June 22, 2017

First Year Tips

On The Loose - A Guide to Life Online for Post-Secondary Students.pdf

Labs, DGDs and Teaching Assistants

  • Read your labs carefully beforehand, and do all of the pre-lab preparations! This little bit of time before the lab saves you A LOT of stress during those 3 hours.
  • The Teaching Assistants (TAs) are there to help you be successful in the class. Listen to their feedback, and go to the DGDs to ask them about anything that’s giving you trouble.
  • DON’T be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you understand all assignments, regulations and procedures.

Textbooks and Practice Problems

  • Save your textbooks for a few years; they make good reference books or are sometimes needed in the next course.
  • Used textbooks can save you a lot of money. Look around and you’re sure to find cheaper prices than the UCU bookstore.
  • The best problems to do are those recommended by your professor as they will most likely be what they test you on.
  • Take the time to do some practice problems each day. Come exam time, you won’t regret it.

Workload and Classes

  • You may start off the year with 12 classes and then later on decide to drop some. Here are some things to take into consideration before doing so:
  • Don’t drop a course that is a prerequisite for another course in 2nd semester or 2nd year.
  • Summer courses are a great way to either make up a dropped course or to get ahead in the coming semesters. Just make sure that your course is offered in the summer; not all are and it changes year to year.
  • Don’t drop courses that are harder to schedule in later on. This means the ones with labs, a lot of hours, or are only offered once a year.

Midterms and Exams

  • A really good way to study is to look over and complete old exams. Use them to judge how ready you are for the final, and look for questions that appear each year. The ESS exam database has many past exams for engineering courses.
  • Course websites and virtual campus may also have old exams and other useful information.
  • Posted solutions are very useful when studying. They also give you hints as to what the professor wants to see in your exam answers.

Math Help Center

Student Advocates

The people at the Student Appeal Centre offer help to students who wish to appeal any decision made by the administration of the University of Ottawa. They can assist in day to day dealings with the university, and if you want to file a complaint. This service is provided to you free by the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO). Here is their contact information: Student Appeal Centre University Center (UCU) Room 101 Tel: 613-562-5800 ex. 2350 Email: appeals@sfuo.ca

First Year Courses


  • MAT 1320

Starts as a basic review of grade 12 calculus, and adds integration. Assignments are straight forward and are a good indicator of what you will see on the midterm and final exam. Pay attention to integrals and make sure you know what you are doing.

  • MAT 1322

I hope you learned how to integrate in MAT 1320, because now it’s time to put it to the test. Toward the end of the class you will get into series which is arguably one the most difficult concepts to grasp in first year. Be sure to ask a lot of questions and do most, if not all, suggested problems.

  • PHY 112X

•  X=2

This is quite possibly the toughest class in first year. You may start feeling overwhelmed because it moves very quickly and covers a lot of different material. Just try not to get discouraged. If you make sure to attend all classes and tutorials and take extensive notes you can get out of it with a reasonable grade. Do well on the labs to help boost your mark. Exam is open book and multiple choice so make sure you solved all assignment and practice problems. Grades are usually low for this class.

•  X=4

Essentially a review of grade 12 physics with a heavier focus on electricity and magnetism.

  • MAT 1341

Basically what you would expect from a university level algebra course. Some profs like to play with the chapter order which can either make concepts very theoretical or somewhat practical. As complicated as it may seem, simple logic can get you a long way. If you can grasp the idea of a subset/subspace before you walk into your final you should be sitting pretty.

  • GNG 1105

Basically a review of high school physics with some 3D added in for spice. Always draw a free body diagram and write down your balanced forces. IT IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL THAT YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT A MOMENT IS! Mindset is important in this course, be meticulous, draw detailed free body diagrams and solve piece by piece.

  • CHM 1311

This class is essentially a review of high school chemistry with a lab portion that you likely have already seen. Different professors give different tests so the difficulty of the class can vary wildly. Put in a reasonable amount of time and you will be fine.

  • ENG 1112

This class teaches how to write a decent report, as well as some basic grammar skills. It’s easy enough to get a good mark in this class; just don’t let yourself get so bored that you put in zero effort.

  • ECO 1192

Economics for Engineers. Almost always in 3 hour lecture form on Tuesday nights; it’s tough, but try not to skip and try to stay awake. The midterms and final are all multiple choice… Do the practice midterms and go to the prof’s review sessions and you should be able to ace the course. Try the assignments, but don’t worry if you don’t do that well on them.

  • GNG 1106

This is an INTRO course, so if you don’t have a clue what’s going on for the first one or two lecture don’t be alarmed. You’ll catch on quickly and then the rest of the course is fairly easy. Do the assignments and go to the study sessions to make sure everything makes sense. Bring your laptop to class if you can and do the examples along with the prof.

  • MCG 1100

This class is split between a dissection lab portion and a drafting portion. In the dissection lab you will take apart common appliances, tools, etc. to see how they work. There is also a final project where you choose something and do the same. In the drafting portion you will learn to use the CAD program, Solid Works. This is likely the only formal training you will get with it so make the most of your time. Assignments are deceptively time consuming so expect to spend some time in the computer labs.

  • CVG 1107

It’s very easy to do well in this course. Go to the labs since they are there to help you develop your skills. Download a trial version of AutoCAD to help you learn how to use it for the final project. Don’t go crazy buying drafting equipment; the professor will help you get a better deal. Lastly, GO TO CLASSES! It may seem boring but these are skills you will use for the rest of your civil career.

  • ITI 1100

Digital Systems I is a fairly straightforward course with a usually medium to high average. That being said, the concepts being covered build on each other and it is very important to pay attention in the lectures and ask questions whenever anything is unclear. The lab component can really help boost your mark, and is great practice for midterms and final. The midterm and final are both fairly straightforward but you can’t show up at either and expect to guess your way to a pass based on the concepts alone. Take the time to do practice questions, especially on flip-flops, as this will help not only in passing this course but the later courses that build on it.

  • CHG 1125

This course covers unit conversion (a lot of it), pressure calculations and most importantly, the basics to chemical systems. Get comfortable with the concept of degrees of freedom. Both Dubé and Tremblay are likable professors and are more than happy to help you out when you need it. Make sure to go to the lab tour to introduce yourself to the rest of the discipline’s professors and get free pizza. Yay free pizza!