Preparation for NCEA exams

November 23, 2021


You’ve been working hard all year to achieve your NCEA, and with exams just around the corner you might be getting a bit anxious about achieving the results you want.

This year, the disruption from COVID-19 may be adding more pressure. Sometimes a little pressure can help you perform well, but generally speaking, the better you prepare for exams the better you will feel. The secret is to manage stress.

There are also lots of resources online that offer useful advice and help you plan what you need to do before and during exams, and it is always good just to talk to someone.

It’s important that you don’t continue to worry about an exam after it is over. Instead, focus on getting prepared for your remaining exams.

Here’s a quick summary of how to prepare for your exams and some useful resources.

Make a plan

  • Work out how you study most effectively (when, where and how).
  • Plan a schedule – set study periods of 30-50 minutes followed by a 15-minute break.  At the weekend you can repeat this schedule with a specific learning goal through the day.

While you’re studying

  • Set up an organised area to study.
  • Switch your phone to flight mode and use it only during breaks.
  • Mix it up – write rather than type notes or say them aloud and play them back.
  • Work with classmates in study groups or reviewing work to help each other.

And here are some apps to help you get organised and feel good, including a study diary and some breathing, mindfulness and sleep techniques.

Stay healthy

  • As the saying goes, healthy body, healthy mind – so eat well.
  • Build in time for relaxation and fun, fresh air and physical activity.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Talk to your classmates and family about how they manage stress.

On the day

  • Check the time and location of the exam, and get there early after a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast or lunch.
  • Do a light revision.
  • Visualise being calm, do some deep breathing and avoid anyone who could stress you.
  • Find your seat and get comfy.
  • And remember if you think things didn’t go as well as you expected, talk to someone who can help you. Your teachers can support you to find ways to get to your goals.



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.

CLICK HERE to read about the options available

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