FAQs Students


Below are the most common questions we get in the Writing Center. Information on the exit exam is below.

Where is the WC located? We are in the Learning Commons at the Perry Library (Rm. 1307) straight back from the front entrance and slightly to the right-hand side.
How do I make an appointment?
Please call us during open hours at 757.683.4013, come to the office in person to make an appointment, or log onto tutor.odu.edu.
How early should I schedule my appointment? We advise that you schedule your appointment a week before you plan to come in for the tutorial. As the semester progresses and more papers are due, it becomes harder to schedule appointments at a desired time.
When are you open? The Writing Center is open Monday through Friday, but hours vary from semester to semester, depending on staff availability. Please consult tutor.odu.edu, call the WC at 757.683.4013, or stop by to check our current hours.
What types of appointments are there? The Writing Center offers drop-in and scheduled appointments.
How long does an appointment last? Scheduled appointments last 45 minutes; drop-in appointments last 20 minutes and can continue past that time up to 45 minutes depending on availability.
How often may I come in? Students can have one scheduled appointment per week and one drop-in or two drop-ins.
Can I make that appointment every week? Yes. Standing appointments can be made for four weeks in a row at a time. Because the WC is not a private tutoring service, we review standing appointments after four occurrences. After four appointments, the Writing Center requests that students keep a progress log to track their learning.
Can I make standing appointments with one tutor? It depends. Provided that your tutor is available during the hours that you request, and that he or she consents to the arrangement, the tutor can see you on a regular basis.
Can I work on more than one paper at a time? No. Usually you won’t have time, so the WC discourages working on more than one paper at a time. There probably won’t be enough time to look at both higher order (large concepts) and lower order concerns (mechanics, grammar, citation) in one appointment with more than one paper. Sometimes it’s difficult to cover all those areas with just one paper, as it is.
I went into the Writing Center to see if anyone was available to help me on a paper. There were a couple of tutors who did not seem to be working with anyone at the moment, but I was told there were no appointments. Why can’t a tutor work with me? You probably came in at the end of an hour. All appointments start on the hour, and tutors have time between appointments to fill out reports and prepare for the next appointments. All appointments start on the hour, so tutors were probably between appointments.
If I walk in, can I get help? It depends. We are full most of the time from appointments. If there isn’t a tutorial scheduled or there is a cancellation, we will work you in as a drop-in. You may also visit during our drop-in hours. To guarantee that you will be seen, you’ll want to make an appointment.
Can I use the computers? Yes. We have eight computers, some of which are reserved for tutors’ use with students who have come in for appointments. There are usually some open for use, and you’re welcome to write using one of them if you see free seats.
Will someone help me if I’m at a computer and have a writing question? It depends. Tutors who are working in scheduled appointments will not be able to interrupt an appointment, but if a tutor has an appointment-free hour, s/he can help students at the computers who have brief questions. This service is not the same as a full appointment.
What is an appointment like? In an on-site tutorial session, you’ll be greeted and invited to have a seat at one of the tables or at a computer. We will talk about your goals for the appointment, your questions, the assignment itself, and other skills you’d like to address. You will probably read some of your paper aloud and have a conversation with the tutor during which the tutor will ask you questions about your writing. You’ll discuss writing strategies and address your concerns. At the end of the tutorial, the tutor will write up a report of how your session went and talk with you about sending verification of the appointment to your professor.
What should I bring to an appointment?
  • Your assignment sheet
  • A digital or hard copy of your current draft, earlier drafts, and any relevant notes
  • The sources used in your essay
  • Your thoughts about how to improve your essay
  • An open mind and willingness to respond to the tutor
What if I don’t have a draft yet? Your tutor will help you with a brainstorming appointment. Bring your assignment sheet, and your tutor will help you generate your ideas for the paper. Please note that this will be an interactive conversation and that the tutor cannot provide you with a topic or write any of your paper for you.
How do I prove that I came to the Writing Center? The WC provides students with verification. It is up to the student whether s/he wants to provide that to the instructor. Most students do.
Will my writing center visit affect my grade? We can’t predict grades, and your grade on an assignment should be something you discuss with your instructor. We respect the confidentiality of every tutorial session and keep your records private.
What happens if I miss my appointment? If you need to reschedule or cancel your appointment, please call us as soon as possible so we can offer your slot to another student. If you are ten minutes late for your appointment and another student is waiting to be served, we will give your tutorial slot away – so please call us in advance! Likewise, if you miss three or more scheduled appointments with our office without informing us over the course of one semester, we are no longer able to serve you for the remainder of that semester.
I just need to ask a quick question. Can I still get proof that I came in? No. In order for the appointment to receive verification, it must last at least 20 minutes. Substantive feedback is difficult to achieve in less than 20 minutes.
My instructor has required me to have an appointment at the WC, but I can’t get an appointment. What should I do? We strongly recommend making appointments far in advance, but we cannot guarantee that all students will be able to get appointments.
Who are the writing tutors? Graduate students in the English department will help you with your writing.
Will you correct my grammar, edit, and proofread my paper? No. Instead of correcting it, we will teach you how to spot errors. We can’t promise to “fix” a paper and will work with you on learning to proofread your own papers. Proofreading and editing are different services than tutoring; we can help you learn those skills and direct you to resources in books and online, too. Our goal is to support your long-term development as a writer, giving you new skills to use in future writing projects.
Can I drop off or email a paper to be corrected? No. The WC doesn’t provide that service because editing is not a learning experience; our tutorials promote conversations about writing between tutors and students seeking our help. Our mission is to promote individual proficiency and learning about writing.
What do I need to bring? Always bring (or have online access to) your assignment sheet/description (if the professor provided one) and any notes, outlines or drafts that you have written.
Do I have to bring a paper draft? No. We can work together on a digital copy of your writing.
Will you print my paper at the WC? No. You will need to print any hard copies before you arrive for your appointment. Our computers communicate with the printers in the Learning Commons right outside our office.
May I bring my laptop and we look at my paper on the screen? Yes. Feel free to bring your laptop.
What should I expect in a tutoring session?
  • An encouraging and supportive environment for talking about your writing
  • Assistance from a trained graduate- or undergraduate-level tutor
  • A one-on-one session devoted to your writing
What should I not expect during a tutoring session?
  • Someone to merely edit or proofread your work
  • Someone to evaluate or grade your work
  • Someone fully knowledgeable about the content of your course
I haven’t written anything, but I have research. Can you help me with organization and getting started? Yes. The WC helps you in any stage of the writing process, and we will brainstorm with you. Please note that the tutor can’t write the outline for you.
I haven’t written anything because I’m not sure what my professor wants for the assignment. Can you help me? It depends. We can try to help you interpret the assignment and get started. However, we also recommend asking your professor directly for clarification. Don’t be afraid to see your professors during office hours or to send them a quick email.
Can you tell me if this is a good paper or give me an idea about my grade? No. Evaluation is reserved for professors; however, we are here to encourage you to become better critics of your own writing. We cannot try to guess at your grade.
Where do I have to go to sign up for the Placement Test? Academic Enhancement administers and schedules the tests. They are located in the Student Success Center, which is on the 43rd Street side of the Perry Library, or down the back hall from our location; we will help you find it.
Will you tutor me on my Placement Test (the WSPT)? Tutoring for the WSPT takes place in the Student Success Center. You can call 757.683.3699 for help.
How does a distance appointment work? Students need to call the WC directly at 757.683.4013 to set up a distance appointment so that a tutor can talk you through the process. We will reserve a virtual room for your appointment online. Keep in mind that distance appointments are for distance classes only and for students who cannot come to a physical campus.
I can’t make it on time to my appointment! What should I do? Please remember the appointments are nearly always taken. If you are late or need to cancel your appointment, please call the WC at 757.683.4013. Provided that you aren’t more than 10 minutes late, we can hold your appointment time.
When is a missed appointment considered a no-show? All appointments begin on the hour. We hold the appointment for 10 minutes. If a student doesn’t show up, the appointment is considered a no-show and will be given away to a walk-in. There is no penalty for cancellations, but there is a penalty for no-shows.
Is there a limit on how many no-shows I can have? Yes. Please remember that our appointments are in demand and are hard to get. Being a no-show means taking away an appointment from someone else. Students are allowed three missed appointments (without any attempt to contact us and cancel or reschedule ahead of time) per semester. After three appointments are missed, the student can try to have an appointment as a walk-in and take someone else’s cancellation. In other words, you cannot schedule any more appointments. At the start of each semester, we will reset the list.
Can I schedule a group tutorial? Yes, we can provide assistance with collaborative papers. We ask that all group members be present. The tutor can only work on the parts written by group members who are present. In other words, parts of a document written by a group member not at the appointment cannot be covered. A group member must be present to get an appointment verification to give to an instructor.
Can you help me on my midterm or final exam? No. However, occasionally an instructor allows this, but we need written permission from an instructor via an email to the WC Director.
I missed a peer review session in my class. Can you complete the peer review form for me? No. We can’t do that because your instructor designed an assignment for you and the peers in your class. As such, the tutors cannot stand in as your peers. However, we can have a tutorial and give you verification that you came in.
Do you offer writing assistance for graduate students? Yes. We tutor undergraduate and graduate students alike.
I’m a graduate student with a 40-page paper due in two days. Will the WC be able to help me? It depends. The expectations of what’s possible need to be realistic. We can still help you, although there’s a good chance we will not be able to look through the entire paper. Bring in a set of questions and have the paper marked up so that you can go over a few specific areas.
I’m not in Freshman Composition or any English classes. Can I still get help with my writing? Yes. The WC is available to all undergraduate students in all courses.
I’m learning English and need help with writing. How can you help me? The WC offers assistance to currently enrolled students who are learning English. We have tutors trained in helping English language learners and can assist you with our English help documents. Please note that the WC is unable to offer services to non-academic staff, spouses, students at other universities, or members of the general public. Students enrolled in the English Language Center must complete the initial courses and be part of the Bridge program before using the Writing Center. Please see the ELC site for more information about ESL programs.
Do you have any pay services, or can you find me a paid tutor? Our services are free. We can try to find you a paid tutor outside of our office, but we cannot guarantee we will be able to find a tutor for you, and we cannot be involved in fee negotiations or in services outside of our office.
What happens if I have a bad experience and want to report it? Please contact the Director, who will reply to your request.

Exit Exam

Some important changes have been made to the University Writing Program Requirement. This change affects undergraduates who are already enrolled at Old Dominion and who are following degree requirements in the 2011-12 Undergraduate Catalog and previous catalogs. Note: While the University Writing Requirement has changed, it is still a requirement for graduation.

As a student who entered Old Dominion before fall 2012, you NOW have theoption to meet the University Writing Program Requirement in two ways:

1)      Pass the Exit Examination of Writing Proficiency


2)      Pass ENGL 110C or 126C or its transfer equivalency with a grade of C (2.0) or better AND pass ENGL 111C or 127C or 211C or 221C or 131C or 231C (or their transfer equivalency) with a grade of C (2.0) or better AND pass the Writing Intensive (W) course (s) required by your major with a grade of C (2.0) or better.

If you have questions about the new writing program requirement, please contact your graduation specialist in the Registrar’s Office based on the College of your major:

Todd Marville:  College of Arts and Letters and College of Education, 683-5452
Natrina Brooks: College of Engineering and College of Sciences, 683-4436
LaToya McLean: College of Health Sciences and College of Business 683-3629

A note on the writing intensive course/s, the course/s must be taken at ODU and be a total of 3 credit hours. Students in the 2012-13 and subsequent catalogs must meet the new writing requirement, and the exit examination of writing proficiency will not be an option.