Grade Transformation Blog

Grade Transformation Blog

No.1 in Transforming Students’ Grades

Archive for August 2021

Optimising lockdown learning

If your teen’s studying from home during lockdown right now,

or might be at some point between now and Christmas
(which is a possibility for all of us)

or you just want to help them become more independent and effective in their study
(which is all of us?!)

I’m making available again, for a limited time,
my 7-Step Checklist for Parents of ATAR Teens.

I created it last year as the whole country (and most of the world)
went to online learning / alternative learning / learning from home…
(whatever your school is calling it!)
in order to give parents of teens some practical strategies to support their children.

Strategies that go beyond
‘have a quiet study space’
‘try to keep the same daily timings’.
(Which are perfectly valid, but not really going beyond common sense.)

And strategies that are immediately actionable and will make an instant difference.
As opposed to doing 10mins of extra reading about topical issues each day – which actually isn’t going to make any difference to their study strategy or results
(I’m happy to expand on this point if requested!)
and even if it did, it would take a loooooonnnng time to see it pay off.

You can download all seven in one go at:
and please feel free to go ahead and share this blog post/that link with any friends and family or on your social media.

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{Advanced skill} Comment on Vs. Analyse

Your teen *thought* they’d analysed, but didn’t get full marks.
And now they’re not sure what went wrong.

It’s likely that they’re ‘commenting on’ their quotes or evidence,
rather than actually analysing it.

(That phrase ‘comments on meaning’ is even used in mark schemes to accommodate students who ‘under-analyse’ in this way.
That’s how common this problem is.)

If they’re not going further to state the ‘impact’ of that sentence, technique or description, then this is likely what’s happening.

– Here’s an example of this in action on a real life essay,
where our English-Focus Coach Gemma shows how to take the ‘comment on meaning’ a step further
to become a full analysis.


Notice how the student has explained what the character means when they say that quote.

But, they haven’t analysed WHY the author decided to use this to influence the audience’s understanding and feelings about the character/scene.

What does that quote make the reader think or feel about the character or the situation?

HOW does that quote contribute to theme/character being asked about in the original essay question?

In other words:
What is the IMPACT of using it?

This is how your teen up-levels from explaining (commenting on meaning)
to analysing (stating the impact in relation to the focus of the task). 


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Time pressure vs. stress in exams

Some stress is good.
In fact, it’s helpful.
It keeps us focused, energised and alert.

I’m often telling students this.

Because the word ‘stress’ (understandably) has a heap of negative connotations.
And a lot of my training is indeed centred around reducing students’ stress.

But there are times (like having to write an essay in exam conditions!) that it’s natural to feel some stress.

The key is understanding when everything is going to plan and we’re just under pressure
(time pressure of the exam and the pressure to perform well – the latter of which is even greater when it’s a seen essay Q that you’ve prepped for!)

Stress because we don’t know what we’re doing.

The first type can be beneficial.

The second… well, that can be fixed 😉



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