Writing and Academic Skills Appointments

Writing and academic skills are key to your success in university, no matter what Faculty you’re in. Discover how our one-on-one appointments can help you identify areas to improve, create a plan to achieve your goals and more.

Academic skills support

Whether you’re preparing for your first year or finishing up your final year, reflecting on your academic performance will help you succeed in university. Our academic peer mentors (upper-year student staff) and coaches (staff with educational backgrounds) will work with you to identify and develop the skills and strategies you need to succeed.

Academic peer mentors are experienced upper-year students who can help you develop your academic skills.

Reasons to meet with an academic peer mentor

  • You want to explore new academic strategies for studying, working on assignments, time management and more.
  • You need help making a realistic study or assignment work plan.
  • You aren’t sure which skills you should work to develop.

About the appointments

Academic peer mentoring appointments are 30 minutes long, and you can book as many appointments as you need in a semester. After you register on OSCARplus, we’ll contact you to set up your appointment and share any additional details.

Visit OSCARplus > Student Success Centre > Appointments > Academic Skills to book.

What to bring to your appointment

  • Your class schedule
  • Specific ideas for what skills you want to develop
  • Ideas and questions about your learning strategies, studying habits and so on

Academic coaches are staff members with extensive educational backgrounds. They’ve taught internationally and domestically at the secondary and post-secondary level. They take a collaborative approach to supporting you to meet your academic needs.

Reasons to meet with an academic coach

  • Gain a deeper understanding of the learning cycle.
  • Integrate research-proven strategies into your learning processes. Plus, improve your time management, studying and more.
  • Meet with someone who has professional experience with education.
  • Work with professional staff to design and monitor progress to achieve academic goals.
  • Design and implement action plans to monitor your progress.

About the appointments

Academic coaching appointments are 50 minutes long, and you can book as many times as you need during the year. After you register on OSCARplus, we’ll contact you to set up your appointment and share any additional details.

Visit OSCARplus > Student Success Centre > Appointments > Academic Skills to book.

How to prepare for an appointment

  • Identify academic areas you want to improve. Completing the Learning Skills Inventory can help narrow down what skills you would like to develop.
  • Think about your short-term and long-term goals.
  • Identify obstacles that might be delaying you from achieving your goals.

Writing support

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 (upper-year student staff) 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 (CRLA).

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. 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.

Visit OSCARplus > Student Success Centre > Appointments > Academic Skills to book.

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

Course-specific tutoring

When it comes to tutoring, you want to connect with someone who’s knowledgeable about the subject because they’ve taken it. This is where the Undergrad Peer Tutoring Network can help. Through this service, you have access to affordable, high-quality tutoring from trained upper-year students.

About the Undergrad Peer Tutoring Network (UPTN)

The Undergrad Peer Tutoring Network makes it easy for you to find a tutor who can help with specific course content. Our peer tutors are McMaster undergraduate students who have completed and earned at least an A- or a 10 grade in the course(s) they are tutoring. Our academic skills team verifies each tutor’s grade before they can tutor that course. Tutors can become “McMaster certified” by completing our academic skills team’s training workshop.

Note: Tutors are self-employed and not employees of McMaster University. As such, we cannot guarantee the performance of your tutor. The service agreement is between yourself and the tutor. SSC staff have access to read messages between students and tutors on TutorOcean to ensure policies are met.

Your feedback on how we can enhance our program is always important to us. If you have specific comments/suggestions regarding your session, please contact Jenna Storey at jenna.storey@mcmaster.ca.

Cost

All tutors agree to charge an affordable fee of $15–$20 per hour.

Note: If you need to cancel a session, you must give at least 24-hours notice. Otherwise, you’ll still be charged the full amount.

McMaster Engineering Society logo

Undergraduate Engineering students: You have access to a subsidy from the McMaster Engineering Society (MES). This includes seven sessions at half price. For more information, including subsidy amounts, visit the MES website.

  • Access the Undergrad Peer Tutoring Network on the TutorOcean platform.
  • Search for a tutor by course code (i.e. MATH 1A03).
  • Read the tutor profiles that appear in the results. Tip: Find tutors who are “McMaster certified,” which means that they’ve completed our academics training workshop.
  • Choose a tutor, and start a chat. If you feel comfortable that they can help you, set up an online or in-person tutoring session.

Eligibility

To be able to provide tutoring services through the Undergrad Peer Tutoring Network, you must:

  • Be a McMaster undergraduate student
  • Have completed and earned at least an A- or a 10 grade in the course(s) you want to tutor

How it works

  • Access the Undergrad Peer Tutoring Network on the TutorOcean platform.
  • Create a profile that includes codes for the courses you will be tutoring.
  • Click to give our academic skills team access to your grades. We just need to verify that you received at least an A- or a 10 grade in the course you want to tutor.
  • Get familiar with the TutorOcean platform and wait to be contacted by students for a tutoring session. Once you’ve connected with a student, you’ll be able to set up an online session that works for both of you.
  • All tutors associated with the Undergrad Peer Tutoring Network agree to charge $15–$20 per hour. Every two weeks, TutorOcean will deposit the money you’ve earned to your credit card, PayPal or Stripe account. Please note that TutorOcean receives a 10% session fee.

Note:  SSC staff have access to read messages between students and tutors on TutorOcean to ensure policies are met. Your feedback on how we can enhance our program is always important to us. If you have specific comments/suggestions regarding your session, please contact Jenna Storey at jenna.storey@mcmaster.ca.

Information collecting on TutorOcean

TutorOcean is a third-party website that requires users to share private information, such as your McMaster email address, in order to connect with tutors. It is your responsibility to make sure that you obtain any information which may be relevant to making a decision, and that you read the privacy and security policy on such third-party websites. McMaster University has no control over third-party websites and will not be liable for any loss or damage you suffer, whether directly or indirectly, as a result of your use of third-party websites. You agree that where you access third party websites you do so entirely at your own risk. McMaster University is not responsible for any fees/payments outstanding.

McMaster University Policy on the Collection of Personal Information

The information gathered by the Student Success Centre for the Undergrad Peer Tutoring Network is collected under the authority of The McMaster University Act1976. The information is used only for the purposes of administering the Student Success Centre’s academic skills service and, on occasion, for statistical purposes. Personal student information provided will not be used for any unrelated purpose without the consent of the student. This information is protected and is being collected pursuant to section 39(2) and section 42 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act of Ontario (RSO 1990). Questions regarding the collection or use of this personal information should be directed to the Student Success Centre (studentsuccess@mcmaster.ca). For complete details, review the McMaster University Policy on the Collection of Personal Information.