1. Before the report arrives home, write your own school report. Make up a grid similar to this (below) for all subjects, and pretend to be the teacher and write about yourself. You could also create a grid that simulates your previous school report.

Subject Grade (A-E) Effort (A-E) Teacher’s comment


This gives you the opportunity to reflect on your own performance at school.

2. Read your report looking for positives. Most students will have find areas to commend.

3. The report should be viewed as a vehicle to move forward, and not be perceived as a final judgment of your ability – because it is not. It’s a “screenshot” and not the whole story. It is important to know you have the ability to modify and change your work ethic or study strategies, and that you can improve. The report is an opportunity to highlight strengths and weaknesses, and can help you develop goals for next year.

 4. Compare the yearly report to the Semester 1 report and last year’s report. This can be useful to identify specific subject areas where there has been an improvement or a decline.  If grades improved, celebrate this achievement. If the grades declined, think why this may be the case. For example, Semester 1 report grades may have been based on assignments and not exams. This could flag that exams were either not fully prepared for and study skills should be reviewed, or you need exam practice as they are a very different mode to demonstrate knowledge, or perhaps new concepts were introduced in Semester 2 and these could be weaknesses to work on!

 5. Don’t just look at grades, focus on effort also. Your performance is not measured solely by grades. Not every student will receive an A or B, in fact the average student would mostly like achieve a C grade (which typically represents the middle 60%). Effort grades however can reflect the teacher’s perspective on how hard you worked, your commitment to fulfill homework, assignments and contribution in class. A student who achieved a C grade, or 55%, yet gained an A for effort should be congratulated. Again, as the report should be viewed as a discussion and evaluation, if the effort grade is lower, think why this might be the case, and make a note of this to form one of the goals for next year.

6. Consider the “year average” mark or grade. Many schools will include the year average grade as well as your grade. This is important to consider. If you attained a 75%, and the year average was 62%, then you are well above the average. Celebrate this.  It’s also important to consider the academic strength of the school. If it is a selective high school, or a school where HSC results are consistently high, the year average would be considerably higher than the State average. For example, if you are at a school where 50% of the Year 12 students achieved an ATAR of 90 or over, and you are in the top half of the average, this needs to be considered, even if you achieved a 70%.

7. Teachers’ comments. Obviously if there is a consistent thread from multiple teachers, this needs to be addressed. For example, if many teachers comment on your lack of concentration, or need to focus on answering the question, then the comments suggest a specific area of weakness.

8. Grades varying between subjects, and compare exam results with assessment results. Identify specific subjects where grades were ‘low’ and where others were ‘high’. It is not uncommon for students to have strengths in some subjects and weaknesses in others. Few people excel across all subject areas, particularly in Years 7 – 10 when they have not yet been able to refine their academic program to areas of interest or strength. If grades vary, what are the reasons? It could be simply that you did not study for a subject at all, or had misread a heavily weighted question. Similarly compare exam grades against assessment grades. If your exam marks are noticeably less than the assessment grades, it could easily identify a weakness in exam technique and/or revision, and not be a reflection of ability or understanding. Remember, examinations are just one medium for determining knowledge.

 9. Establish goals for next year and consider a holiday review program (even if only 1 hour a week). The report can, and should, be read as an instrument to create goals for next year, and possibly plan a holiday review program. As students in December typically focus on the long summer holidays, freedom and unstructured days, it’s natural for school work to wane. However, now is the time to create goals for next year, whilst the academic year remains in your recent memory. It is more difficult to establish goals in February. Identify 3 – 5 goals for next semester. Some goals could be:

  • Focus on reading the question in assignments/exams carefully to ensure the question is answered.
  • Ensure I make summary notes when I finish each topic.
  • Do at least 30 minutes reviewing what I learned at school each day, in addition to homework.
  • Ask the teacher if I don’t understand a concept.
  • For example, if Maths is a weakness, spend 1 hour a week doing extra Maths practice. When the goals are listed put them in a prominent place – fridge, bedroom wall, notice board etc. It would also be prudent to develop a holiday review program if there are specific subjects or areas of subjects that are weak. This does not need to be extensive, in fact, shouldn’t, however regular practice of specific subjects that will be required for cumulative learning next year can make an enormous difference.  

If your school subscribes to  you can have your students learn more about goal setting and how to make the most of school by working through the units on the site. Check if your school subscribes here.

NOTE: The CONTENT on this blog and the email newsletters is NOT TO BE COPIED, reproduced or shared in any form.

The only exception to this are the SUBSCRIBING SCHOOLS to who have permission to use these tips in their school newsletters, forward to students and parents or post on school noticeboards.


Prue Salter
Enhanced Learning Educational Services
The study skills specialist!
Study Skills Resources:
Online Study Skills Handbook:



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by psalter on November 1, 2014

Top 10 Tips for Students for Managing Technology Distractions:

  1. Allocate specific times for work and for technology- this can be tricky given that much of the time students need to use technology for research.  However, making a timetable which clearly identifies time for homework/study, games and other online activities, means you know that you will soon get an opportunity to get back online.  It’s best to make these blocks in the time when you aren’t at your most “productive” with work.
  2. Turn off your technology distractions - turn off as many things as you can eg. phone, ipad, ipod, Facebook, Instagram, even your computer if you don’t need it for that piece of work.  If you aren’t aware of messages or notifications coming in, then you won’t need to check them.  Try it for half an hour and then get back to your messages once you’ve finished that work block.
  3. Set clear goals - once you have achieved your work goal, reward yourself with technology. Allow yourself 20 minutes of guilt free online time.
  4. Set a timer – if you can’t stop gaming or checking facebook, even when your allocated time is up, set an annoying timer….which you place away from where you are playing, so that you have to get up to turn off.  Once it’s off, you have already broken the connection to the game and it should be easier to get on with your work.
  5. Install software on your computer to help manage distractions – there are lots of different packages available to assist you in controlling your computer use – how long you use particular programs for and what you use.  More information is available for subscribers to in the Managing Distractions Unit of the Study Skills Handbook

  6. Don’t make in-App purchases – lots of us have downloaded a “free” app only to get caught up in the cycle of “in app” purchases so we can just get one more level or win.  Making a deal with yourself to wait for a while to have another go at a game both saves money and gives you 20-30 minutes to focus on schoolwork instead.
  7. Remember TV is technology too - working in front of the TV can be just as distracting as other forms of technology.  Save up your easy work – like title pages, or filing, to do in front of the TV and use your technology free time to focus on more challenging work.
  8. Enlist some help – ask your parent or sibling to help you manage your technology distractions by sitting near you while you work to monitor what you are doing, testing you on your current topics or holding on to your devices for you.
  9. Find a different place to work - some work can be done outside, or while you are exercising.  Why not step outside to review your study notes, or read your novel?  Record your notes or listen to a podcast when you are out walking the dog?
  10.  Do some mental skills development – if you really need to improve your focus, attention and memory, try doing some specific exercises. offers a formal school based program.  Also

If your school subscribes to  you can learn more about how to prepare for exams and manage stress with your schoolwork by working through the units on the site. Check if your school subscribes here.

Prue Salter
Enhanced Learning Educational Services
The study skills specialist!
Study Skills Resources:
Online Study Skills Handbook:

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This month’s tip from Rocky Biasi at Human Connections.  Learn more about ‘tapping’ techniques that can help manage stress at:

SYDNEY ONLY: Individuals (parents and students) may be interested in attending a workshop in Sydney during October run by Karen Gilles on enhancing self-awareness and self-understanding, which will also help stress management: Watch this YT video for more info:

If you listen to our podcast, Braintree Podcast, we’d love you to take this short survey:


Recently a student sent this email: Hi I was wondering if you could do a tip on staying positive when you are stressed and feeling depressed as our exams are coming up and I have been feeling depressed lately and I think it would help.

It can be difficult to stay positive or “be up” as exams approach. The more important the exam the more stress we can feel. Worse, if we don’t do anything to make us feel good, stress can lead to anxiety and depression. There are many reasons why students feel this stress and depressed mood as examination dates approach.

  • Students receive distorted messages and perceptions about the importance of the exams, such as, “this can/will determine your future” etc.
  • With the pressure and stress of exams students avoid doing the work necessary to be prepared and as a result feel more overwhelmed, hopeless, anxious etc. Students can feel they have no control of their situation.
  • When we allow the pressure, stress and upset to build we can get into bad habits and let go of good habits. As a result students can feel more drained and exhausted and find it difficult or impossible to “climb out of the dark hole” they are in.

A holistic approach to boost wellbeing as exams approach 

The key to being positive and managing negative emotions such as anxiety and feeling down and depressed in any pressure situation including exams is to “fuel up”. It goes without saying that if students are exhausted, tired, stressed, depressed etc. it is very difficult if not impossible to deal with the pressure of exams. “Fuelling Up” is about boosting wellbeing factors in students’ lives. Students need to boost the wellbeing factors in their BODY, MIND and EMOTIONS.

Trying to “feel good” or be “positive” when the body is exhausted and depleted is impossible! This is something we all know yet many of us find it difficult to change.




Here are some things you can do to boost the energy in your BODY:

  • See a doctor.

Visit your doctor and get a check up. It’s important that any medical issues are ruled out because you may try some of the following tips without noticing any benefit while all along there may have been a medical issue that needed attention.

  • Get better sleep.

Feeling good starts with getting the right amount and type of sleep. Start with a good night-time routine. Stop anything that stimulates you such as caffeine or TV or computer, iPad or phone screens etc. for an hour before you go to bed. Try a warm drink such as chamomile tea and use essential oils such as lavender oil. Having a soothing bath or shower can also help along with gentle stretching of tight or tense muscles. If you still feel you are not getting a “good” sleep be sure to see your doctor.

  • Eat in Moderation

Never skip a meal, especially breakfast. Breakfast replenishes your body and helps you start your day full of energy. Eat three main meals, and two to three snack meals a day. Eating five to six times in a day keeps your blood sugar levels balanced, giving you an overall sense of well-being needed for focusing on your tasks and responsibilities.

  • Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise, at least three times per week for a minimum of 30 minute sessions, can virtually “soak up” stress chemicals in your body and help you to relax and even sleep better. Brisk walking, aerobic classes, swimming, bike riding, or jogging are great exercises to release stress buildup and relax your body and mind to either start or end your day right.


Here are some things you can do to THINK more positively: 

  • Change your thinking and perceptions

Write down your top 5 fears and worries. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Then ask yourself, “IS THAT TRUE”? Usually fears and worries are not based on reality but on imagined scenarios that have little to no evidence. If it’s something that can’t be changed bring acceptance to it. It is what it is for now!

  • Change your focus

Have you noticed that what we worry about we make bigger and keep closer to us by the way we think and focus. Try this…make your fears and worries SMALL in size (5 cm in height) DARK in brightness and as far away as possible in DISTANCE. When we change the size, brightness and distance of the things that upset us in our minds it reduces the intensity of the emotion.


Here are some things you can do to FEEL more positive:

  • Acts of kindness

Make a list of 5 acts of kindness you can do every day. Make them simple acts of kindness that are easy to do such as saying thank you etc. Do these 5 acts of kindness every day for 6 weeks. The research shows that people that do this and think of 3 good things in their life (as above) have a dramatic positive boost in their mood.

good day 1 col

  • 3 good things exercise

Every day at the start and end of your day think of 3 good things that happened. Write them down. Then think about either WHY those good things happened or how it MADE YOU FEEL when those good things happened.


If your school subscribes to  you can learn more about how to prepare for exams and manage stress with your schoolwork by working through the units on the site. Check if your school subscribes here.

Prue Salter
Enhanced Learning Educational Services
The study skills specialist!
Study Skills Resources:
Online Study Skills Handbook:

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October 1, 2014

Recently a student sent this email: Hi I was wondering if you could do a tip on staying positive when you are stressed and feeling depressed as our exams are coming up and I have been feeling depressed lately and I think it would help. It can be difficult to stay positive or “be up” […]

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August 31, 2014

Even though parents and teachers tell students that multi-tasking is not an effective way to work, sometimes students just don’t believe them! They think they are different, they think it is just something parents and teachers say with no evidence. So here are some academic research studies to demonstrate to students where the proof is […]

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August 1, 2014

Where can you find help when you are struggling at school? PERSONAL ISSUES If things in your life are upsetting you or stressing you this will affect your ability to learn effectively. Talk to your family, talk to your friends or other people you are close to or teachers you feel comfortable sharing with. However […]

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July 1, 2014

Seven Quick Tips to Help you Relax The daily demands of life, such as exams, peer pressure, and homework assignments, or the challenges of relationships, family, or not making it on a sporting team can lead to an overwhelming feeling of stress. What you need to learn is how to cope with these situations in […]

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June 1, 2014

Many students when they come home from school end up just waiting until they might ‘feel’ like doing schoolwork. Or else they drag the work out over the whole night. A much better way to work is each night have set allocated times for schoolwork, 2-3 half hour blocks. During this time you should do homework […]

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May 1, 2014

Are you riding a rollercoaster at school? Rollercoaster study is where you stay up late doing last minute assignments, then you take it easy for a while and do very little, then panic again when something is due and have to spend huge amounts of time at the end completing the work. If you plan […]

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March 31, 2014

Homework in secondary school serves many purposes. It could be to consolidate or check or extend the learning from the day or prepare for the learning to come in subsequent days. It could be to do with longer term work such as assignments or preparing for tests and examinations. Ultimately it comes back to what […]

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