Student FAQS

What should I bring?
  • If you want to focus on a draft, submit a link to your paper when you schedule the appointment.
  • If you are working on a particular assignment, bring the assignment.
  • If you want to address comments on a paper, bring the instructors’ comments and the paper.
  • If you have preliminary notes or writing, a particular reading and/or research materials you are using for the paper, bring those items to the session.
What happens during a session?

Discuss the assignment or writing task. The PLF will ask you about the specifics of the writing task you are working on.

Establish goals for the session. At the beginning of the appointment, you and your PLF will determine what you want to focus on. It is helpful if you come to your session with a clear agenda for what writing issues you want to work on. The more you put into the session, the more you will get out of it.

Think, write and talk about your writing. Your PLF will primarily ask questions designed to help you to actively reflect on the assignment or your draft, to discuss your ideas about the topic and your writing process, and to help you write or revise parts of your paper.

Work on strategies for effective writing. The conversation described above will allow you and the PLF to work out how best to write, revise or edit your paper. At this point, the PLF might recommend options or writing strategies for you to consider. As needed, your PLF might teach you writing concepts or strategies.

Do I need an appointment?
Yes, appointments are best, although we do offer same day drop-in appointments. You should try to plan ahead so that you have time to revise after the session. However, when someone cancels or doesn’t come to a scheduled appointment, we contact students on our waitlist. To get on a waitlist, come to the Undergraduate Writing Center OR send an e-mail to, call 310-206-1320 or text (310) 893-6649. Include a phone number or e-mail address, and the time(s) you are available for a session. We will contact you if we have an opening.

How long do sessions last?
Scheduled appointments in the Philosophy Writing Center, FYSP, and the Zoom Evening location last 50 minutes. Scheduled appointments in Powell Ground Floor, Rieber 162, and the History Writing Center last 25 and 50 minutes. Drop-in sessions last 25 minutes.

How do drop-in sessions work?
We offer drop-in tutoring at most locations during our normal business hours on a first-come, first-served basis. Unlike scheduled appointments, which are 50 minutes, the average drop-in appointment lasts 25 minutes. See hours and locations for weeks during each quarter that we offer drop-in service and at which locations.

How do Zoom appointments work?
Zoom appointments are very similar to face-to-face sessions: we will work with you on any assignment and at any stage of the writing or research process. Even if you don’t have a written draft, we will work with you to brainstorm ideas and identify good ideas to start your paper. For further information, see Zoom Appts. on the home page of this website.

Can I drop my paper off or email it to you and pick it up later?
No. The Undergraduate Writing Center is not a place to drop off, clean up, and leave quickly. Instead, you receive comments on your writing from an attentive and experienced reader and useful strategies for approaching the assignment at hand but also future assignments. If you just drop your paper off, you don’t get to learn how to improve your writing on your own.

Can I bring in a group paper?
We do work with teams of writers, but most or all of the group members must come to the session together. In this way, each writer can ask questions about the part s/he has written. At the same time, each writer learns from the others as they correct errors and discover strategies for writing or revising their draft.

How often can I come in?
You can make 2 appointments per week, but you have to finish the first one before you can make a second one. You cannot make back-to-back appointments.

Can I request a particular PLF?
Yes, if that PLF is working at the time you can schedule an appointment.

Will you edit my paper for grammar?
Yes. We are glad to help you understand more about grammar, style and usage and help you learn to become a more effective editor of your own writing. However, we cannot simply proofread your paper for you. Instead, we will point out patterns of error and other grammar or usage problems that interfere with the clarity of your writing. Because of time limits, we cannot point out every problem in your text. We will introduce you to some resources for working on grammar AND help you implement effective editing strategies in selected paragraphs; then, it is up to you to use what you have learned to edit and proofread the rest of your paper.

I came to the Undergraduate Writing Center so that I would get an A on my paper, but that didn’t happen. Why not?
Even after a visit to the Undergraduate Writing Center, your paper may still have errors or larger organizational or content problems. Because our time is limited, we have to set priorities about what aspects of writing or a given assignment to work on. Although you may be able to improve some parts of a paper, using what has been discussed with the PLF, there may be other problems that you were not able to work on.

If you have concerns or questions about a particular session, please contact Christine Holten. (Send email to or call [310-206-1320].)

What if my PLF’s comments on my paper contradict my instructor’s comments?
It is not our role to grade papers, to explain an instructor’s comments OR to predict the grade a paper will receive. Instead, PLFs act as “another set of eyes” to help you look at your paper objectively, giving constructive feedback, asking questions and helping you explore options for writing and revising.

Will my instructor know that I have come to the Writing Center?
Sessions you have with a PLF are confidential and details of them are shared with an instructor only if you give us permission. If you grant permission, the PLF may contact your instructor just to let him/her know that you have taken the extra time and trouble to drop by the Undergraduate Writing Center. The e-mails sent to an instructor simply state the date and time that you came to the UWC. The e-mails do not evaluate you as a student or your writing.