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2021-2022 school year in review: What were the topics, questions, and subjects most asked about by students?

Jun 27, 2022 11:41:22 AM

At Paper, maintaining a top-tier tutoring platform includes constantly striving to better understand students and their learning behaviors—including when and how they use our product and where they need the most help. That’s why over the course of the past school year, we captured data that will not only help improve Paper’s products but will also help our district partners and teachers better support student success.

To help understand the topics, questions, and concerns American K-12 students have on their minds, Paper gathered data from millions of student interactions conducted during the 2021-2022 school year. With data sets like these, educational technology organizations, educators, school administrators, and parents can create better outcomes for students.

To get a closer look at the issues and topics students brought to Paper within the last school year, our product team parsed the collected data by student age and geographical area to help identify key trends and learning patterns.

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Live tutoring help key takeaways

  • Regardless of age or geographic location, Math and English were the subjects where U.S. students needed the most assistance from Paper tutors.

  • Middle schoolers requested help with history at more than double the rate of any other age group.
    From elementary school to high school, student requests for help with the sciences (chemistry, biology, etc.) increased by nearly 1,000%.

  • From elementary school to high school, the average tutoring session’s duration increased by nearly 70%—from 16 minutes to nearly 27. As the subject matter becomes more complex, the need for longer tutoring sessions increases.

  • Regardless of age or geographic location, lunch was the most popular time of day for a student to launch a tutoring session.

  • More students in the Southwest requested help with English than in any other geographic region. Nearly 30% of all tutoring sessions there were English-related, which is 25% higher than any other region.

  • Students in the Southeast requested help with math more than any other subject. Math sessions accounted for nearly 75% of all tutoring sessions in the region—and this represented the largest portion in the nation of students requesting math help.

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Essay review

Student essays were submitted for review most often during the morning hours. The most popular submission time—irrespective of grade level or geographic area—was Thursday at 9 a.m. Generally essays were submitted during the week before classes began for the day.

Surprisingly, social media was the most popular middle school essay topic throughout the country. For High school students, popular topics included "America" and "Life."

In the Northeast, essay topics bucked the national trends and had unique focuses on "College and Career," "War," and the "American Dream."

Common essay topics



Most popular books to review



Essay topics by school level

Elementary school Middle school High school
"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" Social media "Romeo and Juliet"
Animals "The Diary of Anne Frank" America
Microbes "The Hunger Games" Life

Essay topics by geographic area

Midwest Northeast Southeast
"Romeo and Juliet" College and career Microbes
Personal War Video games
Social Media American Dream Social media
Southwest West
Vietnam War "Romeo and Juliet"
Technology Social Media


Most commonly used words cloud

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Whether they’re offering up algebra help or providing constructive comments while reviewing an essay, Paper’s tutors aren’t just enhancing students’ understanding. In fact, they’re also serving as assistant coaches for teachers. Here’s how.

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