Academic Support

From writing support and tutoring services to workshops and educational planning, we act as your central hub for academic support. We offer opportunities for you to meet individually with trained students and staff, to participate in workshops and gain access to tools for self-guided learning. For more information, please contact us at skills@mcmaster.ca.

Here are some of the services we have that can help you improve your academic skills and confidence

Academic and Life Skills Development

Writing Support Services

Education Planning

English Language Support

Individual Coaching and Advising

Tutoring Services

Online Resources

Workshops and Group Seminars

Thanks again for all you are doing to help our students! I have heard many positive comments about your workshops and some of our students are already applying some of what they have learned. That's the mark of success!

McMaster University Faculty Member

Academic Skills Coach

Get services specifically catered to your needs by scheduling an academic skills coach. Popular appointment topics include lecture note-taking, time management, procrastination, organization, and research and study strategies. Visit us at the McMaster Mills Library, room 213D/E, in the second floor Learning Commons to learn more.

Our academic skills coaches can help you:

Gain tools to find balance, organization, and efficiency

Identify barriers and ways of overcoming them

Uncover learning goals and strategies for success

One-on-One

We offer Academic Skills and Writing Assistance Clinics at the Student Success Centre. Our Academic Skills Office is located in Mills Library, room 213E, on the second floor of the Learning Commons. For quick questions or referrals, drop in on Wednesdays between 1:00-4:00 p.m. or make an appointment in advance on OSCARplus.

Academic Advisors

Get the 101 on your program’s requirements, courses, and other course needs by speaking with an academic advisor from your Faculty. You can find more information on the Office of the Registrar’s website.

Campus Resources

Are you concerned about your first-year course demands? Don’t worry. McMaster has free and discounted academic services dedicated to your success.

The Department of Economics provides free support for students enrolled in first- and second-year economics courses. The clinic is located in KTH 306A and is run by graduate students. More information is available here.

Are you enrolled in a Level I or Level II chemistry course? Free tutoring is offered daily from the Chemistry Help Centre on a drop-in basis. The Chemistry Help Centre is located in ABB 142. More information can be found here.

Receive free drop-in math tutoring from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Tutors are located in Hamilton Hall, room 104. More information, including the tutoring schedule, can be found on here.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy provides free tutoring for students in first-year physics courses. This drop-in service is located in the basement of Thode Library. More information is available here.

The McMaster Peer Tutoring Network provides connections between students and peer tutors who have successfully completed the course. By subsidizing part of the tutoring fee and creating a central tutor database, the program makes it easier for students to improve their grades and get help with difficult concepts.

Visit our Peer Tutoring Network page for more information.

Academic Skills Workshops

Increase your confidence in your academic skills by taking part in one of our Academic Skills workshops. Through our workshops, we tackle note-taking, the writing process, study strategies, time management, and more so that you leave feeling more secure about the skills you need to succeed at university.

Improve your skills by registering to participate on OSCARplus.

Check back regularly for additional sessions and topics.

As a first year, it’s pretty hard to figure out the requirements and expectations of professors and TA's in terms of writing since high school often does not prepare students well enough to suit university expectations. In these times, writing assistants helped me understand how to write simply and clearly without fancying it up and still prepare a well-written academic paper.

McMaster University Student

Writing Assistance

Whether it’s a fully drafted assignment, essay outline, or even scrap pieces of notes that don’t fully make sense just yet, we offer writing assistance that can help you achieve your writing goals. Meet with one of our trained upper-year or graduate writing assistants to speak about a writing assignment or your academic writing questions.

What You Need To Know

Writing assistants cannot proofread, edit, or write your work for you.
They can, however, identify areas of improvement and teach you to correct your own work.

Services

Here are some of the ways our Writing Assistants can meet your needs:

Brainstorming
Topic and thesis development
Constructing a strong argument
Essay organization and structure
Revising your first draft
Referencing and formatting
Clarity, word choice and sentence structure
Polishing your final draft

Appointment Guidelines

Appointments are 45 minutes in length. You can make up to two appointments per week and up to ten appointments each semester.

What to Bring

A printed copy of your work
Your syllabus and instructions for the assignment, including a grading rubric if available
Specific goals for what you want to accomplish in your appointment
Ideas and questions about your writing

General Tips

  • Read and try to edit your own work before your appointment. We can give the most helpful feedback when you bring your best work.
  • Think about comments and feedback you have received in the past.
  • Be prepared to ask questions, participate, and take an active role in your appointment.
  • Manage your time: It is most helpful to see a Writing Assistant at least one week before your assignment is due.
  • If your essay is due within one or two days, focus on specific areas to improve, not a general overview.
  • Know where you are in the writing process. First draft? Final draft? Still brainstorming?
  • If you have questions or concerns about the content, speak to your TA or instructor; content and accuracy are the student’s responsibility.

Writing Contest

In honour of National Novel-Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), we are partnering with the Common Reading Program to launch our fourth annual writing contest! Compete to win a Kobo e-Reader and $100 gift cards to the Campus Store.

This year’s theme is “belonging.”

What does belonging mean to you? Tell us about your experience with belonging, where you belong, or where you don’t. Any form of writing will be accepted, including poetry and prose. Our maximum word count is 200 words.

The Caterpillar and the Sea

By: Ben Kingston

A caterpillar with no tree,
The sea without the land,
Without these footholds, no where to stand

Everyone’s been there,
We all know too well,
The feeling of despair in which we can dwell

In times that we’re alone,
We tend to box ourselves in,
With no one in our corner to push for our win

A temple of sadness,
A castle built from sorrow,
The night feels long, like there will be no tomorrow

But that temple will crumble,
The castle can be scaled,
Even at the lowest, when you believe that you’ve failed

Because we all have a purpose,
A reason to exist,
Yet sometimes our mind makes it easy to miss

But never cut yourself short,
Remember who you are,
The caterpillar, the sea, we all have our north star

Yet still the caterpillar needs to climb,
The land travels far before it meets the sea,
With practice and a purpose, a sense of belonging will set you free

Belonging

By: Jess Williams

Is being so far north you’re south; is whispers saying only good things; is a multitude of “bless you’s” when you sneeze; is just the right amount of mayonnaise on your sandwich; is not using google maps to get you somewhere; is the same awkward smile you’ve given the same cashier for a decade; is knowing the type of coin by touch alone; is a feeling you miss even when you think you’re at home; is being the designated family tea maker; is picking the movie; is not being told it’s “ba-th” not “bar-th”; is not repeating yourself to be heard; is not noticing yourself in the mirror; is being hugged when you’re sad without asking; is hugging someone without having to ask; is unwillingly having the same advent calendar every year; is knowing when to cross the road before the lights; is holding someone’s hand and forgetting that it’s there; is when people deliberately use the version of your name you hate; is snorting when you laugh; is crying when you feel like it; is never questioning; is always questioning; is sitting in silence and knowing it’s comfortable and that you can just stop speaking.

Belonging

By: Lauren Beals

Belonging’s a battle,
Of each generation,
When race, religion and borders collide.
It’s why we repeatedly,
Laud liberation,
Against rules that govern and laws that divide.

Or is it a feeling entrenched in ambition?
Sacred security,
Longed for at last?
Perhaps it’s a plight of our human condition,
To crave our companions,
To seek the steadfast?

Answers so grand,
Confuse and confound us.
Inclusion’s elusive and never retained!
But real definitions lay resting around us,
It’s quaint and conclusive when friendship’s attained.

The inside joke,
Without explanation,
A folly so freeing you laugh without care.
It’s sitting at a lunch table,
No hesitation,
Sighting seats with friends already seated there.

Simplicity incites our outright emotion,
A nod in the hallway,
In passing, by chance.
A righteous regard of your ally’s devotion,
Commitment, alignment,
With only their glance.

So easily abundant,
These gestures define us.
In moments too lonesome, when our joy bereave,
Inclusion so simple,
So pure, can remind us,
Belonging is our sorrow’s greatest reprieve.

How to Enter

  • The contest is open to all McMaster University undergraduates
  • You must submit your entry by either bringing it to the Student Success Centre (Gilmour Hall 110) or emailing it to skills@mcmaster.ca
  • Submissions must include your full name, student number, and McMaster email address
  • Student Success Centre writing assistants will evaluate entries on creativity, writing style, language, and mechanics
  • Submissions are due on or before Wednesday, November 30

The winner of the contest will win a Kobo e-Reader and the runner-ups will win $100 Campus Store gift cards. We will announce the results on Wednesday, December 14!

Rules and Guidelines

By participating in the Contest, you must ensure that the work:

  • is original and that you have all necessary rights in and to the entry submission used to enter the Contest;
  • does not violate any law, statute, ordinance or regulation;
  • does not contain any reference to any identifiable third parties, unless consent has been obtained from all such individuals and your parent/legal guardian if you are under the age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence;
  • will not give rise to any claims of infringement, invasion of privacy or publicity, or infringe on any rights and/or interests of any third party, or give rise to any claims for payment; and
  • is not defamatory or trade libellous, and will not contain, depict, include, discuss or involve without limitation, any of the following:
    • explicit, graphic or excessive sexual activity;
    • crude, vulgar or offensive language and/or symbols;
    • derogatory characterizations of any ethnic, racial, sexual or religious groups;
    • content that endorses, condones or discusses any illegal, inappropriate or risky activity, behaviour or conduct;
    • personal information of individuals, including, without limitation, names and addresses;
    • commercial messages, comparisons or solicitations for products or services of third parties;
    • any identifiable third party products and/or trade-marks or brands;
    • any other content that is or could be considered inappropriate, unsuitable or offensive, all as determined by the Sponsor and/or the Contest Parties in their sole discretion.

Legal Stuff

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY: Contest open to residents of Canada (excluding the province of Quebec) who are over the age of majority and are full-time students enrolled in an undergraduate program at McMaster University. Contest opens on November 1 at 12:01 a.m. EST and closes on November 30 at 11:59 p.m. EST. To enter, visit the Student Success Centre and follow instructions to complete the submission. Limit one entry per person. There are three (3) prizes available to be won by determination of judges based on applicable criteria. Prizes consist of a Kobo eReader (approximate retail value of $129.99 CAD) and two (2) $100 gift cards to The Campus Store at McMaster University. The contest is no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook or Twitter. See for full rules.

Full Rules

This writing contest (the “Contest”) is conducted by McMaster University (the “Sponsor”) and is intended for current McMaster University undergraduate students who are residents of Canada (excluding the province of Quebec) and will be interpreted according to Canadian law. By participating in the Contest, each entrant agrees to be bound by these Official Rules and by the interpretation of these Rules by the Sponsor. Entrants acknowledge that the Contest is in no way sponsored or administered by, or associated with Facebook or Twitter. Facebook and Twitter are completely released by each entrant of all liability arising out of or related to the Contest. Any questions, comments or complaints regarding the Contest must be directed to the Sponsor and not Facebook or Twitter

ELIGIBILITY: The Contest is open to residents of Canada (excluding the province of Quebec) who are over the age of majority in their province or territory and are full-time students enrolled in an undergraduate program at McMaster University at the time of entry, except employees (and persons with whom they are domiciled) of the Sponsor, its affiliated institutions and service providers.

HOW TO ENTER: The Contest opens on November 1 at 12:01am EST and closes on November 30 at 11:59pm EST (“Contest Period”). To enter, during the Contest Period, entries must be submitted to the Student Success Centre in Gilmour Hall 110 or by email at skills@mcmaster.ca. There is a limit of one entry per person.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: By participating in the Contest, each entrant warrants and represents that his or her submission:

  • is original to him or her and that the entrant has all necessary rights in and to the entry submission used to enter the Contest;
  • does not violate any law, statute, ordinance or regulation;
  • does not contain any reference to any identifiable third parties, unless consent has been obtained from all such individuals and their parent/legal guardian if they are under the age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence;
  • will not give rise to any claims of infringement, invasion of privacy or publicity, or infringe on any rights and/or interests of any third party, or give rise to any claims for payment; and
  • is not defamatory or trade libellous, and will not contain, depict, include, discuss or involve without limitation, any of the following:
  • explicit, graphic or excessive sexual activity;
  • crude, vulgar or offensive language and/or symbols;
  • derogatory characterizations of any ethnic, racial, sexual or religious groups;
  • content that endorses, condones or discusses any illegal, inappropriate or risky activity, behaviour or conduct;
  • personal information of individuals, including, without limitation, names and addresses;
  • commercial messages, comparisons or solicitations for products or services of third parties;
  • any identifiable third party products and/or trade-marks or brands;
  • any other content that is or could be considered inappropriate, unsuitable or offensive, all as determined by the Sponsor and/or the Contest Parties in their sole discretion.

Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to edit or modify any entry submission, or to request an entrant to modify or edit his or her entry submission, in order to ensure that the entry submission complies with these Official Rules, or for any other reason.

GRAND PRIZE SELECTION: The prize(s) (“Prize(s)”) will be awarded by a panel of judges consisting of Student Success Centre writing assistants as well as staff members. The jury will award the Prize(s) based on creativity, writing style, language, grammar and content. The relative weight for the criteria to be used for judging will be as follows: 25% creativity/originality, 25% writing/mechanics (grammar, structure, readability), 25% text structure (rhythm, sequence, flow), 25% descriptive language (writer’s voice and description). A copy of the scoring rubric can be obtained by emailing skills@mcmaster.ca. The Prize winner(s) will be determined by Wednesday, December 14.

PRIZES: There are three (3) Prizes available to be won, consisting of a Kobo eReader (approximate retail value of $129.99 CAD) and two (2) $100 gift cards to The Campus Store. Prizes must be accepted as awarded and are not transferable. Sponsor reserves the right to substitute a Prize or Prize component for one of equal or greater value.

PRIZE AWARD: Potential winners will be notified by email. Winners or their parents or legal guardians, for winners under the age of majority may be required to sign and return a declaration of eligibility and a liability/publicity release within ten business days of notification. If a selected entrant cannot be contacted, or fails to return the contest documents within the specified time if required, he or she will forfeit his or her Prize, and an alternate winner will be selected.

GENERAL: The Contest is subject to all applicable federal, provincial and municipal laws and regulations. By entering the Contest, participants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and by the decisions of the Sponsor, which shall be final on all matters relating to the Contest. All entries become the property of the Sponsor and none will be returned. The personal information provided by entrants will only be used for the purpose of administration of the Contest, unless the entrant otherwise agrees in accordance with Sponsor’s privacy policy available at http://www.mcmaster.ca/legal.cfm

The Sponsor is not responsible for lost, stolen, delayed, damaged, incomplete or misdirected entries, or for typographical or other errors in the offer or administration of this Contest, including but not limited to errors in promotional materials and these Official Rules.  No more than the stated number of Prizes will be awarded.  All entries are subject to verification.  No correspondence will be entered into except with potential winners.

The Sponsor is not responsible for any problems or technical malfunctions of any telephone network or lines, computer online systems or servers, computer software problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, and assumes no liability for damage to entrant’s or any person’s computer resulting from participating in the Contest. In the event of a dispute as to the identity of a winner based on an e-mail address, the winning entry will be deemed to have been made by the authorized account holder of the e-mail address at time of entry. “Authorized account holder” is the natural person who is assigned an e-mail address by an Internet service provider or other organization responsible for assigning e-mail addresses for the domain associated with the e-mail address in question.

If this Contest is not capable of being completed as planned because of any cause beyond the control of the Sponsor, Sponsor reserves the right to cancel, suspend or modify the Contest.

Speakeasy Program

English Language Support

We know that joining a new community is sometimes hard when you are speaking in a second or third language. We want to help. We offer many services to help our English-as-an-Additional-Language (EAL) speakers to improve their verbal and written English.

Speakeasy Mentorship

We partner our Speakeasy Program participants with a peer language facilitator who can help you improve your conversation skills and level of expression. Common Speakeasy activities include reading the newspaper, magazines, academic articles, and short stories. Your peer language facilitator will help you with pronunciation, idioms, slang, grammar, and vocabulary. The program runs from mid-September to late-March. Register on OSCARplus > Events > Special Events.

  • Meet for one hour each week
  • Bring material you want to discuss
  • Make friends and learn about new cultures
  • Attend social events

Speakeasy Conversation Circles

Would you prefer to practice your English in a group setting? Our Student Success Leaders (SSLs) will run conversation clubs for English language learners. These groups can range in size from 6-20 students.  Participants can show up without registering. Email us at spkeasy@mcmaster.ca for details.

Speakeasy Socials

Both volunteers and participants are welcome to meet up and have fun at events throughout the year. Registration is not necessary.

  • Pumpkin Carving (Oct 29, 12-3 pm, Mills Library L304)
  • Games Night (Nov 23, 4:30-6:30, Mills Library L304)
  • Date with Speakeasy/Dinner and Movie (Feb 15, 4:30-6:30, Mills Library L304)
  • Year-End Celebration (Mar 30, 4:30-6:30, Mills Library L304)

Speakeasy Workshops

The large classroom setting can sometimes feel overwhelming when you are adapting to the English language and learning about Canadian culture. If you ever feel this way, you’re not alone. Increase your confidence in the classroom and ask questions about how to succeed at university in Canada by registering to attend one or all of our workshops. Register on OSCARplus > Events.

Speakeasy Writing Series

Practice your grammar and writing skills in a writing workshop series. There are two parts:

  • Speakeasy Writing Series: Part 1 (Sentence Variety): clauses (independent & dependent), prepositional phrases, and noun phrases.
  • Speakeasy Writing Series: Part 2 (Paragraphs and Papers): paragraph structure, essay structure, thesis statements, and the writing process.

Register on OSCARplus.

Do you have more questions about Speakeasy?

Please direct all inquiries to spkeasy@mcmaster.ca or to Mary McCaffery (Academic Skills Advisor) at mccafm1@mcmaster.ca.

My first weeks in Canada were a little tough, since everything was new and I was far away from my family and friends. The Speakeasy Program was really helpful!

McMaster University Student

Become a Peer Language Facilitator!

The Peer Language Facilitator Program joins English fluent students (volunteers) and English language learners (participants) in one-on-one partnerships. Each pair meets to discuss English language challenges and to share personal interests. Our Speakeasy volunteers are a vital asset in providing support to EAL students on campus and in making McMaster a global community. For this reason, we ensure our volunteers undergo an intensive training process.

We want to recognize your volunteer contributions. Upon attending all six Speakeasy training seminars, you will receive a Certificate of Completion that acknowledges the leadership competencies you developed.

Register to become a volunteer on OSCARplus > Events > Special Events.

GPA Conversion

This chart is based on information provided through OMSAS and is intended to be used as a guide only. Contact the institutions you are interested in for an exact determination.

GPA Conversion Chart

Type

Numeric

Percentage

Alpha

12-Point

Scale

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

4.00

9

8

90-100

93-100

94-100

94-100

A+

A

A+

12

3.90

 

 

85-89

84-92

85-93

85-93

A

 

 

11

3.80

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A

 

3.70

8

7

80-84

75-83

80-84

80-84

A-

A-

 

10

3.30

7

6

77-79

72-74

75-79

75-79

B+

B+

B+

9

3.00

 

 

73-76

69-71

70-74

70-74

B

B

B

8

2.70

6

5

70-72

66-68

65-69

65-69

B-

B-

 

7

2.30

5

4

67-69

64-65

60-64

60-64

C+

C+

C+

6

2.00

 

 

63-66

62-63

55-59

55-59

C

C

C

5

1.70

4

3

60-62

60-61

50-54

 

C-

C-

 

4

1.30

 

2

57-59

56-59

 

 

D+

D+

D+

3

1.00

 

 

53-55

53-55

 

50-54

D

D

D

2

0.70

 

 

50-52

50-52

 

 

D-

D-

 

1

0.00

3

1

Less than 50

Less than 50

Less than 50

Less than 50

E/F

E/F

E/F

0

Legend

Acadia – 7 Lakehead – 3 Mt. St. Vincent – 7 Royal Roads – 7 Trinity Western – 7
Alberta – 7 Laurentian – 3 New Brunswick – 7 Ryerson – 7 UBC – 7
Athabasca – 7 Laval – 7 Nipissing – 3 Saskatchewan – 3 UOIT – 7
Bishop’s – 3 Lethbridge – 7 Northern BC – 7 Sherbrooke – 7 Victoria – 7
Brandon – 7 Manitoba – 9 Ottawa – 7 Simon Fraser – 7 Waterloo – 3,7
Brock – 3 McGill – 8 PEI – 3 St. Francis Xavier – 3 Western – 3
Calgary – 7 McMaster – 10 Quebec – 7 St. Mary’s – 7 Laurier – 7
Carleton – 7 Memorial – 6 Queen’s – 3 St. Thomas – 7 Windsor – 7
Concordia – 7 Moncton – 7 Queen’s Engineering – 4 Ste-Anne – 7 Winnipeg – 7
Dalhousie – 3,7 Montreal – 7 Regina – 3 Toronto – 3,7 York – 9
Guelph – 3 Mt. Allison – 7 RMC/CMR – 4,7 Trent – 3