Do you wish your teen’s results matched their effort?

Mountains of notes they wear like a badge of honour. 

Endless research for assignments.


Exams that went "Yeah, pretty good!",
only to end up with a disappointing result.

I get it.

I did all those things myself as a student.


I believed that if I wanted to get better grades, I had to study longer and work harder to learn more and more information.


And I see it all the time today as a high school teacher, exam specialist and study coach.

What about you?

Resigned to your teen having to study like their life depends on it
(which, hmmm, let’s face it, in some ways it kinda does - at least in their eyes).


Maybe you see them studying all hours
and although you’re supposed to feel grateful that you have a teenager who wants to study hard,
you secretly wish they could take more time out for sports, hobbies, friends,
or even to *gasp* take a break and relax a little. 

You wish you could help them, but…

- You weren’t taught how to study strategically; 
exam technique was simply leaving 10 mins at the end to check your answers
and 'Success Criteria' wasn't even a thing.




- When you do try your best to help, your advice isn't always met with enthusiasm and gratitude.





- On those occasions when you are 'allowed' to help on the latest assignment, you both put in a team effort and feel proud of their (your) finished piece, only for the result to reveal that you really didn’t grasp those ‘Success Criteria’ as well as you’d thought.

So you feel a bit helpless and wonder whether this is just how things are these days.

But, to be honest, it wasn’t really all that different back in our day...

It’s just that we were slaving over textbooks instead of laptops
and using the hand in and hope’ system for hand-scribed essays instead of clicking ‘submit’ through crossed fingers.


As a dedicated student it was my strong work ethic that was responsible for my good results.
Getting top grades didn’t come easily or naturally.


So as each term went by, in pursuit of those A grades, I did the only thing I knew how to:


I studied longer and harder.

I followed the advice of my teachers and even did ‘extra reading around the subject’.

(The standard advice teachers give when a student's already doing everything else they should be, but parents ask “Is there anything else they could be doing?” and the teacher feels like they have to suggest *something*).

What a total waste of time that was.

(It’s okay,
I can say that because of what I know now as an external examiner and award-winning teacher, 

who's been there and said that in my 'life before exam board training').

Trouble was, I didn’t know how to actually make use of that ‘extra reading’ - or the piles of notes I’d written from it all.

I just kinda figured that simply having this additional knowledge in my brain would help in some way when it came to the exams.

After all, more knowledge = more marks, right?


Here’s my problem with all of this…

I could have achieved those same results with a lot less struggle and stress. 


I could’ve still worked my butt off and achieved straight A’s.

I’m not exaggerating.
I know now that it’s relatively easy to jump up a grade or two when students know the secrets of strategically tackling essays and exam questions


Nor am I being big-headed: I’m certainly no genius.


But I do know with absolute certainty that I missed out on marks I shoulda-coulda got, if only I’d known then what I’ve since learnt through official exam-marker training.


Working behind the scenes, figuring out the exact strategies required to ace exams, assignments and essays was like discovering the roadmap I never knew existed.

When it came to the nitty gritty of exams and mark schemes,
from the very first day of official examiner training
I . was . hooked.


I couldn’t WAIT to get back to the classroom to share everything with my students.

Because these are ‘secrets’ students are absolutely allowed to know.

In fact, they’re kind of expected to know them.

It’s just that no-one’s actually teaching them.


They’re not part of the ‘syllabus’ or the National Curriculum.


And only a tiny segment of teachers have gone through any kind of external exam board training.

Now it’s your turn.