Advice for NCEA students at exam time

22 November 2016
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A University of Auckland Starpath Project leader has a strong message for senior school students in these last days before nationwide exams begin – ‘short term pain for long term gain’!

“In other words – make some sacrifices like giving up some time on social media, the after school job or time with friends, and it will pay off with exam success,” says Tania Linley-Richardson, Starpath facilitator from the university’s Faculty of Education and Social Work.

“And remember – it won’t be for long! Change your routines and make study a priority for just a few weeks and the benefits could last a lifetime.”

Starpath is a major university research project dedicated to helping schools get students through NCEA exams with particular emphasis on Level 3 for university entrance.

Hopefully, most students will have been well prepared by their schools for what lies ahead. But just in case they need some reminders, Tania has put together a check list to help them make the most of these last few days.

“It is really worth taking the time to prepare and plan,” says Tania. “It will help you feel in control and ease any stress you might be feeling.”

Time management

  • Prepare a study timetable which includes all your commitments such as school, family time, sports, church, job.

  • Check you block out enough time for studying all subjects.

  • Make sure you give more time to subjects you find difficult.

  • Spend more time on subjects you DON’T like than on ones you do like.

  • Study for your most difficult subjects at the time of day you work best.

Have a game plan

Before you go into the exam room you should know:

  • The order in which you will attempt the standards you are entered for.

  • How much time to spend on each one, including how much time to spend reading instructions and planning your answers.

Your teachers will be able to advise you about these things. If you are unsure – ask!

BE CAREFUL about cutting off opportunities if you are making decisions about not completing a standard

Equipment bag

You will need:

  • A clear plastic bag

  • Candidate slip with your NSN

  • Pens – and spares

  • Highlighters

  • Ruler

  • Calculator for Maths, Accounting and Business Studies

  • Watch – in case you can’t see the clock

  • Water bottle

  • Tissues

DON’T use pencil or Twink on your exam papers. DON’T take any study notes into the exam room or have any notes written on your body!

Leading up to the exam

  • Limit socialising and time on devices – plan to use social media or phone friends in study breaks.

  • If you have an after school job you may need to cut down your hours or take time off during the weeks of the exams. It’s only for a short period of time – study needs to come first!

  • Know your external exam timetable – dates and times for all your final exams.

  • Use studyit.org.nz for study and exam advice and support from tutors in subject areas like English, Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Science and Earth and Space Science. This is a free service for NCEA students.

On the day of the exam

  • Get a good night’s sleep.

  • Have a decent breakfast.

  • Follow your game plan: know which exam paper to begin with and how much time to spend on each standard.

  • Arrive at school at the correct time for my exam (morning 9am, afternoon 1.30pm).

  • Take your examination entry slip – with your name and NSN details on.

  • Have your equipment ready – including spare pens, calculator if needed, ruler etc., in a clear plastic bag.

  • Go to the bathroom before entering the exam room.

In the exam room

  • Ask the supervisor for help if you need it.

  • Ask for extra paper if you need it.

  • Use your watch to time your answers and STOP when the time you have allocated is finished.

  • Stay for the whole three hours.

  • Write in blue pen only in the exam booklets and do not use Twink or pencil.

  • Make sure you are comfortable – not cold, not hot, your desk isn’t wobbly and go to the bathroom if you need to.

  • Don’t worry about what other people are doing – concentrate on your own answers.

  • Read all instructions on the front cover and inside the booklets before answering each question.

  • Use the exam papers to help you – pay attention to the words in bold in each question – these are key words the examiner wants you to answer

  • If you feel unwell, tell the supervisor.

After the exam

  • Don’t worry about your answers or spend a lot of time with friends analysing what you did or didn’t do.

  • Relax!

  • Forget about this exam and concentrate on the next one.