Grade Transformation Blog

Grade Transformation Blog

No.1 in Transforming Students’ Grades

Posts filed under Revision

Online revision tools – are they any good?

There are so many more options available to students as ways to study and revise these days.

Hence the great Q this week which asks:
“Is Anki a good revision tool to use?”

(My teacher brain reeeeally wants to add ‘Explain your answer.‘ onto the end of that!) 😂

Whether your teen uses Anki, or you’ve never even heard of it…
I explain all and dissect the pro’s and con’s (including a couple of must-do’s and must-NOT-do!) that you can apply to ANY revision tool or strategy – digital or otherwise.

Want more tips on revision and exams?
Click those tags on the menu to the right of this blog page 🙂


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FREE exam style Qs and practise papers for Y9-12

Your teen wants to practise for an exam, but…

They’ve exhausted the revision questions given by their teacher.

The online and text book questions are okay for learning, but not quite the same as exams.

They’re not in Y12 so can’t really use the exam board past papers.
Or maybe they are in Y12, but their syllabus changed so they don’t have many past years to work from.

So, where can they find a treasure trove of untapped test papers and exam style questions?

Here are a few places to go* to find them for your teen’s specific subjects and year group.

* I’ve put in some direct weblinks in the P.S.


P.S. Here are a few direct links to get you going… but please watch the video to find out which ones are relevant to YOUR teen and where they’re at in their study.

School Certificate Past Papers : Humanities

GCSE exams (foundation and higher tier)

ATAR exams – see each state exam board (10WGT and Next Level Coaching members have direct links to all these with past papers, mark schemes and Chief Examiner reports in the Study Vault)

A’Level exams (AS = Y11, A2 = Y12 equivalent)

P.P.S. BONUS! Not mentioned in the video:
IB Past Papers


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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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“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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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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Exam Marker Diary 2019 – Entry 1

Getting real for a moment.

The biggest challenge for students when it comes to exams is NOT:

  • Trying to revise all the content (that’s important, but it’s not the TOP one).
  • Finishing the paper in the time given without having to rush and scribble through the last few Qs (common, but, still not the biggest challenge).

And it’s NOT

  • [insert whatever issue/hurdle/stress your teen has around exams]!


Because, the biggest challenge is likely the thing your son or daughter isn’t even AWARE of.

(That’s what makes it so frustrating. Like wondering why the kettle hasn’t boiled, then realising it was never plugged in at the wall).


The reason so many students fail to get the grades they could in exams is because they aren’t savvy in knowing what level of cognition the Q is operating at and therefore what detail and elements are required in their response.


Watch me explain how this all works for three (well, it’s really gonna be two – you’ll see why) high level exam Qs.


> Here’s a copy of the exam Qs so you can properly follow along (copyright QCAA – not great quality photos, by me)!


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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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How to stay focused when studying (and not get distracted every 5 mins!)

Your teen sits down with all the right intentions to study hard, but within 5 minutes ends up:

  • scrolling through Insta (for inspo/motivation/just because)
  • making a pretty title page instead (because it FEELS productive even though we all know an A-grade never got given for a brilliant research project front cover) 
  • watching funny cat videos/makeup tutorials/minecraft demos on YouTube (because it just auto-played after the ‘How to solve quadratic equations’ video)
  • gazing out the window (why IS the sky blue. Like really. Why?).
  • offering to unload the dishwasher (okay… now it’s really getting desperate!) 😉


Well, if so, they’re not alone, as this week’s video is for Panda Banda – who asked in a recent Youtube Comment:
“Can you please make a video on how to focus? I know some people have to listen to music or have some sort of background noises. Thanks!”

So this week I’m sharing 3 proven and practical suggestions that work for me and work for many of the students I’ve worked with. I’ve even had parents tell me that these strategies have worked for them too!



Okay, number 1 – let’s address the music thing.

The boring truth is that most people are better off with total silence.
So if you can find a quiet place to study then that’s going to be your best bet.
Zero distractions.

But – if that’s not possible and you need something to drown out the distractions, then multiple studies have shown the most effective type of music for study and focus is baroque music – a particular style of classical music from around 1600-1750. There are hours and hours of playlists you can play for free on Youtube.

Any music with lyrics or faster beats are NOT good for focus or concentration.
So students’ fave playlists on Spotify aren’t the way to go – save those for free time, the gym or in-car sing-a-longs 😉


Tip number 2: Get a clear plan of action.

There’s nothing worse for focus and productivity than not really knowing what you’re doing or how you’re going to do it.

So before getting started on any task, make sure you have all the necessary resources or equipment AND make sure you have a clear plan of attack.

So. Many. Students feel that spending time outlining, planning and prepping is taking up time they could be spending actually getting on and writing or studying or researching or whatever the task involves.
However, the exact opposite is true.
It’s counter-intuitive, but not only does having a clear plan make the overall task a lot faster, it also makes it a lot easier and stress-free AND often results in a higher quality piece of work, therefore achieving a higher grade.

This is why I provide templates and structures in so many parts of my training in the 10 Wk Grade Transformation Program and in my monthly member seminars,
and it’s why I have a whole module dedicated to showing students how to create clear and high quality plans for any extended response or essay they write in my Write Like an A-Grader Training.


Okay – Tip number 3: Chunk everything down.

Both in terms of tasks and in terms of time.

Here’s what I mean…

Never tackle an essay by sitting down to write an essay.

Yep, don’t tackle an essay, by sitting down to write an essay!

Here’s what to do instead…

a) First of all, sit down for 15 mins to dissect the essay title and PLAN the essay content and structure – just like I said in tip 2.

b) Then get up, have a quick break and then spend 15 mins finding the evidence, examples or quotes for each of the body paragraphs you’ve just planned.

c) Then spend 10-15 mins drafting body paragraph 1, then the same for body paragraph 2 etc etc.

Note that I didn’t start by saying to write the intro first – I have another video about writing the intro last in essays HERE.

And notice that I’ve given everything a time limit.

This really helps focus us and spur us into action.

I genuinely play little mind games with myself when I have a challenging job to get done, whether it’s because I don’t really want to do it, or because it’s tricky.

I set a reasonable time limit and then I get to work and see if I can get it done.
I even do it with things like doing the dishes or ironing a bunch of clothes!

And no – don’t use your phone as the timer (‘hello distracting notifications’!).

Nope. Leave it out of sight while you’re working within that time limit.

You’ll be surprised how much you can get done when you do nothing but focus on that specific little part of a task within a certain time limit.


> Recap of those 3 quick but super-practical tips…

1 – Silence is best for focus – but if you need something to listen to – then baroque music all the way.

2 – Plan exactly what you’re going to do and exactly how you’re going to be doing it. So there’s no fluffing around, no excuse to get up and go do or find something.


3 – Chunk down larger tasks into sections. Give them time limits and then challenge yourself to get them done. Check out the video I made on this topic 🙂

And captain-obvious bonus tip – none of those should involve your phone!
If you need it for accessing an email or photos or whatever, get those things up in the planning or getting organised time and then switch off the data or wifi.
Simple. #noexcuses


Leave me a comment on this page to let me know how you go, and until next week, let’s make this a brilliantly productive week! 🙂





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Small actions – BIG results

When it comes down to it, there’s one mark difference between grade boundaries.

Just one mark can make the difference between a D and C grade, one mark between a B and an A grade. Therefore one word can make the difference between a grade, as one word in an answer can mean getting or losing a mark. I’ve talked about this when tackling compare and contrast Qs before.

And this is why I’m a big believer in ‘every little helps’.

Because one little tip, one strategy, one minute of revision of one fact that’s asked in an exam, can make a whole grade’s difference.



I’ve been making a point lately to recommend to my personal coaching students that they do just one or two questions for practise and revision each day because many of them have Term 3 exam blocks in a few weeks.

We’ve been coming up with some specific plans for them based on their personal priority points and your teen can do this for themselves too.

For example in Maths, putting in place a daily bare minimum over the school holidays, to do just one or two Maths practise Qs on top of any other study (or on top of their relaxation!).

That’s perhaps 14 questions over two weeks of a school holiday.

Which would be approximately two or three questions per topic for a term’s worth of content.

Two questions on every topic is just about enough to keep everything fresh in their mind and not let anything become totally buried so that it has to be dug out from the depths come revision for exams.

Or… how about we make this REALLY easy and a long term plan.

How about in Y11 and 12, making one revision card per week, and doing one practise exam Q per week?

Not a whole practise paper, just one practise question. That’s maybe 15mins for the revision card, and 10 mins for the practise Q. That’s just 25 mins once a week. If they’re a morning person, that’s getting up at 6am instead of 6.30 on just one day, or that’s one less episode of a TV program just once a week.

That’s going to give them 46 revision cards if we don’t count the summer holidays, over the course of one year and 46 practise Qs completed.

And that’s a LOT of revision resources at the ready, a lot of exam practise and familiarity with exam Qs and that equals a lot of potential extra marks in an exam 🙂


I’d love for you to have a think about what one little thing could be done once per day, or once per week.

It won’t feel like a lot on it’s own, but add it up and it can make a big difference.

And then let me know in the comments below – what is the one small thing and what big result would it give?

I’ll see you next week, let’s  go make this a fantastic week.


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