Writing Center FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Can Use the Writing Center

Yes, any active student of the University of Arizona can use our services. Whether you are a freshman beginning your undergraduate career or a PhD candidate writing your dissertation, our peer tutors are trained to help you improve your writing.

The Graduate Writing Lab (GWL) offers free appointments to University-enrolled graduate students only. Whether you are a first-year graduate student or ABD, our trained and certified graduate writing tutors offer helpful feedback on any kind of writing at any point in the process.

How Sessions Work

For any of our free session styles, you can access the THINK TANK's Retain scheduling system from thinktank.arizona.edu/writing-center/free-appointments, where you can sign in with your university credentials. You can then select your desired appointment style.

Once you have signed in to Retain, you select your desired appointment style and time. In-person sessions are up to 45 minutes. Zoom sessions can be up to 30 minutes. Students can have up to two in-person or zoom sessions per day, with at least 30 minutes between sessions.

During a session, a tutor will get acquainted with the piece of writing you are working on, identify patterns, make recommendations, and then help you come up with a plan for moving forward. They can also help you interpret an assignment prompt or brainstorm even before you have words on the page.

Our Feedback Loop sessions are completely asynchronous, meaning that you will not meet with a tutor face-to-face to review your writing.

Once you have signed in to Retain and selected the Feedback Loop option under “Writing Center” services, you will answer several questions about your writing and upload the document you would like reviewed in a .doc, .docx, .pdf, .ppt, or .pptx format. You may also optionally upload a prompt or rubric to help our tutors understand the expectations for your writing.

Once you submit your intake form and document, you will receive a confirmation email that your request has entered our queue. Within 3-5 business days, a tutor will spend up to 45 minutes reviewing your document and providing feedback through comments. Once your request has been completed, you will receive another email with a link to download your feedback.

Locations and Hours

Writing Center Fall 2023 Schedule

Location: Second Floor of Bear Down Building Hours

Monday - Thursday: 9:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Friday 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Sunday 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Graduate Writing Lab Fall 2023 Schedule

Location: Graduate Center (1600 E 1st Street)

Monday - Thursday: 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Sunday 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

What to Expect

At the Writing Center, you can book up to two appointments per day. Please schedule same-day appointments at least 30 minutes apart.

At the Graduate Writing Lab, you can book one appointment per day and up to two appointments per week. Please book no more than appointments at a time.

Feel free to bring whatever is most helpful for you to get something out of the session. That could be just yourself and your thoughts, your laptop and a rough draft of your paper, or anything in between.

Our tutors can help you with nearly anything writing-related: essays for class, creative writing projects, lab reports, personal statements, applications, professional correspondence, you name it! Our tutors are trained to be expert readers, which means they may not have expertise in your particular field, but can still provide valuable insights and suggestions about your writing. Our tutors will engage with your writing, notice patterns, ask you questions, and provide meaningful feedback. They can also help you put together a plan for how to move forward with your project.

First and foremost, they are going to have a conversation with you. They may ask you about the purpose of the paper or to discuss the assignment prompt. They may ask you to read it aloud, or read it aloud themselves. Tutors generally spend the first few minutes of the session getting to know you, your audience, and the context of your writing. In other words, who is going to be reading this, what are their expectations, and what kinds of decisions are you making as a writer?

Our tutors are trained to identify patterns in your writing. They are not going to point out every grammatical or stylistic error, but they will help you address the concerns that most get in the way of a reader's understanding. By asking you some questions, and maybe making a suggestion or two, they will help you clarify your writing.

“Writing” isn’t just limited to words you’ve already put on a page. Research about writing has increasingly shown that writing is a mode of thinking. In other words, writing makes us figure out what we think about something. Our tutors are trained to ask questions that will help you clarify your thoughts—to say what you mean to say. This can happen just as productively whether you have something written, or whether you’re just getting started and are trying to figure out how to approach and organize budding ideas.

Ways We Can Help

While our tutors are happy to give feedback and make comments about grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, or word choice, their job is not to line edit. While a proofreader’s job is to mark up your paper with errors, our tutors are here to help you learn and improve. The goal is to improve your overall writing skills, not just one particular piece of writing.

Absolutely! While grammar is among the topics tutors are trained to address, it is helpful if you are able to point to specific areas of concern. The tutors will point to reoccurring issues, explain the grammatical conventions and provide suggestions for improvement. It is up to the students to apply these suggestions to the rest of the writing project.

Yes! Tutors regularly offer reader feedback on resumes, CVs, personal statements and a variety of other professional documents. Like other forms of writing, the tutors can help you develop your language, articulate your experience and qualifications, and anticipate audience expectations.

Yes. Our tutors can help with any kind of writing project at any stage in the process, unless your professor explicitly says otherwise. We expect students to be the experts on course content, while our tutors have expertise on writing techniques and process. Students maintain ownership of their work in all of our session styles. Tutors are trained to not write on or alter a student’s document, but merely to offer instructional feedback and suggestions. The tutors will provide students with techniques and strategies, not the specific words, to address areas of concern in their work.

No. Our tutors are unable to help with writing related to graduate comprehensive exams. If you have any questions about this policy, please contact Shelley Hawthorne Smith (shellh@arizona.edu).

Our Tutors

Actually, no! Our tutors come from across a variety of university disciplines, from the sciences to the fine arts. All tutors employed in the Graduate Writing Lab are graduate students. They all share a talent with language and the desire to help their peers develop their writing.


Please contact our Front Desk at 520-626-0530, through our live chat (click the Need Help? Ask! tab below), or by email at SLS-writingcenter@arizona.edu.