Academic Support

Academic Support

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At the Student Success Centre, we provide a number of academic services to help you build and improve on your skills.

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The library can help you manage information, including search strategies and resources.

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Every Faculty offers a different set of academic services. We recommend checking out your Faculty’s website!

SSC Academics

We’re here to support your success!

At the Student Success Centre (SSC), we provide a number of services to help you build and improve on your skills. 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!

Here’s what we offer:

Academic Skills Coach

Photo of students in a classroom

Coaching catered to your needs

Do you want to get a few quick resources for starting an essay or managing your time, but don’t want to book a full appointment to talk about it? Do you want to ask questions about some of the services that are available to you?

Come to the second floor of Mills Library and talk to an Academic Coach. Academic Coaches will be at the Info Desk in the Learning Commons from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday. You can drop-in and talk to them about your studies. Coaches might answer your question right away or they might help you book an appointment with one of our excellent services on-campus.

I definitely struggled with my transition to University. I began seeing an academic skills coach first semester and by the second semester, I was meeting my with my academic skills coach almost every week. After I started to visit academic coaches, I not only saw a huge increase in marks, but I felt more confident and less stressed.

McMaster University Student

Undergrad Writing Centre

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 and Academic Skills Tutor to speak about a writing assignment or your academic writing questions.

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

What You Need To Know

Services

Here are some of the ways our Writing and Academic Skills Tutors 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

The Undergrad Writing Centre is located in the Learning Commons (Mills Library, second floor), L213H, L213D, and L213E.

Appointments are available starting mid-September. Register for your appointment on OSCARplus, under “Appointments.”

Appointment Guidelines

Appointments are 50 minutes in length. You can make 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 Tutor 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.

Academic Workshops

Photo of McMaster students in a classroom.

Develop your academic skills

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.

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

English Language Support

Photo of a student in a lecture

Participate in the Speakeasy Program

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 also want fluent English speakers on-campus to learn from you and your experiences. Everyone is here to learn.

Our programs are designed to bring people together so that we can foster a global mindset on campus!

Speakeasy Mentorship

Get connected with another student on-campus. If you’re an English language learner, you can build your conversation skills, and if you’re a fluent English speaker, you can benefit from discovering a totally different point of view.

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.

Speakeasy Debate Club

Like the Conversation Circles, Debate Clubs are designed to give you plenty of opportunities to speak English. In these sessions, the focus is on learning vocabulary for academic purposes, and forming arguments in conversation.

Speakeasy Socials

We run fun events throughout the year! Email spkeasy@mcmaster.ca for details.

Speakeasy Appointments

Do you have a quick question about a word or phrase in English? Do you want to practice your conversation skills or learn common phrases for situations?

Make an appointment to talk to our Speakeasy Team!  Appointments start in November. Email spkeasy@mcmaster.ca for details.

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

Events

Late Night Study Sessions. Photo has a graphic of a moon and stars in a night sky.

Join us for a late night study sesh!

SSC Academics has late night study sessions at least twice per semester. At these sessions, we offer:

  • Quiet study spaces
  • Food
  • Support from Writing and Academic Skills Tutors

Students that have participated in our late night study sessions love having a new environment to work in, and they appreciate the change in pace.

Our next Late Night Study Session is November 15, 2018. Email skills@mcmaster.ca to find out more!

Writing Contest

Writing Contest. Linked.

Share your creative writing with us

In honour of National Novel-Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), we partnered with the Common Reading Program to launch our fifth annual writing contest. This year, we will be opening submissions to the McMaster community.

This year’s theme is integrity.

In cinema and TV, those who act with integrity are rewarded in a concrete and public way, so it’s not surprising that we sometimes link integrity with incentive. This faulty cause and effect relationship plays itself out when we hear things like, “what’s in it for me?” and “who’s gonna know?”

What is the reason why we cling to integrity? How does it operate in our everyday lives? Accepting creative submissions of up to 200 words.

How to Enter

  • The contest is open to students and the McMaster community
  • You must submit your entry by emailing it to skills@mcmaster.ca with the subject “Writing Contest”
  • Submissions must include your full name and email address
  • Academic advisors and writing assistants will evaluate entries on creativity, writing style, language, and mechanics
  • Submissions are due on or before Thursday, November 30

The winner of the contest will win a Kobo e-Reader and the runner-ups will win $100 gift cards. We will announce the results in December.

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.

atlas

By: Manveer Kalirai

MICAH: What is the greatest untruth you’ve ever known?

KARAM: There is a myth the Greeks had come up with, you know

MICAH: There was a myth for everything, Karam.

KARAM: [The corners of her mouth curved upwards.] True. It’s how they answered the why’s and what’s, the who’s and how’s. It’s part of how they understood. But, Micah, there’s this one myth in particular…

KARAM: The titan Atlas taught us about the worlds above, while he held up ours. He was sentenced to hold up the earth and the sky for warring against Olympus. That never sat well with me, to be honest.

MICAH: You don’t think he deserved it?

KARAM: Holding up the weight of the world shouldn’t be a punishment, Micah. It’s a responsibility. Not a question of whether he deserved it or not. I think Atlas was just staying true to himself.

MICAH: Yeah?

KARAM: Yeah. I think the king of the stars would’ve shouldered the weight, regardless of the circumstances—simply because he valued this precious world of ours, because he valued it enough to bear its weight upon his shoulders. Not because he had to, Atlas was just doing the best he knew how.

Untitled

By: Andy Hameed

A forest sits in barren land

It grows across the wilted sand.

It shrinks from all the sunken fields

corrupted by the curious hand

The forest and the skies

the clouded skies and the urban land.

A pianist sits in an empty vault

he strikes the keys and seldom faults

Mellow and melodious, soft as air

Impoverished to a sudden halt

The Pianist and the tune

The broken tune and the band

The air and its subtle hand

intoxicating when its grand

intimidating, seeming large

but little compared to a running land

But the forest will grow despite the corruption

The pianist will compose despite the pause

Integrity blooms in any field

and from hatred, strength it draws.

 

Untitled

By: Jacob Krone

Draw a perfect circle in the sand and destroy it. Make a mess of your creation. But do not think of your action as symbolic. It was neither poetic or productive.

Draw another circle. Leave it; never return. Somebody else found it, and disfigured your ugly shape.

I hope you drew another circle. Protect this one; keep it from harm.

Has the circle become a burden? It offers nothing; it only wastes your time. Nobody is out to get your circle. They think you’re mad.

Now, destroy it if you must, but do it with a heavy heart and wide eyes. Realize the significance of this action.

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.

SSC Academics: Online

Have questions about University?

Do you have questions about starting university? SSC Academics: Online will help prepare you for school by answering your questions and introducing you to the skills you will need to be successful. Join us from home as we discuss university academics through videos, short articles, and personal reflections.

This program is offered in July and August; the content is available all year.

Library Resources

Effective information management is an important skill, and the Library can help you master this! Check out these programs:

  • The Research Team: Librarians can help you with the following:
  • Honing your research question
  • Using search strategies and selecting databases
  • Choosing the best resources for your topic

Check out McMaster’s Library website!

Faculty Resources

Each Faculty offers a different set of services. Some departments have organized mentorship programs and workshops to address academic skills. Also, professors and TAs are a great resource when navigating course content, doing research, and improving your skills.

Get help with course material

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

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.

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.

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.

Plan your academic path with an academic advisor

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.

Always seek input from your Faculty’s Academic Advisors when selecting courses or considering program changes. Make an appointment whenever you need advice about managing your academic career!

GPA Conversion

Want to better understand your GPA? Check out the chart below. You can also ask your Faculty’s Academic Advisors for additional information about McMaster’s 12-point scale.

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