Grade Transformation Blog

Grade Transformation Blog

No.1 in Transforming Students’ Grades

Archive for October 2019

You don’t need motivation! (Here’s what’s REALLY going on)

I have so many conversations with parents and students around motivation.

Mostly of them asking “Katie! How do I get (them) motivated?!”

In my experience most of the time the issue is not related to motivation,
but the issue is actually around clarity and understanding of what they really need to do, and most of all, HOW to ACTUALLY do it!

Of course we’re not gonna feel motivated to do something, when we don’t really know what we’re doing.
So that’s the key that needs to be addressed (and one which no amount of nagging or bribery is gonna fix!).


How hard is it to get motivated when you’re not really sure what you’re supposed to be doing or how you should be doing it?

Imagine deciding to go to the gym for the first time,
but when you walk in you have no idea what the equipment is,
how you’re supposed to use it
or what it’s even supposed to be doing?!

You’re not going to feel especially motivated with all these thoughts running around inside your head.

It’s the same for students.

If they don’t know exactly what they should be doing to revise,
the best strategies to do it,
how to do it,
they don’t have a plan,
and they’re not even really sure if what they are doing is going to pay off,
then it’s no wonder it’s a struggle to get motivated.

Students need to learn, practice and plan what they are going to be doing.
If you feel like your teen is in the camp just described above and you can’t honestly say they are totally clear, focused and organised
then this could be the big thing truely holding them back from feeling motivated and getting things done.

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Exam Marker Diary 2019 – Entry 4

Clarity, succinctness and structure are important.

Especially for extended answers.

(Those answers worth 8 marks or more, or those with ‘graded’ marking that have multiple criteria per grade boundary.)

That’s exactly what I’m discussing in detail, with examples, in this (final!) 2019 EMVD entry.

Every year I’ve been selected to be one of the Referee Markers
(phew! That basically means you’re good)
and it’s like the grand finale *think fireworks bursting all over the sky!* when it comes to me learning what’s letting students down and possibly leading to them missing out on marks.

Because, this stage is full of the responses where both markers have judged the same answer to be worthy of two different marks.

It’s like one big, bright spotlight shining on the more complicated aspects of marking,
showing all the ways students are (inadvertently) making it difficult for the marker to award certain marks for certain criteria, or simply writing their answers in a confusing or non-succinct way!

Now, there are two ways this could go when an answer is confusing to mark:

  • The marker accidentally awards credit where they shouldn’t.
    (Possible, but less likely as we can only mark what we read, and there are strict rules around not ‘reading in’ meaning – i.e. where we can see what they mean, but they haven’t actually conveyed it fully).
  • The marker misses wording that could earn credit, because it’s jumbled within another point being made,
    not clearly worded or the grammar makes a clear connection difficult,
    or it’s led to a random tangent that isn’t relevant.
    (More likely because markers are expected to mark to a time-frame and therefore cannot re-read over something more than 2, or total max. 3, times realistically.
    Plus, we know the key points we’re looking for and if they are ‘hidden’ amongst waffle or off-task content, then we’re simply more likely to miss it).

*Side-note: Honestly, exam marking isn’t that different to sitting the exams! 😉

So see if any of this sounds familiar for your teen, and then grasp my advice to ensure they don’t end up putting any marker on the fence or  miss a mark they just maybe shoulda-coulda got.

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2 words confusing students in exams

Ever have words that mess with your mind when reading or writing?

Or should that be words which mess with your mind?

I ALWAYS have to double check on that pair of pesky words.
(Though after google-ing it about a million times now, I think I’ve got it, but I still check… just to check) 😉

Well, after getting through 660 papers, by Day 3 of exam marking

I realised there was an exam-specific pair of words where students were either:

  1. Missing out on marks by not giving the (relatively easy) info required


  1. Providing unnecessary info that wasn’t asked for.

In EMVD Part 3, I share the *specific* wording of the Q that led to this confusion.

Thing is, it’s crazy-easy to figure out ONCE students know the exact meaning of these two words and how to deal with them!

Don’t miss this one!


P.S. I also touch on how external exams are actually marked… what if a marker judges your teen’s paper incorrectly?
Does it get remarked?
How rigorous is state exam marking?
It’s all in this –just over 4mins of jam-packed- video!

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Exam Marker Diary 2019 – Entry 2

The nuances of Marking Guides can be tricky to pick up on.
What is really the difference between an ‘explanation’ and a ‘detailed explanation’?

What wording in an answer shows a student has crafted a ‘message’ Vs. a ‘meaningful message’?

Watch now to ensure your teen never gets caught up in these grey areas again and can catapult their answers right up into the top-quality criteria.



P.S. I reference two other helpful blogs in this EMVD 2 and here are the direct links 🙂

> 3 Steps to Analysing

  • 3 magic words to help extend links and explanations

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