High school students in New Zealand often wonder how to achieve good NCEA results. That's not surprising at all given that the NCEA is one of the most important school qualifications in New Zealand that takes students 3 years to obtain.

Students who get good assessment grades on their exams are more likely to enter the university of their choice after school. The NCEA certificate can also help you find a good job if you choose not to pursue university studies.

An important particularity of the NCEA is that it is not taken just in the last year of school but spans over the last three school years. The assessment grades students get at NCEA level 1 or level 2 are as important as the ones achieved at NCEA level 3 in year 13.

NCEA assessment is based on different achievement standards. Some of them are completed by students in class during the school year and others are offered in the form of an exam.

That means that the NCEA evaluates your performance over time and not just your ability to prepare for an end-of-year exam. Still, NCEA final exams are very important at each level because they can bring you a lot of credits.

In this article, we will look at the best ways to prepare for NCEA exams year after year and finish school with excellent results.

You can get more tips about high schools pathways in our article.

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Understand the assessment standards

To get their NCEA, students need to meet assessment standards and earn credits in the subjects of their choice. As all subjects require different skills and qualifications, the assessment activities vary a lot among them.

For example, the goal of our English course is to teach us to speak and write in a clear and well-organised way. The English exam and in-class assessment standards were logically created to test those abilities. They may include writing essays, doing presentations or text analysis.

Organise your NCEA revision in a way you can enjoy it
If you have fun revising for an exam, you have more chances to get a good grade | Unsplash - Tim Mossholder

On the other hand, the subject of the NCEA chemistry course is substances and reactions between them. As a result, chemistry students will need to know the formulas of different compounds, to be able to combine them and even conduct lab experiments.

The NCEA assessment exams are set by NZQA, New Zealand Qualification Authority. It publishes the information about the assessment standards for all subjects on its website, so all NCEA students can learn about the skills they are expected to have.

Familiarising yourself with the NZQA assessment standards and criteria should be the first step in your preparation for NCEA standards. You can identify your strong and weak points and draw up a learning plan for each level of NCEA.

In all subjects, we are likely to be better at doing certain kinds of assignments than others. The right approach would be to spend more time on what you find difficult.

For example, if you can write outstanding essays in English but your spoken performances fall behind, you can try to do presentations on different topics in your free time and find a private English tutor who will evaluate them.

If you revise that way for your different examinations, you will end up having all the necessary skills and be confident on the test day.

Timing is important

As we have said, not all NCEA standards are completed by students in the form of end-of-year exams with external assessment. Many of them are to be met in class during the school year and are marked by the teacher. As a result, students won't have the same amount of time to revise for them.

NCEA standards vary a lot depending on subjects and the NCEA level you are currently at. That is why a student can only organise their work efficiently if they possess the information about the assessment criteria as well as the exam timetable.

When it comes to internal assessment standards, the timetable is normally drawn up by the teacher responsible for the subject in question.

It can be useful for students to ask their teacher about the exam timetable and its contents at the beginning of the year. With that information, they can decide on how much time to spend on each kind of assessment activity and whether they need to contact a tutor to make their learning faster.

As for end-of-year examinations, their timetable is drawn up by NZQA and can be looked up on its website.

As they take place at the end of the school year, students will have more time to prepare for them. At the same time, they should keep in mind that external exams are more stressful and so require more work.

Don't wait until the last minute to start revising for your end-of-year examinations and pay particular attention to the subjects and assignments that your struggle with the most.

You can read about IGCSEs in more detail in our article.

By organising your work according to the exam timetable, you will be able to revise calmly during the year and complete all the standards without major difficulty.

NCEA exams are a necessary step to enter university
Choose your NCEA subjects carefully because it will be important for university later on | Unsplash - Dom Fou
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NCEA dates in 2022

If you are having an examination at the end of the year 2022, you can already find out your dates on the NZQA website in the section "National secondary examinations timetable".

All NCEA external tests this year will take place between November 7 and December 2 with no sessions on Canterbury Anniversary Day (November 11) and Westland Anniversary Day (November 28).

In our article, you can find useful information about the IB.

There are two examination sessions scheduled every day at 9.30 am and 2 pm and each of them lasts for three hours.

If you haven't started your revision yet, we recommend you to go to the NZQA website and check the relevant dates for you.

You need to know precisely in which order you will take your tests and how much time you'll have between them.

That time is crucial for two reasons. First, three-hour test sessions tend to be quite exhausting, so you'll need a period of rest. Second, you can use that time to review the most important concepts and the parts of the course you are less confident in.

Good revision in high school will help you get good grades and lay the foundation to pursue your education at university.

Use past papers in your revision

The most important prerequisite to passing an end-of-school examination is, of course, the student's knowledge of the subject. You need to be curious about your field of specialisation and try to learn additional facts on top of what you've seen in your course.

However, good knowledge is not all. You also need to know what kind of assignments you will have to deal with in the examination and that's where past papers can be of help.

Private tutors can also help you prepare for AS levels.

Even though they may vary from one year to another, you can still get an idea of the tasks to prepare for. You can find them on the NZQA website and organise your revision based on them.

Try to solve the past papers on your own at first, so you can single out the most difficult ones for you.

Once you've gone through a sample exam, you can have a look at the right answers offered by the examiners and compare your answers with them. It will help you get a better sense of your strengths and weaknesses, which is crucial to achieving good final grades.

As you certainly know, we learn better when we don't just memorise information but also put it into practice. That approach is a great way both to succeed in NCEA and to get ready for professional life when your knowledge will need to be used in real situations.

If you struggle to grasp the criteria of an assessment standard on your own, you can get in contact with a tutor who will guide you in your revision and draw your attention to important aspects.

You can find past NCEA papers online
There are numerous online resources that will help you prepare for your NCEA exams | Unsplash - Mimi Thian

Get ready for NCEA with a Superprof tutor

There are a lot of excellent NCEA tutors who can assist a student in learning better. The platform that will help you to get in contact with such a tutor is Superprof.

On our website, there are numerous profiles of New Zealand tutors in different subjects. You can find out about their experience, teaching methods and prices to make the right choice.

In addition to the data provided by the tutor themselves, you can browse through other users' reviews who have already studied with that teacher. That's a great way to learn more about them firsthand.

As soon as you have found an interesting profile, you can reach out to the tutor via chat to book your first lesson with them or ask for further clarifications.

You can earn excellent A-level grades with a Superprof tutor.

The tutor will offer you a list of available dates and you can start learning when it best suits you. Tutoring lessons will significantly boost your confidence as a student, so you can have everything you need to achieve great results over time.

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