Most of the tutees I work with are studying for their A-level exams. And most of those are failing to match their expectations. And most of those do not know why. The answer is almost always in their writing. The biggest issue is the perceived connection between complexity and success: the more complex the sentence, the more sophisticated it appears, and the more intelligent the tutee. Indeed, their writing grows ever more complicated even as their grades fall, yet the tutee rarely sees the correlation. My first task when brought in as a ‘firefighter’ is to analyse a tutee’s writing. My second is to simplify. Tutees look on with something approaching horror when my red pen massacres their adverbs and adjectives, and I often feel their eyebrows sink when I bludgeon their colons, semi-colons, and commas. The purpose of all this red ink though is to retune the tutee’s mind to the importance of simple, effective communication. I bring them back to the basic structure of subject, verb, object, from which everything else flows. Once they understand that, once the clutter is gone, my tutees can get on with demonstrating their knowledge and improving their grades. Simples!