your student life specialists

Archive for the ‘tutorials’


anxious tutorials

Hi aska! I’m a first-year student and I dread how most of my tutorials take up a huge percentage of my marks. Now, I understand that participating in class discussions is the best way to learn about the lessons and to help us grow and interact with others but I just… can’t. I have social anxiety, and I’m scared to talk to my TA about this because she might think that I’m just making up excuses so I don’t have to talk. Is there anyone else I could consult with about this? πŸ™


hey there,

i’d suggest you talk with your professor, but i have a feeling that in a (likely massive) first-year class, your prof is going to be even more intimidating to you than your professor.

i really think the best person to talk to about this is your TA. and by the way, anxiety is a totally legitimate reason not to speak up in class. it’s not an excuse, but it is a reason to start a conversation about possible accommodations. and it is highly unlikely that your TA will think you’re making excuses – more likely, she’ll be impressed that you took the initiative to start thinking about a creative solution to your dilemma.

what i would recommend is talking to her (after class, in office hours, by e-mail; whatever makes you most comfortable) about your concerns, and then asking if there is any alternative way for you to gain participation marks. feel free to propose your own ideas. if you’re a bit stuck, here are some of my own suggestions (all of which i have seen put into practice in actual tutorials/seminars):

  • visit your TA every week in office hours to have a discussion with them, one-on-one, about the readings. this narrows the crowd of people you have to talk at from ~20 to 1
  • submit a weekly written reflection about the readings/lecture to your TA, perhaps at the start of tutorial, or via e-mail
  • this one may not work for you, depending on the extent to which public speaking makes you anxious, but: try sitting physically next to the TA. that way, when you speak, you’ll feel as if you’re speaking directly to them, as opposed to across a room full of people
  • is your class on Blackboard? ask whether you can submit your thoughts about the tutorial or readings or lecture on the discussion board; that way, people can write back if they so chose, and you can have discussions online rather than in person

again, i understand that this is not an easy or comfortable thing for you to do, but TAs only want the best for you. they’re usually able to be a lot more invested in their students than profs, and i’ve never encountered a TA who’s not willing to make changes to suit a class’ needs.

you’ve got this!




my TA looks vaguely like kevin bacon and it’s throwing me off

Hi Aska,

if I want to change a tutorial section, do I need to get permission from the lecture prof first?



hey there,

so many people not happy with their tutorial sections! what’s the deal? does your TA remind you too much of some actor and you just can’t place him, so you can’t focus in the class? (no, that TOTALLY didn’t happen to me. what are you talking about.)

talk to your TA about it first – depending on how many TAs there are, it may be up to the head TA or your to coordinate. either way, your TA will know for sure, and will likely be able to coordinate a switch.

you may have to get it switched officially on the SWS at your registrar’s office, but that depends on how your tutorials for that class are administered. talk to the TA first and then go from there.




the mystery of the missing tutorial

ok i’m not 100% sure you could help but i’m in soc101 and i have a friend in that class who says that when she enrolled acorn asked her to choose a tutorial time? but acorn didn’t ask me to do that and now i’m totally lost on how to sign up for a tutorial or whether i’ll get into one at all???? especially because it’s a huge class???????

to be fair i don’t have class until wednesday so i guess i could run to the front then and try and ask but since it’s a con hall lecture i doubt i’ll be able to… help please??

i am sorry for the lack of capitals and terrible grammar i am in a panic


hey there,

you can always double-check if you have a tutorial by looking at the timetable.

(honestly, it’s a good idea to treat this as a general rule of thumb – if there is anything you don’t know about a course, check to see if the timetable has that information. or you could e-mail me. but as you’ve seen, i get a lot of e-mails and you won’t always get your answer right away – so it’s your choice).

SOC101Y1 DOES have tutorials. i’m not sure why you weren’t able to find them on ACORN – i’m able to see it when i log in myself.

the tutorials don’t have any enrolment controls, so you should be able to get in at this point. some of the tutorials do have space left, so there’s no need to panic! take a look on ACORN again, and if you still can’t see them, talk to your registrar’s office about it.





So courses such as HIS103Y1: Statecraft and Strategy: An Introduction to the History of International Relations[48L/20T] and POL101Y1:Β Democracy, Dictatorship, War, and Peace: An Introduction[48L/24T]indicate they have tutorials, yet neither the timetables or acorn/rosi have them listed. How am I supposed to choose my tutorial times?


hey there,

at uoft, no rule comes without an exception – except for the ones where you really hope that an exception can be made. then there are no exceptions. it’s really great for everyone’s blood pressure.

in this case, there IS an exception. typically, you sign up for lectures, tutorials and labs on ACORN (or ROSI, if you’re stuck in YE OLDEN TIMES).

however, despite the fact that both POL101Y1 and HIS103Y1 indicate that there is a tutorial component to the course, you won’t find the tutorials on ACORN. the history and political science departments require that you sign up for tutorials after classes start, typically via Portal/Blackboard.

which, yes, means that you will have to fit two hours of tutorial (one for each class) around an already-made schedule once school starts. and, yes, it may be hard to find times that fit.

i will say, though, that there are typically so many tutorial sections in those massive first-year courses that you can usually find SOMETHING that works. it may be on a friday morning, a monday evening, or some other equally inconvenient time, but sometimes life is rough, and you’ve just gotta bear these things with a brave face.

it’s not easy, i’ll give you that. just when you think you’ve got the hang of uoft, it throws a wrench in the system. i guess you can say we’re all a bunch of TOOLS, here. huh huh




i don’t look nearly as cute as the people attending class in the pictures

Hi Aska!So just to clarify, do we have to show up for the tutorials that we already enrolled in for certain classes on ACORN? For example, do I need to attend my MAT135 tutorial that first week?


hey there,

yes, you need to show up for any and all tutorials you enrolled in – assuming you want to pass those courses. which i hope you do, because you don’t get much else but a degree for all that money you spend on university. i know. it’s crazy, right? where are the aesthetic pictures of me laying on the grass in front of UC, smiling blissfully into a copy of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language, that i was promised in my admissions package? where are they, @uoft?

anyway. be aware that many classes won’t begin tutorials until the second week. keep an eye on your mail.utoronto e-mail address and Portal; they may let you know when tutorials begin via those avenues. otherwise, they will let you know during your first class, which is almost always earlier in the week than its corresponding tutorial.

if you don’t hear anything through any of those channels, it’s probably safe to assume that there will be a tutorial.




be nice to T.A.s and they will be nice to you

hey aska! im a student at UTSC, and i am taking a full year course as a pre-req. i was wondering if i could have a different tutorial for the first half of the term vs the second half (fall and winter semesters). i was planning on taking a course at UTSG in the fall but the tutorial timing is making it rlly hard to do so :// thanks for all the help !!


hey there,

i’ve seen people do it before, so it’s not impossible. the best thing to do would be to explain the situation to your T.A. and ask them if it would be possible.

if you don’t know who your T.A. will be and you want an answer right now, you can e-mail the instructor and ask them.

just make sure you explain the full situation. if the T.A. thinks you want to switch tutorials because you don’t like them, they PROBABLY won’t be as empathetic to your situation. just a thought.




don’t take any more classes than absolutely necessary

Hey there! I am a soon-to-be student and extremely organized becauseIwillgetsuperstressedotherwise. *nervous laughter* So I am already looking at the courses and organizing. This is probably hinted elsewhere, or you’ve answered it somehow, but I just need clarification… We only enroll in one tutorial per course, correct?


hey there,

yup! you should only ever be signing up for one tutorial per class, which is good, because there’s only so much awkward small-class interaction a person can take in a week.

and just so you know, ROSI will tell you when you sign up for courses whether there are any lab/tutorial sections you need to sign up for – so it’ll all be laid out for you nice and easy when enrolment time comes along.

try not to be too stressed about school starting. it’s great to organize and plan and stuff, but there’s no reason to be nervous. everything’s gonna work out fine. you’re going to have a great time, and it’ll be a lot better than the cafeteria drama and “did-you-hear-what-stacey-did-at-the-birthday-party” gossip nonsense of high school.

see you in september!



don’t carry your textbooks to class for the love of backs everywhere

For two courses, I have the tutorials scheduled before the lectures. Do I have to attend the tutorials during the first week of classes, even though I haven’t attended the first lecture yet? Also, do I need to bring my textbooks to classes or are they mostly for studying? Thanks!


hey there,

i have never heard of a tutorial that starts before a lecture. i think it’s safe to say all your tutorials will be starting during the second week. (if this is not the case, they may make a note of it in the timetable, as they did for a few first-year mathematics courses, for example, so it might be worth double-checking your courses on the timetable, just in case).

secondly, please don’t bring your textbooks to lecture.

if you need to bring any course readings to class (likely to a tutorial rather than any lecture), your prof/TA will tell you. 90% of the time though, nothing is needed besides a notebook or a laptop, and it’s really not worth the backache.




no time for tutorials

First off, amazing on what you’re doing for the students here. Your posts about pretty much everything is very enlightening and, dare i say, fun to read even if I personally do not need the answer to the question.

Now something I have been wondering about. I have enrolled in a few tutorials and was wondering if it is in any way possible to change tutorial times between the spring and fall terms if it better suits my schedule…. Thats pretty much it. Hopefully this won’t take up too much of your time :).

Thanks a bunch.


hey there,

well, don’t you know how to soften a girl (read: ethereal, infinite being of the internet) up before you start asking questions. i’m glad the site has been enlightening/entertaining for you. see mom? other people read askastudent.

it is possible to switch between different tutorial sections for a course, but it is not possible to take the lecture and its associated tutorials/labs/practicals in different terms. so, for example, if you’re signed up for a lecture in the fall term, you’ll have to enrol in the associated tutorial in the fall term on ROSI. hopefully, there are enough tutorial options that you can find one to suit your schedule.

good luck with it!





Could SOMEONE PLEASEEEEE help me sign up for tutorials on Blackboard?!?!? All of my profs have said that I need to sign up for tutorials via the course website on Blackboard. I HAVE CLICKED EVERY SINGLE BUTTON & LINK ON MY FRIGGIN BLACKBOARD PAGE AND NO WHERE DOES IT SAY “SIGN UP FOR TUTORIALS.” Yes, I have also been to the course websites!! Please excuse my extreme frustration its just that (as im sure you know) it is imperative for me to find and sign up for tutorials (and study groups for that matter) so that I dont fall behind!! I feel like I cant find ANYONE to help me! Only one of my courses is listed on ROSI as even having a tutorial and I signed up for that even though it is extremely inconvenient. If I had known how to sign up for tutorials, I would have done so a lot EARLIER!!

My courses are:

If you are unable to help me, please direct me to someone who can!
This is REALLY stressing me out and im in my FIRST WEEK of classes in my first year! PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!
Thank you!


Oh boy, it sounds like you are in a dilly of pickle, girlfriend! Judging by your DRAMATIC USE OF ALL CAPS, I can identify a stressed and overwhelmed anxiety stemming from your tone of writing. But DON’T WORRY. This situation will eventually get solved – the first week of classes is after all, just the first week of the rest of your life.

All I have to go on is this pretty lame FAQ from the Portal website:

I have logged into the Portal ? why is my course not listed?
A: You may not be registered for the course in the ROSI system ? check ROSI or with your registrar.

A: You may have just recently registered for the course on ROSI. Blackboard data is updated from ROSI on a nightly basis.

A: Your instructor may not have made the course available yet. Confirm with your instructor that the course has been made available to students.

A: The course may not be offered on Blackboard this session.

If none of these answers seem accurate to you, then you may be experiencing a common ROSI glitch, a lazy prof or an ill fated day. The only thing I can suggest is EMAILING your professor or TA to see what the status is of your course being registered on portal. It’s totally possible that they just haven’t gotten around to it yet, or that you may not be registered in the course online. Email them politely (do not use the crazy all caps) and ask what the deal is. If you can’t register on portal yet yourself, they may have to manually register you for tutorial that works with your schedule.

Hope that helps!

xoxo, Askastudent


Two Toe Rye Al.

With each course that I want to take comes a tutorial. Now I’m reading about them but it’s just not clicking. Are they classes (after the lecture) that further the students understanding of the lecture?


Every time I send a new question, I think of a new one! So this one is:

I understand that beside courses it says [_L] and [_T]
But under Vic college, I’m looking at a bunch of humanities courses and instead of L and T it says [_S] [_P]

So whats S and P?

Two questions. Same student. Same day. Normally I wouldn’t indulge such a desperate plea for aska’s attention. BUT, your first question is irresistibly basic – yet important, and I actually didn’t know the answer to the second. So, here goes…

“With each course… comes a tutorial.” In my head I read that like a cheesy, white, male voice actor excitedly announcing on an infomercial. Like a tutorial is some sort of bonus if you “enroll within the next 30 minutes!!” I’ve never heard a tutorial sound more exciting! With that attitude, I suspect you will do quite well in school, my dear.

So, what IS a tutorial?? To an upper-year student this question is almost amusingly obvious – but then I realized… I had NO IDEA what they were when I came to U of T. In fact, I think I was scared of them ( “Will I have to speak…. out loud?!”). A great question, asker.

A tutorial can takes many different forms, but is more or less “a class.”

A tutorial intends to supplement the lecture material. It may be a re-iteration of the Prof’s discussion. It may be an in-depth debriefing of required readings. It is always a chance to seek clarification.

A tutorial is facilitated by a T.A. (teaching assistant), who is more often than not a grad student. If you have an undergrad as a T.A. you know that they are either a) a big deal, or b) so far up the Prof’s @#% that you don’t know where one ends and the other begins. In upper years, it’s not uncommon for the Profs themselves to conduct the tutorial.

A tutorial may require passive or active participation. The T.A. might give a mini-lecture while you sit, write, and ask questions. The T.A. might facilitate a dialogue between the students. The T.A. may also administer quizzes. It is really common for students to have to prepare a five-minute presentation or lead a group discussion as well.

A tutorial is smaller than the general class. 15-30 students is the usual range.

A tutorial is almost always 1-hour long.

A tutorial may be enrolled in on ROSI, or be signed up for in the first week of class. Once the Prof announces, “Okay, come to the front and sign up for your tutorial” – your bland, sterile, Sid Smith classroom will transform into a warm summer’s morning on the cobbled streets of Pamplona. Except the bull horn that trails inches from your thoracic vertebra is actually the ballpoint pen of a Polish girl who commutes daily from Mississauga.

A tutorial is usually mandatory. That is to say, they take attendance for 5% of your grade. If no grade is assigned you should still go. That’s right… should. But I’ll leave the guilt trip up to your own superego. Besides the obvious, one benefit of going is that your T.A. will begin to recognize you, and dare I say like you. Don’t tell me that won’t help when they come across your essay at the bottom of a pile of 200. A second plus is that you can meet friends in tutorials. It happens all the time, I swear. A tutorial is just small, conversational and informal enough to lay the foundation for some lasting bondage.

A tutorial is almost never held in the first week of class, especially if the timeslot precedes the lecture (don’t go, no one will be there).

A tutorial may occur weekly, or less frequently. The total tutorial hours are indicated in the Calendar Listing.

E.g. HIS104Y1Β -Ten Days That Shook The World [48L, 24T] (pg. 262). The “24T” means that there are 24 tutorial hours across both Fall and Winter terms. This is approximately once per week.

That was THE perfect segue, to answering your next question.

[__S] = Seminar: essentially a hybrid of lecture and tutorial. It will be a smaller class with the expectation that you speak now and then. Like high school. With less melodrama. Probably.

[__P] = Practical, aka laboratory, aka lab. In first year, these are usually held every other week.

P.s. Speaking of Salt and Pepper. Did you hear that all of a sudden salt is healthy for us now?! What’s next, poutine and cigarettes?!?


classes are just like big tutorials

Okay so I am still wondering about tutorials. They only tutorial I’ve registered in is the one for my physics course because time slots for it were displayed on ROSI when I registered. I have a couple other courses that the calender says have tutorials, but how do I register into a time slot for these? I’ve seen nothing in the Handbook or online that gives any info on tutorials.


from top to bottom: the journey of the student

I’m doing first year life science and is it ever a kick in the pants. I come from top of my class and am probably near the bottom here. If my TA is completely useless where do you suggest I go to get help in Chemistry or Physics? I’m also concerned about applying to second year programs…what kind of of marks do they look for, how hard is it to compete for a space?

  • Caution! student content ahead

    This site contains candid exchanges between students. Prepare yourself for vivid language and opinions.
  • Categories

  • Archives