English Writing Resources

Use the links at the left to access resource guides for grammar, syntax, and punctuation. For further assistance, contact the Writing Center.

Getting the Most Out of Your Tutorial: Tips for Student Writers

When you come to be tutored in writing, there are steps you can take to make the conference as effective as possible. A little preparation on your part will reap a great reward from the tutorial.

Bring your assignment sheet, your class notes, your book, checklist for revision, etc. with you to the tutorial.

  • Come prepared to explain your understanding of the assignment to the tutor. The assignment sheet, notes, etc. will help make the assignment clear to the tutor so he/she can steer you in the right direction. The tutor will also ask for your instructor’s name to fill out the tutoring report; please learn that information.

Arrange to meet with the tutor early in the writing process.

  • The tutor can be of most help to you when you are generating ideas for a paper or when you have your first rough draft. Schedule your appointment accordingly.

Know what kind of help you want to get from the tutor.

  • Are you just starting the paper? Ask for help generating ideas and organizing them.
  • Do you have a draft but know it needs help? Specify what kind of help you think you need but be open to other suggestions as well.
  • Do you understand the assigned readings? If you’re not sure, ask the tutor for help with understanding them.
  • Has your instructor marked certain errors on your past papers? Tell the tutor this and ask for help in understanding how not to make those errors again.

Re-read the assignment yourself and then decide if your draft fits the assignment.

  • The more you understand about the assignment, the better your paper can be.

Mark sections of your draft that you think you need to work on.

  • Write down your questions. Focusing on the areas that you think need help will allow the tutor to better meet your needs.

Come prepared to establish a working relationship with your tutor.

  • Your tutor may want to chat with you informally to get to know you better before launching into the work of the tutorial. Expect this – the tutor is trying to put you at ease and to get to know you so he/she can better help you.

Be willing to try new strategies for writing.

  • Your tutor may ask you to write an outline of what you have written or use highlighters to mark the sections or debate the issue with him/her or try other strategies that may not be familiar to you. Try the new strategies – they may work for you.

Expect to do more than half of the talking in the conference.

  • The tutor will ask you questions to help draw your ideas and develop your writing more fully. Do not expect the tutor to tell you what to write – this is, after all, your paper. You should be the one in the conference who is doing all the writing as well.

Do not ask the tutor to proofread/edit your paper with you.

  • The goal of the tutorial is for you to learn what you need to know to produce effective written English. If the tutor just corrects your mistakes, you will not grow as a writer. Instead, the tutor will look for patterns of error, then help you see why and when you are creating this error, and help you to understand how to avoid the error.

Handwritten drafts are much harder to work with than printed ones.

  • Take time to word process your rough draft, if possible.

Do not ask the tutor to estimate the grade your paper will receive.

  • The tutor is there to help you improve as a writer, to learn how to write more effectively and efficiently. The tutor is not the grader; your instructor still holds that office.

Remember that improvement takes time.

  • Do not expect to improve your writing in one tutorial or in one class period. Growth in writing takes time and patience and practice. Be patient with yourself and with your tutor – improvement will come.

Remember to have some fun in your tutorial.

  • While tutoring is serious academic work, it can be fun as well. Come prepared to have some fun!

If any problems occur with your tutor, contact Dr. Christine Shearer-Cremean, Dr. Sharon Strand, or Dr. Scott Simpson.

Responsibilities of the Student Writers

  • To meet with the tutor at the times and places agreed upon.
  • To come to the tutorial ready to work and receive assistance from the tutor.
  • To do as much work on the writing assignment before the tutorial as possible.
  • To grow in awareness of your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.

Tutoring Goals for Student Writers

  • To enable student writers to compose more fluently, with less apprehension and fear.
  • To enable students to pre-write, write, and revise their own work.
  • To provide support for students who are struggling with the act of written composition, helping them gain confidence as writers.
  • To assist students with the further development of their critical thinking skills, sometimes involving tutoring with reading comprehension.
  • To help students move to developing “reader-based” prose (writing with the needs of the audience in mind) as opposed to “writer based prose,” (writing that only the writer understands well) thus better meeting the requirements of academic discourse.
  • To acquaint student writers with the conventions and expectations of academic writing.

Reference Links

Electronic Texts — A Sampling



Medieval Literature and the History of English

Renaissance Literature

Eighteenth Century British Literature

Nineteenth Century British Literature

Nineteenth Century American Literature

English Literature Other Than British and American


Links for Teachers