The number of students who use tutors has almost doubled since 1996, a survey has found, with 15 per cent paying more than HK$1,500 a month for the services. The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups last month interviewed 521 students from Primary Five to Form Seven, and 56.7 per cent said they had taken tutorial classes in the past six months. In a similar poll carried out 13 years ago, of the 507 students questioned 34 per cent had joined programmes at tutorial schools. Of the students in the recent survey who took extra classes, just under 70 per cent said they took English lessons. The next most popular subject was maths, at 47.6 per cent. More than 60 per cent of students who took tutorial lessons said they attended classes at private schools, while 34 per cent said they hired private tutors. The students on average spent 3.06 hours a day on extra study. Twenty per cent of the respondents spent between HK$1,000 and HK$1,500 on tutorial classes every month, while 14.4 per cent said their monthly expense on the lessons exceeded HK$1,500. In the 1996 study, those figures were 10.9 per cent and 8.2 per cent, respectively. More than 40 per cent cited fees as their top criteria when picking tutorial schools, while 36.2 per cent said the quality of teaching staff was the most important consideration. The federation said the situation in Hong Kong was similar to that of Japan, where a quarter of primary school pupils and 53.5 of senior secondary school students attend tutorial classes, according to a report published last year by the Japanese education authorities. Group supervisor Hsu Siu-man said the demand for private tuition was growing rapidly in the city, especially classes for secondary schoolchildren who had to sit public exams. 'With the implementation of '3+3+4', changes in syllabus for some subjects and public examination, the demand for such services will continue to grow in the coming years.'