A Typical Tutoring Session

  • If you’ve never visited the Writing Center before, please read this step-by-step breakdown of a tutoring session to learn more about how we work with writers.  

    Your Preparation 

    Bring digital or print copies of your draft-in-progress, assignment sheet or description, and any other materials that will enable you and your tutor to work more effectively together during your session.

    Your Arrival

    When you first arrive, you will be greeted by one or more of the center’s tutors. We usually have two or three tutors on staff during every shift to reduce students’ wait time. (If you have scheduled an appointment, you will be seen immediately.) If you have not made an appointment and if all of our tutors are working with other students, you will be asked to take a seat and wait a few minutes until a tutor becomes available.  

    The Session Form

    Your tutor will first ask you to complete the top portion of our Writing Center Session Form. Each time you visit the Center, you will be asked to complete a session form.

    The Assignment

    Your tutor will start the session by asking you a few questions about your paper: "What kind of paper are you working on?" "For which course are you writing this paper?" "What are the paper’s requirements?" "How far along are you in the writing process?" The tutor will ask these and other similar questions about your paper in order to assist you more efficiently.

    The Agenda and Review

    The most important question the tutor will ask is "What would you like to work on during our session together?" Because you can accomplish only so much during a session, you should decide before even coming to the center what you and your tutor will work on for that particular day. If you tell the tutor, “Just help me with the whole paper,” the tutor won’t know where to begin or how to assist you. So you, not the tutor, must set the agenda for the session. To do this, you must choose one or two parts of your paper to work on during your session, but choose them carefully. Too often students come to the Writing Center with rough drafts in hand expecting to work on grammar and proofreading when they really should focus on developing and organizing their ideas. So when you choose which parts of your paper to work on, prioritize. Recognize what you need assistance with at this stage of your writing process and communicate this to your tutor. You and your tutor will then review your paper together. Typically, either you or your tutor will read out loud the entire paper (if it’s shorter than four pages) or several sections of the paper if it is longer than four pages. While you review the paper, you should have a pencil or pen in hand to make changes or corrections to your paper.

    Discussion and Additional Writing

    Once you have reviewed the draft, you and your tutor will then discuss how to address the parts of the paper that you want assistance with. If you’re having trouble articulating your thesis, for instance, your tutor might ask you to summarize the key points you wish to convey in your paper. If you aren’t sure how to conclude your paper, your tutor might ask you to think about how you want your readers to feel after reading the paper’s last paragraph. While you and your tutor are engaged in discussion, you should take notes and mark sections of your paper to work on later. During your session, your tutor may give you a small writing task to help you draft or revise a part of your paper. For example, if you aren’t happy with your current thesis statement, your tutor might ask you to write a two-sentence summary of your key points and central argument and then have you try rewording this short summary until you’re more satisfied with it.

    The Final Game Plan

    As you close your tutoring session, you and your tutor will discuss what additions or changes you will make to your paper on your own. Your tutor may also provide you with resources (e.g., a documentation packet, a handout on outlining or thesis formulation) for your personal use. Finally, if you have time before your paper’s due date, you and your tutor might agree to a follow-up session to work on other parts of the paper.