Grade Transformation Blog

Grade Transformation Blog

No.1 in Transforming Students’ Grades

The Solution to Word Count Frustration!

Some students see a word limit figure on the front of a paper and feel overwhelmed and fearful at what looks like an insurmountable task.

For others they might be thinking

“Whaaaat – no way can I cram everything I need to in just 2000 words!”

The issues going on behind these reactions are actually pretty similar… and the great news is – so is the solution!

:: Find the review of my Writing Tips mini-series here: !

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Flipping the Project Pyramid

If you’ve ever felt exasperated by how long some projects, assignments, reports or essays seem to take your teen because they’re continuously going back, changing, tweaking or even worse- re-doing whole chunks of a project or assignment –  then definitely listen in.

Editing and proof reading are definitely vital parts of a high quality project or assignment. But, they shouldn’t be THIS big a part of the whole activity.

‘Flipping the Project Pyramid’ is the solution to minimising the amount of repeated or wasted work and in this video I explain what that means and how it works.


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Keep your teen out of the ‘Description Danger-Zone’!

Describing is the lowest cognitive skill level for high school and college students.

Therefore, students need to instead be writing at the explain, analyse and evaluate levels more and more.

But many students know this, and yet that ‘Description Danger Zone’ is a trap that is just SO easy for students still find themselves falling into!

Here’s why it happens and why your teen needs to make sure they avoid it like the cleaning rota! 😉


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How to Maximise ‘Return on Effort’

ROE = Return on EFFORT.

I see so many students with a depressingly low return on effort and I’ve identified the two main ways this is happening.

I share them in this week’s video with the solution to doing something about it and the strategies to maximise your teen’s ROE!


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2 key steps to breaking down an essay title

A lot of students find it daunting when they are faced with an essay title, particularly if it appears quite general or broad to start with.

In fact, often it is the shortest titles or those that appear to be the most open-ended that are the most challenging (or anything that simply ends with the word “Discuss” – right?!)

So, as someone who loves structure and steps, I’ve developed a system to help students deal with ANY essay title in a clear and structured way that also ensures they access the highest success criteria and marks.

It’s a two-step system and I explain it all in this week’s video.


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NEVER miss out this part of an essay

What’s one of the most important elements of an extended response or essay?

The introduction?
The thesis statement?

The body paragraphs?

Nope, none of those.

Not even the conclusion.

It feels like a quick win to gain back 5 or 10 minutes of time by skimping on this part of the process of writing and crafting an extended response.

BUT, this will almost always lead to:

  • A poorer quality piece of writing AND
  • Taking MORE time to write it

Check out this week’s video to find out what I’m talking about and why it’s so important!

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What you DON’T want to happen [Video Diary – Final Day!]

In Referee Marking we go through and mark all the scripts a third time, that were given two different grades by two different markers in the original marking.

It’s not been hard to see why they were given different judgements  and I reveal the reason why

AND how your teen can avoid this happening to them in the final video in my Exam Marker Video Diary 2017!

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Proof that strategy trumps subject knowledge

I noticed something by Day 5 of exam marking that surprised me… at first.


It was something I noticed about where the A grades were happening.

Then I thought about it and figured it out.


Here’s what I realised (and it’s what I’ve been saying for years!).

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2 ways to stop running out of time in exams

I hate to be blunt, but I’ve seen soooo many examples of students ‘wasting’ time and effort in the exams I’ve been marking.

Time and words that they could’ve spent much more effectively in the places where they’ve had to scrimp or even (eek!) miss out whole questions else where.


Here are 2 specific ways this is happening and how your teen can make sure they save themselves tens of minutes of time and many lines worth of writing.

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The critical question that tells students if they have enough detail

A key question we ask ourselves as markers helps us determine whether an answer is in the upper or lower part of the mark scheme (i.e. D and E grades or A’s and B’s) and can be a deciding factor between an ‘on the fence’ response.


Your teen can ask themselves this exact same question to ensure they are giving the required detail in their answers.

Check out the third instalment of my Exam Marker Video Diary to find out what it is!

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