Grade Transformation Blog

Grade Transformation Blog

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Posts filed under Essays

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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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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Student reactions to feedback

I’ve been observing this for a while now.

I’ve realised that when students understand the exact reasons why they lost out on marks or grades in an exam or essay, every reaction really comes down to one of two categories.

In this week’s video I reveal what those two categories are,
the name for one of them (answers on a postcard for suggestions for the second one!) 😉

and which one you should encourage for your teen.

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The ‘one window’ rule to overcome overwhelm

Overwhelm is a constant challenge for students, especially in the senior years. That feeling of too much to do and not enough time.

Or not knowing precisely how to tackle or approach certain tasks. The feeling that everything is getting on top of them.

And although students can’t always do anything about the number of tasks they need to do or the deadlines for them, there definitely ARE things they can do to minimise the feelings of overwhelm.

Enter… ‘The One Window Rule’

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5 Minutes of joy!

I’ve discussed before how scheduled mini-breaks during study, homework and revision are important to keep brain power and retention at an optimum.

But, what should students do in those breaks?…

Watch the video to discover a great way to address (and have fun!) with this :)

P.S. This is an opportunity for parents to get involved in the fun part :)

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The power of un-packing!

We all have loooong to-do lists these days.

This means that we are often so consumed with thinking about ‘what’s next’ that we rarely stop to UNPACK – to reflect on or dissect what we have already completed and the results we got from it.

And when we don’t do this, we can be missing out on so much ‘gold’ in terms of feedback that can really help us ‘nail’ a lot of the upcoming items on our to-do lists!

Watch this week’s video to help your teen grab their nuggets of gold, by asking themselves 2 critical questions to quickly get useful information about how to create success for themselves.

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Write the intro last!

Sometimes it can be really hard for students to get started on a larger task – an essay, a report, an extended response. They aren’t sure exactly what to write or how to begin…

Usually these tasks start with an Introduction.

And you know what?…. This is the problem!

Watch the video to find out WHY and the very simple (but hardly ever actioned!) solution :)

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