In this blog, student ambassador Amber busts five myths about writing tutorials from the Skills Centre.
A writing tutorial is a 50-minute session, one to one, with a Skills Centre writing tutor who will give you personalised and constructive feedback about your writing. They’re available most of the calendar year (not just near exams!) for students at all levels and you can book up to three a year.
In a writing tutorial, you normally present (or for virtual sessions, send) your piece that you are working on no matter how long or short and the tutor will read this.
They will first go through the basics of grammar, spelling and structure before asking you what you particularly want to work on. Maybe you want to be more analytical, more descriptive, or more critical (looking at your Psychology essays!)? They will then give you feedback that you can use to improve your work. You can also ask them whatever questions you want about academic writing.
Their whole goal is to give helpful and informal advice, so you don’t feel intimidated – yet there are so many myths surrounding them that you might feel reluctant to attend them, especially if it is your first! So, let’s do some mythbusting!
Myth One: Work has to be finished
No, it doesn’t! You could have an outline, a paragraph, your first draft – anything! If you are stuck at one point in your writing, or almost done and just need the confidence boost, you can attend a writing tutorial. It is totally worth bringing (or sending!) anything you have down.
As outlined above, the tutor will check over the basics such as grammar and spelling with you, so don’t worry about all those odd little mistakes. Note, however, that your tutor isn’t a proof-reading service!
If your work is completely finished, having someone check for these things is ace as it can pick up on things a machine simply wouldn’t – however, coming with a partial piece of work such as an essay plan means that you can know from the start how you can structure your writing to make sure you reach your goals (e.g., criticality), and make the rest of the piece a breeze!
Myth Two: I need to be really struggling / these aren’t for people like me
No, you don’t and yes they are! If you are even considering a writing tutorial, then you should take advantage of one! Being able to attend a writing tutorial doesn’t mean you’re taking them directly off another student who might ‘need them more’. This is something students tend to express a lot! You’re fully allowed access to all University services, so take advantage of them!
If you’re already really struggling, a writing tutorial (and an extension where needed!) can be an absolute lifeline, but you can also think of them as preventative, so that you don’t get to the point where you are struggling.
As for ‘people like me’? Even if you already get good grades and are a confident writer, the tutor will be able to suggest how to develop your writing further which could push your grades up even higher.
Myth Three: It only works for some subjects
Not true! Writing assignments are set throughout the whole University, and the people who will help you with your writing tutorial will have covered a lot of different subjects and types of assessments before. They have worked with many students and found ways to help them improve, but if you would like more specific advice, consider combining a writing tutorial with drop-in office hours from your unit convenor or other member of teaching staff.
Myth Four: My department will know I’ve got help and might mark me down
No, they won’t! You won’t be reported for having a writing tutorial, and your department won’t know and won’t give you a lower grade for it. It’s as simple as that.
Myth Five: Having a writing tutorial makes me a weak student
No, it doesn’t! You have made your way to the University of Bath, one of the top Universities in the country, you are not weak! Think about how often you have used spell check – was that cheating?
In this case, you are only having a writing expert (rather than almighty Google!) giving you a helping hand. It’s easy to think that reaching out for help makes you weak, but rather it is a strong decision that you’ve made, and you’ve taken accountability for your work – what is weak about that?
Read more first-hand student experiences of writing tutorials in this blog.