10 Nov 2016

Students hit crunch time as NCEA exams begin

11:21 am on 10 November 2016

NCEA exams start this morning with level-two Spanish and one of the biggest exams of the three-and-a-half-week exam season, level 1 English.

Year 11 student Asha Barr, pictured with her father Liam, was sitting her first NCEA exam today in level 1 English.

Year 11 student Asha Barr, pictured with her father Liam, was sitting her first NCEA exam today in level 1 English. Photo: RNZ / John Gerritsen

New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) said about 146,000 teenagers would be sitting this year's exams and in the past week they had downloaded more than 700,000 previous exam papers as they prepared for the tests.

Other exams today include Scholarship English, NCEA level 2 Earth and Space Science, and level 3 Biology.

Year 11 student Asha Barr was one of those sitting her first NCEA exam today, and said she was feeling "pretty confident" but admitted she had her ups and downs during tests.

"There's probably two states of mind that I flip between - it's really nervous and adrenaline-filled when I'm going hard and then there's this kind of like, low depression state where I think I know nothing and that kind of switches out every 10, 15 minutes."

Her father Liam Barr said he was not terribly good at exams when he was at school but was sure Asha would go well.

"I feel a lot better about her exams than I did about mine. I think I was not really the ideal student in that regard. But she seems to be very dedicated on her study, follows through on her work, does all her homework, so really I'm a lot more comfortable."

Another parent Kim Young said she had already seen her older daughter through the school system and a parent's role at exam time was a bit of a balancing act.

"It's a difficult balance between supporting and nagging and when young people are stressed, to support them and keep them on focus without going 'have you done this and have you done that'. It's a really difficult thing to do."

Study tips

The Qualifications Authority recommended students set regular routines and study goals and find a quiet, organised and well-lit space for studying.

Asha said she liked to study in her bedroom.

"I like my bedroom and it's quiet and it's comfortable. I like to close my curtains, put on my fairy lights, put on some music and have a cup of tea and then I'm good to go."

But Year 13 student Shenyll Delpachitra said she preferred to study at the library.

"I guess coming to the library is really useful because you get really isolated and you can just sit down and just work all day and there's no distractions, unlike home."

Another Year 13 student, Finn Lowndes, said he liked to study at the library with a study partner.

"I guess it really helps getting another perspective on things, especially in the likes of Scholarship where you're taught different essay styles at different schools," he said.

"So different essay styles, different texts, basically comparing notes and coming up with possibly a better plan than we might have individually."

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