How to Get an A in Physical Education (PE)
Speaking from experience, Physical Education (‘PE’) is one of the more challenging subjects at school. Cue everyone screaming “How?!” The answer is simple; PE doesn’t merely require academic awareness, but also peak physical performance.
PE is not a subject where you can lock yourself in your room and study for hours on end. Most schools allocate not 10, or 20% to the physical aspect of this subject, but 50%! So, some simple advice to start of this blog: be prepared to become both physically and mentally fit to find yourself excelling in PE. Lucky for you, we’ve got a few tips to cover on how to master both elements in your next PE assessment! Exercise – it focuses your mind, makes you feel accomplished and is needed to perform sports at a high level.
Step 1: Exercise – it focuses your mind, makes you feel accomplished and is necessary to perform sports at a high level.
Doing physical exercise is probably the best place to start for many, many, many reasons. It circulates nutrient-rich blood around your body, gives you a sense of accomplishment and increases your lifespan, bone density and cardiovascular strength (all important things). Exercising in every sense (running, weightlifting, swimming etc.) is going to make you feel more relaxed. Your brain secretes good neurotransmitters for an ‘exercise well-done’ which in turn, positively affects your brain’s functioning capacities and gets your body into tip-top shape to allow for the upcoming sports of the year.
“That’s easier said than done. When am I meant to do this? Sure, it makes sense to exercise but I don’t have time because I’m too busy studying after school, or I’m just too tired after school!”
Set your alarm for 5am, get out of bed, have a glass of water to kick-start your metabolism and start pacing around the house to wake up. Have your workout completed and be back at home by 7am to make your breakfast, (that way you can ease into the rest of the morning knowing that you are already making a head start to your day while most others are still fast asleep!). As a fun side note – exercising in the morning helps you contain your emotions and so little pesky things that may annoy you throughout the day, won’t be as much of a worry. That extra serotonin release works wonders.
STEP 2: EAT NUTRITIOUS MEALS.
“Food is fuel, you get picky about what you put in the tank, your engine is gonna die” – Ratatouille.
The main point of this step is to make sure that you eat! Skipping a meal because you’re too lazy to make it isn’t doing yourself any favours. But more importantly, make sure you eat good foods. Unsure if a certain meal is good for you? Google its nutritional value.
Now why exactly are we eating wholesome foods? Eating wholesome foods provides nutrients for your body to grow with all that exercise you’ve hopefully been doing in Step 1. But academically, it’s providing fuel for your brain which enables it to think at a higher level and for longer periods of time thereby, increasing the efficiency of your study time. Eating healthily is not only about building your physique to master the sports you’re going to be playing all year, but also about increasing your baseline academic alertness every day.
Step 3: Practice the sports you must learn – how else will you become good at them?
“Aww man we have to do swing dance? Why can’t we do regular sports like basketball or touch football…”
In every subject that you do, there’s going to be one particular course that you’re dreading – PE is no different. Not wanting to do swing dance? That’s probably the case for everyone, so take it in your stride. Get ahead of the pack and pick your swing dance partner in advance (find someone you know is trying to achieve that same ‘A’ as you).
Now it’s time to turn to YouTube and stream that sport until you are swing dancing in your sleep. Start your day with 20 minutes of YouTube tutorials on swing dance techniques. No one else will know…
Is your sport not swing dancing? Is it something like surfing? Rent a board, borrow a board, purchase a board – it doesn’t matter. Grab yourself aboard and to the beach you go. Practice on the sand before you hit the waves. Whatever the sport, volleyball, soccer, touch football just get yourself out there and practice at least twice a week if you can.
If you don’t practice, then that’s you flushing half of your mark right down the toilet. You can study as hard as you want but it will mean nothing if you can’t perform well when partaking in the sport. Now that you’re physically fit and healthy, you have to remember the relevant academic skills to get you that ‘A’.
Step 4: Talk to your teacher and be specific.
In my experience, Physical Education assignments are very finicky, and that’s usually because your teacher has an idea that they clearly want you to express. When I was in high school, I remember a really smart student receiving a B on an assignment because it wasn’t quite what the teacher wanted. You’re going to want to roll with the punches, and how do we do that? By talking to the one from whom the punches fly, the teacher!
I spent many Wednesday afternoons hanging back in the PE staff rooms with my task sheet, laptop, assignment, and questions all primed and ready to go for my teacher. You have to be specific at this stage, you can’t just be like “so uhhh, what do you think?” A teacher will be less inclined to assist when they think you want them to check everything without having done anything yourself. It’s best to convey precisely what you’re struggling with.
“So in paragraph 2 I’m trying to convey that aerobic exercise has a causal effect on the increased elasticity in veins and arteries, do you think my evidence and phrasing of this idea is fluent enough?”
This question does a few things. Firstly, it shows the teacher you actually care about your assessment. This in turn, may change and pre-conception they may already have of you. Secondly, it narrows the teacher’s thinking to address that specific concern, which means they are more likely to give you good, direct and positive feedback.
If you just hand them 500 words and you say, “So…waddaya think?” Their interest diminishes because you’re giving them too many examples to comment on which may accidentally put them in a position where they just want to hurry up and get you out of there as quickly as possible.
Make sure you’re doing all of this before everyone else. About three days before the assessment is due, everyone is doing this to one degree or another and it just fatigues the teachers’ helping powers.
Step 5: Make sure all your references are authoritative journal articles or books – PE has some heavy science aspects, so you want strong sources!
Ask yourself – Where are you getting your references from for your assignments? If you say google.com, I’m afraid you don’t have the right answer…and you’re missing out. The theoretical side of Physical Education focuses heavily on: health, biomechanics and social science. To be able to proficiently discuss these topics, you need to make sure that your references are 100% scientific!
“Well, where do I find sources then?”
Don’t worry I’ve got your back. You’ll destroy the competition when you wield the mighty sword that is: Google Scholar. Open up your browser to just regular, inferior Google and type in ‘Google Scholar.’ Google Scholar is a database purely for scholarly literature. It contains frequently cited articles from experts of all fields.
Find key scholarly articles by typing in key words relevant to your assignment in the search bar, (words like “Anaerobic exercise” “Cognitive development” etc) read the abstract of the articles, determine if it’s relevant and then add it to a blank document to track your research (otherwise termed your document of treasures).
Academic references are worth their weight in gold, you will use them in university, so get used to using them now. Your teacher will be impressed and it boasts all kinds of points in your knowledge and understanding. Just make sure when citing those articles (by clicking the citation commas underneath each link) that you make sure they are always relevant to your assignment!
Step 6: Use PE specific language – Knowledge and Understanding!
Do you feel like sometimes you’re writing an English assessment instead of a Physical Education one? Occasionally, I would neglect using course specific words because A) there were so many of them, and B) I would forget what they mean. Teachers love when students use course specific words because it demonstrates an application of the knowledge that they have been taught (when you use them appropriately, obviously). So, whilst sitting in class, try to nab and create a list of course specific words.
Now for you visual learners out there, this one is for you. When you hear a word in class that you would never use outside of the classroom, that’s when your spidey-sense should tingle. Write the word in the back of your book, and either write a REALLY simplified definition, or draw a small thumbnail picture that represents the word so you know if you should use it in an upcoming assignment.
For example, consider the word ‘Anaerobic.’ Draw a picture of a stick man running really fast! What about ‘Adenosine Tri-phosphate’? Try drawing a lightning bolt, or an explosion. Accumulate 30 of these, then when the time comes for you to write your assessment, you’ve already established a mental connection to that word by trying to summarise it with a picture,. If you have 30 applicable and well-placed course words in your assignment, you are going to sky rocket ahead of everyone else and the teacher will know that you’ve listened!
Step 7: Writing an assignment is just like exercising – Treat it like a workout!
When lifting weights, you usually go hard for a set and then take a break, and then go hard again and repeat that process until the muscle is worn out. When you’re writing your assignment treat each draft like a set. If you only do one set at the gym, you’re either A) Not doing much work, or B) putting way too much stress on your body all at one time. If you think about it from the perspective that each attempt at an assignment draft is a session, you have to do at least three drafts (sets) before you can even think about getting that A (or building that muscle).
Like setting out your training routine, create a skeleton with all your ideas laid out in a flowing order and then refine, refine and refine again. Make sure everything is EXACTLY as you want it to be articulated, nothing less – just like an exercise program. You’re aiming for fluent writing that anyone could read and understand. Being concise and articulate is where you get those sweet communication marks. To help you do this, make sure you write a sentence or two that describes EXACTLY what you want your assignment to convey. For example, at the start of your assignment you may write, “This report aims to reveal specific academic barriers with school students in relation to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.” Having something like this at the top of your document keeps your writing focused, and each draft on task.
Once you’ve made your three sets (drafts), you can then hand in your full draft to the teacher for them to provide written feedback. Having a teacher there to help is like having a spotter while you’re doing a squat: they want you to succeed so they help give you important feedback to correct your overall form (assignment) and can help strengthen your assignment to that ‘A’ standard, or at least, push you over the line to get an A. Exercising can be fatiguing, but writing assessments also causes mental fatigue. Treat your assignment like an exercise regime and it could work wonders on your work ethic!
Now it’s time to act! Get your mind and body ready, put in that hard work and soar to all kinds of height. That ‘A’ is calling your name and you are fully capable of getting it, so what are you waiting for? Go and grab it, and watch your mental and physically capacities increase as a result!
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