Writing Support

Whether you’re an Engineering major, a Nursing student, an English major or a PhD candidate, writing skills are essential to your academic success. The Writing Centre can help you take your writing skills to the next level so you can communicate your ideas with confidence.

Improve your writing

Taking the time to work on your writing will help you improve not only your grades but also your everyday communication skills. At The Writing Centre, our certified writing advisors are ready to address all your concerns.

Improve your grades and academic skills through our one-on-one writing advising services. Our certified writing advisors are trained graduate and upper-year undergraduate students who can help you gain confidence in your writing and identify areas where you can improve.

Whether you need help organizing your thoughts into an outline or polishing your completed draft, check in with the Writing Centre to get help at any stage of the writing process.

The training we offer our writing advisors has been recognized and certified by the College Reading and Learning Association (CLRA).

Why visit the Writing Centre?

  • You want to be mentored by upper-year and graduate students who are at the top of their class.
  • You struggle to get started with writing assignments and often feel stressed while writing.
  • You keep getting the same feedback on your assignments, but you’re not sure what the criticism means or how to improve.
  • You want to chat with someone about specific writing questions and techniques.

Our writing advisors can help you:

  • Build skills and learn strategies to help you write more efficiently and with more confidence.
  • Understand how to communicate your ideas effectively.
  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses so that you know what habits you should keep and what you need to work on.
  • Learn how to correct common errors.
  • Work on assignments at any stage in the writing process.

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, we’ll contact you to set up your appointment and share any additional details.

Appointments are available each term. However, The Writing Centre closes during reading weeks and the winter break.

  • Fall semester: Registration opens in the second week of classes.
  • Winter semester: Registration opens in the third week of January.
  • Summer semester: Registration opens in the first week of May.

What to bring to your appointment:

  • A copy of your work (i.e. an essay draft or assignment outline)
  • Your syllabus and assignment instructions, including a grading rubric if available
  • Specific goals for what skills you want to develop
  • Ideas and questions about your writing

Have questions or require accommodations?

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

Attend workshops for a chance to win a $200 Campus Store gift card

For each Academic Skills Wednesday Workshop you attend virtually in Winter 2021, your name will be entered into a draw to win a $200 gift card. Note: You must attend the entire workshop to get an entry.

The Writing Centre FAQ

What happens during an appointment with a writing advisor?

By meeting with a writing advisor, you get to chat about your assignments and writing goals so that your advisor can give you personalized support.

So you know what to expect, here’s a general appointment structure:

  • You and your writing advisor will review your assignment description and set a basic agenda for the session. To make the most of your appointment, it helps to set one or two goals or outcomes.
  • Your writing advisor might ask you questions to help organize your thoughts and identify which skills you want to develop. Then, you might work on some small activities so you can learn new concepts you can apply to your work.
  • You and your writing advisor will review everything you’ve learned. Additionally, if you need more guidance on an assignment, your writing advisor can help you think of some questions for your instructor.

How many appointments can I book with the Writing Centre?

You can book up to 10 appointments each semester.
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Do I need to meet with a writing advisor from the same Faculty?

Our writing advisors are trained to address your writing concerns and help you develop skills that will apply in any Faculty. Once you’ve worked on your skills, you will be able to communicate all your ideas effectively, regardless of the subject.
If you need help with specific course content or concepts, you have access to affordable tutoring through the Undergrad Peer Tutoring Network.
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I’m already pretty confident in my writing. Can the Writing Centre still help me?

Of course! Writing isn’t a skill you can master completely. Even the most skilled writers benefit from taking the time to think about their writing habits and learn new strategies. Meet with a writing advisor to identify areas where you can improve.

Enter the Academic Skills Writing Contest

Are you ready to put your creative writing skills to the test? We offer a writing contest every winter term, with a new theme and writing prompt each year. Show us your expressive side in 2–200 words and you could win!

The Writing Contest theme for 2021 is “comfort”

The writing contest is open to all McMaster undergraduate students. The submission period opens in January and closes in February.

Preparing your submission:

  • Your creative writing piece should address the theme and integrate your unique perspective in 2–200 words.
  • When you’re ready to submit your entry, email skills@mcmaster.ca with your submission attached and include “Writing Contest” and the year in the subject line. Remember to include your full name.

After you submit:

  • We will evaluate your submission for creativity, writing style, language and mechanics.
  • We’ll announce the winners in February, a few weeks after the submission period ends.

Do you need help building study and time management skills? Check out academic coaching.

Learn more