Category: Resources for School-Leavers

Free Career Advice Phone Line

Free career advice service now available

An over-the-phone service offering free personalised career guidance from qualified professionals is now available. There are also career advice pop-ups in locations throughout New Zealand until March 2021. The service is designed to support job seekers in taking the next steps into work or study.

You can get advice from a professional career expert for free.

They can help you to:

  • make a personalised career plan
  • gain confidence
  • find work or training.

Call us for more information or to book your first session. We are here from 8:30am to 9pm Monday to Friday.


StudyLink — for student loans & allowances in 2021, apply before 16th Dec

Year 13s:  If you need to apply for a Student Loan or Allowance for 2021, StudyLink recommend you do this and send in your documents by 16 December.

A Student Allowance is payable to those whose parents’ income is less than ~$90k per annum.  An allowance is a payment to help with your living expenses while you study and it does not have to be paid back.

A Student Loan is money to assist with your tuition fees, course costs or living expenses and it does have to be paid back once you are earning. Currently, it is interest-free while you study.

Caution: Loans can add up very quickly and it can be difficult to pay back on top of your tax and KiwiSaver. Our recommendation is to hold off drawing down a student loan for as long as you can and only borrow what you really need.

Can't miss it image

More than 150,000 students will be applying for student allowances and loans.
Applying before 16 December puts you in the best position to have everything sorted ready for the start of your course.

  • Step 1 – Apply for 2021

    First-time students

    Before you apply for your Student Loan or Allowance, you should set up a RealMe verified identify. It’ll mean you won’t need to send us evidence of your identity to support your application.

    Student Loan

    If you’re a new student, you may be able to get fees-free. You’ll most likely qualify if you’re finishing secondary school this year.

    If you qualify, you may not need a Student Loan for your course fees.

    You’ll still need to apply for a Student Loan if you want course-related costs or living costs.

    How to apply

    You can apply for your Student Loan and/or Student Allowance online.

    Returning students

    If you’ve applied in the last 12 months, you can log in to MyStudyLink and use the Returning Application.

    Your application will be pre-filled from last time. All you need to do is check and update your information – it’ll take less than 5 minutes.

  • Step 2 – Send us your documents


    We’ll write to you to let you know what happens next.

    If you need to send us supporting documents, you can do this online using Connect.

    It’s important to get everything to us straight away so we can carry on processing your application.

  • Be in to win a MacBook


    You could go in the draw to win a 13″ MacBook. All you need to do is:

    • apply by 16 December
    • send us all your documents by 16 December.

    We’ll put your name in the prize draw. A winner will be drawn by 31 January 2021.

NIE: Medical Interview Preparation and UCAT info

Medical Interviews and Effective Communication Skills Workshop

Head-start early training – LIVE ONLINE INTERACTIVE Event 

ENROL TODAY (Limited Spots)

19 & 26 September 2020, 10:00am – 4:00pm AEST

View other dates and locations


    What UCAT Score, UCAT percentile, ATAR / GPA will get me an interview offer?

    What does my UCAT score mean?

    What is a good UCAT result?

    Should I start preparing for interviews?

As we are entering the final days of the 2020 UCAT testing period, the above questions are what is in the minds of just about every 2020 UCAT candidate who sat the test. Hence, in an effort to shine some light on this mind-boggling predicament, we have decided to put together some useful advice for you. Note, that this advice is from the perspective of an organisation that has been dealing with candidates in the exact same situation as you for the past 21 years.


In short, every serious undergraduate applicant MUST take the interview process very seriously and do not ever play it down. Every year we deal with the aftermath of “I should be right” attitude. Quite often this attitude results in the applicant realising that they have failed the interview by the time the second question is being asked. You must understand that while not everyone requires extensive preparation, everyone does need to prepare to some extent in order not live things for chance. Remember…medical interview is NOT just a chat!

Read about Medical Interviews

Read about why early interview preparation is highly recommended

That said…now we need to think if your UCAT score in good enough to get you through to an interview. To assist you with this decision please consult the folwing link:

Is My UCAT Score Good Enough?



Here is a list of services offered through the National Institute of Education for your medical interview preparation and readiness.

1. We have arranged a number of early intensive interview preparation workshops. Some are run as in-person events, others will be run as a small-group, Live Online Interactive programs. Note that online classes are run over two days of 6-hour lessons, so that we are able to spend ample time, with each participant during the live-online classroom. Below are some of the dates for you to consider:


Live Online Interactive Training

23 & 29 August (10.00am – 4.30pm AEST) – Live Online Interactive

30 September & 1 October (10.00am – 4.30pm AEST) – Live Online Interactive

  In-Person Attendance Training

Sydney (Chatswood) – 20 August 2020

View other dates and location here…


2. Confidence Strategy Interactive Webinar: If you feel that lack of confidence during the interview may cause you problems, then you may wish to attend one of these confidence-building specifically catered workshops. Click here to see the dates.

3. We have also created an Advanced Interview Training Program for those of you who do not wish to leave a single stone unturned. To read more about this program and the available dates click here.

4. Alternatively, if you are struggling with time and would opt for a more casual start or you are simply not confident about your marks, then we highly recommend that you at least start by reading books to do with the medical interviews and preparation techniques. For book titles please visit NIE Bookshop.



Which Universities Require a UCAT score?


NIE’s Medical Interview Training Services


If you wish to complete one-on-one personalised interview training as well. 


Medical Interview Training – Advanced Studio


Interview Confidence Building Skills


Med School University Application Tips


Bond University – Psychometric Test and Interview Preparation


Preparing for Medical Interviews. The structured panel, semi-structured interviews, and MMI


How do MMI Medical Interviews Function at Australian Universities


Why study Medicine? Entry from a current Undergraduate Medicine Student at Monash University


Studying Medicine in Australia. What are the time commitments of a medical student?


For details about available UCAT and Interview preparation resources and services, NIE offers can be downloaded via the links below.

Download: Preparing for UCAT & Interviews  


What NIE students say about our interview teachers and teaching methods


The interview workshop was great. The intensive style of the program in which we were exposed to the very different interview structures was challenging and a great learning experience. Listening to the feedback for each of the candidates’ mock interviews was great for improving my own approach to the interview. While I found the mock interviews quite challenging, I thought it would have been nice to have more of these mock interviews with the two teachers as was done in the beginning. However, in the time given, the workshop was well structured and very helpful. Regards, (N.K)


To whom it may concern. Thank you to NIE for coaching my son today and for giving me a call to provide feedback on how my son is progressing with his interview skills. In short, the feedback my son gave me is: “Amazing staff and lecturers who were engaging and encouraging. Teachers addressed the hard topics of the interviews throughout the lesson. Lots of one-to-one contact and practice. Excellent medical interview and role-playing tactics.” Thank You Very Much! (N.L)


Hello. I did the workshop and I believe this one session really cemented my interview techniques, gave me confidence and improved my weaknesses immensely! They were tough and tested your resilience – which I found to be challenging but very useful and beneficial as I encountered many interviewers in my MMI that were similarly tough or who didn’t seem very positive. The questions they asked were spot on, their university-specific style of questioning was great in preparing us for the challenges of each different university’s interviews and the feedback they offered after the mock interview was very constructive and helpful. It was overall a very helpful training session – one that I believed pushed my interview skills to the maxi um and led me to be successful in getting into medicine at the university I wanted! My sister also went to interview training with them, and she had similar positive feedback, and she also gained a place into her uni of choice. So, I cannot stress enough how helpful these two have been for me and my sister – if any future students do sufficient preparation prior to the interview training and are driven to do medicine. I am sure that Zobair and Sasha will help them to achieve their dreams just like us. Thank you! Regards (H.H.)


See more reviews…



UCAT Preparation Books

Comprehensive UCAT Online Preparation Platform

Complete UCAT Preparation Courses

UCAT Format


Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding the UCAT, Medical Interviews, or career in health.


Sasha Tymoshenko
NIE Course Coordinator
National Institute of Education

T: 1300 974 187  |  M: 0404 197 178  |  M: 0412 439 115



ucat nie kaplan

Are you applying for Halls of Residence?

Halls of Residence Application Process and Tips

Online application for Halls of Residence open on the 1st August. Applications need to be submitted before the 30th September.

Before you begin your application

You need the following information before you start your application: –

Have decided which Halls of residence you want to apply for, you need to do some research around the options and which one is best suited to you. At some universities you can only select one where other universities may ask you to select 3 preferences.

  • Contact details of your guardian – name, address, phone number/s and email address
  • Your NSN – National Student Number
  • Your most recent NCEA academic results (Year 12 NCEA, IB or CIE, or Year 13 results if you have been on a GAP Year).
  • Your proposed course or study e.g. Bachelor of Arts etc.

Think about how you may answer the application questions, this template represents the type of questions you can expect.

Halls of Residence Link

Register online

After the 1st August you can go to the accommodation site of the university you intend to study at. “Apply Now” and register, you will then be emailed a username and password to enable you to save and come back to your application if you need to.


In addition to the online application students need to provide a confidential reference from their school. At SMC, these are all completed by Ms McLaughlin using the information you provided in your reference application form and the input from your 3-4 chosen staff members.

Complete the online request for the Common Confidential Reference (CCRF) before the end of August. CCRF Form To do this you will need your NSN number.  Please note this is a confidential reference you will not see this reference as it is sent directly to the accommodation at the university you are applying for.

Your school will need to complete your reference before 15 September. You will get an email to confirm the reference has been sent by the school.

Complete Application before 30th September

It is advisable to have this done by mid September. Applications can be made after the 30th September but you will not be made an offer in the first round which are made around the 10th October. Make sure the application is complete as missing information will delay your application being processed or accepted.

Get someone to proofread your application before you submit your application.

Please note you may be required to pay an application fee by some universities. This is usually payable by a credit card and will be between $75-100. This must be paid before your application is processed.


Halls of Residence offers are made between October and February. If you have not been allocated a place in a Halls of Residence in the first round, you will be placed on a waiting list. It is advisable to accept your offer even though it may not have been your first choice. Most students, by the time the university starts in February, do receive an offer but it could take some time until a vacancy becomes available.

If you are still on the waiting list in mid- February, temporary accommodation is often available. Students move in mid-February (you will be given a date). Spaces can become available within the first few weeks after the semester commences.

Pay your deposit

Pay the required deposit as specified in the offer – this can range from $600-1000. If you do not return your contract by the due date, your contract will expire and your place will be offered to another student. This usually due before the end of October.

Choose payment options

Look through the payment options and discuss with parents, caregivers and whanau how best to manage this? Options include lump sum payments, where the whole year fees are paid in January, quarterly payments, weekly payments etc. Students eligible for a student loan via Studylink. You can receive $239.76 a week for living costs but you don’t have to borrow the full amount. This will not be accessible until end of February once the semester starts.

Accommodation Scholarships

Canterbury University

Massey University


Checklist for Y13s finishing school

The Ultimate Checklist for Anyone Finishing High School at the end of this Year

Finishing Year 13 this year? Our checklist has everything you need to get ahead of the game when it comes to uni, jobs and money

Graduating High School Checklist NZ

Updated 19 June 2020

  • Every year, tens of thousands of Year 13 students leave school without fully being prepared for university or other tertiary education. We’ve put this guide together for one reason – to make sure you have the best start in life after school.
  • We cover what we consider to be the core foundations for transiting from school to tertiary study. We believe that if you finish Year 13 and complete the majority of these suggestions below, you will be well prepared for next year.
  • It doesn’t matter what your plans regarding study are; this guide sets out eleven must-know action points to getting ahead of the game.

​If you do have any questions, please email our team – we’d love to hear from you.

11 Highly Recommended Action Points for When You Graduate Year 13

Graduating High School Checklist NZ

Put together a CV (a well-prepared CV shows initiative and how resourceful you are)

Having a CV makes you employable, and it’s worrying how many Year 13 students finish school without having a CV to show employers. If you do it before you leave school, your careers advisor can review it and suggest improvements. Once you leave school, this support doesn’t formally exist outside friends and family.Next Steps:

  • Our Student CV guide has everything you need to get you started. We walk through what you need to do, step by step, and make it an easy task to complete.
Graduating High School Checklist NZ

Hunt for scholarships (they’re not just for smart students; every year millions of dollars are awarded to thousands of students)

Every month thousands of students look for scholarships to help them with university costs. There’s a misconception that only ‘smart’ students will be eligible, but this is not the case. Many scholarships every year go unclaimed. The application process for most isn’t too time-consuming, and cash awards make a big difference to university life.Next Steps:

  • Our Scholarships guide has everything currently available to Year 13 students in every corner of New Zealand. We walk through what you need to do, step by step, and offer tips for applications.
Graduating High School Checklist NZ

Register for a Community Services Card (a “CSC” cuts down any medical costs you would otherwise pay full price for)

A Community Services Card helps with the costs of medical care. Beyond doctor’s visits, a CSC can also help reduce the costs of things like ACC visits to a general practice (e.g. a doctor or nurse) if you are injured, prescription fees and after-hours health practitioner fees, as well as emergency dental care. It’s free while you are a student and saves you significant amounts.Next Steps:

  • CSC eligibility is based on your income, but unless you are working full time, you should qualify.
  • Register for a CSC; it takes only a few minutes via Work and Income; our CSC guide walks you through the benefits and why it’s a great idea to apply.
Graduating High School Checklist NZ

Look for a part-time job (for money and experience)

Even though COVID-19 has weakened the economy, retailers like supermarkets and retailers are still hiring students. Beyond that, there’s more flexible work like babysitting, pet feeding and lawn mowing. Not only is a regular income helpful why you study, the more work experience you have, the more employable you will be when you graduate from university in a few years. It’s no exaggeration to say that people are hired based on their experience and attitude.Next Steps:

  • Read our Student Jobs Guide for everything you need to know about securing a part-time and/or summer holiday position.
Leaving School Tips
Graduating High School Checklist NZ

Take the time to understand how student loans and allowances work (and apply with StudyLink if you need one)

Student loans are not scary, and we believe New Zealand offers one of the most generous and flexible schemes in the world. The student loans system provides anyone with the ability to pursue tertiary study with StudyLink, the government’s agency, covering your fees, course-related costs and paying a living allowance. Best of all, you’ll only make repayments on everything when you earn over $20,000.Next Steps:

Graduating High School Checklist NZ

Challenge your plans for your course (to make sure you’re comfortable it’s what you want to do)

You may be unsure what to study after you complete Year 13, and that’s perfectly normal. Many students enrol in a BCom, BA or BSc without too much thought about what job it will lead to. But without too much effort, you can get some insight into what you’ll spend the next three, four or five years doing. And most importantly, ask yourself if there’s going to be jobs at the end of it, and those jobs are in an area you’re interested in.A BA or a BSc is a broad degree and can lead in many different career directions. Doing a conjoint degree gives broader career options e.g. Commerce and Science (for working in biotech), Law and Arts (for working in government) and Commerce and Law (for jobs in industry).

If you’re unsure about what to study, gaining a professional qualification gives a good base from which to launch as well as giving you credibility. Examples include studying to be a registered nurse, teacher, accountant, surveyor and lawyer – all of these are good places to start.

If you like more hands-on learning, consider one of many trades available. The Got a Trade website helpfully explains what options are available. A number of university students drop out every year and switch to a trade, but it’s cheaper and much less problematic if you properly consider trades while in Year 13.

University will unfold whether you’re prepared or not, so pre-screening the course you plan to do is essential to avoid wasting time and money. Students do change courses after the first semester or year, and this is perfectly normal. But changing toward the end of your degree can be expensive, disruptive and hold you back.

Next Steps: 

  • Now is the only time you’ll have to appropriately challenge what you plan to study. To get the best idea, we suggest visiting your university’s website and looking up for the course you plan to study. It will include all the papers, i.e. subjects, that you’ll need to take to get the degree.
  • Whether you plan to study business/management, an arts speciality, teaching, law or something biological sciences-related, knowing what’s involved in at least the first two years is critical. If it sounds boring or you want to do something else, it’s never too late to switch before you start.
  • Visit the University Campus, preferably on an open day, to see if your learning style suits the university’s teaching and assessments. Find out how large the class and tutorial sizes are.

Grace Birdsall, Career Development Director at Diocesan School for Girls offers some wise comments:
“It is almost impossible for a school leaver to know there will be jobs at the end of a degree. I tell (students) that it is not so much the qualification that gets them a job – having a qualification is important, but it is their employability skills that matter once they have a qualification. Also, the world of work is constantly evolving and new jobs appear all the time.  They cannot choose jobs that do not yet exist but they can work on being employable.

Lots of students discover that what they thought would be the ideal course is not what they had expected and changing courses after the first semester or year is incredibly common (and it is fine to change). While it will cost time and money but they will still have learned new things and will be the wiser for the experience.  Over the course of their lifetimes, this cost is not dire”.

An Auckland High School Careers Advisor recounts:
“Making a decision about your future when you are 18 years old and know little about life is challenging. Life takes many twists and turns and sometimes we start on one path and it leads us to another. I agree degrees leading to professional pathways are the safest option but they do limit you to a very defined career, so you need to be more certain this pathway suits you”.

As MoneyHub user Tom recounts:
“I knew I was smart at school but didn’t know what I wanted to do at university. I enrolled in health sciences because I thought I liked science and thought Medicine would be a good degree. Four years after graduating, I worked part-time as it’s not what I thought it would be. All I can say is think very carefully before doing Medicine – I was too young at 18 and didn’t properly consider it”.

MoneyHub’s founder Christopher Walsh recalls:
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do at 17 when I enrolled at the University of Otago, but I knew I didn’t want to do anything science or maths-related. I enrolled to study Law, Accounting and Spanish, and graduated with a BCom/LLB. By fluke, I still use all of these things in my everyday life 10+ years since graduating and find they have a broad application. My suggestion is, if you’re unsure, is to look for something that’s professionally recognised. With accounting, I qualified as a CA, and with law, I sat the bar exams afterwards, which would allow me to practice as a lawyer. Should MoneyHub fail down the road, I have something to fall back on”.

Leaving School Tips

Graduating High School Checklist NZ

Learn how to cook (basics) and do laundry (now is the time…before it’s too late)

You don’t need to go nuts, but being able to cook some basics is going to go along way. Start with some basics – pasta and pizza. For $10 or $15, you can cook a meal for four, and the helpful Countdown recipes tells you what to buy from their shop and how to cook it – it couldn’t be easier.Mastering laundry is far simpler, and an essential adult life skill. Get into the habit of doing it, and you’ll have a lot of independence.

MoneyHub user Matt recalls:
“I flatted with a guy at uni. All he ate was cereal and frozen pizzas, and takeaway coffees at random times. He was completely useless and probably never questioned why we ditched him the following year. If you can’t do the basics then uni will be lame”.

Graduating High School Checklist NZ

Open a student bank account (the banks will welcome you with welcome arms and offer great deals)

There are no downsides to what the banks offer students, and you’ll be independent with a fully functioning account complete with a debit card, app and online banking. This makes managing your money (be it wages or student loan/allowance payments) easy.​Top tip – download your bank’s app so you can be alerted to payments. Spending feels a lot more real (and you can control yourself more) when you re-live the transactions on your app later.

Next steps:

  • We’ve extensively reviewed student bank accounts, and how they compare, so it’s easy to decide what’s best for you.
Graduating High School Checklist NZ
Graduating High School Checklist NZ

Try to save up a $2,000 nest egg (as having savings helps considerably when you’re a student)

Having money in the bank creates a safety net makes life much more straightforward. $2,000 sounds like a mountain of cash for an 18-year-old, but it’s three weeks of full-time work at minimum wage (after-tax). If you can work a summer and save a third of what you earn, you’ll be able to create a safety net.Next Steps:

Graduating High School Checklist NZ

Join KiwiSaver (saving is always smart, and you’ll get free money from the government and your employer)

Disclaimer: By suggesting students join KiwiSaver, we are not providing financial advice in any form. The promotion of the benefits of KiwiSaver is purely journalistic in nature.​It’s never too early to start saving, and setting up KiwiSaver now means you’ll speed towards reaching things you want later on with a nest egg saved up. Yes, retirement is irrelevant right now, but KiwiSaver is a program for life and every dollar you put away today is worth more later. You can use it to buy a house when the time is right. Best of all, both your employer and the government will give you money to help you save for your future needs. We’re big fans of KiwiSaver and believe signing up as a student is a smart decision to make.

Next Steps:

  • Read our Favourite KiwiSaver funds guide to understand what’s essential when looking for a fund.
  • If you’re happy to save 3% of your income (about 60 cents an hour on a minimum wage), compound interest means you’ll earn $7 for every 60 cents you save today over 40 years (based on average returns). Anyone rich will tell you KiwiSaver is a smart move – there is simply is no downside.
Graduating High School Checklist NZ

Learn to drive

Learning to drive is an essential skill. We haven’t published any guides on the process, but strongly suggest investing the time and money to qualify if you haven’t already. Having a driver licence makes you more employable and gives you greater freedom (regardless of whether or not you own or have access to a vehicle).Next Steps:

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash