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Students of all faculties, writing proficiencies, and levels of academic achievement use the Writing Centre’s popular one-to-one consultation service. These free, confidential appointments are specific to individual student needs, but commonly include topics such as

  • understanding an assignment
  • brainstorming ideas
  • working with an outline or preliminary draft
  • refining a thesis statement
  • improving grammar and style
  • handling writer’s block

Frequently Asked Questions

How far in advance should I book my appointment?

Book appointments early – if possible, well before your assignment is due. We recommend that you book an appointment as soon as you know your assignment’s deadline. Please note that you may only have one appointment per week; students who would like a second appointment in a given week can make that request and will be contacted about a second appointment only after those on the waiting list have been accommodated.

How do appointments work?

You will have a private appointment with one of our trained staff, who will ask you questions about your assignment and offer suggestions specific to your concerns. The session may involve working through an entire draft or only selected parts of it. Our consultants work with students at any stage of the writing process – understanding the assignment, brainstorming, outlining, drafting, and revising. Here are some suggestions for making the most of your appointment:

  • Consider in advance how you would like us to help you. Are there specific parts of a draft, or specific skills, you want to focus on? Be realistic about what you can accomplish.
  • Be prepared to collaborate. Rather than “fixing” your paper for you, our consultants help you develop your skills within the context of working through your assignment. Come prepared with questions, ideas, and your learning goals.

When should I book a 50-minute appointment? When should I book a 25-minute appointment?

Appointments of any length are subject to availability, but, generally speaking, 50-minute appointments are more suitable for longer papers and more complex issues (generating an argument, overall coherence, organizing the paper, etc.), while 25-minute appointments are more suitable for short questions, clarifying your purpose, grammar issues, short brainstorming sessions, and follow-up sessions. Note career document appointments (cover letters, resumes, personal statements, professional school applications, etc.) can only be booked for 25-minute sessions, no exceptions.

What kinds of writing can you help me with?

We work with all kinds of academic writing – labs, essays, dissertations, reports, and more. You are also entitled to one session per academic year to work on a cover letter, personal statement, or other application document. Please note that consultants will not work with take-home exams, including graduate comprehensive exams, no exceptions.

What should I bring to my appointment?

  • The assignment instructions. A course syllabus can also be helpful.
  • A double-spaced, printed hard copy of your draft, if you have one (it’s okay if you do not yet have a draft). Our consultants do not work on laptops.
  • Questions you would like to ask the consultant or issues you would like addressed during the session.

Will you proofread my essay?

We cannot proofread for you. That would make us better editors, but it would not help you become a better writer. We can, however, help you become a better proofreader of your own writing.

How many appointments can I have?

Anyone registered at Queen’s is entitled to 6 appointments per academic year (please note that there is a limit of one appointment per week, per student). Appointments may be 50- or 25-minutes long, depending on the particular writing issue, subject to availability.  First year students may also use the 20-minute drop-in sessions offered by our Peer Learning Assistants (these appointments will not count towards your 6 appointment limit). Appeals for additional sessions can be addressed to the Director, Susan Korba (korbas@queensu.ca).

What if I need to cancel an appointment?

We require at least 12 hours’ notice of cancellation; many students are on our wait list and we can fill your place if we have enough time. Students who do not give us at least 12 hours’ notice of a cancellation may not be entitled to further sessions and will have a $25 charge placed on their Queen’s account. See our Writing Centre Policies page for more information.

When are appointments available?

During the Fall and Winter terms, appointments are available throughout the day, some evenings, and some Saturday mornings (please note that fewer appointments are offered during the first few weeks of the Fall term, during Study Weeks and Reading Week, and throughout the Spring and Summer terms). Evening appointments are also available with Peer Learning Assistants most evenings during the week.

Do only “struggling” writers use the consultation service?

No. Even accomplished writers find writing difficult at times. At the Writing Centre, we see writers of every level of proficiency. Everyone can benefit from having someone read through a draft and offer suggestions for improvement. As Ernest Hemingway said, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

For more important information, please review the Writing Centre Policies page.