Auckland Grammar School

Auckland Grammar is a large boys’ secondary school in Auckland, New Zealand. It has a roll of approx. 2,500 students from year 9-13, with over 440 enrolled in Year 13.

Preparation for Tertiary Studies – Developed & conducted by Jackie McCormick & Sarah Poland

Established 2013

After several years of discussion with Senga White about the obvious value of such initiatives and the content of the course she’d been running at James Hargest  College, I decided to put it to my colleagues Sarah Poland and Anne McLean, that we start our own course this year.  Immediate triggers for this decision was anecdotal evidence we’d heard from several sources regarding students from various schools receiving poor grades for undergraduate assignments due to a lack of understanding of the standard of referencing required to meet criteria and also to avoid plagiarism.  Spontaneous feedback from a student regarding how helpful he’d found our tutelage regarding database and internet searching as preparation for his tertiary education also encouraged us to get started.

When we considered developing this course, I approached the Deputy Headmaster responsible for the school’s Enrichment Programme to see it could be included in this. Fortunately, he agreed that it would be a worthwhile addition to the programme which meant that students would be able to have time out from classes on selected Wednesday afternoons to attend.

The course content required four afternoon sessions to deliver and the topics for each are listed below:

Session One

Effective online searching

  • revision of Boolean Operators and special command characters
  • Watch Boolean: combining keywords YouTube video prepared by The University of Auckland
  • Students complete practical exercises using a database, Google Advanced Search and Google Scholar

The Filter Bubble (watch TED talk)

Evaluating information with particular emphasis on online information

Different kinds of journals (popular/academic/ peer reviewed)

Session Two

Understanding the scope of, and how to search, a large scale catalogue such as that of the University of Auckland’s catalogue. (Includes student search exercises)

Subject headings vs Keywords as information retrieval tools

A brief look at the subject guides available on the AU library website

Plagiarism ;  what it is and how to avoid it –tertiary standards

Session Three

Referencing, using APA as an example style

Note making

Note taking in lectures

Session Four

Visit to University of Auckland Central Library conducted by a librarian from that institution

For more information about The Tertiary Prep Programme at Auckland Grammar, contact Jackie McCormick on


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