Back to School Shopping Tips

We understand that shopping for university can be challenging for new students - that’s why we’ve put together some tips for buying textbooks and supplies to help you get prepared for your first day of classes. Visit us in the Student’s Union Building (SUB) for all your textbooks, supplies, U of A apparel and more!

School supplies

Remember when you’d receive a supply list in your final report card to help you shop for the upcoming year? We’ve put together similar lists for first year students to get you set up with the basics - you can download a printable pdf copy of the list to bring with you.

The Basics:

 1 binder 1”  1 pkg lead refills if mechanical pencil
 1 pkg looseleaf lined paper  1  pencil case
 1  pocket folder  1  highlighter
 1 pkg 5 dividers OR 1 qty 5 subject scribbler  1  USB min 8GB
 1  blue pen  1  pkg Post-it notes
 1  black pen  1  lanyard
 1  red pen  1  one card case
  eraser  1  Backpack or messenger bag
 1  either wood pencil or mechanical pencil  1  Wipe on Wipe off Calendar
 1  manual pencil sharpener if wood pencils  
 If in Engineering:  
 1  Mars technico 780C Pencil 2mm lead  1  Pad of Engineering paper



A few helpful extras...

 Multiple coloured additional pens  1  academic agenda
 1  small notebook  1 pkg assorted flag style sticky notes
 1  small stapler  1  scissors
 1  staple refills  1 pkg lined or unlined flash cards



Everything and more!

 1  Clipboard  1  Phone charger
 1-2  legal notepads  1  U of A T-shirt
 1  ruler  1  U of A Hoodie or Crew
 1  carrying box for index cards  1  Reusable waterbottle
 1 pkg Sharpies  1  Reusable travel tumbler
 2 pkg Ear plugs  1  U of A Ball cap or touque
 1  Headphones  


Some courses may require additional supplies; these will be noted on the syllabus you will need on the first day of your class.

Tips for a no-hassle textbook shopping trip:

Get your Booklist Now, and Buy Online!
Most people know that they can get their booklist from either Beartracks or their course syllabus, but it is also available from the bookstore website ( From here, you can type in your student number and it will pull up all your classes, all your textbooks, and the price of each textbook (something Beartracks doesn't tell you).

As an added bonus, you can order your books online directly from this list: simply click the dot next to the books you want to buy, scroll down to the bottom and click "add to cart". Once your order has been placed, you will receive an email when it is ready to be picked up - simply drop in and quickly collect your books without having to wait in line for precious hours that could be spent enjoying all the fun Welcome Week activities!

Note: During September, please allow up to 4 days for order processing.

You can also print your booklist at the textbook information desk, or pull it up right on your phone.

All About Access Codes

One of the most common questions first year students have is "what is an access code, and do I really need one?" Generally, if your class has listed an access code (or a textbook that includes an access code) as a required resource, you will need that code to use important course materials. For Math and Econ classes, the code is often how you will submit your assignments, so not having a code is going to seriously affect your grade. 

Most importantly, Access Codes can only be activated once, so if you purchase a used book, know that you will need to also purchase a new access code -- so make sure the price is worth it, or you may end up paying more for a used book+access code than you would for a new book, which already has the access code included.

Access codes and recorders are available at the cash register; just let the cashier know your course number and section.

Do I really need 4 different texts for my Math Class? 

Don't Panic! You do not need to buy all four "required" texts listed for your Calculus I or Calculus II class! You get to pick one of the four.

So what is the difference between them? Well, two of them are Single Variable and the other two are Multi-variable. If you are going to be taking multiple Calculus classes (for example, Math 114 and Math 115), you're better off getting the Multivariable: this one includes an access code to Webassign that is good for 3 years. If you are only taking the one calculus class, the single variable (access code valid for 4 months) is perfect for you. 

Next, decide if you want a physical copy or your book, or if you want it to be just on your computer (or tablet, phone, etc.). The ebook versions have the benefit of being cheaper and more portable than the physical text, but sometimes it's nice to have actual pages, that you can mark up and dog ear as you like. If you are in doubt about which to get, think about your study habits, and which one best reflects your individual style. You can also come in and talk to us at the Textbook Information desk (lower floor of the bookstore) if you want further advice. 

Calculator Stickers, Lab Manuals, and Course Packs
While we used to be able to give the "Approved" stickers for your calculator to you right here in the store, now the individual departments prefer to approve the stickers themselves, so you now have to go to either the DICE building or CCIS to get them, depending on your department. 

Lab Manuals are alphabetical by author (if you pull up your book list on our website, it will list the author there) and Course Packs are alphabetical by your instructor's last name (again, this will be reflected on your booklist). When in doubt, double check your course section number.

NOTE: Chemistry lab manuals (including Organic Chemistry) are only sold in the Chemistry store, which is located in the Gunning/Lemieux Chemistry Centre.

Bring a Bag (and maybe a friend)

The University of Alberta is committed to environmental sustainability. As part of these initiatives, the bookstore does not provide plastic bags. We do have a variety of reusable bags available for purchase. Also, if you have a number of books (or even just one or two of the heavier texts), you may want to bring a friend to help carry your books home after - maybe bribe them with a smoothie or fancy coffee drink!