The Mock Exam Bundle: A Great Way To Prepare For The Selective Schools Exam

In the final week before the selective schools test, we are giving you the opportunity to sit our full length selective schools mock exam in the comfort of your own home!

One of the best ways to feel more confident during the Selective Schools exam is to do as many practice questions in a similar style and difficulty level as those you will encounter on the actual test.

In previous years, students have stated that one of the most difficult aspects of the exam is answering the questions within the very limited time. By doing a full length test BEFORE the actual exam, you will better understand what the experience will be like so you know what to expect. To help you learn the most efficient technique to answering the questions, full solutions for each question is included PLUS access to our online workshop where we go over major problems and concepts students encountered during our mock exam.

In this package, we’ve bundled together:

  • Our full length 2.5 hour mock exam (including all six sections covered on the Victorian Selective Schools Exam);
  • An answer booklet containing FULLY worked solutions for each question
  • The answer booklet will also contain a sample analytical and creative essay based on the prompts; and
  • A recording of our mock exam workshop, run by our co-founder and selective schools exam expert, Thuy Pham. During the workshop, Thuy runs you through major areas of difficulty and common problems students encountered during the mock exam providing you with a general overview of each area covered (7 Videos in total and over 2.5 hours of content!).


“We used both the classroom and private tuition options for our daughter in Maths and English as part of Selective testing preparation. We could not fault the consistent high standard of delivery by all the tutors especially Thuy who was incredibly supportive. Spectrum use excellent resources which they continue to review and update and they take the time to explain the best approach to what are many new areas for the students through practical advice. We were particularly impressed with the opportunity to undertake a mock exam prior with a feedback session and the post test follow up. Plus you could purchase additional resources through their online store. My daughter enjoyed it so much she has chosen to continue with extension classes. We would strongly recommend Spectrum for anyone seeking any type of tuition they get results.” R. Devlin, parent of student who was offered a place at a selective school in 2015.

Who Is This For?

This bundle is designed for Year 8 students sitting the Victorian Selective Schools entrance exam looking to gain entry into Melbourne High, MacRobertson Girls’. Suzanne Cory High or Nossal High.

This pack is specifically geared towards students who are looking to practice all the exam components to gauge their performance BEFORE the test day. We’ve found that many questions on these exams may be completely unfamiliar to students and this will cause a major loss of time if students are stuck on particular questions. It is therefore essential that students practice as many of these questions prior to the test day as possible to give them the best chance of achieving success. This, combined with our detailed answers and workshop videos tend to give students the extra edge and confidence they need prior to sitting the Victorian Selective Schools exam.

What Do You Receive In This Bundle?

This bundle includes:

  • 1 x full Selective Schools exam package (covering all 6 exam sections: numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, mathematics, reading comprehension, narrative and analytical writing prompts)
  • 1 x FULLY worked solutions book containing all the sections covered in the mock exam
  • 2 x sample essays (one creative, one analytical) PLUS detailed instructions walking you through the process of writing winning essays within the very limited 15 minute timeframe.
  • 7 x videos from our Mock Exam workshop (over 2.5 hours of content) covering major problems uncovered during the mock exam this year. In these videos, we go through each area and discuss the most important topics as well as common errors that students made on the mock exam. We also do a review of the key skills students should be focusing in on prior to exam day.

Why You Should Purchase This Exam Package

This package will prove to be a great tool if your child hasn’t completed many (or any!) exam style questions or full length practice tests, and needs to become familiar with exam timing.

The detailed answers and video workshop will also provide further guidance on how to solve all the tricky questions presented in the exam paper in the most efficient way possible.

This package is also useful as it allows you to simulate a full exam to help you improve your timing during the real test. Numerous students have also used this pack as a diagnostic tool to guide their study in the crucial final weeks before the actual test.

** For our terms and conditions see here =>

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Does Your Child Have “Grit?”

One of the most exciting things about working in education is following the cutting edge research that is being undertaken in the field. Every day, educational researchers from universities around the world are learning more and more about how students learn, what makes effective learning, and how teachers can best facilitate student success. We like to keep on top of this research, so that we can apply these findings directly to the important job of teaching your child!

Recently, we stumbled upon the work of Angela Lee Duckworth, winner of the 2014 MacArthur Foundation “genius” award. In her TED talk, “Grit: The power of passion and perseverance,” Duckworth reminds us that intelligence, IQ and “natural talent” are not the most important factors in a student’s success. As a maths teacher at a New York public school, Duckworth noticed that her students’ IQs had very little correlation to their exam results and eventual success over the course of their education. Put simply, just being “smart” wasn’t enough to ensure success. Intrigued, Duckworth left teaching to pursue a career in Educational Psychology. In her research she studied military cadets, national spelling bee champions, salespeople, teachers and students, in order to find out what it was, if not IQ or natural talent, that determined success in these areas. The answer she came to was “grit.”

So what is Grit?

In Duckworth’s own words, “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals.” Grit is the capacity to dedicate yourself to a task over a long period of time, rather than seeking immediate gratification. Grit, says Duckworth, is the ability to treat your goals like “a marathon, not a sprint.” A student with grit is less likely to be discouraged when they perform poorly on a test or when faced with a difficult question, because they understand that challenges are part of the journey towards success. Students with grit are those who see difficulty as an opportunity to learn something new, and to develop new skills.

This may seem all very idealistic, but throughout her research, Duckworth found, time and time again, that grit played a more significant role than IQ, family income and standardised test scores, in determining a student’s ultimate ability to achieve their goals. Grit is a scientifically proven key to success. The question then, is how do we make our students “gritty”?

How do we make our students gritty?

As Duckworth admits, there is no clear answer to the question. The closest thing to a solution, she argues, is Stanford University researcher Carol Dweck’s theory of “Growth Mindset.” For Dweck, who we spoke about in our recent blog (link to blog entry on Dweck), grit is the ability to recognize that failure is not a permanent condition, that our minds are capable of growth and development. Put simply, success is determined by a student’s ability to not say “I’m smart” or “I’m not smart” but “I have the ability to learn more.”

However, as Duckworth points out at the end of her talk, there is still a lot we don’t know about how to develop gritty learners. What is needed is more thought, more research, and more practice. At Spectrum Tuition, we couldn’t agree more. We are always in the process of developing our approach to teaching, pioneering new techniques to ensure that our students have growth mindsets – to ensure, in Duckworth’s words, that they are “gritty” learners. Some of our approaches include:

  • Encouraging long-term goal setting, rather than just rewarding week-to-week success
  • Tracking our students’ progress over the long term, so that they can track their improvement
  • Administering cumulative quizzes, to help students see how much their skills have built up over time
  • Ensuring, through our entrance exams, that every student, regardless of their age, is placed in the class that will provide them with the right level of challenge

At Spectrum Tuition, we aim to ensure that all of our students, no matter what their natural talents are, are provided with challenges and scope for improvement. And, of course, to make this possible, we only hire tutors who have grit as well. Our tutors are dedicated high performing university students, individuals who have shown that they have the ability to dedicate themselves to a task and work until they achieve success. After all, you can’t expect to shape gritty students without gritty tutors.

If you have any questions about the concept of grit, or if you would like to know more about how Spectrum Tuition can help your child develop successful learning practices, feel free to contact us anytime!



Enrolments At Spectrum Tuition Now Open For 2017 – Get An Extra $50 Off!

Please note, this offer is strictly limited and will end on 10th December 2017. So if you want to save on your fees next year please make sure you enrol before the end of term 4 (10/12/2016).


We have reached the end of 2016 and would like to thank all our parents, students and tutors for continuing to play an active part in our thriving community. It has been a wonderful privilege to contribute to your child’s educational journey and we look forward to maintaining a strong partnership for many years to come.

If you’d like to download our newsletter (which includes our timetable and prices for 2017) click the link below:

Term 4 Newsletter

Enrolments Now Open For 2017 – Get An Extra $50 Off!

We are very excited to release our 2017 timetable with priority enrolments for existing students. In most cases, students should enrol in the next level up, e.g. if your child is currently doing Year 7 classes at Spectrum, they should enrol in Year 8 etc. However if you are unsure, or if you are interested in having your child sit a selective/ scholarship exam next year, please contact us and we will be able to advise you accordingly.
Our updated investment schedule is attached. Students who enrol and pay their super early bird term fees or yearly fees by Saturday 10th December, will receive an extra $50 discount off 2016 prices plus access to free books to use over the holidays.
To guarantee a place in your chosen classes, please enrol by Saturday 10th December to take advantage of these bonuses.

You can make your payments online by simply filling in the following form/s.

Pay For The Year Pay For The Term

pay and save $50

Free Books For Students Who Pre-enrol For 2017!

For those looking for some additional materials to complete over the summer holidays, we have a number of extra course books for students who pre-enrol for 2017. Titles are strictly limited and are snapped up quickly so get in quick to get first picks.

Changes To Books For 2017

From 2017, we will be adding answers to the following week’s booklets to make it easier for students to check their understanding. For example, the week 2 booklet will contain answers to the week 1 booklet etc.
Bring a Study Sidekick – Get a $30 Gift Certificate
For every new friend you refer to Spectrum, both you and your friend will receive a $30 gift certificate to use towards the following term or year’s tuition fees if they enrol in our classes. If you do refer a friend, complete the following short online form so we know that you were the one who referred them in case your friend forgets to tell us! Visit

Updated VCE Curriculum in 2017

There will be a number of changes to the VCE study design for 2017. We have been working hard on ensuring that our courses align with the updated curriculum to help prepare students well ahead of their exams which will take place towards the end of the year. Other features of our VCE curriculum include:

  1. A specific section outlining insights from the examination report. For each topic, we have analysed and summarised specific comments outlined in the examination reports from previous years so you can avoid making common errors and improve your technique. Our expert tutors, who have successfully been through the process themselves, have organised these tips, and have provided their own commentary to help you work as efficiently as possible
  2. Exam style questions to help you become familiar with the style and difficulty level of questions likely to appear on the exams.
  3. Cumulative tests following each key topic to build up test stamina and as an effective revision tool throughout the year!

Have A Happy Festive Season!

On behalf of all staff, I would like to thank you again for your continued support and wish you and your families the very best over the festive season. I look forward to seeing you again in 2017!

Student Writing

The Power of “Yet”

I recently came across a TED talk by Carol S Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, that explained the profound potential of the simple word “yet”. This talk resounded with our beliefs regarding learning and education, so we thought we should share it with you, and explain some of the ways in which we, as tutors and you, as parents, can use these ideas to help our students reach their full potential.

What is the power of “yet”?

In her talk, Dweck distinguishes between two student mindsets that she has encountered in her research: “fixed” and “growth”. When students with a “fixed” mindset are faced with a difficult or unfamiliar problem that they can’t solve, they tend to take it as a judgement on their own intelligence. “Fixed” mindset students are happiest when they are getting answers right, when they are getting A’s on their tests, when they can easily answer questions. However, when faced with new ideas and concepts, they tend to get defensive. In various studies, Dweck has found that these students resort to cheating, deflection, and giving up when faced with difficult problems.

On the other hand, students with a “growth” mindset are those that view difficulties as opportunities for growth. Instead of looking at an unfamiliar problem and saying “I don’t know how to do this,” they say: “I don’t know how to do this yet.” Dweck has found that students who use this sort of language aren’t stuck in the present. They understand that they are always in a continual process of learning and developing. Saying “not yet” instead of “not” suggests the possibility for future growth.

Why is this important?

On a daily basis, we see the profound impact that these two mindsets can have on a student’s performance. In particular, a “fixed” mindset can cause difficulties for students transitioning from primary school to high school, students studying for a Select entry or Scholarship Exam, or students commencing their VCE. At these points of their education, students are going to be faced with a number of challenging concepts and difficult tasks. Often, at these times, students can become overwhelmed and go from getting straight A’s to suddenly getting C’s or D’s. This, in itself, is not the problem. What’s important is how they respond to these challenges. Do they give up, or do they use their limitations as motivation to learn more?

So, what can we do?

Obviously, students with “growth” mindsets are more likely to respond positively to challenges and, ultimately, to perform better than those with a “fixed” mindset. But what can we, as tutors, and you, as parents, do to ensure that your child develops a healthy and productive mindset? Here are some things to keep in mind…

1. Praise wisely

Students who are only praised for their successes are much more likely to develop “fixed” mindsets. According to Dweck’s findings, it’s much more productive to praise students for effort, strategy and progress. As tempting as it is to only reward good performance, make sure you primarily praise your child when they work hard, when they refuse to give up, when they try something new. This will teach them that there is more to education than just getting the answer right.

2. Use growth-based language

It’s also important to be mindful of the language that you and your child use. Try to avoid language that labels a student “good” or “bad” at something. Instead of saying “I’m bad at maths” or “I can’t write an essay,” say “I can’t do this particular question yet” or “I have a lot to learn about essay writing.” When giving feedback to students, aim to use language that is specific, goal-oriented, and suggests the potential for future learning.

3. Provide constant challenges

“Fixed” mindsets can also develop when naturally able students are not given sufficient challenges. This is something we see all the time; clever students are often allowed to drift through school, achieving high marks with relatively minimal effort. Unfortunately, these students rarely learn how to deal with challenges, and tend to give up when things may not be so easy anymore.

That is why it is important for students to work at or just above their level, to ensure that they are constantly challenged in order for them to grow and develop. If they find some sections difficult, use this as an opportunity to praise their effort, strategies and progress, because it is not that they can’t do it, they just can’t do it yet!

If you want to watch Carol S Dweck’s video it’s just below

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about how we can help your child develop a healthy and productive mindset towards their education or click here to book a free assessment.

enrolment of students

Why You Should Take A VCE Subject Early

This is the time of year when year 10 students will start to make serious decisions regarding which subjects they will choose to complete for their VCE.

Many schools will offer students the opportunity to complete a year 12 subject while they are in year 11 and while most students will take advantage of this option, other students decide not to and instead opt to complete all their Year 12 subjects in the following year. In our experience we find that taking a VCE subject in year 10 has many advantages.

The Structure Of VCE: A Brief Overview

When VCE students finish their exams at the end of year 12, they each receive a total score, which is used to calculate their ultimate ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank).

The ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank) is based on up to six VCE results and is calculated using:

  • Your best score in any one of the English studies (English, Literature, English Language) plus
  • The scores of your next three studies (which together with the English subject make the “Primary Four”), plus
  • 10% of the scores for any fifth and sixth study with you may have completed (these are called increments)

These scores are combined to produce an ATAR aggregate, which is a number between 0 and over 210. All students are ranked in order according to this aggregate and the percentage rank is converted to an ATAR, which is a number between 0 and 99.95.

What this means is that a total of 6 subjects can contribute to a student’s total ATAR. Students who only do 5 subjects miss out on a valuable possible 10%. Despite this, most schools only allow students to complete 5 subjects in year 12. The only way to get around this, and avoid missing out on that precious 10%, is to complete a VCE subject early. This is an increasingly popular option. Each year more and more dedicated students choose to start a year 11 subject in year 10 and complete their year 12 exams in year 11.

Three Reasons You Should Take A VCE Subject In Year 10

Here are some reasons why students should take up the option to complete a year 12 subject early:

1. Gain Valuable Experience

Apart from ensuring that you have completed a 6th subject, the main benefit of completing a VCE subject a year early is the valuable experience it gives students. Students who take a year 12 subject in year 11 will gain valuable insight into what it takes to study for and sit a proper VCE exam. They will learn how to prioritise their time, organise their notes, revise questions and deal with exam pressures. And, best of all, they will learn all of these skills before they even commence year 12 and tackle the full load of subjects.

2. Focus Your Energy

The other benefit of completing a year 12 subject in year 11 is the potential to get a high score. Year 11 students don’t have the distractions and pressures unique to year 12 students. They don’t have to deal with prefect positions, graduation ceremonies, university applications, or the pressure of studying for 5 other year 12 exams. Because of this, a student who takes a year 12 subject early can focus significantly much more attention and energy on that one subject. Because they only have a single year 12 exam to study for that year, their chances of getting a high score dramatically increases.

3. Cover Your Bases

Considering that VTAC uses scores of up to 6 subjects to calculate the ATAR aggregate (English, the scores of your next 3 best subjects and 10% of any fifth and sixth subject), choosing 6 subjects is strongly recommended to maximise the ATAR you will ultimately achieve. Many schools offer Year 11 students the opportunity to study one Year 12 subject. Take advantage of this if the opportunity presents itself.

Most importantly, 6 subjects is obviously better than 5. A student who completes a subject early will have an automatic 10% advantage over a student who only completes 5. On a more pragmatic note, a 6th subject will ensure that a poor mark in one subject will have significantly less of an impact on the student’s overall score.

If you think your child should start a VCE subject a year early, or you would like to know more about how you can improve your child’s chances of ATAR success, feel free to call us on 1800 668 177 or email us for more information!


What Does It Take To Gain Entry To A Selective School? The Results Might Surprise You!

One of the most common questions we receive from parents and students regarding the Victorian Selective Schools exam is:

“What marks do I need to gain entry?” or “How many superiors do I need?”

The answer to these types of questions is complex. In previous years, different combinations have resulted in students gaining entry to the selective school of their choice. In this video, we will discuss some of these results to give you an insight to what different students achieved when they received their offers. We also describe how these students used the results after sitting our mock exam to help them focus their study in the few short weeks leading up to the actual exam.

In the video, we’ll share a short case study of 3 students who attended classes at Spectrum Tuition, completed our annual mock exam and then subsequently gained entry into a selective school. If you would like to have a go at this mock exam and watch the accompanying workshop video which offers tips and outlines common mistakes, please click here. Full worked solutions for every question is also included with this mock exam package.

The important thing to note about the above video is that there is no set formula on how many ‘superiors’ you need to gain entry to a Selective School. Having said this, it is unlikely that you will be offered a place if you score a ‘low’ in any of the tests.

If you have any questions please feel free to add them below in the comments and we’ll endeavour to answer them.

Spectrum Tuition Victorian Selective Schools Mock Exam 2016: Open For Enrolments

Want to practice your exam taking skills under realistic test conditions before the actual selective schools exam? Then this is what you’ve been waiting for!

Our 2016 Victorian selective schools mock exam is now open for enrollments.

We will be holding our 2016 selective schools mock exam for students sitting the Victorian Selective Schools Exam on Sunday 15th May (mock exam) and Sunday 22nd May (workshop).

Why Sit Our Mock Exam?

Are you worried your child isn’t ‘exam ready?’ Do you want to know how they’ll perform under realistic time constraints and exam conditions? If so, you’ll want to enrol in our mock exam programme.

Our mock exam is aimed at helping students get a realistic sense of how they’ll perform under the intense pressure of a 3-hour exam. We then follow up with a 4-hour workshop that’ll go through the most common problems student had with the mock exam questions.

To ensure that students get the maximum value from the workshop we limit our intake to 45 students.  We don’t fill out the hall with hundreds of students and then run a generic workshop. We tailor our program based on the data generated from the actual mock exam.

How Does It Work?

The exam will begin at 9am and will be held at Footscray North Primary School (map). The exam will be held in the school hall.

We will then hold a 4 HOUR interactive workshop the very next Sunday outlining the most common errors and provide tips on how to improve your performance on exam day. We also encourage parents of students who have sat the mock exam to sit in on the workship, so that they can fully understand what their child needs to do to prepare in the last few weeks before the exam.

Places are strictly limited to 45 places – so register today to secure your spot.

This is your only chance for your child to sit a full-length exam in a similar style and format as the actual test BEFORE the day AND get feedback on your performance!

EARLY BIRD SPECIAL! Register by 11th April and get $50 off! 7 hours of test preparation normally $225, now just $175!



Top Maths, English, & NAPLAN Tutors in Hoppers Crossing

The Spectrum Hoppers Crossing campus is a symbol of how excellent educational services can help any student to achieve their goals. We believe that Spectrum Tuition students from the Western suburbs should not have to travel too far or otherwise struggle unfairly for their education, and have always been committed to providing for them and their families through our campus in Footscray. More recently, we have brought our proven methods and exclusive curriculum to more students with the Spectrum Hoppers Crossing campus.

A Prime Campus Location with Great Facilities On-site

At The Grange P-12 College (site of our new Hoppers Crossing campus), we are situated in the M block which features large air conditioned and heated classrooms. We also have a fantastic space outside for students to play during supervised breaks in their maths or English tutoring.

Bringing Academic Excellence to the Western Suburbs

Spectrum Tuition provide, trusted, acclaimed tutoring services to help students at any level of achievement and any point in their education reach their maximum potential. We hire only the best English, Science, and Maths tutors, star students themselves, who can impart our dynamic, exclusive curriculum to students with confidence.

We’re glad that we’ll now be better able to service families in the Hoppers Crossing, Tarneit, Point Cook and Truganina areas. If you have any questions or would like to book a FREE assessment at our Hoppers Crossing campus please feel free to call us on 1800 668 177.

Information About Our Hoppers Crossing Campus

Classes Offered: Grade 3 to Year 10 Maths and English, Scholarship (ACER and EDUTEST) and Selective Schools Exam Preparation (for entry into Melbourne High, MacRob, Suzanne Cory High and Nossal High).

Hours of Operation: Saturday, 9.00am – 4.45pm

Location: The Grange P-12 College (Senior Campus), Hoppers Crossing – Bethany Road Entrance (type 66 Bethany Road into your GPS. The entrance to the campus is located across the road from this address).

Contact Details: 1800 668 177


7 Things I’ve Learnt About Education Over The Past 14 years Running Spectrum Tuition

‘Education is the best weapon you can use to change the world’ – Nelson Mandela.

It’s a bit hard to believe that Spectrum Tuition is heading into its 15th year. Over the years, we have been helping both students who struggle to keep up with their classmates as well as students who are so bright that their mainstream schools struggle to keep up with them. As a result, I have been given a unique insight into how to best cater to students from these two extremes as well as gain a wider understanding of how the education system works from the inside.

With the school year fast approaching and as a parent to a child who is about to start school this year, I thought it’d be a good time to share the most significant learnings I’ve developed over the time I’ve been running Spectrum Tuition. This is so that you too are equipped with the knowledge to make more informed decisions for your children.

Here are 7 of the most important lessons I have learnt about educating mainstream students from my experience running Spectrum Tuition.

1. Students should be grouped based on ability, rather than age.

Most topics at school are based on a series of skills that if learnt in the correct sequence will lead to success.

If your child is finding a specific topic difficult, it is rare that this is the only topic they are having problems with at school. A student who is having problems with fractions or algebra is most likely also having problems with multiplication or division. If a child is struggling with spelling or reading, it’s because they don’t have a strong enough handle on phonics. Most topics at school build on from earlier topics.

We do not recommend placing children into classes that may be beyond their ability level before they have built a strong enough foundation in earlier topics because they will constantly feel like they need to catch up. Children develop and mature differently and to ensure that they achieve high results at school, they need to be taught at a level where they can engage with the material as well as provide enough of a challenge to give them the best opportunity to shine.

This is why at Spectrum Tuition, our number one priority when new parents enquire about classes is to book in for a free, no obligation assessment where we thoroughly assess students’ existing abilities in writing, grammar/ punctuation, reading comprehension and mathematics across several year levels in order to pin-point exactly what your child’s level is in order to tailor a plan to best meet their specific needs.


Our Hoppers Crossing Campus Will Be Opening In 2016

After a long search for a suitable site in the outer Western suburbs of Melbourne we are pleased to announce that we will be opening our newest campus in Hoppers Crossing at the Grange High School in 2016.

It was clear from parent and student feedback that a Spectrum Tuition campus in the area was in high demand.  After contacting a number of schools in the Tarneit, Williams Landing, Point Cook and Werribee area we were finally able to secure a site at The Grange High School in Hoppers Crossing. We’re ecstatic that we’ve finally been able to secure a site close to where a number of our students are located.

Classes at our Hoppers Crossing campus will begin in 2016 and we currently have a timetable up HERE.

If you’re interested in finding out more or if you have any questions feel free to call us on 1800 668 177.

Selective Schools Mock Exam 2015

Thanks for your interest in our mock exam. Enrolments for our 2015 mock exam have now closed. If you’re interested in signing up for the 2016 mock exam please provide your details below and you’ll be the first to know about our next mock exam. 

We will be having a selective schools mock exam for students sitting the Victorian Selective Schools’ Exam on Saturday 30th May. The exam will begin at 9am and will be held at Footscray North Primary School (map). The exam will be held in the school hall.

We will have a 4 HOUR interactive workshop the very next day outlining the most common errors and providing tips on how to improve your performance on the day. We also encourage parents of students who have sat the mock exam to sit in so that they can fully understand what their child needs to do to prepare in the last few weeks before the exam. Places are strictly limited so register today to secure your spot.

This is your only chance for your child to sit a full-length exam in a similar style and format as the actual test BEFORE the day AND get feedback on your performance!

EARLY BIRD SPECIAL! Register by 11th April and get $25 off! 7 hours of test preparation normally $175, now just $150!



The Two Ingredients Your Child Needs To Improve Their Chances Of Winning A Scholarship Or Gaining Entry To A Selective School.

Exam season is upon us and many students are preparing for scholarships and selective schools exams. With only a few short weeks to go before a number of select entry and scholarship exams take place, I thought I’d provide some last minute advice and offer you a free gift.

There are two main factors that contribute to success on a select entry or scholarship exam: content knowledge and timing.

One cannot exist without the other.

Your child may answer all questions quickly and within the timeframe, however if they don’t know HOW to answer the questions, this will unlikely lead to success.

Similarly, if your child understands how to do the questions, but takes significantly longer than one minute to answer each item, or doesn’t have a refined test taking ability, a majority of the questions will remain unanswered.

This will also unlikely lead to success.

This is why we have produced our exam packs.

We have carefully dissected countless sample exams to determine the most common types of questions your child is likely to encounter. In addition to this, we have formulated the most efficient method to answer each question and have come up with step by step solutions, written in a simple way just as though your child were sitting beside us in a tutoring session.

The sum of our work is presented in our popular exam packs

Over the past 14 years, we have made it our mission to prepare students for these types of exams. We believe that hard work should be rewarded and every child should get the opportunity to attend a top school, if they so desire. We also keep our materials updated by speaking to students who sit these exams each year and strive to make them as close as possible to the actual exams.


How A Child Overcame Illiteracy In Just A Few Short Months

I first met Carly*, a Grade 2 student, when she came in for her initial assessment back in April. She was bright, looked me in the eye when she answered my questions and spoke with a nice, loud voice. Carly enjoyed drawing, painting and playing on the playground, but found it difficult to read. She wanted to learn but didn’t like going to school because she found it really difficult.

Her parents wanted to initially enrol her because the school she attended did not set any homework, and they felt she needed to do more in order to build up confidence in her studies before doing the NAPLAN test the following year.

We conducted our assessment and what we found was that:

  • At Grade 2, Carly could not write her name properly.
  • At Grade 2, Carly could not count to 10.
  • At Grade 2, Carly did not know how to add or count back from 10.
  • At Grade 2, Carly could not read or spell simple words such as ‘cat’ and ‘dog’.
  • At Grade 2, Carly did not know any of her letter sounds.
  • At Grade 2, Carly could not recognise all the letters of the alphabet.

Our assessment showed that Carly needed to start at the very beginning and we enrolled her into our Prep class. Although Carly recognised that she was behind, she wanted to do better at school.

mathematics classes

4 Ways To Prepare Your Child For VCE

With the VCE exams currently taking place, a lot of students in years 9 and 10 will no doubt be nervously looking ahead to their own futures and the challenges that lay ahead of them. I have had a lot of experience helping students with the transition into VCE. One thing I have noticed is that this transition is easier for some students that for others. Some students take to VCE like ducks to water, scoring consistently high marks on their SACs from the start of the year. For others, the first few months of VCE are a blind panic, as they struggle to keep their head above water as they figure out how to organise their notes, manage their time and structure their own revision. So, what’s the reason behind this? What makes some students so much more suited for VCE than others? More importantly, what can you do to ensure that, come the start of year 11, your child is one of the students who thrives?

1. Encourage Their Independence

One of the biggest shocks that students encounter when they start VCE is how independent they are required to be. No longer will teachers walk them through every concept, tell them how to revise for tests, or give exact instructions about what homework needs to be done each week. While your child will still get assigned homework, this constitutes only a small fraction of the total work they need to be doing if they want to achieve good marks; the rest is made up of individual and self-determined study and revision. In order to prepare your child for this, it is a good idea to encourage their independence from an early age. Instead of telling them exactly what homework they need to do and when they need to do it, ask them what they need to achieve and encourage them to develop their own plans for how they will get the necessary work done. While they may need your guidance from time to time, the more you can teach your child to plan and structure their own study time, the more they will be prepared for the challenges ahead.

2. Foster A Love Of Reading

If you are going to perform well in VCE, you need to be able to read quickly, efficiently and productively for extended periods of time. Of course, this is most important in subjects like English, where students are expected to read and interpret novels and articles. Students who struggle to make it through their novels before it comes time to discuss them in class will inevitably have a disadvantage. However, the ability to read well also affects basically every other subject. Whether it be revising a difficult concept in a Maths Methods textbook, remembering definitions for a Psychology SAC, revising a big stack of old Physics notes or interpreting a difficult question on an Accounting exam, good reading skills are vital. Fortunately, if you get in early, this is a skill that you can easily help your child develop. All you need to do is ensure that they regularly have access to books and distraction-free spare time; all they need to do is to read as much and as widely as possible!


Important Information About Term 4

We hope you are all enjoying the holiday break after a busy term 3. Term 4 classes at Spectrum will commence on the 11th and 12th of October. In the meantime, here is some important information about the term ahead.

Timetable Change

Next term, we’ll be closing our Sunday afternoon classes at our Footscray campus. After careful deliberation, we have concluded that it is no longer sustainable to continue running these classes. The new timetable can be viewed via our website. If you have any questions or concerns about how this change will affect your child, please feel free to give us a call.

Paying Fees

Enrol your child today to skip the queue on the first week of term 4. Enrolling before the first week of term helps to ensure that your child’s name is on the roll and that we have all of their resources prepared in advance. You can enrol and pay your child’s fees today using our online enrolment form.

Year 12 Classes In Term 4

Year 12 classes will be running in term 4 right up until the week of each subject’s exam. Classes in term 4 will focus on revising the year’s work, focusing on common examination questions, identifying common errors that students make on exams and ensuring that each student is as well prepared for their exam as possible. As the exams take place early in the term, term 4 will be shorter than usual for year 12 students, and we have adjusted our fees to reflect this. For more information on exam dates and term 4 fees for year 12 students, please consult this handout.


Finally, we would like to congratulate a number of our students who performed incredibly well on their exams successfully gained a place at a Melbourne Selective School. Well done to Soon Lee, Kim Quach, Punya Relan, Julia Schneider, Adelle Nguyen, Andy Le, Lam Le, Preeth Gunasekaran, Rutvik Dave, Steven Law, Vanessa Vu and Abraham Naim. You should all be very proud of your hard work!

We hope that you are all having a safe and relaxing holiday and look forward to seeing you again on the 11th and 12th of October!

Parent talking to child

10 Different Ways Of Asking “How Was School?” That Might Get An Answer

Does this following conversation sound familiar?

Parent: How was school today?

Student: Ok. Parent: Nothing interesting happened?

Student: No. Do we have anything to eat?

Parent: …

Asking your child about their day at school is often one of the most difficult tasks in the world. They’re tired, they just want to relax, and the last thing they want to do is to be interrogated. But, on your end, all you want is to know how they’re doing, whether they’re enjoying their subjects, whether they’re having any trouble and whether you can do anything to help. It’s a difficult situation, so today I will provide 10 different questions you can use to ask your child about their day at school.

  1. What was the best thing that happened at school today?
  2. What was the worst thing that happened at school today?
  3. Tell me one thing that you are looking forward to tomorrow.
  4. Did anything surprise you at school today?
  5. Tell me one thing that you learned today.
  6. What do you think you should learn more/less of at school?
  7. If you could go back and do today over again, is there anything you would change?
  8. What was the nicest thing you did for someone/someone did for you today?
  9. If you had to describe your day using 4 words, what would they be?
  10. If you got to be the teacher tomorrow what would you do?

How do you go about talking to your child about their day at school? If you have any good tactics, let us know in the comments!

How To Get Your Head Around Long Term Goals

Don’t you find that the biggest and most rewarding things are always the hardest to achieve? This is because, to a large extent, our brains are mostly incapable of dealing with large-scale long-term goals. Our minds are very good at focusing on the immediate future: what we want to do on the weekend, what we want to eat for dinner and whether or not we feel like sleeping in. But we are much worse at thinking practically about the long term future: what we have to do to get into the University course of our dreams, what we can do to achieve a high ATAR score. When we think about these goals, it is often hard to figure out how to act on them. Today, I will provide my top 5 tips on how to get your head around your own long-term goals and start working towards them today.

1. Understand your motivation

Before you can start working towards a long-term goal, you need to understand your motivation. What do you hope to achieve? Why do you want to achieve this? How will you feel when you achieve it? The more you focus on your motivation and exactly why you care about the particular goal, the more likely it is that you will work hard towards achieving it

2. Set smaller milestones

As I have said, our brains are pretty terrible at thinking in the long term. If you plan something that you want to achieve in a year, you will either find yourself overwhelmed by the enormity of the task or entirely apathetic and inclined to procrastinate.Ideally, you should set yourself clear milestones of what you wish to achieve at least every couple of weeks. This will make it easier to plan what you have to do.

3. Make a clear plan

“Work hard” is not a plan. “Study every day” is not a plan. “Get better at maths” is not a plan. In order to achieve a long-term goal, it is important to set yourself clear objectives and clear instructions as to exactly what you need to do each day to achieve it. Do this when you are most motivated and make sure you live up to the tasks that you have set yourself.

4. Assess your progress regularly

Every couple of weeks, it is important to check your progress and ask yourself whether or not you are on track to achieve your goal. Try not to think about this in terms of succeeding or failing; rather think about whether or not you can change anything in the immediate future to make it easier for your to achieve your milestones. Perhaps you need a new plan, or perhaps you need to reassess your motivations.

5. Enjoy your successes

A lot of students forget that they are allowed to enjoy their successes. Every time you achieve a short-term goal, every time you make progress towards your long-term goal, you should allow yourself to feel a sense of accomplishment. We are driven by emotions; the more you link your hard work to positive feelings, the more you congratulate yourself for your efforts, the harder you are likely to work in the future.


Get Published On!

At Spectrum Tuition, we are incredibly proud of our students’ achievements – particularly when we see some of our previously disengaged students use our easy to follow techniques to produce winning essays. 

The purpose of writing is to gain a captive audience, so we are giving some of our chosen students the opportunity to publish their work on our website.

With thousands of unique visitors to our site each month, this is a fantastic way for our students to get the recognition they deserve and to hopefully serve as a platform to encourage budding young authors reach their potential!

Our first essay was written by Ana, a Year 5 student attending our centre. She wrote the following essay within 20 minutes.

We think she’s extremely talented. What do you think?


Richard stumbled through the dark creepy forest and fell. He tumbled and landed with a splash in a muddy river. As he surfaced, something square-shaped and dark floated towards him. He picked it up. It looked like some sort of book. He flicked on his flashlight. No, it was a diary. It was emerald green and emblazoned in gold was the name Edmund Smith. “Who is Edmund Smith?” Richard questioned. He turned the first page and with an excruciatingly deafening slurping noise, he got sucked into it.

“Nutzen ihn!”(Seize him) someone bellowed. Richard turned slowly. “Run Edmund!” screamed a deep-voiced man in the distance. It appeared he was in World War One, fighting as Edmund Smith. Just his luck, he had landed in the middle of an air raid! 

Suddenly, his only protection- his rifle-was snatched from him. He was engulfed by people speaking a foreign language. NAZIS! Panic swept through him like a river current. His wrists were suddenly bounded into strong, painful iron cuffs. Richard felt something hard smash into his head from behind. Everything turned red, then black. 

Richard awoke in a dark, dripping, rusty cell, with some stale bread crusts and an empty water pail. His head was painful and sore. He felt sick, as if he had not slept at all. When he stood up, his head spun like a spinning top. He banged on the bars, hoping to break free – but it was no use. As he turned, he spied something. It was the diary! He groped for it, turning the first page… 

“Richard, hurry up, you’ll be late for school,” shouted his mother. “Phew”, Richard thought, “it was all a horrid dream”. He reached for his school bag. Out of the corner of his eye, sitting on top of his bag was an emerald green book with letters emblazoned in gold. Slowly, without thinking, he flicked open the first page…


Top 10 Signs Of A Gifted Child

Intellectual giftedness is often a confusing and complex concept for parents to get their head around, particularly because there is no one clear definition of what it is that makes a “gifted” child. In general, the term refers to children or adults whose IQ are over 130 and, as such, lie in the top 2 percent of the population. However, there is no clear cut distinction between a gifted and a non-gifted child; children mature at different rates and develop different capacities and skill sets. Giftedness is more often associated with academic success; gifted children often excel at one or more areas of their education, though their talents, if not properly fostered, might also leave them feeling unsatisfied, bored or isolated at school. As a parent, you are in the best possible position to identify whether your child has any unusual capabilities and, if so, make sure they receive the support that they need to reach their potential. Here are the top 10 things that, at a young age, might suggest giftedness in a child.

1. Specific Talents

Does your child have a specific skill that seems impressive for their age, such as musical ability, creativity, language comprehension or numeracy skills?

2. Expanding Vocabulary

Does your child seem to pick up, understand and use words quicker and more naturally than other children their age?

3. Asks “What If?” Questions

Does your child think about situations in an abstract manner? Do they ask lots of hypothetical questions?

4. Relentless Curiosity

Does your child seem constantly hungry to learn more and more about the world? Do they pursue things that they are interested in?

5. Vivid Imagination

Does your child seem particularly creative or imaginative? Do they have an aptitude for telling stories, drawing pictures or creating imaginary situations?

6. Memorisation Of Facts

Is your child able to recall facts with unusual accuracy? Does your child seem to have an encyclopaedic memory of everything they are taught?

7. Observation Skills

Does your child notice things that other children their age, or even you, don’t? For example, does your child remember exactly where you set down the set of keys that you can’t find in the morning?

8. Problem Solving Skills

Does your child come up with creative and novel solutions to problems that they face in their day-to-day life. Do they tend to solve their own problems rather than coming to you for assistance.

9. Sense Of Justice Or Fairness

Does your child seem to express an above average concern for the ethical or moral implications of situations? Are they able to put themselves into other people’s perspectives and think about big-picture issues such as fairness and justice?

10. Sense Of Humour

Is your child able to understand and tell complex jokes? Does your child have a good sense of comedic timing? Though this may not seem like an academic skill, a good sense of humour often requires high levels of intelligence.

If you suspect that your child may be gifted, you might be initially quite daunted by the responsibilities and challenges that this may prevent. However, every expert will tell you the same thing: relax. Before your child starts school, there is no need to subject them to an IQ test or put any undue pressure on them. This may have a negative impact upon their attitude towards learning. What you should do, however, is support and foster their growing interests and encourage your child to pursue them to their fullest potential. When your child starts school, however, it is important to keep an eye on them to make sure that they are receiving the support that they need. Gifted children can often feel stifled, frustrated or alienated within a conventional school environment, and it is important to ensure that this does not hamper their educational and social development. You may choose to get your child’s IQ tested. If it does turn out that your child has a significantly high IQ, then there are plenty of resources available to help your figure out how to best support your child’s need. A good first stop for information is the Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented.


Why Is Creativity Important?

Creativity is not just about being able to draw or paint or write or sing. Creativity is about being able to deal with difficult and unexpected situations in new and innovative ways. While some students only have one set way of dealing with a specific challenge, creative students think “what are the different ways I can approach this?” Because of this, creativity isn’t just a skill that is useful for subjects such as Art or English; even creative students will naturally have an advantage when it comes to subjects like Mathematics, due to their ability to be flexible and approach a problem from a number of different angles.

So, how can you help your child develop their own creativity?

The key to creativity is the ability to deal with challenges. The best thing you can do to raise a creative child is to present them with fun challenges, set constraints, push them out of their comfort zone and give them obstacles to overcome. Here are some ideas for some fun challenges that you can use in everyday situations to develop your child’s ability to think creatively.

When writing…

If your child enjoys creative writing, push them outside their comfort zones by setting them challenges. For example, ask them to write a story that has to use 5 words (fire, uncomfortable, loud, lost and triangle, for example), ask them to write a poem made purely out of words they can find in a newspaper or magazine, or ask them to write a poem that has exactly 111 words.

When cooking…

If your child enjoys cooking, engage their creative side by setting fun challenges. Put away the recipe book and give your child 5 ingredients that they have to turn into a meal. This can be a fun and practical way of teaching your child how to adapt flexibly to an unfamiliar situation.

When travelling…

If you are going on a holiday or a camping trip, use it as an opportunity to develop your child’s lateral thinking skills. Encourage them to look at maps, plan potential walking routes, plan schedules, make lists of essential things you will need, and think of the most efficient way of packing their suitcase. They won’t even know how much they are learning while having a great experience.

When relaxing…

The newspaper is filled with word puzzles, Sudokus and cryptic crosswords that will encourage your child to develop their lateral thinking skills. These activities are great alternative to watching TV or playing video games on a lazy Sunday morning. If your child is interested in learning more about how to solve tricky cryptic crossword clues, check out this website.

What Kind Of Learner Is Your Child?

Did you know that not all children learn in the same way. In fact, there are 7 different intelligences or ways to learn? These 7 different learning styles are known as Musical, Visual, Verbal, Logical, Kinaesthetic, Social and Reflective. Each child has a different style that works best for them. Quite often, when students struggle with new concepts, the problem lies, not with their ability to learn, but with the style in which the material is being taught. Figuring out what kind of learner your child is will put you at a great advantage when it comes to helping with their education in the future. Today, I will explain the 7 different styles of learning and how you can figure out what kind of learner your child is.

1. Musical Learners

Musical learners respond well to sounds, melodies and rhythms. The things that they remember and appreciate the most are those things that they can chant, sing or put into a rhythm. Depending on their age, musical learners can benefit from simple chants such as “three in the bed”, singing the alphabet song, listening to times tables songs, or even using music to remember the periodic table!

2. Visual Learners

Visual learners prefer to see what they are learning. They respond extremely well to pictures, diagrams, colour codes and mind maps. Often, they have trouble organising their ideas unless they can sketch them out on a page. Visual learners benefit greatly from having paper, post-it notes, highlighters and coloured pens and pencils at their disposal when brainstorming ideas.

 3. Verbal Learners

Verbal learners love language. They respond well to written or spoken explanations and work best when they can put their ideas into words. Verbal learners are often avid readers, and they find it easier to crystallise their ideas by writing them down.

 4. Logical Learners

Logical learners prefer clear, consistent rules. They don’t like ambiguity or uncertainty, but prefer to know the exact steps that they have to follow to solve a particular problem. Predictably, logical learners often take to Mathematics due to its predictable and reliably logical nature. That is not to say, however, that they can’t excel in other subjects as long as they are able to figure out a clear, consistent approach.

 5. Kinaesthetic Learners

Kinaesthetic learners are physical people. They feel most confident when they are moving or engaging in physical activity. Whilst most people associate learning with sitting still and reading a book, kinaesthetic learners prefer a hands on approach.

5 Reasons To Work Hard In VCE (Apart From Just Getting Into Uni)

For many students, VCE is a means to a very specific ends: getting into their chosen University degree. Students that have a very clear idea of what they want to do after school, and who are chasing a specific ATAR score, are inherently motivated to work hard throughout their final years of high school. The unfortunate flip side of this is that, for students who don’t know what they want to do after school, it is often hard to maintain enthusiasm for their VCE studies. Students that assume that the VCE is only a stepping-stone into a degree that bears no other significance in their lives might not work as hard to achieve the best that they’re capable of. Today, I wanted to put the VCE and the ATAR score into context and show that there are many other reasons for working hard during years 11 and 12, apart from just getting into uni.

1. It Builds Confidence

Self confidence is an amazing thing. If you think you can achieve a goal, you are far more likely to work hard towards it. Doing well in VCE doesn’t just give you a good score, it also helps you realise what you can achieve if you work hard. Students that achieve a high ATAR score learn an important lesson: though they might face great difficulties in their lives, they are capable of great things if they put their mind to it.

2. It Teaches You How To Work On Long-Term Goals

Achieving a good ATAR is one of the biggest long-term undertakings of a student’s life. In order to succeed in VCE, you need to plan ahead, sometimes up to two years in the future, and think about what you can do over a long period of time to achieve a larger goal. Thinking in such a long-term way is often very difficult; people are more likely to respond to short-term achievements and find it difficult to work hard towards anything that is not immediately rewarding. Working hard to achieve a long-term goal, such as achieving a good ATAR score, is a valuable experience because it teaches you to plan ahead and work towards something that is truly worthwhile.

3. It Teaches You Time Management Skills

VCE is tough. Students have to juggle up to 6 classes, each of which involves homework, tests, SACS, exams and assignments. Some students crumble under the pressure; others flourish and develop excellent time management skills. Guess what? These skills don’t stop being useful as soon as you graduate. If you can learn how to manage all of your classes in an efficient and effective way throughout VCE, then you have developed time management skills that will help you throughout your entire life!

How To Help Your Child Avoid Distractions While Studying

Distractions are everywhere. No matter how enthusiastic or dedicated your child is about their studies, we live in a world that is designed to divert their attention elsewhere. Surrounded by television, video games and mobile phones, it can be almost impossible for a student today to give 100% of their attention to their homework or study. However, there are some things you can do to make it easier for your child to avoid distractions; check out my top 5 tips!

1. Establish Boundaries Between Work And Relaxation

One of the main reasons that students get so distracted, particularly when studying or doing homework, is that there is very little difference between the space in which they study and the space in which they relax. A lot of students try to study on the couch, in bed, and in front of the TV. It’s only natural that they find it hard to switch into the serious, focused mindset required for study. In order to ensure that your child avoids distractions, it is important that they have a dedicated study area that they use only for their studies. This will help them establish firmer boundaries between study time and relaxation time.

2. Make Their Free Time Count

Just as it’s important for your child to be entirely focused on their studies during study time, it’s also important that they are able to fully relax during their free time. The best students are those that work hard for a period of time and then allow themselves to put away their work, close their computer and fully enjoy their free time. These students are the ones that will work extra hard to get their work done on time, because they know that they won’t be thinking about it all once it comes time to relax.

3. Focus On Short Term Goals

It’s a simple fact that it is much easier to focus on short-term goals than on long-term goals. For example, if your child has two weeks to write a long essay, it is likely that they will be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task and find ways of distracting themselves until the last minute. If you asked them what they were working on, they would say “I’m working on my essay,” but this is vague and means nothing. Each night, your child should set a short-term goal that they can realistically achieve that night. If you ask them what they are working on, they should be able to say, “I am going through my books and making a list of important quotes to include in my essay” or “I am writing the first two paragraphs of my essay.” The more specific these short term goals are, the more likely it is that they will have to focus to get them done!

4. See To Their Basic Needs First

It is impossible to study effectively if you are hungry, thirsty of sleep deprived. The first step to ensuring that your child is able to focus effectively on their study is to make sure that they are well hydrated, well fed and have had a good night’s sleep the night before. Without these vital ingredients, your child’s brain will never be able to work at full capacity.

5. Set A Positive Example

Your child learns most of their qualities from you; you are the most important influence on their life. One of the best things you can do to help your child focus on their studies is demonstrate the ways in which you also focus on a similar task. For example, when I was young, my Mum would sit down at the dining room table with me while I did my homework and sort out all the bills, paperwork, and forms that she had to deal with that week. This set a positive example for me, and it made me feel like we were both working together to achieve our goals. And once we were both done, we could both relax and enjoy the rest of the night.

How To Raise An Active Reader

When it comes to enjoying a book with your child, there’s reading and there’s engaging. Reading simply involves reciting the words on the page and telling a story. Engaging, on the other hand, is what happens when you really get into a good book; it involves empathising with characters, predicting the outcome, examining the ideas presented, making connections to other experiences, questioning what you are reading, and exploring the imaginary world of the book. If you want your child to be an active and thoughtful reader, it is a good idea to teach them how to engage with a book from a young age. Here are 4 fun ways that you can help your child develop these skills next time you read together.

1. Ask Questions
Throughout the reading process, it is a great idea to ask your child questions and encourage them to ask questions about what is going on. These can be simple of asking your child to interpret what they have just heard “Why is this character sad?” You can also ask more complex questions which require your child to use their imagination, such as “What would you do if you were in this situation?” or “How do you think this story will end?” The more we ask questions about what we read, the more we engage with it.

2. Pick Characters
A fun way of engaging with stories is to assign a character to you and your child or children. This works especially well if you are reading to several children. You can ask your child to put on a voice and say what the character says, or even act out scenes from the story. This is also a great way of encouraging your child to use their imagination to empathise with the characters in the story. Taking on a character requires you to think about what they might be thinking and feeling, which requires young children to exercise their empathetic imagination.

3. Find Connections
Another great way to make the reading experience more meaningful for your child is to connect it to their own experiences. Ask them if they have ever been in a similar situation to the characters in the book. Ask them if a particular character reminds them of anyone that they know.

4. Be Creative
After reading a story with your child, your child’s imagination should be running wild. This is a great time to channel this energy into some form of creative project, whether it be an illustration, a model, a painting or a collage. The ability to respond creatively to a book is a fantastic skill for your child to learn, as it engages the higher level creative parts of their mind.

Active readers don’t just read with their eyes; they read with their minds, their imagination and their emotions. If you can raise your child to engage actively and creatively with what they are reading, then you have taught them an amazing skill that will give them a significant advantage throughout their life!

Why Learning And Fun Are Not Mutually Exclusive

For some strange reason, a lot of students, parents and even teachers have the idea in their head that learning isn’t fun. I have spoken to a lot of parents recently who are reluctant to start introducing their kids to educational skills before they go to school because they want their kids “to have fun and just be kids.” This is certainly a valid concern; it is important that the early years of a child’s life before school are carefree and fun. At this age, children develop through play and exploration, and it is vital that they do so in a low-pressure environment.

But why do we assume that having fun is somehow the opposite of learning? Why do so many parents assume that helping their child learn to read, write and do maths at a young age can’t be a fun, enjoyable and playful activity. While children certainly don’t enjoy completing repetitive activities, being lectured to, feeling confused or being put under pressure to achieve, all children love to learn new things. Think of how much children enjoy discovering new words when they are learning to talk, how much joy they get from meeting a new friend or learning a new game; this is because young children understand that learning is fun! Because of this, the years before your child starts school are the best possible time for you to build productive habits of learning together.

The most valuable thing you can do for your child before they begin school is to reinforce the idea that learning is fun; whether you are teaching them basic reading or writing skills, introducing them to mathematics or teaching them about the world around them, you should always remember that, for them, learning is, and always should be, an exciting experience of play and discovery. In our next blog post, we’ll give you 4 great ways of doing so!

How To Talk To Your Child About Their Academic Attitude

There comes a time in most parents’ lives when they are concerned that their child is simply not putting enough effort into their studies. They may have gotten a bad mark on a test, or negative comments on their report, or received a detention for incomplete homework. This can be a difficult time for a parent; you know that you have to be firm but, at the same time, you are worried that if you if you approach it the wrong way, if you nag, threaten, bribe or embarrass your child, they are unlikely to respond positively. So, how do you talk to a child about their academic attitude in a way that will leave them feeling supported and motivated? Here are my 5 top tips.

1. Set A Positive Tone

Children are excellent at detecting tone. From the beginning of the conversation, they will instantly detect any anger or negativity in your voice. This is likely to make your child defensive, leading them to make up excuses, deflect responsibility and try to change the subject as quickly as possible. As hard as it may be, you need to establish a positive tone to the discussion. Try starting by stating their strengths. Here are some examples…

“You got really amazing marks in English this year. Imagine if you could do that well in Maths as well!”

“You’re a really smart kid. We think you’re capable of performing well on your exams. What can we do to help you with this?”

“I know you want to get in to a Science degree after VCE. I want to make sure you have the best possible chance of being successful. You deserve it.”

2. Focus On Their Goals

As you surely know, it’s very hard to motivate your child to do something unless it is linked to something that they personally care about. Any discussion on academic improvement should start with a discussion of your child’s personal academic goals. Ask them what they want to achieve this year, what new skills they want to learn and what marks they want to achieve on their exams. Try to make this an enjoyable process, in which your child can imagine how proud and satisfied they will be if they achieve these goals. The more positive emotions you can connect to goal setting, the more successful it is likely to be.

3. Formalise An Action Plan

The goal of any productive discussion should be the formulation of a clear action plan. Once you have discussed your child’s goals, talk about what they (and you) can do to make sure they achieve the goals. This could involve formulating a study plan, organising extra tutoring, setting aside time each day to revise skills or organising resources. The more specific this plan can be, the better. For example, a good, specific action plan might look like this…

Goal: Improve my spelling by the end of the term

Things I have to do:

1. Practice my spelling words for 10 minutes every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday night.

2. After each spelling test on Monday, write out the words I got wrong 10 times each.

3. Read for 20 minutes every Monday and Thursday night to improve my vocabulary.

4. Create a progress chart to monitor my improvement over the term.

4. Follow Up Regularly

There’s no point in having a productive discussion and formulating a clear action plan if it’s all forgotten by the next week. Once you have set goals with your child, make sure that you sit down with them every week or two and discuss how their progress is going. Has the action plan improved their performance, or are they falling back into old habits? Is there anything that you need to modify to improve the plan? Academic improvement is not something that happens overnight. It requires a constant process of trial, error, reflection and improvement.

5. Don’t Revert To Threats Or Bribes

As difficult as it might be, it is important not to revert to threats (such as taking away their video games or not allowing them to see friends) or bribes (such as a present or money) to motivate your child to improve. While this may motivate them in the short term, encouraging your child to focus on the consequences of their performance, rather than the feeling of pride and satisfaction they will get from working hard, will ultimately fail as a long term motivational technique. The second that the threat or bribe is taken away, their motivation will disappear as well.

If you would like any more information on how you can help your child improve their attitude towards education, please feel free to contact us at We’re always happy to help!

4 Adjectives That Successful Students Never Use

Words are immensely powerful. The words we use don’t just express what we think and feel, they actually change the way we think and feel about things. This is no less evident than in education. The way students talk about their studies, their strengths, their weaknesses and their plans often has a dramatic impact on their attitude and their ability to achieve their goals. Today, I wanted to give 4 examples of adjectives that a successful, dedicated and motivated student should never use, and suggest alternate words that can change the way students think about themselves and their education.


1. Unfair

This word is on the top of my list, because it is the most common word that I hear students use when they don’t want to admit ownership of their own performance. Too often I hear students complain that they received an unfair mark because their teacher doesn’t like them, or because the exam didn’t cover the topics they had learned, or because their computer crashed. While these excuses are sometimes valid, more often than not the word “unfair” is a way of deflecting responsibility.

What successful students say instead:

Successful students use every poor performance as a learning opportunity. They use words such as “Disappointing,” which reflect their dissatisfaction, without shifting the blame on to someone else. It is important to recognise that you are disappointed in a bad result, as long as you use that disappointment as motivation to work harder in the future.


2. Boring

Some students claim that maths is boring. Some claim that English is boring. Some claim that everything they do at school is boring. What do they really mean by this? When it comes down to it, the world is an immensely fascinating place, and learning more about the way the world works is one of the most exciting things you can do. The only times we describe something as “boring” is when we don’t fully understand how important it is. Everything you learn at school can be fascinating as long as you fully comprehend it.

What successful students say instead:

Successful students will accept that the only concepts that are truly boring are the ones that they don’t fully understand yet. They might describe these concepts as difficult or challenging or unfamiliar, but never boring!


3. Smart/Stupid

A lot of students get caught up in the fatalistic idea that a person is either “smart” or “stupid” and that their academic performance is entirely determined by this quality. The problem with this assumption is that it assumes that academic success is something that you are either born with or not, and there’s nothing you can do to change it. It can easily be used as an excuse by students who say things like “I’m not smart enough to understand this” or, on the other hand, “I’m smart, so I don’t need to study for my exam.” Using these phrases takes all of the responsibility out of the students’ hands, instead of focusing on what they can do to improve in the future.

What successful students say instead:

Successful students are those who use words that recognise that their achievement is not based on any innate quality, but on how successful their hard work has been. They use words such as “Productive/Unproductive”, “Motivated/Unmotivated,” “Efficient/Inefficient” that allow them to reflect on their own performance in a constructive way.


4. Impossible

Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t; you are right.” What he means is that, any time we call a goal “impossible”, we have already given up on the possibility that we could achieve it. A student who thinks it is impossible to get in to their chosen University course, or to get an A on their maths exam is unlikely to put in the effort to achieve this goal. Calling something impossible becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that often dooms students to failure.

What successful students say instead:

Successful students are those who take every difficult task as a challenge. They use words like challenging to describe a job that they will have to work extra hard to succeed at.

“No Such Thing As Bad Student, Only Bad Teacher.” Really?

In the 1984 film, The Karate Kid, wise old karate master Mr. Miyagi tells Daniel that there is “no such thing as bad student, only bad teacher.” Is this true?

What Mr. Miyagi is trying to emphasise is the importance of good teaching. Of course, the value of an inspiring, dedicated and experienced teacher cannot be underestimated. However, what Miyagi fails to take into account is that learning is a shared responsibility. No matter how good or bad a teacher is, a large portion of the responsibility must fall on the student. Ideally your child and their teacher are a team, working together to achieve a common goal. Today, I provide some examples on ways that teachers and students can work together to ensure that their time in the classroom is as successful as possible!

1. A good teacher… provides clear explanations.

Every great teacher I have ever had was able to explain difficult and unfamiliar concepts in a way that was easy to understand. They used real life situations, concrete examples and clear diagrams. They modelled methods and clearly demonstrate that what they are teaching you makes sense.

A good student… actively engages with explanations.

However, no matter how good a teacher’s explanations are, they will ultimately be unsuccessful unless your child is willing to actively engage with the explanations. This means they have to do more than just sit and listen. Actively engaging means taking notes, asking questions and trying examples. A good student will take it upon themselves to ensure that they have done everything in their power to understand what has been explained.

2. A good teacher… makes time to help each of their students individually.

Every student needs a bit of extra help once in a while. A good teacher is one that ensures that they set aside enough time to give each and every student the one-on-one assistance that they need.

A good student… knows how to make the most of this time.

When teachers sit down with a student to help them individually, they are usually faced with two types of questions:

1) “I don’t understand any of this. Can you help me?”


2) “I didn’t understand question 5c. I think I got the first bit correct, but I don’t know how to find the value of y.

As you can probably tell, the teacher will find it much easier to help the second student, because they have clearly taken the time and energy to work out specifically what they need help on. A teacher’s time is limited; the more your child can think ahead, reflect on their own weaknesses, and give ask specific questions, the more likely they are to receive the help that they need.

3. A good teacher… gives constructive criticism.

A good teacher never gives a mark on an essay or an assignment without letting the student know exactly why they got that mark. The more feedback a teacher gives, the easier it will be for students to improve in the future. The best kind of feedback is constructive criticism; it lets the student know what they did wrong, but also provides positive advice on how they can improve next time.

A good student… takes responsibility for their own performance.

Unfortunately, a lot of students like to fall back on excuses when it comes to feedback. They say things like “the teacher didn’t say why I got such a bad mark” or “they just gave me a bad mark because they didn’t agree with my opinion.” While this may be true in a very, very small minority of cases, these complaints more often come from students who are unwilling to take responsibility for their own performance. A good student makes sure to take all feedback on board and actively tries to incorporate it in their future work. If the feedback is unclear, a good student will politely ask their teacher for more advice on how they can improve.

Saving Time During Exams

The Victorian Selective Schools Exams will be taking place this weekend. Thousands of students across the state will be sitting this exam in an attempt to gain a competitive place in the Selective School of their choice. The exams are challenging and extremely fast paced; students are expected to produce essays and narratives in 15 minutes and sit 4 30-minute tests, each of which is comprised of up to 60 questions. In such a situation, the ability to manage one’s time becomes absolutely vital. So, today, I offer 4 tips for managing your time during high-pressure exams.


1. Prioritise

When in an exam, you have to use your time as effectively as possible. There’s no point spending excessive amounts of time on one particularly difficult question if it means missing out on getting easier points elsewhere. The important thing is to think how many marks you can get on the exam, and how many minutes you have. Then, you can work out how much time you can afford to give to each question. If you find that a low scoring question is taking you longer than you can afford, it is often a good idea to skip it and come back to it later.


2. Keep An Eye On The Clock

Don’t let time get away from you. Whether you are answering multiple choice questions or writing an essay under exam conditions, you should always be aware on how much time you have to dedicate to each task. You should know when it’s OK to keep working on a particular section and when it’s time to cut your losses and move on to the next task. If possible, bring your own watch to the exam so you can easily keep track of time.


3. Make Educated Guesses

In the multiple choice sections of the Selective Schools Exam, it is likely that some students might run out of time to answer all of the questions properly. In this case, with time running out, it is absolutely appropriate to guess. If you don’t put an answer, you have no chance of getting it right; even if you take a random guess, your odds are increased. The key, however, to making clever guesses is to try to narrow your odds as much as possible. Even if you don’t have time to figure out the correct answer, you should at least be able to eliminate some clearly incorrect answers. If you narrow it down to 2 possible solutions, your odds of guessing correctly rises from 20% to 50%.


4. Approximate When Necessary

Let’s say you’re in a multiple choice maths exam. You only have a few minutes left and you still have a page of questions that look like this.

4.02 x 6.99 =

A. 28.0998

B. 30.012

C. 24. 332

D. 45.095

E. None of these

Obviously, if you have time, it’s best to calculate the correct answer the proper way. However, if you’re under a strict time limit, you may be able to take a good guess by approximating. Instead of multiplying 4.02 by 6.99, round these numbers to 4 and 7. 4 times 7 is 28, so the most likely answer will be A. While this may not be the best idea in all situations, approximations can often get you out of tricky situations when the clock is ticking.


If you are sitting a Selective Schools Exam this weekend, I wish you all the best and hope your hard work pays off!

Good Luck To Our Selective Students!

On behalf of Spectrum Tuition, I would like to say good luck to those of our students who will be sitting the Selective Schools Exam this week. Some of these students have been working towards this goal for over a year, and we sincerely hope that their hard work pays off. The chance to receive a place in one of Melbourne’s incredibly competitive selective schools is a once in a lifetime opportunity to receive a high level education at an affordable price, and we hope that we have put our students in the best possible position to achieve this goal.

Whether they have attended our classes, used our exam packs and essay-writing guides, or attended our Simulated Selective Schools Exam, we feel that all of our students should be commended for their efforts. Because of this, any of our past students who are offered a place in a Selective School this year will receive a certificate of achievement and a gift certificate from us to recognise their hard work. If your child is successful in being offered a place, please let us know as soon as possible so we can arrange this!

If your child is currently in year 7 and is interested in sitting the Selective Schools Exam in 2015, then now is the time to think about preparing them. Our 40 week intensive program commences on the 19th of July, so now’s the time to sign up! Click here for more information or give us a call on 1800 668 177.