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Support your young person to prepare for NCEA exams

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Being well prepared for NCEA exams can mean less stress for everyone.

Provide a place to study and help them to plan

A quiet study place and a clear, visible study plan will give your young person a sense of control, and free up their headspace so they can focus.

Set up a study place 

This should be quiet and have good lighting. Make sure everything your young person needs for study is close by. That could include a computer, pens, notepaper, highlighters and books.

If this isn’t possible at your home, look for somewhere else they could work, such as a library or friend’s place. 

Make a wall chart 

Ask your young person if they'd like you to help them make a study chart for their wall.

  • Include exam times and dates, and all the days leading up to the exams.
  • Block out study time for each subject.
  • Use a different colour for each subject to make it easy to read.

Break down tasks

Help your young person make a list of the work they need to do for each subject, such as:

  • reviewing their notes from classes
  • making study cards
  • memorising formulas, dates and quotes
  • practising essay writing and mock exams
  • doing a final review of their notes.

Break tasks into 20-minute sessions with five-minute breaks in between, and put them into the wall chart. Match each session to its subject colour.

Add breaks

It's important to have breaks from study, so add these into the wall chart as well. You could include breakfast, exercise, music practice, social time or relaxation.

Remind your young person to have their breaks, and praise them when you notice they're sticking to their plan.

Find study tips

Suggest to your young person that they check these websites for tips on studying for exams:

Plan now for exams

Make sure your young person knows: 

  • their exam dates and whether they're morning or afternoon exams
  • where their exams will be held
  • how they'll get to in-person exams.

Prepare for digital exams and set up an NZQA student login

If they have digital exams, make sure they're familiar with the system before they need to use it. The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) suggests they:

  • learn about the digital exam platform they'll use
  • practise with the device they'll use for the exam
  • find out what support will be available on exam day if something goes wrong
  • set up their NZQA student login and remember their login details – they'll need these for the exam.

Help them stay healthy and manage stress

Stress is hard on the body, so chat with your young person about how to manage stress with sleep and exercise.

You might like to walk, cycle or run with them each night after dinner.

If your young person is feeling very anxious at any time, suggest they do a quick, intense burst of activity such as running on the spot, then taking five deep breaths to release tension.

If you're worried about your young person's stress levels, contact their school to see what support is available.

Listen to them and put worries into perspective

Young people may think missing NCEA credits or doing badly at exams will be the end of their dreams and a failure they can’t recover from.

Take time to listen to their concerns. 

Let them know there are always options if they don't get the credits they want – such as repeating credits or doing summer school.

Reassure them, and help them see they have a wider life outside passing NCEA.

Ask them what you can do to help. It could be as simple as bringing them a cup of tea while they're studying.

Pick up support

There are plenty of resources for students to get help with NCEA stress.

Do you have your own questions?

If you have questions about supporting a young person with their NCEA exams, you can call or email us, or use our webchat.