Tutoring & Learning Support FAQs

What is learning support?

Learning support is made up of the tools, strategies, services and people that help support student success and help students achieve their academic goals. 
Learning support resources can benefit you whether you’re trying to learn effective study strategies, bring up a grade, connect with peers, or gain a deeper understanding of the content. 

What kinds of learning support are available?

Learning support comes in a variety of forms - here are a few examples of the types of support you can find on this website:
  • Drop-in tutoring: Several learning support units have “drop-in” hours where you can stop by without making an appointment to work with a tutor, small group, or peer-led guided discussion.
  • One-on-one: Some units also offer individual appointments with a tutor. (Don’t forget, all of the services on this website are free!)
  • Small Group: Many units provide tutoring in small groups, which can range from 2-20 students, depending on the unit.
  • Match: Units may also provide a “match” service, which means you request tutoring for a certain course of subject and the unit will work with you to match you to the best tutor or type of support for your needs.
  • Workshops/Review: Several units provide workshops, review sessions, or other types of learning support sessions. If this interests you, make sure to ask about this option when contacting the unit.
  • Online
  • E-mail

What is the charge for tutoring/learning support services? Are any free?

All the units listed on the Tutoring & Learning Support Search are free! 
Usually, each department has a list of tutors who charge a fee that you can request. You can also ask if your instructor knows of graduate students or other individuals providing paid tutoring services. 

How do I find tutoring or learning support resources?

There are several ways you can search for tutoring/learning support resources:
  1. Browse the list of Learning Support Resources 
Use the Learning Support Search on this website to browse our list of UW-Madison affiliated resources. You can search by content area, type of service, and who provides the service.
  1. Talk to your instructor
Your instructors and TAs are a great starting point. Find some time to talk after class, send an e-mail, or use office hours as an opportunity to receive addiation help and better your understanding of the class material. Your instructor or TA may also be able to refer you to specific resources for more support. 
  1. Talk to your advisor
Make an appointment with your assigned advisor for referrals and to have a “big picture” conversation about your overall academic progress and goals.   

What can I expect from a tutoring session?

The structure and style of each learning support unit is different, and your experiences will vary depending on the unit, as well as the kind of service you’re seeking. When you sign up for a tutoring service, it’s a good idea to ask what services are provided, what their general expectations are, and if there's an attendance policy.
Learning support staff may help you by:
  • Checking your work and answering questions 
  • Helping you review your notes and course material
  • Helping you develop good study habits and a study plan
  • Asking you questions that will help you through the problem-solving process
  • Reviewing assignments, essays, cover letters, or resumes
  • Working through examples with you so you can solve the original problem on your own
  • Referring you to other tutoring or learning support resources if needed
  • Helping you develop and work towards short and long term academic goals
  • Highlighting strategies for success in that particular course
​Learning support staff members are here to support your academic success and help you become an independent learner. They will not simply give you the answers to your assignments, rather they will answer questions to help you better understand the material and give you the skills to solve problems on your own. 

How do I prepare for a tutoring session?

You’ll get the most out of your tutoring session by taking the following steps:
  • Review the material as you would after any class.
  • Prepare questions and highlight the sections you want to work on. If your tutor requests it, e-mail your questions ahead of time.
  • Bring your notes and other relevant materials with you to the tutoring session.
  • Be on time, even for drop-in tutoring. It’s best to come early to guarantee yourself a spot. Showing up late takes time away from the tutor who could be helping other students, or it can put you behind if you’re attending a small group session.
  • Recognize a tutor’s role. Tutors may not be content experts and may not have all the answers at their fingertips. Keep in mind that you have instructors/TAs to reach out to when you need content experts. 

Who provides learning support services?

The tutors vary by the organization providing the learning support service. Tutors can be undergraduate and graduate students, or professional staff.  
  • Entire departments may provide learning support for a specific set of courses within that department that historically have proven to be particularly challenging. 
  • Schools and Colleges may provide learning support for students in that specific school or college (e.g., Engineering).
  • Professionally staffed units may also provide tutoring services, (e.g., Writing Center).
  • Programs that support specific student populations or student organizations also provide learning support services in some cases.

How soon should I seek out learning support?

As soon as possible! You might be tempted to wait for your midterm results to determine whether or not you’ll look into getting help. However, it's always a good idea to seek out support earlier on for various reasons. For example, if your first midterm doesn't go well this will impact your overall course grade, and it can be more difficult to pull up your grade halfway through the semester.
It's also important to note that many support units have limited capacity while others work on a first come – first serve basis. You’ll have more options to choose from, and a better chance of securing a spot if you look into it earlier in the semester. 

Why would I need learning support services if I’m getting good grades?

Learning support comes in many forms and shapes, and there are many Learning Support Resources that offer services and resources for a wide variety of students and styles. It’s a common misconception that learning support is only a last resort when your grades start to slip. Don’t let the myth hold you back from tapping into resources that can help ensure your academic success and protect your investment in your education. It's also important to note that some tutoring and learning support resources have a sign-up process early in the semester. If you wait too long, it may be too late to use or join that resource. 
There are plenty of other reasons to seek out learning support. For example, you might want to:
  • Learn good study habits and form a study plan
  • Have a tutor to guide your small group study session
  • Bounce quick questions off a tutor during drop-in tutoring
  • Be held accountable so you stay on track during a difficult course
  • Have someone else to proofread an important paper, cover letter, or resume
  • Have someone available to help you review your notes and quiz you on the course material
  • Have fun meeting and working with other students in your course

What should I do if there aren't any learning support resources for the course I'm taking?

1) Talk to your instructor/TA
Instructors and TAs are here to help and enjoy meeting with students, and attending their office hours is a good place to start. You may find you can answer most of your questions during this time and won’t need to seek additional help. Attending office hours is a great habit to get into that can help you stay on track, pull your grades up, and make the most out of the resources provided.
2) Form a study group
Talk to a few students in your class about forming a study group. GUTS also rovides a service called Academic Match that matches up a tutor with a small group of students who are in the same section of the same course.
Here are a few best practices when forming a study group:
  • Set up a consistent schedule.
  • Designate a study space, like one of the UW Libraries.
  • Establish group rules right away to help your group stay on topic and on track (to prevent it from becoming just a social hour).
  • Lay out goals for each meeting and check on the group’s progress at the end.
3) Look into general (rather than course-specific) tutoring services
4) Look into private or one-on-one tutoring
5) Talk to your advisor
As always, checking in with your advisor is a great place to start. Advisors can help you figure out the best support service for you, and are always willing to have conversations about your academic goals and progress. Here are a few examples of some questions you can explore with your advisor:
  • Can you offer me some advice about good study habits?
  • I’m struggling in class because of _______. What should I do?
  • Can you help me plan out my graduation timeline?
  • What will happen if I drop this class?
  • How do I ask my instructor for help?

Will tutoring guarantee an A?

While any form of learning support is a great way to improve your understanding of the material, it will not guarantee you a specific grade or outcome. Tutoring can not (and should not) take the place of the independent time you need to devote to study, review, learn, and practice the course content.  Tutoring can be thought of as removing the roadblocks . . . but you still need to travel down the road. 
Multiple factors influence your final grade, including your attendance, participation, study habits, time management, note taking, and exam preparation. Your emotional and physical well-being as well as how you balance outside obligations like work, family, friends, and extracurriculars are also important factors that can affect your grade. 

What courses should I seek support for?

Every student is different in how challenging they find any particular course, so the choice will ultimately be up to you to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Some examples of reasons you may be interested in tutoring or learning support resources include wanting to:
  • Learn good study habits and form a study plan
  • Improve or maintain a course grade
  • Have a tutor to guide your small group study session 
  • Bounce your quick questions off a tutor during drop-in tutoring
  • Be held accountable so you stay on track during a difficult course
  • Get someone else to proofread an important paper, cover letter, or resume
  • Have someone to help you review your notes and quiz you on the course material
  • Find services to test for learning disabilities and explore support resources for students who have learning disabilities

How do I become a tutor?

  • Contact the tutoring unit and request information about the application process.

Each unit is different – some may hire only undergraduate students while other employ only professional staff. Depending on the program, tutors can be paid for their work, receive course credit, or simply volunteer.

  • Contact the course instructor for tutoring referrals.
Attending office hours and speaking up in class is a good way to have instructors notice your potential as a tutor. At the end of the semester, you may approach the instructor letting them know you are interested in tutoring, and solicit feedback on how to become a tutor for the course. The instructor may then refer you to the department, tutoring unit, or keep you on a list of potential tutors for the course for future students.
In order to be a tutor, you may need to meet a certain criteria, depending on the unit you are applying to. Your GPA and the course grades are often important factors. In addition, you must be motivated to help the students who are seeking assistance in the course. 

How can my advisor help support my academic success?

Your advisor can:
  • Help you connect with the course instructor
  • Guide you through the reflection process to understand why you’re struggling 
  • Identify ways you’ve already tried to address your obstacles and change the factors that are having a negative impact on your grades
  • Help you reflect on and identify what you’ve done well in your courses and encourage you to focus these behaviors
  • Refer AND connect you to additional resources you haven’t tapped into before
  • Explain your options if you think you need to drop a course or drop a course after a drop deadline because of significant extenuating circumstances
Read more about how advisors can support your academic success and see what students have to say!