Grade Transformation Blog

Grade Transformation Blog

No.1 in Transforming Students’ Grades

Posts filed under Homework

WHY they leave assignments to the last minute (and no amount of nagging will fix it) ;)

“My daughter constantly leave everything to the last minute. Then assignments become a panic and she often doesn’t end up submitting her best work. It’s so frustrating. What do you suggest to help her manage her time better and get things started well before the deadline?”

Here’s the thing:
Often it isn’t about time management at all.

Here are the 3 REAL root causes of procrastination
(or a lack of motivation, or whatever you call it!)
that need to be addressed first
and  – important! – why no amount of nagging will solve them.



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The second best time is NOW

If you feel like there’s not enough time to make a difference to your teen’s results, then THIS is for you.
I’m a bit of a perfectionist and planner (okay, a bit of a control-freak too) so I totally get it when you WISH an opportunity had come up at what felt like a better time.

However, even if you wish your teen could’ve mastered their exam technique and learnt how to revise strategically months or even years ago, does that mean that they can’t benefit from the opportunity to grab these skills right now?

Is ‘late’ better than never?

P.S. Here’s the other video I reference in this video!…
Is it too late?

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Dealing with school closures

In this week’s coaching call with my Next Level students, one Year 12 student typed into the Q&A chat:
“Do you have any tips on dealing with the anxiety of not knowing my future, with exams etc”.
I’m sharing my response so that it can hopefully help all the other students (and their parents) in this position.
And if you’d like more strategies and tips on how your teen can stay AHEAD, not just afloat through schools closures, I’ve got a TON of support:



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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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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”


“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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When complicated becomes easy

Remember learning to drive?

Having to think about every little thing…
the clutch, the accelerator, the steering, the gear changes,
the mirrors, the road signs!

It’s amazing how, once we’ve practised,
and practised (and practised!) something,
with guidance and teaching and advice along the way,
that thing that once felt
– and genuinely WAS so complicated,
and took so much thought and concentration…
becomes almost effortless.

It’s pretty amazing when you really think about it.

Find out how this happens for students when they master exam technique
and the skills of strategic and effective study.


I just finished a quick journey
where I was following a learner driver for much of the time.

They were struggling a little bit at a junction
and as I’m pretty sympathetic with learner drivers,
I was sat behind them thinking about all the things they were trying to do in that moment.

The accelerator, the clutch, the steering,
looking both ways down the road as well as in the mirrors
and everything else!

And I had a bit of a double-whammy-thought-moment.

First, I started thinking about how there’s a parallel
with all of the strategic study and exam technique
that I train students in.

At first and for people outside of that training
when they hear me talking about it all,
it can sound pretty overwhelming and complicated.
It can feel like there’s a lot going on
(and just like if we had to break down and describe everything we have to do and have to think about when driving… there is a lot to know and do and think about!).

You might wonder… 

How’s that all going to fit together?

How does my teen put into action all those skills when they’re sat, under pressure, in the exam hall?

For example,
let’s just consider the 6 elements of exam technique.

And what about just ONE of those elements.

  • Command Words.

Well, there’s quite a bit involved just with that
(like there is with just pulling out of a junction,
never mind all the other scenarios and skills with driving).


  • IDENTIFYING the command word


  • Figuring out the LEVEL OF COGNITION


  • The TRIGGER WORDS they need to use in their response
    to alert the marker they really
    are answering exactly what the Q is asking.


Yep, no messing…
there IS indeed a lot to it.


Students who’ve had my training,
feedback and worked with me on practising and honing these skills
totally end up doing ALL of this naturally,
automatically and effortlessly.

They don’t have to be actively thinking about each and every element.

Just as, when we’ve been driving for years,
we don’t have to think about exactly what to do with our feet
and our hands every few seconds. 

And here’s the double-whammy moment I had.

As I sat there thinking:

Oooh, I should make a video about this’.

I realised I get quite a lot of my ideas when I’m driving.

And then I thought:

Well, isn’t that interesting!

That while I’m doing the thing that I used to have to think about,
with every little action and nitty-gritty detail,
I now not only don’t have to do that…
but in fact my brain is so free,
having mastered the skill to such an extent,
that it can actually think creatively and at an even higher level.

Now think about what that means for students!

When they have their exam technique and study skills nailed,
everything’s a lot smoother and more efficient,
then they can up-level themselves even more.

Because when their brain is free from having to think about those skills,
they can come up with even more creative language,
come up with better ideas,
be more able to draw on and convey higher level knowledge
they’ve worked so hard to learn in their subjects.

It creates the space and brain power to produce even better quality work and responses.







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Does your teen ever think like this?

Has your teen ever had these sorts of thoughts?
I know plenty of students who just think:

“I’m just a B/C kind of student”
“I’m just not that great at exams!”
“ I do well in my coursework and assignmments. (Mum thinks I spend too long on them, but I wanna get a good grade, and so yeah, they do take ages!)”

Truth is, with the right sort of training any student could be achieving so much more than they ever thought possible.

Here’s the proof…

I know for sure that things can change, despite previous experiences.

I’ve got soooooo many examples of success stories with students that have made changes that have results beyond what they thought possible..

Take, for example, Jess.
She was a B/C grade student and she just couldn’t get higher grades.
Her belief was:
“That’s just the student I am”. 
But her mum always knew she could be doing so much better with the right help.
Once Jess started working with me she continued to work hard and is now consistently getting A grades.
Now we’re working on achieving those higher grades but in a more efficient way (goodbye long and perfectly scribed notes!!)

And Josh:
He was scraping by with C grades in Year 9.
So his parents got in touch and we worked together on his assignments and essay-writing.
After working with me and putting in lots of effort and hard work,
Josh achieved an A- in his year 12 ancient History enquiry assessment (wowsers!)
and got a straight A in his most recent year 12 English (what *is* this kinda magic we’re working here?!) 😉

Another student, Tara.
Now Tara was already getting good grades but it was taking forever for her to complete tasks (many, many drafts… and ‘I’ll just do a bit more research first’).
Working with me got her much more strategic with her planning, more focused with her direction and research, and a lot more efficient with her drafting.
Not only is everything a lot faster and smoother (no more ‘false starts’ and ‘starting over again’ on projects or assignments),
she’s getting even better results than she was previously (and Tara was already working at a pretty high standard).


So, let’s be clear that these limiting beliefs are just thoughts based on past experiences.
And they can be overcome.
I’m going to be revealing many more info on this, plus some key strategies AND an opportunity for your teen to work with me directly, in my latest webinar training this Tuesday 26th Nov.
If you haven’t already registered, you can click here to save your seat.




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Simple trick to smash your goals

Here’s a simple trick to make goals relevant and actionable for your teen
so they jump up their own personal achievement and confidence scale Every. Single. Day.


I’m going to share a spur-of-the-moment bit of gold with you this week.

I spent a day in a meeting with a Sydney school and one of the things we talked about was to do with students setting goals and being able to make them relatable to school or to whatever they’re doing that day.
The school usually goes through the start of year, start of term goals exercise but what really happens with those goals after that?
They said so many students struggle to see how they are relatable on a day-to-day basis in their schooling.

Something that I shared with the school and that they’re going to be implementing and putting into practice as part of their study skills program is the idea of ‘chunking-down’.

One way it can be done with goals is to track- it -back and think about what steps need to be taken throughout the year to make that goal happen.
Or some things that we need to do this term in order to achieve that goal. Perhaps what we need to do this week, today or even right now.

Your teen can do this in any aspect of their study for whatever it is they’re looking to achieve.
I hope that is really useful, another quick tip for you: If you don’t already have my free parent guide (3 Huge mistakes even smart students make in exams and assignments) you can check it out at If you know anyone else that would benefit from this video, please feel free to share it with them. Until next week, let’s make this a fantastic week.


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You don’t need motivation! (Here’s what’s REALLY going on)

I have so many conversations with parents and students around motivation.

Mostly of them asking “Katie! How do I get (them) motivated?!”

In my experience most of the time the issue is not related to motivation,
but the issue is actually around clarity and understanding of what they really need to do, and most of all, HOW to ACTUALLY do it!

Of course we’re not gonna feel motivated to do something, when we don’t really know what we’re doing.
So that’s the key that needs to be addressed (and one which no amount of nagging or bribery is gonna fix!).


How hard is it to get motivated when you’re not really sure what you’re supposed to be doing or how you should be doing it?

Imagine deciding to go to the gym for the first time,
but when you walk in you have no idea what the equipment is,
how you’re supposed to use it
or what it’s even supposed to be doing?!

You’re not going to feel especially motivated with all these thoughts running around inside your head.

It’s the same for students.

If they don’t know exactly what they should be doing to revise,
the best strategies to do it,
how to do it,
they don’t have a plan,
and they’re not even really sure if what they are doing is going to pay off,
then it’s no wonder it’s a struggle to get motivated.

Students need to learn, practice and plan what they are going to be doing.
If you feel like your teen is in the camp just described above and you can’t honestly say they are totally clear, focused and organised
then this could be the big thing truely holding them back from feeling motivated and getting things done.

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