Skills Development

When it comes to developing your academic skills, you may not know where to start. You may also need help identifying which skills you need to work on. Our skills development workshops, services and resources can help you work toward academic success.

Invest in your academic skills

By taking the time to invest in yourself and your academic skills, you’ll improve your confidence and grow to become a better learner. Our workshops and services can help you improve the skills you need to succeed at university.

If you need help with skills development, our academic skills team offers workshops to help you improve specific skills, including:

  • University Essays 101
  • Improved Presentations
  • Strategies for Essay Revision
  • Effective Group Work
  • Time Management and Beating Procrastination
  • How to Write a Lab Report
  • Study Smarter, Not Harder
  • Mastering the Multiple-Choice Test
  • Mastering Short-Answer Questions

Find workshop dates and register on OSCARplus > Student Success Centre > Events.

Are you on track to succeed at university? Take the Learning Skills Inventory to find out.

Your skills are essential to your personal, professional and academic growth throughout university and beyond. Use this tool to find out if you’re on track to succeed at university based on your skills and habits.

The Learning Skills Inventory is based on key academic skills assessments used at post-secondary institutions across the country. The SSC academic skills team refers to these skills in their one-on-one coaching with students and skills development programming.

Attend a virtual study session to learn and practice active studying strategies, either individually or with a small group. We offer both general and course-specific sessions during the fall and winter semesters. To view upcoming sessions and register, go to OSCARplus > Student Success Centre > Events.

Even if you’re an A+ student, you can benefit from learning new tips, tricks and strategies for writing, reading, communicating and managing your time! Check out the Academic Skills Animated Series get started and learn how our team can help.


If you’re an undergraduate or graduate student seeking English language support, the McMaster Office for the Development of English Language Learners (MODEL) is a free service that can help you develop skills.

English-language training and workshops

Get English-language support from experts who are certified in English as a second language (ESL) and English for academic purposes (EAP). MODEL offers workshops on the following subjects:

  • Writing, speech, reading and listening
  • Interacting with students, instructors and teaching assistants (TAs)
  • Understanding assignments, studying and taking tests
  • Adjusting to Canadian culture and dealing with culture/language-induced stress and anxiety

One-on-one advising

Check in with a student advisor who has ESL and counselling training to discuss your personal, social and academic concerns.

Language assessments

Take a language assessment to learn how you can improve, figure out what type of support would benefit you and create a customized action plan.

Get adjusted to university academics

Getting adjusted to the university learning environment can take some time, as class participation, studying, assignments and the feedback process may be different than what you’re used to. This may be especially true if you’re coming from high school. However, we can help you build your academic skills so that your transition is as smooth as possible.

Our online academic program for first-year students takes place in July. Participate in mock lectures, chat with upper-year students, attend webinars and more.

Develop your writing skills this summer and get familiar with one of McMaster’s online learning platforms, Avenue to Learn, before classes begin.

For online courses, we can help you adopt new strategies and develop your academic skills so you can succeed in an online learning environment.

Skills development support

You may want to improve your academic performance, but you may feel unsure which skills you should work on to achieve this goal. These resources and services can help you get started and point you in the right direction to meet your skills development goals.

If you’re seeking personalized support, book a one-on-one appointment with our academic skills experts. We can help you identify which skills you need to develop to succeed in university. Then, we can help you create an action plan by connecting you with strategies, services and resources to support your skills development.

Academic coaching

Academic coaching appointments are 30 minutes long, and you can book as many appointments as you need in a semester. At this time, all appointments will take place online using Zoom. After you register on OSCARplus, you will receive a link to connect with your session.

Writing advising

Writing advising appointments are 50 minutes long, and you can book up to 10 appointments each term. At this time, all appointments will take place online using Zoom. After you register on OSCARplus, you will receive a link to connect with your session.

If you want to improve your research, information management skills or media skills, the library can help. Some valuable library resources that can help you with skills development include:

  • Research consultations: Meet with an information expert who can help you with research questions, keyword selection, search strategies, databases, citations and more.
  • Media help services: Learn how to use media creation tools, specifically software (i.e. audio, video or photo editing programs) and technology (i.e. cameras). These services are offered through Lyons New Media Centre.

If you need help developing program-specific skills, meet with an academic advisor from your Faculty to discuss program requirements and get advice on skills development. Academic advisors can also support you if you need to add or drop a course.

We partnered with Lyons New Media Centre to create a Digital Skills Series for students and recent grads. This series introduces some multimedia basics and how these can be used in both professional and academic settings.

Episodes include:

  • How to take LinkedIn headshots with your smartphone
  • 45 second photo editing challenge
  • Transform your resume with Word
  • Logo design with Adobe Illustrator
  • How to take better video with a mobile phone
  • Video pre-production tips