8 steps to stop NCEA study stress

Three students sit at desks writing exam answers

Eight useful steps to help to get through NCEA exam study stress.

Stressed about NCEA exams? Get organised and reduce pressure on yourself with these eight steps. 

1. Set up a study space

Find a quiet place in your home and set up all your study tools, such as computer, highlighters, subject notes and writing paper. If that isn't possible, go to a friend’s house or a whānau member’s house – or try a public library.

2. Make a study wall chart

Make a wall chart with all your subjects and the days leading up to the exams. Block out the exam days. Colour code each subject so it’s easy to read.

3. Make a list of study tasks

Make a list of what you need to do for each subject, such as:

  • read information about the exam, including where and when it is
  • check out websites with tips on exam study
  • review classroom notes
  • learn formulae
  • make study cards
  • memorise dates
  • practise essay writing
  • practise mock exams
  • do a final review of your notes.

Break these tasks into 20-minute blocks with five-minute breaks in between, and add them to the wall chart. Match each block to its subject colour.

Can you do any of the tasks with a friend? You could test each other and share study tips.

4. Prepare now for digital exams

If you're sitting a digital exam, get familiar with the system before you need to use it.

  • Learn about the digital exam platform you'll be using.
  • Practise with the device you'll use for the exam.
  • Find out what support will  be available on exam day if something goes wrong.
  • Set up your NZQA student login and remember your login details - you'll need these for the exam.

5. Book in time to relax on your wall chart

Book time on your wall chart for things like meals, music practice, exercise and free time.

Free time each day is important – it will help reduce your stress.

6. Exercise, eat and sleep well every day to reduce stress

Now is not the time for 3am study and chocolate binges.

Eat healthy food, exercise every day and get at least eight hours sleep each night – you will feel less stressed.

Exercise can help if you're feeling anxious.

If things are getting too much, run quickly on the spot, or go outside and shake your arms. This can calm you down and help you focus.

7. Put NCEA exams into perspective

If something goes wrong in the exam, or if you miss some NCEA credits, it’s not the end of the world. There are always other options. Your school might allow you to redo some of your NCEA credits next year, or you could complete them at summer school.

There is a wider life outside of NCEA, and any setbacks can be fixed.

Updated 6 Oct 2023