Grade Transformation Blog

Grade Transformation Blog

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Posts filed under Essays

Evaluation essays don’t want a ‘personal opinion’

Evaluation level essays do NOT actually need your teen’s personal opinion.Yep.
Even if it says ‘In your opinion…’

For most students, this is GREAT news!

Because it means they don’t need to be an expert in whatever the genre or topic it.

They don’t need to be a literature enthusiast.

And they don’t need to have some sort of sophisticated and unique insight into anything.
I just wish I’d realised this as a student.
I only figured it out 7 years into my teaching when I was marking Y12 Writing Tests and figuring out the mark scheme as a non-English teacher.

In Week 3 of Essays Bootcamp (available as part of Next Level Coaching), I told students exactly what they need to do instead.
And, all importantly… HOW to do it.



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Advanced Skills: Making Links Within AND Between Evidence in Essays

How to achieve the highest marks in selecting and integrating the best evidence/quotes in essays.
– Top tips in how to up-level evidence selection and how to make detailed linkages in the analysis.



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Checklist: How to select the BEST evidence or quotes for an essay

Excerpt from Essays Bootcamp in Next Level Coaching: Gemma explains exactly what examiners are looking for when awarding the top criteria for ‘discerning’ evidence. Including: – The proven Checklist of ‘decision-makers’. – A specific example of where students can go wrong with this – What your teen needs to look for so they don’t fall… (read more)

Is your teen using ‘micro-quotes’ in their essays?

What makes ‘use of evidence or quotations’ in an essay, exam or assignment
‘discerning’ rather than ‘appropriate’ in the mark scheme?
What takes an extended response to ‘pertinent’, or ‘perceptive‘, in the success criteria?

There are multiple elements and Gemma, our English-Focus Coach went through ALL of them with our Next Level students this week.

One of the mistakes students are making is incorporating quotes that are too long.

The quote can be appropriate.
It’s perhaps even been analysed well.
But it’s not considered perceptive or discerning because the EXACT words in the quote that are pertinent to the focus of the question have not been identified.

Here are some excerpts of that session where Gemma explains how and why MICRO-QUOTES should be used instead of full sentences.



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Stop writing more than you need to – 2 ways to stop running out of time in exams

The 3 main fears students have around exams are:

1) Fear of the Unknown (What will they ask?)

2) Fear of Uncertainty (What does the Q really mean? What do they want in my answer?)

3) Fear of Running Out of Time.

That third one happens because students are writing more than they need to.

And that happens for two reasons:

  • 1. Not being sure what will get marks or what the Q really requires – see Fear #2 above – so they end up ‘throwing spaghetti at the wall’ and hoping some of it sticks (gets marks).
  • 2. Answering the same way they do every day in lessons or assignments – which is the opposite of what’s required in exams.

And there are 2 super-simple, instantly-actionable solutions that will give your teen back SO much time in every Q in every exam they sit from now on.


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“I wish we’d had this earlier”

Is the 10 Week Grade Transformation Program right for your teen
and if so,
when’s the best time for them to do it?

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Exam Marker Video Diary – DAY 5

How do students actually manage to get 15/15 in extended response Qs in exams?

It’s possible and here’s how:



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Exam Marker Video Diary 2021 – Part 4

The focus of the question I’m marking is all about analysing impacts around a challenge within a specific case study.
There are MANY different impacts student could identify and this is often the case in all different subjects, topics and case studies.

Sometimes there are so many that it’s overwhelming.
Sometimes it can feel tricky to identify them or see how to put them across coherently.
So, I’m offering some specific ways to identify impacts or effects
and then a strategy to help decide which ones to select to actually include in an answer,
and what order to put them in.


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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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