Undergrad Writing Centre

Undergraduate Writing Centre

Photo of students in a lecture

Shine new light on your writing.

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 Tutors to speak about a writing assignment or your academic writing questions.

Reasons to visit the Undergrad Writing Centre:

  • You are great at writing, but 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 feel stressed-out while working on them.
  • You are always getting the same feedback from TAs and instructors, but don’t know what their input means.
  • You want someone to talk to about the stuff you’re working on.

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 We Do

Services

Here are some of the things our Writing Tutors do:

  • Teach skills and strategies so that you can become a stronger writer for both present and future assignments.
  • Help you recognize how your ideas are communicating in your writing, and pinpoint areas where you can be clearer and more direct.
  • Build your awareness of your strengths and weakness so that you know what habits you should keep and what you need to work on.
  • Identify the grammatical errors that you often make and help you build the skills needed to correct those errors yourself.

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.

Before school started, I was so worried about how I was going to succeed in university. All you hear about is the ‘ten percent’ grade drop, and how you are on your own in university… That is exactly what I thought, until I was told about the Student Success Centre. At first, I was hesitant to go, but I gained many skills that helped me succeed in my first semester at McMaster.

McMaster University Student

Book an Appointment

About

The Undergrad Writing Centre is located in the Learning Commons (Mills Library, second floor), L213H, L213D, and L213E. Appointments can be booked on OSCARplus, under “Appointments” on the left menu.

For the Fall term, appointment availability begins the third week of September. Students can schedule their appointments starting the second week of classes.

For the Winter term, appointments will be available for booking by the third week of January. Appointments begin the same week.

Please note that there are no appointments during both reading weeks and during the Winter break.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

You can expect a conversation about your work throughout your session, so come prepared to talk! Here are some general practices we follow with our sessions:

  1. You and your Tutor will review the assignment description and set a basic agenda for the session. We recommend some prep in advance of your session! You might be worried about the flow between your paragraphs or there might be a particularly awkward section in the writing that you want to rephrase. On the other hand, you might be at the beginning of your project and need help with brainstorming. It might seem limiting to set a goal for your session, but most students discover that this helps them make the most of their time with the Tutor.
  1. Your Tutor might progress through the agenda by asking you questions designed to help you restate your ideas, giving you small tasks to do so that you can reorganize your thoughts, or teaching you new rules or concepts that you can apply to your work. You also might read your assignment aloud to work out any problems.
  1. Your Tutor will sum-up what you discussed in your session. You might also write down any questions you have for your TA or professor at this time so that you’re prepared when you visit their office hours.

You can book up to 10 sessions per semester!

You can cancel appointments in OSCARplus. If you have difficulty using OSCARplus, email skills@mcmaster.ca.

Please try to cancel appointments as far in advance as possible so that another person can take advantage of that time.

No shows can cause problems for our services because appointments are then blocked for other students who need them. If you fail to show up for an appointment three times, you will be unable to book more appointments at the Undergrad Writing Centre for the remainder of the semester.

Generally, seeking a writing tutor from your Faculty isn’t necessary.  This service is designed to help you build your skills in writing. We cannot support you in the disciplinary content. Examples of disciplinary content include interpreting statistics, performing analyses of Old English manuscripts, communicating the purpose of spectroscopy, and so on.

You might be worried that your Tutor will not be able to understand the content of your writing, but don’t worry! Even if we’re unfamiliar with the content you are discussing, we will be able to identify if your sentences are concise, your ideas are organized, and your information is well-sourced.

Writing isn’t a skill that can be mastered; there is always the possibility of going further. This means that you can improve your writing throughout your life (even your professors are constantly improving their writing skills!)

Also, you can learn tips and tricks from Tutors that will help you to gain confidence and become more efficient. You can learn strategies to make your work easier!