Keeping Up With Coursework


The U of T Engineering curriculum is challenging and demanding. Even if you were at the top of your class in high school, you may find you need to work harder to get good grades at university. It is common for student averages in first year to drop 10 to 20% from high school. In many cases, grades drop because students need to develop a new set of learning skills.

There are many services across campus and within U of T Engineering to help you develop the skills you need to succeed. Remember that academic advising is available from the First Year Office. We can inform you of your options and provide helpful solutions. You can also request an appointment through the First Year Assistant, ask questions or browse the rest of this site for information.

What can I do if I find it too hard to keep up with all my courses?

There are many resources available to help you develop new learning strategies and effective study habits. Your first-year advisor can help you understand if you need further assistance, and, if you do, in which areas. They can also tell you if a reduced course load is an option.

As a way to help you transition to the challenges of university-level study, the First Year Office monitors midterm grades. If we suspect a student might be struggling, we invite them in for a one-on-one session to discuss study skills, resources and other strategies.

The First Year Office can also refer students to a number of specialized advisors, like a learning strategist or health and wellness counsellor.

What happens if I miss a quiz, lab or midterm?

Sometimes unexpected things happen — illness, accidents or family emergencies. If such an event arises, please complete a term-work petition online.

Preparing for Exams

At the end of each session, you will write exams in most of your courses. You are expected to be in Toronto for the entire examination period. If you need to make travel plans, do not plan to leave before December 21 for the winter break and check the Academic Calendar before making plans for the summer break.

You will write your exams in formal exam conditions. Remember to bring your TCard and an approved calculator (if applicable). In some courses, you will be permitted to bring an aid sheet to the exam.

What if something happens during the examination period that affects my exam performance?

If you think that your final mark has been negatively affected because you were sick, were involved in an accident or had a serious family emergency, you can complete an exam petition. Petition forms are available online and must be submitted within one week of your last exam. Proper documentation is required. Only U of T Verification of Student Illness or Injury forms will be accepted for personal illness. Talk to the First Year Office for further details.

What happens if I don’t perform well in the Fall Session?

Even some of the best and brightest students can have a poor first session — especially while you are adjusting to your new environment. If, despite your best efforts, you fail a course or two (less than 50% or have a sessional average below 60%), there is a way to catch up so you can finish your first year successfully. It’s called the T-Program.

I get really nervous around exam time. What should I do?

You are not alone! The Academic Success Centre offers workshops on exam anxiety throughout the year. If you already know this is an issue for you, plan to attend a workshop early in the semester. Learning strategists can also work with you one-on-one.

Tips from the First Year Office:

  • Review lecture notes right after class. This way, if you have problems with some of the material, you can seek help immediately
  • Practise solving lots of problems — even the ones that may not have been assigned
  • Use a day planner to set study goals. Stick to your study goals and reward yourself when you’ve accomplished them
  • Take breaks during study sessions. Avoid “all-nighters.” The more tired you get, the more difficult it is to think clearly
  • Attend Exam Jam to help de-stress before exams