Grade Transformation Blog

Grade Transformation Blog

No.1 in Transforming Students’ Grades

Posts filed under Assignments

Real coaching – How to choose the best topic

Does your teen love to have open choice on what to do in an assignment?

Or do they prefer to have guidelines and direction?

Truth is, every student should make decisions STRATEGICALLY on what topic to pick when there’s a choice of any sort.

If they want to give themselves the best chance of a great result AND complete it in the smoothest and most efficient way,
then here’s my advice to REAL students with REAL questions around exactly these dilemmas in our live group coaching calls.



P.S. Every student in the 10 Week Grade Transformation Program gets access to three of these live group coaching calls with me during the program.
They can ask me any Q they like about their study, how to apply the strategies they’re learning in the program AND learn from the Q’s and A’s given to other students. (In fact that last option is the one that many students get the most out of! The Qs they’d never even thought to ask themselves!)

P.P.S. These excerpts are from a selection chosen by current students who nomiated their ‘best bits’ from Term 2 that they’ve found super-useful).

You can enrol your teen now and get them on track – and supported – in their study!

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“What would Katie say?”

Rather than posting a video of hand-picked tips and advice for you, this week I’ve decided to to open up my Wednesday evening (27th May, 8pm AEST) so you can get the precise tips, advice or just bend my ear about what YOU really want to know.

So join me for:

“What would Katie say?” 🤔

*Live Q&A* for you to ASK . ME . ANYTHING!

I’ll give you a clear and specific answer, based on my 13 years as an award-winning high school teacher, national exam marker, coursework moderator and scrutiny panel member.

This is what I do all day, every day
and luuurvve to talk about with keen and supportive parents, students and, well… anyone who’ll listen!

Check out my personal invite, I recorded just yesterday in the moment I decided to do this!
And then CLICK HERE to get your link to the Live Q&A Room.


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It isn’t even that difficult

As we get ready to release the brand NEW 10 Week Grade Transformation Program (2. 0),
whilst a lot is new and has been upgraded and
even more amazing training added,
when I went back to the original info I wrote for students about the 10WGT almost 4 years ago there’s literally nothing I would change in that description!

I was expecting to cringe my way through it
(as you do when you go back and read something you thought was good way back when, but then later… well… not so much)
but when I read it, I was actually like “Wow, this is goooood!”.
It totally nails everything the 10WGT is and everything the 10WGT does.
Because of course, the key concepts and the core purpose of the program HAVEN’T changed at all – so I’m sharing my fave snippets of that description with you here:

Fact: You could easily raise your grades in any exam, essay or assignment if only you knew the untold secrets to exam success.

Did you know that most students will never get the marks they should in assessments, assignments and exams, even if they study hard?

(In fact it doesn’t matter how hard they studied, even if they worked harder and longer than anyone else).

Why? Because they are not fully skilled and confident in things like understanding command words, selecting and structuring content, and knowing what the markers are specifically looking for.

In my experience as an exam marker, national coursework assessor and award-winning high school teacher – and now – exam board scrutiny panel member and school workshop leader –  I’ve come to realise that it is NOT ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU KNOW, it’s all about how well you put it down on paper. 

But: Teachers just don’t have the time to teach these skills along with all the content laid down in the curriculum they have to cover. Plus, most of them aren’t trained examiners or assessors and so don’t have this insider knowledge.

Pretty depressing, right?

But here is the good news – well in fact it is brilliant, awesome news… This ALL means… that

You Are Better Than You Think!

Your grades can be higher than you ever imagined.

You can have access to more career and life opportunities.

All with less stress.

Yes, it is possible to achieve fabulous results whilst feeling cool, confident and in control.

And the best bit is…

My online 10 Week Grade Transformation Program means you can easily discover all these secrets and master all of these skills. It isn’t even that difficult. In fact it’s a lot easier to perfect things like ‘exam technique’, structuring extended responses and giving examiners what they want, than it is to learn lots more subject content.

Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to work – this isn’t a magic fix that’ll happen overnight. But what it does mean is that you can become highly skilled in the strategies required for amazing results, and when you do, you’ll have these ‘super-powers’ forever!


The 10 Week Grade Transformation Program is for you if:

You Sometimes Feel:

  • Like you’re drowning in homework, notes, assignments or revision

  • That there are some subjects or topics that you just never seem to do well in

  • That you don’t know the best way to organise your time or tasks in order to get things done efficiently

  • Lacking confidence in some aspect of your academic abilities

  • That you don’t know exactly HOW to make your work better even after it’s been marked

  • Unsure if you’re ‘doing it right’ when answering exam questions or writing assignments

  • That you work hard but still wish your results were better?

And the 10WGT is for you if You Want:

  • Expert help and support to give you the skills to be confident, organised and motivated in your school work

  • To feel positive and in control of your study, your exams and life at school or college

  • To know exactly how to tackle different types of tasks and assignments

  • To know PRECISELY what ANY exam question is really asking 

  • And able to respond in a way that will earn you the MOST MARKS with the subject knowledge YOU have

  • To know exactly what ‘exam technique’ is and what ‘command’ and ‘trigger’ words are

  • To set goals beyond anything you ever thought possible, and actually achieve them!

My proven system has led hundreds of students to success already and it can work for you too.


So, if ANY of this sounds like your teen, then definitely go check out the 10 Week Grade Transformation Program 2.0,
and take advantage of this once-only opportunity to be able go through it in REAL TIME, with me checking in each week and all of our new students, as we all kick off together.

This time next week, we’ll be in it, doing it.
So let’s make this an amazing week, and I hope I get to meet you and your teen if you decide to join me inside the 10WGT 🙂


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What’s this leading to?

When it comes to open tasks and having to come up with your own choices, it’s not enough to go with what you like the most. To gain maximum marks and best ever results you really need to get your head around this:

How can students go about tackling open tasks?

I want to talk about not just choosing a topic or idea that students like the most, enjoy or interests them.
Yes that’s important,
but what’s critical in achieving top grades is to find something that ties in with the criteria or marking guide really, really well!

I’ve worked with a couple of students this week where they have both had English assignments relating to specific texts they are studying and are having to come up with their own ideas and concepts.
Very quickly I asked them:
“What’s this leading to?”

What I specifically want to highlight is that most students will go down the path of choosing ideas they like the most or that interest them.
I want to steer students down the path that will access the most marks
and yield the greatest results.

So, let’s pick ideas and topics that are going to work really well for the assessment or task that follows. Let’s be strategic.

I want students to think beyond just making a choice at the surface level
and dive deeper into making choices that are truly going to benefit them in the marking guide or criteria…
That’s where the REAL gold is!

My perspective has been honed from many years within education
including both assessment marking and formal exam marking.
Previously I have only worked one-on-one with students that have completed my flagship online program (the 10 Week Grade Transformation program).

However, I’m going to be making an exciting announcement in the next few weeks.
Keep an eye on your in-box very soon as I’m going to be offering the opportunity for more students to work with me personally on a regular basis. This offer will be limited so you’ll have to act quick.




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Stop! You’re going the wrong way!

Just because you’ve been doing something a certain way for so long, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should just keep going.

Recently I was working with a group of school students and had a couple who were adamant they wanted to continue making their notes in the same way they always had.

Despite the fact that I’d just been through the proven reasons why that strategy – which was basically typing them out almost word for word – was not effective both in terms of recording and remembering that info.

Just so you know – having a set of typed notes to refer to is not as useful as having a set of hand-written, colour coded summaries, condensed and ideally transformed or processed in some way. Our brains don’t take in the info in the same way and the act of actually handwriting those notes and condensing them also enhances our understanding and retention.



I see this all the time in students’ revision too.

They have always revised by reading back over and highlighting notes.

They have always written out palm cards crammed full of info for topics.

And sometimes the reason is perfectly reasonable too.

They’ve always gotten decent grades that way.

But that doesn’t mean that’s as good as it can be – as good as it’s gonna get – that you have to continue to take that slow and inefficient route to exam success. (Because – blunt but true – all those strategies I’ve just mentioned are slow and inefficient. Even if typing is faster than writing, the learning is less effective)

I remember hearing someone talking about an analogy that totally works for this situation – consider this:
If you were travelling to a destination, and you’d already walked for 2 hours to get there, but then you realised that you were going the wrong way,
would you keep on walking?

It would be frustrating for sure, you’d maybe even be a bit angry.
It would certainly be understandable for you to want to question that info, the map, the GPS,  or whatever it was that told you, you’re going the wrong way.

But would you be like …
aw, you know what I’ve come this far,
I’m just gonna keep going and somehow hope that it’s going to get me where I want to go.

Hopefully, you’d have someone come up to you (someone like me maybe!) and go –
‘Wait! Stop! You’re going the wrong way. Turn around. Here’s the right way.
Certainly don’t go any further in the wrong direction!

Yes, you’d be sceptical,
yes, you’d be annoyed,
but should you carry on going the wrong way?

Of course not!

Hopefully that route has taken you at least slightly in the right direction at least, and often that’s the case.
Students have been able to find some success in what they’re doing. But I want to be the GPS that sends out flashing notifications to as many students as possible and shows them the right way to go about their study. To make it as efficient and effective as possible.

So, has your teen been given advice anywhere along the way that they haven’t yet taken on board?
Is there a different path they need to get onto in terms of their research strategies for assignments,
their note-taking systems, and – the big one…
their revision techniques?

I’m a big believer in the fact that it’s never too late to get onto the more direct and faster, easier route to awesome grades.

So if you feel your teens not on the right path right now, then be sure to check out my free parent guide – the 3 huge mistakes even smart students make in exams and assignments  –– and I’ll show you precisely where they’ve likely been going wrong and how they can easily get back on track.

You’ll also then get all my weekly videos like this one delivered straight to your inbox – (don’t know about you, but I love making life as easy as possible).


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DON’T Just Start Somewhere

“Where do I start?”  Or “I don’t know where to start.”

Ever heard anything like that from your teen?

And have you or one of their teachers ever, in a totally well-meaning way, ever replied with
“Just start somewhere.”

Or, maybe been tempted to say
“Try anything just to get started.”
“Start with the bit you do know.”

Unfortunately, that’s not good advice.

It’s coming from a place of encouragement and action, but it can just lead to many hours of wasted time and energy. And plenty of frustration and disheartenment to boot.

So what to do instead?




Make a clear plan of what needs to be done and what’s going into each element.

So for an essay, just having a plan that says intro, body paragraph 1, body paragraph 2, and 3 and conclusion isn’t good enough. It’s a fraction better than having zero structure, but it’s definitely not enough.

Now, I’m not going to go into all the details of what should exactly go into a plan, and HOW to do it.
I do that in my Write Like an A-Grader Training.

Instead I want to focus simply on why that plan is so essential
and why it’s such an amazing indicator of whether a student is going to complete a task smoothly and successfully,
or whether they’re heading into the dreaded waffle zone,
(or not even that far – staying stuck and frustrated with a blank screen or blank page in front of them).

Because if your teen isn’t able to make a clear and detailed plan,
then they aren’t going to be able to write a clear and cohesive, high quality response.

In other words, if they don’t know what to put in their plan,
then it’s no wonder they are feeling stuck and finding it hard to get started or make progress.

They’re likely confused or simply feeling kinda empty about what they need to do and how to do it.


To make a plan, they need two things:

  • They need to learn how to identify what a task or question or essay title is REALLY asking and what they need to do to respond appropriately.


  • They need to be clear on the subject content and how it links to the demands of the task.


Only THEN will they be able to devise a thesis statement or have a clear focus.

And only with THAT will they be able to pick out the evidence and examples that need to go in their body paragraphs.


These are the things that need to go into their plan.

The direction or focus or thesis
and then
the content to support that.

If they aren’t able to create a clear plan, then they have little hope of creating even a satisfactory response.


So many students want to bypass the planning stage because they feel it’s time-consuming and they want to just dive straight in.

The total.opposite. is true.

The planning stage is not only an essential part of crafting a high quality response,
but it’s a very clear indicator of whether your teen’s clear on the task, the demands of the command word (or words!) and the focus of every paragraph.


So if your teen’s feeling stuck, confused or finds themselves in the waffle zone part way through an extended response, assignment or essay task,
then they need to go back to the planning stage.


Figure that out first, use the gaps in it to guide them on getting the help and clarity they need
and the rest will become a LOT quicker, smoother and more successful.

If you know anyone else who’d benefit from this tip, then feel free to forward it or share it online,
and until next week, let’s make this a fantastic week!


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Whoops! Forgotten any of the basics?

Lesson from Bonnie and her leash-training!

It’s a two steps forward, one step back affair at the moment (literally!).

And we realised (after a ‘help!’ email to our dog trainer!) that we’re just trying to do too much ‘fun stuff’ without having the basics TOTALLY nailed.

Makes sense.
(We’ll put the Australia’s Got Talent application away for now then) 😉

And it might be the same for your teen.

Check out the ‘basics’ they might be leaving behind in pursuit of the higher grades (and of course, how they can get any missing parts of their foundations filled in)!


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The KEY to all study problems

Did the construction workers go about building the Sydney harbour bridge without a proven framework, a clear strategy and a set of step-by-step instructions and stages?

Of course not.

And even if they did AND managed to produce a functioning bridge by making it up and figuring it out as they went,

it VERY likely wouldn’t have been completed in the most efficient, smooth or stress-free way.

So it’s no wonder students struggle to write an essay or assignment or even just answer a few topic questions, when they don’t have a clear strategy or step-by-step breakdown of how to tackle the task.

And it’s no wonder they don’t get the best result when they don’t have a clear vision of what the successful outcome will include or look like, how it will address all the criteria and how to make it happen.


A “problem” is simply a gap,

an open space between point A and point B.

And almost always, it’s an open space you can bridge.

For example, a problem a student might be given in Maths is the gap between the scenario presented and the solution or answer.

Or a more general study problem your teen may face in English might be

‘how do I write an essay on that?’

And the gap is the structure and content that makes up that essay.

Either way,

they need to build a bridge to cross that gap and arrive at the solution or a successful end result.


So the focus on achieving better results with less stress, is really about the bridge.

Did the construction workers go about building the Sydney harbour bridge without a proven framework, a clear strategy and a set of step-by-step instructions and stages?

Of course not.

And even if they did AND managed to produce a functioning bridge by making it up and figuring it out as they went,

then even though it might be a successful outcome,

it VERY likely wouldn’t have been completed in the most efficient, smooth or stress-free way.

So why would your teen do the same?

It’s no wonder that we struggle to get ourselves from start to finish with a task or assignment if we don’t have a clear strategy, step-by-step breakdown or a clear vision of where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.

As I tell everyone,

it’s not just a case of working harder.

If a team of engineers and builders just kept laying more and more bricks,

or working longer hours every day,

or putting more and more bolts between the steel parts,

does that guarantee a better bridge?


A clear template, a set of steps, an order of tasks and even an example of a successful bridge built in the same way somewhere else,

that’s what’s  going to make the job a lot faster, easier and produce a more successful outcome.


That’s why I’m all about providing students with these tools and strategies.

Giving them the simple yet super-effective tools, checklists and tricks to make their writing sound amazing in my Write Like an A-Grader training

Giving them a complete system for study success in my 10 Week Grade Transformation Program,

from note-taking to what to do in the final minutes of an exam. From Motivation and organisation to the template for an analytical essay at the highest cognitive level of evaluation.

And dissecting model responses and mark schemes in my annual live Exam Mastery Workshop.

I really want to get across one thing…

That a problem or a challenge,

simply shows that there is a gap.

And there is a solution,

a strategy,

a template

or a skill

that will bridge that gap, no matter how big or small.


If you’d like to talk to me about any of the gaps or problems that are stopping your teen from being Happy, Smart and Successful,

then I’m making some time available in my diary these next couple of weeks to chat to parents so that I can see what students are most struggling with at the moment and tailor my upcoming content to be as helpful as possible.

In return I’ll give you my feedback and tips on how your teen can bridge those gaps.

Just drop me an email ( referencing this blog and I’ll send you a link to book in a time for a free and casual chat 🙂


Okay, hopefully chat with you soon!

Now, let’s go make this week, a fantastic week!


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Simple trick to fit ANY writing to ANY type of task

When it comes to writing, students need to show they can craft their writing to the purpose of the assignment or to the audience they’re writing for.

So it’s essential that your teen’s skilled at adapting their style and vocabulary depending on the type of task.

That’s why I’m gonna share with you a quick and simple trick they can use to do this easily and instantly.
(Yep, really!)

I love this snappy little technique, because it’s super simple, really quick (no genius brain cells required) but also hugely effective.



I can tell you, from marking hundreds, actually it’s probably thousands, of creative and formal writing exams, that this ‘style’ or ‘appropriate to genre’ element is a critical part of the marking criteria for almost any task.

Now, there are LOTS of different types of formats, genres and forms of written tasks.
Some of the most obvious or common are narratives or short stories, persuasive speeches, inquiries, analytical essays, scientific reports, feature articles… and that’s just a few.

There are heaps more.

So I want to share with you one of the ways to make a clear distinction between these, and then a simple but effective way your teen can adapt their writing to fit it.

Right, STEP ONE:

Your teen needs to determine whether their task requires them to write formally or informally.

Examples of a formal assignment include:
– an analytical essay,
– a research report,
– a scientific investigation,
– a historical enquiry.

Examples requiring a less formal writing style include:
– a monologue,
– a narrative (AKA a short story),
– a blog article
or even
– a movie or book review,
– magazine column.


Of course these examples are not exhaustive and this is really a continuous scale.
After all, when it comes to a speech, an official speech from the Prime Minister would be quite different in style and formality compared to a speech at a wedding!

So that first step is to consider where the task lies on the scale from formal to casual.


Then, once they‘ve determined what level of formality their writing needs to take – they can think about…

Identifying the tools and techniques that are most appropriate and getting to work on incorporating them into their writing.

Wow, there are LOTS of different tools.

So I want to give you just one.

Because it’s one of the simplest and easiest, but super-effective tricks to make their writing instantly stand out as either formal or informal.


It’s using CONTRACTIONS – or – NOT using them.


Let’s take a quick flash back to English grammar lessons…
*cue floaty flashback music*

Contractions are where we join two words to make one with an apostrophe.

  • it is – becomes – it’s
  • where has my pen gone – becomes – where’s my pen gone?

And from that last example you can probably already see the effect this little change has.

Contractions make things more casual.
They’re great for using in direct speech for characters in a story.

— Oooh – there’s another one – see how I contracted they are to they’re 😉


Students should use contractions when they want to produce a less formal style of writing.
Perhaps for a script or a blog, or even a feature article.


And the opposite is true for formal writing.

Keeping all words complete and separate keeps writing sound a lot more serious and official.
Like this: They are good for science reports, essays and other formal style tasks.
See how that already sounds more official than ‘They’re good’?

Have your teen give it a go.

You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes and how it can boost their achievement in writing appropriately to the task, genre or specified audience.

Then, once you’ve seen what a difference such a tiny tweak can make,
go check out my Write Like an A-Grader online training9 short and powerful modules for creating writing that WOW’s the marker!

It’s packed with strategies, tips and techniques like this and much more sophisticated ones too, from coming up with A-Grade ideas and structuring them, to the final edit and proofread.

And if you know anyone else who’d benefit from this tip, then please feel free to forward them a link to this video or blog article and feel free to share it on your social media.

And until next week, let’s make this a fantastic week!

Katie 🙂

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Is THIS stopping your teen becoming GREAT?

Being good at something and being comfortable with it is certainly no bad thing.

However, being ‘good’ or being comfortable, can stop us from pushing ourselves and therefore prevents us from becoming GREAT. It means we won’t work harder or do more and we don’t therefore discover how brilliant we could be… How awesome things COULD be.



Being good at something can actually be the thing that stops us becoming great at something.
What on earth am I talking about? I’ll explain all in this video.

I’m Katie Price – Grade Transformation Expert, and as a student I was in the ‘good’ category pretty much across the board.

I got mostly As and Bs, in my subjects – not without a lot of work though. I was decent at sport – always made it into the B teams for the sports I played (and sometimes got a shot in the A teams – I was the one who’d get bumped up if an A team player was away) and socially, I would be the odd Vice-captain of something on the odd occasion. So generally good, never terrible, but never GREAT.  Mostly ,I blended in and was totally okay with ALL of that.

If this is anything like your teen, OR if they’re kinda cruising or staying happily in their comfort zone right now, then this message is definitely for you.

Being good at something and being comfortable with it is certainly no bad thing.

However, what I’ve noticed – ONLY once I’ve gotten older and experienced moments of growth as well as moments of struggle and major challenges – is that being ‘good’ or being comfortable –  can stop us from pushing ourselves and therefore prevents us from becoming GREAT.

It means we won’t work harder or do more and we don’t therefore discover how brilliant we could be. How awesome things COULD be.

Now – this isn’t any major revelation… it’s really a THING and so many coaches, authors and well, pretty much everyone who studies or teaches human behaviour and psychology in any way have laid this out clearly for years. But it’s something I’ve been hearing about more and more from parents, and like I said earlier, it’s something I can definitely relate to in my own life and decisions and in others around me.

Cruising means we’re not pushing ourselves. And I certainly wouldn’t say I was cruising as a student, but I did realise just how much more I could push myself when I once got a D in an exam…Argh!

It was my first major exam of A-Level Maths – the equivalent of Maths Methods or Advanced Mathematics depending on your state over here. And it was certainly a big jump from the GCSE level Maths I’d gotten an A in previously.

And that D freaked me out!

I started going to all the extra lunch time tutorials, did extra practise Qs for homework and basically levelled up my study. Because I was a little concerned that that could happen in my other subjects too. I pushed myself harder than I ever had before because I was suddenly uncomfortable.

And you may well have seen this happen in aspects of your own or your teen’s life. It takes something that makes us UNcomfortable to make us change or take action.

I bet you’ve had that situation in the car, where we experience a hairy moment or a near-miss when we’re driving, and suddenly we’re paying super-close attention to EVERY car, pedestrian and road sign for the rest of the journey. That dodgy moment made us uncomfortable and made us focus and concentrate harder straight afterwards.

My mum used to be a smoker and had tried giving up heaps of times, until her best friend – also a smoker – was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. One week later, my mum had given up smoking and hasn’t smoked a cigarette since.

If a situation isn’t GOOD – it FORCES us to take action, to work harder or to seek help or do something about it. To become great at whatever will help us overcome or avoid that situation.

Which is why many parents come to me or enrol their teen in my 10Wk Program, when they’re struggling in some way or with some aspect of their study and need to take action to get good or become great at the things that are holding them back.

AND it’s why I get especially excited for those students and parents who get on board when they’re NOT uncomfortable and they’re already doing pretty well – BUT they’re either keen to see how much better they could be. They know that they COULD be GREAT rather than GOOD if they just had some of the skills, techniques and know-how that I teach.

So if your teen’s currently a little uncomfortable or facing challenges in any aspect of their study – assignments, essay-writing, exams, note-taking, researching or just being organised, motivated and efficient….

OR if they’re doing ok but kinda cruising,

OR perhaps they’re going good but you wanna see if they can turn good into great – then drop me an email or check out my 10 Week Grade Transformation Program which is open for enrolment right now.

And until next week, let’s make this a GREAT 😉  week!

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