Grade Transformation Blog

Grade Transformation Blog

No.1 in Transforming Students’ Grades

Posts filed under Essays

How long should my teen spend studying each evening in Y11 +12?

HINT: The answer is NOT a number.
Watch the video to find out how your teen should be planning their study time instead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to select a great tutor (but do you even need one?)

If you’ve ever:
– Considered getting a tutor for your teen, but not sure how much it will help (there’s one question to ask yourself/your teen)

– Wanted to know what to look for in a tutor (I’ll give you 3 key qualities)

– Previously had a tutor for your teen, but didn’t get the outcomes or results you’d hoped for (the reason may well be simple – and fixable!) 

then this video is for you!

 

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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.
SO TRUE!

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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How to make things EASY (not an effort)

Following on from last week’s video,
I’m sharing the key to your teen actually
following through on the goals and plans they set for themselves.

 

If you didn’t catch Part 1 last week,
you can click here to access that first.

I was discussing the hurdles we all come across
when setting goals and tasks and that in the moment of ‘doing’
it’s very easy to tell ourselves that some of the smaller steps
aren’t going to make a difference
and it’s easy to talk ourselves out of doing them altogether!

Now, in the summer
there’s plenty of time so we can juggle things around
and absolutely stick to the things we’ve told ourselves we’re going to do.

And I wanna talk more about the practical nature
of setting students up for success over the summer.

It’s all about making it as easy as possible
to follow through and complete the tasks that have been set.

I remember reading about somebody who was really struggling to exercise
but really wanted to do it.
So she decided to go to bed in her gym/running gear
and put her running shoes right next to her bed!
So that in the morning it was actually more effort to get up and take all her gear off
and push aside her running shoes
than it was to just get on and get out there to go and do the session!

As amusing as this is,
it’s a good example of setting yourself up for success
and making it easy to follow through so there’s no excuses for not doing the task.

I gave the example of a student I’ve been working with
who’s been set the challenge of completing three maths questions per week over the summer.
This is so she can keep the momentum going with the success and results
she’s already seen
and really have something she can thank herself for in the future
in the lead up to her next exams.

So the steps that need to be taken for this could look like:

Pen/pencil and all other equipment needs to be close to hand and organised.
So no time is wasted searching through cupboards and drawers.
This is to avoid any excuses that get put on that mental list of thinking something is too hard.

Know exactly what questions are going to be attempted.
You don’t want to be flicking through text books aimlessly wondering what to do.
This can be flexible depending on feelings and motivation on any particular day.
Again, we want to minimise the opportunity to make excuses for not getting something done
and should instead be attempting to best set ourselves up for success.

Whatever your teen has set themselves
(and this is not just limited to their study),
take the actions at the time of setting the challenege
to put every little thing in place that can make completing that task as easy as possible.

 

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Let your teen’s future-self tell ‘em what to do

Does your teen have tasks to complete over the summer?
Or do they have no actual homework set
but are wondering what they should do?


Here’s my thoughts on a topic I get asked about (every year like clockwork)
before schools break up for the summer…



I know some students get set tasks,
especially if they’re in Y11 and going into Y12.

But for many students there’s nothing specific laid out over the summer.

For some, it’s a much-needed time to reset
and do nothing (which is absolutely necessary).

For others, they see it’s also an opportunity to get ahead
and set up for success in the new year
(and I absolutely agree with this also!).

It really depends what sort of student your teen is
and what sorts of aspirations and goals they have.

For many students I work with, it’s entirely appropriate
for them to complete some directed tasks
to get ahead of the pack, store up some confidence and ensure they don’t
lose some of the progress they’ve already made.
So they move into their new year group in a smooth and streamlined way
that has them hitting the ground running in Term 1.


So, for some students it’s going to be going through some of my online trainings over the summer.
And for others it could be more specific tasks,
personal to them and their subjects.

All of this is to help avoid the dreaded ‘summer slide’
where memories of content and info fade,
and study skills generally get a bit rusty.

 

If you’ve followed me for a while
and you’re familiar with what I do
you’ll know I’m a big advocate of “every little helps”.

This is especially true when it comes to students getting higher grades,
becoming more confident and less stressed.

Now, at some point during the summer,
for the students that have been set tasks (by me, themselves, or their teachers!)
they’re gonna have thoughts like:

“It doesn’t really matter if I don’t do them this week”

Or

“Is this really going to help?”

 

Students need to know that these thoughts are going to pop up
(sometimes with warrior-level strength!)
and therefore, if they aren’t gonna succumb, then they need to be prepared for when they do!

One way to do this is for them to put themselves in the shoes of their ‘future-selves’.
It’s a bit like when you’re stressed out and wishing you had done more work earlier.
What will their future-self be thinking about this moment in 3, 6 or 12 months’ time?
If they asked their ‘future-self’, what would they tell them to do?

Another way of framing this is to consider actions now as gifts to your ‘future-self’.
What is your ‘future-self’ going to be sooooo grateful for you doing in this moment?

The thing you maybe don’t want to do,
but know will reap you rewards in the future.

Like putting the duvet cover back on the bedding as soon as it came off the line, and *isn’t* waiting in a heap as you go to get into bed that night.
Putting on the doona cover is one of my least-favourite household chores. But it’s MOST hated when it’s 10pm and I’m exhausted and forgot I’d left it ‘to do later’…. 😩

Students HAVE to be mentally prepared
for when the little devil on the shoulder chirps up with negative/lazy/doubting thoughts. (Which it will!)

Otherwise, Netflix (or back in my day, re-ordering my CD collection) 😉
and that whispering devil will win… with ‘what-if’s rather than ‘wahoo’s!!!’ waiting for them in the future.

 

 

 

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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  – www.gradetransformation.com– 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?

 

 

Plan.

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.

And

  • 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!

Katie

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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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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,
or
– 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…

STEP TWO:
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.
Why?

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.
Like:

  • 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 😉

Anyway…

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!

Yours,
Katie 🙂

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