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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Santa…Can I please have it all?!

Hey! And an early Merry Christmas!
I wanna talk about some early gifts that some students are getting this year.
Really I’m talking about getting what we want or wish for.
In other words: “having your cake and eating it!”
I totally get it’s not always possible BUT what’s been happening for so many of my students is they really are getting everything they totally wished for. And so are their parents! Let me explain how:

Let me give you specific examples:
Hannah is a student who has been working with me for some time and has been through the 10 Week Grade Transformation Program and is currently coached by me privately.

She got her Y12 OP result this past week and emailed it to me. She achieved an amazing result which I was super proud of and she was stoked (to put it in her own words!). Now, the sentence in her email that really stood out was:

“ I really appreciate everything you’ve helped me with over the years, it definitely made the last few years of High School a lot more smooth and enjoyable”.

So who would think you can actually catapult those results and grades
whilst also reducing the stress, strain, anxiety and pressure that students are under?

Another example was a message I received from Nathan’s mum Rachel who said:

“Nathan’s doing really well at the moment and his English especially. Only a few more weeks to go for the year but he is the happiest he has been in years!”

So as you can hear,
the fact that he’s regained confidence and is working in a smoother, more efficient and effective way
and is achieving results he can be proud of is a huge win.
Rachel even messaged me again later the same day and forwarded me a screen shot of a photo he’d sent her from school  saying: “ I got a high in English??!!”

It was the first time he’d got a result that categorised him at the high level for an English assignment.
So again, he’s getting brilliant results AND his happiness and confidence sky-rocketed as well.

And then there’s Tara.
Now Tara was already getting good grades but was putting herself under a lot of pressure and working super long hours on assignments, essays and prepping for exams.
I’ve been working with Tara for a few years now and she’s doing amazingly.
She was recently awarded DUX in Y11 and her grades have gone even higher
whilst crucially her work-life balance has improved and her enjoyment has also risen.

Maybe we can have everything we wish for when it comes to academic success, personal enjoyment along the way and all of the other things we wish for throughout High School.

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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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Prioritise tasks and skills that’ll ‘move the needle’

It’s easy to stay busy doing things that make us feel productive.

Often, students get good at disguising these ‘distraction activities’ as something that still feels study-related.

Making a beautiful-gorgeous cover page perhaps 😉

But the key to higher grades with less stress is your teen figuring out the specific tasks and places to put their effort, that will really move the needle in terms of results, rankings and grades.

Here’s what these tasks are likely to be (and what they aren’t!).


It’s easy to stay busy doing things that make us feel productive.

In the good old days it used to be things like putting your CD or video collection in alphabetical order.

As a teenager it was (and I’m guessing still is today), cleaning up your bedroom.

[I know, I know! ‘Not such a bad thing Katie’ you might be saying – but not so great if it ‘s just as a distraction activity for something they really should be doing. Like that English essay or Maths investigation] 😉

We also get good at disguising these distraction activities as something that still feels study-related.

Making a lovely cover page for that Maths investigation perhaps!


But the key to higher grades with less stress is your teen figuring out the specific tasks and places to put their effort that’ll really ‘move the needle’ for them in terms of results, rankings, confidence and grades.

So this could be:

  • Practicing some past paper Qs, rather than writing out notes from the text book.
  • Working on extending their analyses in their English essay rather than finding another reference for it.

OR, thinking…

  • How many sources do they really need for that History inquiry? Would they be better off adding more depth and detail to evaluating the sources they already have?


In other words, they need to identify the tasks that’ll boost their results, not just give them some more the ticks on their to-do list.

They should also consider training and learning that’ll really help across the board – which will be universal to all subjects and serve them across different subjects.

For example:

  • honing their paragraphing skills, their range of vocabulary and the sentence structures in their writing,
  • developing exam technique skills,
  • studying past paper mark schemes and chief examiner reports and retrospectives.


The trouble is that these are jobs or activities that rarely appear on any to-do list, but are SO important to boosting grades and confidence for students.


I’d love to know… Scroll down and leave me a comment – what are the things that would move the needle most for your teen AND what are the activities that are keeping them feeling ‘busy’ but aren’t necessarily giving them the biggest pay off?


Until next week, let’s make this a fantastic week 🙂


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How to get really, REALLY good

To become *really* good at something, what should you do?

Maximise your strengths?

Or work on building your weaknesses?

Well, when it comes to students and their study success,
you’ll be glad to know that I DO have a definitive answer for you
and I share it in this week’s video 🙂

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Keep your teen out of the ‘Description Danger-Zone’!

Describing is the lowest cognitive skill level for high school and college students.

Therefore, students need to instead be writing at the explain, analyse and evaluate levels more and more.

But many students know this, and yet that ‘Description Danger Zone’ is a trap that is just SO easy for students still find themselves falling into!

Here’s why it happens and why your teen needs to make sure they avoid it like the cleaning rota! 😉


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Notes from the HSC Expo (but not just for NSW students!)

So, I just got back from the HSC and Careers Expo 2016 in Sydney and wanted to share a super-quick overview of some of the (many) notes I made. These are all things that are relevant to ANY student throughout Australia (not just those sitting the HSC!). So let me know in the comments which strategies or concepts you’d like me to discuss further in future videos and what you’d love to get more info on. #yourwishismycommand!

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Exam Marker Training – How it can help students (QCS Video Diary: Part 3)

What training do external exam markers go through?

What are the mark schemes really like?

How does YOUR CHILD’s paper get analysed, scrutinised and dissected?

As I complete this year’s training (after having already done recruitment testing and training!) I’ll tell  you exactly what gives us the knowledge we need to get on and mark 🙂


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Y12 Exam Papers – My QCS Video Diary: Part 1 (Preparing to mark)

What goes on once students walk out of the exam hall?

Do all of the papers go into a black hole and a list of results and grades pop out a month later?

Ummmm – NO!

In this video, I show all of the preparation that comes before exam marking even begins.

We can only mark what is in front of us. We don’t know how much work you’ve put in at school or home. We don’t know what you know or what you can do.

This is why being able to decipher the question accurately and then give your best possible response with the subject knowledge you have is SO important.


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