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Putting It All Together

Author: Pencil Case  Date: 22 August 2019

Case Study: Sarah

Sarah is really happy. She received much better grades than she was expecting in her recent report.

Sarah is in year 11 at high school. She is studying 6 subjects: chemistry, human biology, maths, English, economics and outdoor education. Sarah finds English the hardest, followed by maths. She is ok at economics and does fairly well in her science subjects. She loves outdoor ed. and always gets an A.

Because sarah finds English the hardest, she has decided to put the most effort into this subject. Each class, Sarah hands the teacher a paragraph that she has written, and asks for feedback. The teacher talks to Sarah about her grammar, punctuation, sentence and paragraph style, and her style of writing. Sarah listens to the advice, and tries to incorporate what the teacher says into her writing. Sarah has done this every class for about 6 weeks. Sarah has felt her confidence go up, and she feels that her writing in all subjects is much better. The teacher has commented to Sarah that her writing is improving and is becoming quite engaging.

You can tell that Sarah's maths teacher loves maths. She gets very excited and this makes her speak quite quickly. Sarah sometimes misses key points. Sarah always puts her hand up and asks the teacher to stop and repeat things she has missed. When she stops the teacher, Sarah never says "I don't get it". Sarah will try and explain what she understands. Sarah would say something like "you just said you can easily multiply 3.3 by 1000 by moving the decimal to the right. How do you know how far to move the decimal place?" Sarah is trying her best, and tackling her subjects as well as she can. She takes notes, listens, asks questions, explains what she knows and seeks clarification from the teacher. If Sarah doesn't understand, she asks, and asks, and asks until she does.

When sarah gets home from school she likes to relax. She drinks some water and has something to eat. She listens to music or throws the ball for the dog. Sarah has set herself the goal of 1.5 hours of homework/study per day, 5 days a week. She gets her homework done first, and completes it as quickly and efficiently as she can. After homework, she does general study. She studies for maths and English first because she finds those subjects the hardest. Sarah likes to use recall techniques to study. She makes cues cards with a question one side and the answer the other. She reads her text book and then tries to summarise what she read with the book closed. When she gets stuck she likes to use visual techniques. She might draw a picture or create a poster that she can put on her wall. Sarah takes a break every 40 to 50 minutes, drinks lots of water and tries to mix up her study so she doesn't get bored.

Sometimes, Sarah is really tired and can't focus. At a time like this, she takes a night off. Sarah knows that rest is just as important as study. Sarah also knows that rest on its own doesn't get you good results and putting yourself under too much pressure is counter productive as well. Sarah tries to get a good balance of study, fun and rest.


Reflect on how Sarah organises her school week. Take some time and think about your ideal week. If you were the most effective student you can be, what would your week look like? In your notebook, design your ideal study week.

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