no secret that math can be a challenging subject for many students. Unlike other, more objective subjects, math involves specific skills and problem-solving strategies that can take considerable time, effort, and confidence to master. Studies demonstrate that math not only presents significant skill-based challenges, but also intimidates students. According to a survey conducted by Cuemath, a personalized math tutoring service, 82% of students between Grades 7 and 10 struggle with apprehension surrounding learning math.

However, with the proper support and mindset, every student can overcome these hurdles and succeed in this enormously important subject. To achieve this support and mindset, there are plenty of valuable resources students and their families can turn to, from private math tutoring services to small group and self-learning courses. In this article, we will look at two of the most popular tutoring programs available, Mathnasium and Sylvan, to see if they are worth your time and money.

What is Mathnasium?

As the name suggests, Mathnasium is a math-only learning program for kindergarten through high school-aged students. In the Mathnasium program, students begin by taking an initial assessment evaluating their current math proficiency. From there, Mathnasium develops a personalized curriculum for students to work through during their time at the center.

There is no private tutoring offered at Mathnasium. Instead, one instructor is responsible for a group of four to six students. If your child is a high school student preparing for standardized testing, Mathnasium also offers SAT and ACT prep courses to help students with the math sections. Mathnasium tutoring is available online or in person.


  • Tutoring online and in-person
  • Personalized curriculum
  • Offers standardized test prep courses


  • Math only
  • Some consider Mathnasium to be overpriced
  • No private tutoring offered

Bottom Line: Mathnasium is a math-only learning program for kindergarten through high school students. After taking an initial assessment, students receive a personalized curriculum that they will work through in small group classes.

What is Sylvan?

Founded in 1979, more than 750 Sylvan learning centers are scattered across the United States. While Sylvan is best known for its in-person support, this service now offers virtual tutoring options as well. Like Mathnasium, students begin their process with Sylvan by completing an assessment evaluating their strengths and weaknesses. Sylvan's team uses the results from this test to create a customized curriculum for each student. 

Math help is available at Sylvan learning centers, as well as help with ELA, foreign languages, STEM, and other subjects. Tutors can also work with students to improve their organization and study skills. Sylvan students also learn in small group courses, with one tutor usually assigned to three students.


  • Online and in-person classes
  • Personalized curriculum
  • Students can also get help in numerous other subjects


  • No private tutoring offered
  • Relatively expensive

Bottom Line: Students begin their process with Sylvan by completing an assessment, allowing Sylvan to develop a personalized curriculum for each student. Sylvan learning centers offer support in math and many other subjects, including ELA, foreign languages, STEM, etc.

Mathnasium vs. Sylvan Benefits

Mathnasium Benefits

One of Mathnasium's most significant advantages is the personalized element of its program. Students start by taking an initial assessment, which allows Mathnasium to gauge the areas where students struggle most. Mathnasium can then group students into small group classes based on which areas students need the most assistance.

Mathnasium's learning program has helped tens of thousands of students improve their grades and test scores in math. Customer reviews have shown that parents are generally very satisfied with their child's experience with the Mathnasium program. Parents have particularly emphasized their children's increased interest and enjoyment in mathematics. 

Unlike a typical math class, which can be anxiety-inducing and dull for many students, children reportedly have fun in Mathnasium sessions.

While some parents may be looking for a more diverse tutoring platform, Mathnasium is an excellent option for students who solely want to focus on their math skills. Because Mathnasium is a math-focused platform, tutors are often more specialized than tutoring platforms that cover a wide range of subjects.

Sylvan Benefits

Like Mathnasium, Sylvan sets itself apart from other tutoring platforms through its customized lesson plans. Unlike a Kumon center, where students work through the same generalized worksheets with Kumon math, Sylvan students receive personalized lesson plans tailored toward the areas they need the most improvement.

Remember that personalization in both Sylvan and Mathnasium is limited because students are in small group courses; therefore, tutors must also cater to the other students in their classes. Aside from catering to each student's needs, Sylvan also works closely to align their lesson plans with state and provincial standards.

According to their website, Sylvan students experience two- to three times more academic growth than other students. Another report from the company said that students who took part in the Sylvan math program did 51% better in school than their peers who didn't take part in the program. Sylvan has received mixed customer reviews, but many parents have said the platform has helped their kids feel more confident and interested in school.

Mathnasium vs. Sylvan Tutoring Services


Students begin by taking an initial assessment, evaluating their proficiency in specific math concepts, strengths, and weaknesses. After analyzing the results, Mathnasium will curate a personalized curriculum for the student. This curriculum will also help Mathnasium place students in an appropriate small group class.

During Mathnasium tutoring sessions, students work with tutors to get help on current math homework and test preparation. In addition, each tutor at Mathnasium abides by the "Mathnasium Method." Depending on the results of their personalized assessment, students are placed into a class of workbooks. As students progress through these workbooks, they will receive "mastery checks." Once students have accumulated a certain number of mastery checks, they can select a prize from the Mathnasium prize cabinet.

The idea behind the "Mathnasium Method" is to keep students motivated and boost their confidence once they begin to see results. Mathnasium does not assign homework.


Sylvan students begin by taking an initial assessment, also known as the "Sylvan Assessment." This assessment evaluates a student's needs and allows Sylvan's team to create a personalized curriculum for each student. Sylvan tutors students in small groups, with three students in a group. With its traditional tutoring approach, which also factors in state and provincial guidelines, Sylvan guarantees that students will learn 50 new skills in their first 50 hours of lessons.

Sylvan is a tech-forward tutoring service, as each lesson is taught on an iPad. In addition, Sylvan uploads all of its lesson plans to an app called SylvanSync, which parents can view. On the SylvanSync learning platform, tutors can continually adjust learning plans based on the child's progress. Parents can also access the MySylvan online portal to view updated information about their child's progress and view their child's at-home math assignments.

Mathnasium vs. Sylvan Tutors

Mathnasium Tutors

According to the Mathnasium website, all its tutors must undergo a strict screening process. Of the hundreds of individuals who apply, only a handful are officially accepted into the Mathnasium network. This self-reported information aligns with what parents say about their Mathnasium experience. Families have referred to Mathnasium tutors as qualified, professional, helpful, and friendly and have said that the tutors have significantly increased their children's enjoyment of math.

Sylvan Tutors

Parents have had more mixed reviews about Sylvan's tutors. Some customer reviews have revealed that parents do not see Sylvan as a reliable program, while others have claimed that Sylvan tutors give students less than the promised assistance. It's worth noting that each of Sylvan's 750 locations operates as a separate institution, even though each is under the Sylvan umbrella. Therefore, the quality of the experience may vastly differ across each tutoring center. 

Because Sylvan caters to subjects other than math, tutors are less likely to have a specialty in teaching math. Therefore, Sylvan may be better geared towards students who need help in a wide variety of subject matter. Other tutoring programs may be more beneficial if you are looking for a specialized math tutor.

Mathnasium vs. Sylvan Cost

Mathnasium Cost

Prices for Mathnasium depend on where the center is, but the average monthly cost is between $200 and $300. At most Mathnasium learning centers, students attend two sessions a week. Most sessions for high school students last 75 minutes, while most sessions for younger students last 60 minutes. Even if your rates fall at the higher end of the spectrum, you will only pay approximately $37.5 per session. While this may seem affordable, it is relatively costly for a small group session when many private tutoring rates are only marginally higher.

Sylvan Cost

Similar to Mathnasium, Sylvan's rates depend on location and payment plan. For instance, if you live in Missouri, rates average at $42 an hour, whereas in California, rates start at $50 an hour.

According to Sylvan's website, tutoring starts at $49 per hour, classes and camps start at $199, and ACT and SAT prep classes start at $999. Students may sometimes be charged an additional fee for the placement test and registration.

Why Choose Learner

Both Mathnasium and Sylvan offer online and in-person math tutoring to kindergarten through high school students. Each platform provides a "personalized curriculum" administered in small group courses. Even though parents seem content with the services offered by Sylvan and Mathnasium, neither platform can truly compete with a private tutoring service like Learner.

Learner takes personalized lesson plans to a whole new level. Students must complete a thorough initial assessment, which allows Learner's team to match each student with the most compatible tutor in its network. From there, tutors will make a personalized curriculum based on a student's strengths, weaknesses, interests, personality, and way of learning.

Because each student receives the undivided attention of one private math tutor, tutors can match the student's pace, and students can ask as many questions as they need to understand each math concept fully.

Final Thoughts

Due to its high-quality tutors, superb matching system, full money-back guarantee, and state-of-the-art technology, Learner is our top choice for a math tutoring service. Private tutors at Learner can give each student their undivided attention and tailor each lesson plan to their needs.

As an added bonus, every Learner lesson is conducted online in a state-of-the-art classroom with a virtual whiteboard, video, and audio features. The convenience of virtual tutoring saves students and their families time and money and allows students to connect with expert instructors from all across the country.

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About the author:

Mike developed his passion for education as a math instructor at Penn State University. He expanded his educational experience launching and running an Executive Education business - training over 100,000 students per year. As the CEO of Learner, Mike focuses on accelerating learning and unleashing the potential of students. 

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