Grade Transformation Blog

Grade Transformation Blog

No.1 in Transforming Students’ Grades

Exam Marker Video Diary 2021 – DAY 3

Here’s how to:

  • get the marker to be ticking marks from the very first sentence.
  • convey confidence in their answers whilst making their answers more succinct and concise at the same time.
  • reduce word count and gain back time in exams (and potentially increase their marks along the way).

Sound good?!


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Exam Marker Video Diary 2021 – DAY 2

How to deal with sources or stimulus items provided with exam questions (especially in extended responses!).

Almost all students are able to refer to any sources they’re given, but they can sometimes be overwhelming (when there’s no strategy for how to analyse them) and students often miss out on the top level criteria without realising it.

Here are two specific ways students should be using these within their answers (and one thing NOT to do!).







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Exam Marker Video Diary 2021 – DAY 1

Having just finished two days of marker training and practise marking, here are my observations about the extended response question and stimulus items accompanying it.

In particular you’ll learn about:

– Dissecting the Q: what students should focus on most.
– The top two mistakes a lot of students will make in their responses.
how to deal with both of those in ANY subject!




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Marking Y12 ATAR exams – what I’m seeing

Here are a couple of issues I’m seeing RIGHT NOW in student responses
while in the midst of marking Y12 external ATAR exams,

Do any of these sound familiar?

If so, and you want more than just the awareness that I aim to give in this video,
and get the actual insider-info, techniques and strategies to overcome them…

(awareness the important first step; to realise what’s happening and why – but it’ll take more than a blog video to give you all the solutions!)

then you HAVE to come join me in my 5 Day Inner Circle for Parents of Hard-Working Teens.

We kick off Day 1 tomorrow!

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What you MOST want to know

If we were to grab a coffee and chat, what’s ONE THING you’d love to ask or get my help with for your teen and their study?

  • What would make the biggest difference to their study (or their ability to NOT be studying all the time!)?
  • What’s the main thing they’re struggling with?
  • What insider info would you love to properly understand about how exams and assessments really work?Basically…
  • What would you love to pick my brain on?

Drop a comment below or email me and TELL ME!

I’ll be responding to your needs, wants and wildest (study-based ? ) desires
in the 5 Day Inner Circle for Parents of Hard-Working Teens– opening Fri 12th Nov 2021 and kicking off Mon 15th Nov.

This is also where I’ll be opening up enrolment for the 10 Week Grade Transformation Program for those students who want to complete their training over the summer, ready to hit the ground running in the new school year.

Make sure you’re on the 10WGT Waitlist to get all the details and a sneak preview.

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Why even top students sometimes procrastinate (and how to overcome it)

Even top-performing students still procrastinate.

And it’s not down to a lack of motivation.

This Y11 ATAR student is currently getting in the 70%’s
for English and is working on achieving her goal of high 80’s.

One of her struggles this week was getting an independent reading and summarising task ‘done’.
She’s not lazy and she wants great results.
So motivation’s not the issue (and therefore also won’t fix it).

Watch us unpick what’s stopping her from getting going,
and transform the task from vague and intangible to specific and actionable.

P.S. Sometimes procrastination sneaks in as ‘productive procrastination’, like
– doing more research (rather than actually starting the assignment)
– filing notes (instead of processing those notes)

The result is actually worse than spending that time scrolling through Insta or watching Netflix.
The task still isn’t done and they’ve spent hours ‘studying’ rather than getting some free time.

Use the questions I asked her with your teen next time they aren’t getting a task done and feel like they don’t really know why.

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Want better time management? Use ‘Outcome Scheduling’.

Wish your teen had better time management skills?

Well, I hate to break it to you, but
(unless you’ve got a time machine – in which case – can I come?!)
we can’t actually manage time itself.

All we can do is manage what we DO, in the time we have.

Plus, what does time management really mean?

Getting more done??
More what?… Insta-scrolling?

Or maybe, being more efficient?
Sounds good.


(You know I love the HOW!)

The solution is ‘Outcome Scheduling’:




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Writing clear, high-quality responses to high-level commands

Here’s how I know if a student will give a CLEAR, high quality answer
BEFORE they even write it.

(As you can probably guess from me by now, it’s got nothing to do with their subject knowledge).

I just need to find out if they’re CLEAR on what the command word means and what it requires.

And to do that, I just need to ask them one thing about the question they’re about to answer (presuming they already know about command words, what they are and can identify them)…

“What is that command asking you to do?”

If they can answer that question confidently, clearly and succinctly, then they’re on track for a high quality answer (and completing it without unnecessary struggle).

If not, then we’re likely on the road to waffle and vague-ness.

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When to start a new paragraph in any task or essay

I hate to admit it, but being ‘forced’ to read huge novels as a teenager put me off reading for a LONG time.*

I didn’t actually mind Shakespeare,**
but that was because I approached the analysis more like a dissection and translation exercise than an appreciation of literature.
(I liked structure and box-ticking even then!)

That’s why I loved Gemma’s (our English Focus Coach in Next Level Coaching) clear and easy system for knowing when to make paragraph breaks in any piece of writing.

I see LOTS of students struggle with paragraphing in their writing;
either because they’re under exam time pressure and forget them,
or because they’re not quite sure when or how they should insert them.

The TIP-TOP system works for any type of English task or exam response and in fact, for ANY subject at any level.

* I didn’t read a book for ‘fun’ again until I was about 24 years old and it was like re-discovering the joys of going for a walk.
[Fun when you’re a little kid (yay – an adventure!),
annoying and boring as a teenager (um, what for?),
joyful as an adult (let’s meet up – we’ll do a good walk and catch up).]
I think you officially know you’re an adult when you decide to ‘go for a walk’ or ‘admire the view’ without being forced to by your parents.

** We did Julius Caesar and Merchant of Venice, and I still remember the bit about revenge and the pound of flesh, and the “et tu Brute” bombshell.
(Can’t remember a thing about Oliver, and just ‘something about witches’ for The Crucible. Embarrassing to admit, but true.)

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How to practise exam technique, when there aren’t any formal exams

The beauty of your teen mastering the 6 elements of exam technique
is that these skills are essential for ALL aspects of their study.

Not just exams.

So, if your teen hasn’t had exams,
they CAN still practice, refine and hone their exam technique.

In fact, they absolutely should be doing that every single day of their study, by:

  • identifying the command word in every text book question
  • predicting the mark scheme in every extended response
  • working to time limits to be efficient now (and used to working to time limits for the real thing).



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