10 Nov 2014

Students told to keep calm for exams

9:05 am on 10 November 2014

NCEA exams start today, marking the beginning of three weeks of swot and stress for 143,000 secondary school students and their families.

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The exams are something of an annual rite of passage and there is nothing like advice from those who have gone through the process before.

The Qualifications Authority's advice to students is to stay calm and trust themselves.

"Don't be critical of yourself. Don't think that you have to learn everything in the last week. Trust yourself. Trust your learning. Trust what your teachers have shown you," said NZQA deputy chief executive qualifications, Richard Thornton.

Radio New Zealand asked a group of exam veterans - university students - for their study tips.

Advice for students

  • "All the technology these days, everything's on computers. But if you actually write it out, it sticks in your head a lot better. And teaching other people things - trying to teach them how to do it." - Sophie Wilkinson.
  • "Just knuckle down. I know it seems hard, but it's worth it in the end and you'll feel better once it's over." - Pascarn Dickinson
  • "A lot of people over-do it a lot and burn out by the time it comes to their exam. You've got to stagger your study." - Louisa Nicklin
  • "Study lots and early. Give yourself plenty of time and take lots of breaks. I always find if I sit down for four hours and jut try and nut something out, it never works out well. You end up staring at the same sentence like five times." - Joel Tyrie.
  • "Relax and read the paper. Make sure you understand what the question wants from you. Don't get sidetracked going on a random tangent that has nothing to do with the question." - Andrew Staples.
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Advice for parents

  • "The kids know how much stress they're under and how important these exams are. Parents don't need to tell them over and over again, so just back off a little bit. Make them lunch, be nice, do nice things for them, but don't stress them out about what they already know." - Laurel Smith
  • "Just make sure they put the work in during the day. Provide positive support." - Jonty Wealleans
  • "They've got to do their bit to help their child stay calm and to make sure that things are organised. Don't feel you're being a nosey-parker if you're asking things like 'when is your exam?' The parents can help with transport, making sure the student gets there on time. It is different from our day, when we were young kids doing our assessments it was nothing like what it is now. The kids know their stuff, they just need to keep relaxed." - Richard Thornton, NZQA.

NZQA exam tips

NZQA has advice and information for students, including a video of exam tips, on its website