In this blog, two student ambassadors, Mackyla and Ciara, share their personal experiences of writing tutorials. A writing tutorial is a 50-minute session with a tutor from the Skills Centre, where you get one-to-one feedback and advice on a specific piece of writing. The piece of writing does not need to be fully complete, and you can book a writing tutorial at any stage in your university journey.
Mackyla (Fourth-year Social Sciences student)
Why I booked a writing tutorial
In the first year of university, I found the thought of writing a 2,000-word essay very daunting. I’ve always struggled with grammar, punctuation and spelling and needed a little help to transition from A-Level writing into degree-level writing.
After completing the first piece of set coursework at university, I didn't quite get the result I wanted. I was quite disappointed and disheartened, so I decided to get some advice.
Timing of the tutorials
I first booked a writing tutorial in my first year of university through the Skills Centre. The session was broken down into sections focusing on different aspects of essay writing at degree level. This significantly helped me with my essay writing and was a push in the right direction.
Now, in my fourth year of university, after having a year out for my placement year, I needed to refresh my essay writing skills. This was especially the case as I was in the midst of writing my literature review for my dissertation.
There’s often a misconception that booking a one-on-one tutorial is useless in the final year, however, having someone to read through your work and getting a second opinion is crucial!
My development areas
During the session, the tutor looked over my work and spotted any spelling mistakes, grammar mishaps or use of slang (something I am aware I need to consider). We spoke through ideas of how to change these words and why this was important for this type of writing.
One thing I found particularly useful was that the tutor told me the most common mistakes I made, such as my sentences being too long and not using enough academic language. Throughout the rest of the year I’ve picked up on these mistakes more easily and have achieved the highest marks I ever have out of my whole time at university. I’ve progressed from a 2:2 in first year to a 1st overall in final year.
I strongly recommend that if you want to develop your writing or just need a push to get a higher grade, book a writing tutorial. It doesn't matter what subject you do or what year you’re in, the writing tutors will be able to help you achieve your goal.
Ciara (Second-year Management student)
Saving my grade
My first writing tutorial was in semester one of my first year after I’d just been given tonnes of coursework assignments to do.
I had no clue where to start in writing a ‘university-standard’ essay. My department delivered a few sessions on essay writing, but I wasn’t sure whether I’d followed their advice correctly. Coming from Sixth Form, I was used to getting feedback on my work before submitting it, whereas at university you don’t always get the chance to do so.
To ‘save’ my grade, I booked a 50-minute writing tutorial. Like most people, when booking a tutorial, I was worried as it asks you to send your work before your appointment to give the tutor time to prepare beforehand. The biggest advice I would give is just sending whatever version you have at that time and bring the newest version with you. The reason why is if the tutor points out something you need to work on but already have, you have the copy with you to see if you’ve done it correctly.
Red pen alert!
When I say the page was filled with red, I’m not exaggerating! I’d made so many mistakes in structure, grammar, punctuation and I realised I could have been far more concise.
The tutor sat with me and talked me through all her comments to make sure I understood what she meant. I was also able to work through a few sentences to act on her feedback and check my understanding.
It was such a relief as had I sent off that version, I would have lost so many marks. Instead, I was able to quickly fix my mistakes and ended up getting 63% on that assignment.
Dealing with dyslexia
In my second year, I haven’t used any writing tutorials, as I felt I’d learned quite a bit from my previous session. It wasn’t until this year that I realised I’m dyslexic and now, looking back, I realise that a lot of the challenges I faced in writing were due to dyslexia.
In addition to what I got from the Skills Centre, I now have additional study skills support for my studies through the Disability Service in Student Services.
Read more on the common myths about writing tutorials in this blog.