ASC: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

ASC: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General FAQs

Question: I did well in high school, but my grades really dropped my first semester of college. Is this normal? What can I do about it?

Answer: It is common for students to struggle with the transition from high school to college. In addition to the increased workload, the level of difficulty of the material increases significantly. Additionally, many students are away from home for the first time, and that freedom can bring additional issues and challenges. You can talk to the Student Advocacy Specialist to learn more about getting control of your current grades.

Question: I procrastinate on my assignments. I think it's affecting my grades and I feel frustrated with myself. What can I do about this?

Answer: There are many reasons students procrastinate. It can range from disinterest in the course material to fear of failing. Procrastination is actually quite complex, but awareness is the first step. Try breaking down large assignments into manageable pieces and visit a Learning Specialist or Academic Skills Coach for additional help. 

Question: Why can't I do well on multiple-choice tests? I do really well with essay questions.

Answer: Some students may feel they are at a disadvantage when it comes to performing well on multiple-choice questions. Sometimes students feel overwhelmed by the large number of questions they have to answer (versus two or three essay-type questions). As well, multiple-choice questions tend to test for detail, so if you're not a detail-oriented person, you may find these types of questions more difficult. Finally, you can't provide details to justify your answer on a multiple-choice test like you can on a short-answer or essay-type question. For study tips, check out our Penn State Pointers or visit the Learning Specialist.

Question: How many hours should I study per week in order to get good grades?

Answer: The general rule of thumb is to study 2-3 hours for every hour you spend in lecture (not lab or tutorial). For example, if you spend ten hours a week in class, expect to put in another twenty to thirty hours reviewing your notes, doing your readings, working on assignments, etc. It may seem like a lot, but putting in enough time is crucial if you want to master your course material and get good grades.

Question: I don't have a text book, does the ASC have one?

Answer:  Faculty have a variety of textbooks available for check out in the library

Question: What else can I do to be successful in a specific class?

Answer: You should also work with your professors and use departmental support (if available) in addition to using tutoring. Not only will your professor appreciate your interest in your academics, but because of his/her expertise, s/he may provide even more specific, in-depth strategies for learning.

Form or join an existing study group!  Check with your classroom peers!  Study groups enhance learning as each one teaches one!

Your dedicated commitment to your education is essential for tutoring to be successful. It is your responsibility to attend class, participate in classroom discussions, take good notes, complete assignments, and study on a regular basis.   


Question:  The even number math problems do not have answers; how can I get them?

Answer:  The ASC has some instructors guide textbooks with answers to the even number problems.  Also the library may have these texts.

Question:  Are there solutions available for Calculus problems?

Answer:  The library has solution manuals for Calculus problems you can use.

Question:  Do you have any old math exams I can use as a study aid? 

Answer: Yes.  Though any student is welcome to this resource, these are particularly helpful for Professor Mirdamadi’s Math 021 and Math 022 students.  As Professor Mirdamadi provides us with copies of her old Math 021 and Math 022 exams.  Stop by and talk with the Professional Math Tutors or the Help Desk to pick up a copy before your next exam.

Question:  I get very anxious during math tests and freeze.  Can a math tutor help me with this? 

Answer:  Yes.  Math tutors can talk with you about various tips and strategies to implement before and during the exam that can aid in a better test taking experience.

Learning Specialist FAQs

Question: What items or material should I bring with me when meeting with the Learning Specialist?

Answer: When discussing time management it may be helpful to bring with you your calendar, planner, and class schedule.  In addition, it is most beneficial to apply new strategies and practice new skills using your own course material.  Therefore, it is necessary to bring with you your course syllabus, book, and any other relevant course material.

Question: Should I see the Learning Specialist more than once?

Answer: Absolutely!  While you might find your needs have been met within one session, it is more likely that you will need to meet with the learning specialist several times to master effective strategies.  The learning specialist will often encourage you to make a follow up appointment to discuss the change or effectiveness of the strategies you’ve applied since the prior meeting.

Question: How is a Learning Specialist different from a tutor?

Answer: A tutor is knowledgeable in a particular subject area, while a learning specialist works with you to develop strategies to compensate for any identified academic skill deficits. 

Question: What methods does the learning specialist use to support my academic needs?

Answer: During a one-on-one learning strategies session you can expect the LS to engage you in a conversation regarding your strengths, weaknesses, and session goals.  The LS will look for characteristic indicators to help identify your academic skill deficits and needs.  In addition, the LS may use a variety of inventories to identify your study behaviors and learning style.   The LS aims to transfer new skills to students through modeling, demonstrating, and providing an opportunity for students to try new skills using relevant material within the session.  You can expect to explore practical strategies and techniques that you can immediately use to boost your learning, enhance your understanding of course material, and improve your grades.

Question: Do I need to be referred to the Academic Support Center in order to meet with a Learning Specialist?

Answer: Students who encounter academic difficulties and desire to learn new strategies can self-refer or be referred to the Learning specialist by other campus personnel.

Writing FAQs

Question: I haven't even picked a paper topic yet. Won't I be wasting a writing tutor's time if I make an appointment?  

Answer: Writing tutors can help you even if you're in the earliest stages of planning your paper. If you can't decide what to write about, feel free to schedule an appointment in the writing center -- generally, a half-hour is a good amount of time to brainstorm and pre-write. Bring your syllabus and course materials, and we can help you talk through your professor's guidelines and tailor your interests to a particular assignment. We can also help you make an outline before you start drafting your paper.

Question: I have a big research assignment and I'm not sure where or how to start finding research materials. Can a writing tutor help me? 

Answer: Absolutely! Although there are multiple on-campus resources available to help with the research process -- including librarians Tom Reinsfelder and Alicia White -- writing tutors can also help you locate appropriate sources for your paper and teach you how to continue the research process on your own. 

Question: I have a paper due for a class that has nothing to do with English -- Nursing, Biology, Marketing, Physical Therapy, HDFS (and the list goes on) -- can a writing tutor help me?

Answer: Writing tutors can help you with papers for a variety of disciplines, including but not limited to Nursing, Biology, Physical Therapy, and HDFS. Basic rules of grammar and style still apply in the sciences, and we have resources to help with science-related citation styles like AMA and CSE. Also, sometimes it's helpful to have someone who's NOT in your field read your paper to make sure it's clear and not too jargon-heavy. Again, just bring your syllabus, your draft, and your course and research materials!

Question: The writing process really stresses me out -- I tend to stare at a blank screen or piece of paper and panic! Can a writing tutor help me? 

Answer: Absolutely! Writing tutors can definitely help you overcome your writer's block and anxieties. We can show you how to break your assignment into more manageable chunks or just talk things out if you've hit a snare in your research or drafting process.

Question: I worked with a writing tutor and still didn't get the grade I wanted. Why didn't the tutor help me get an "A" on my assignment?

Answer: Writing tutors are not just editors -- we do as much as we can to assist you in the limited time we have, but we will not just correct your papers for you. Rather, we try to teach you skills that will improve your writing in the long-term. Also, you are ultimately responsible for the paper you turn in. If your expectations didn't align with your grade, it may be helpful to allot more time to your assignments, make multiple appointments in the writing center, or ask your instructor (politely and respectfully!) how you could improve your work.