How do you best study for NCEA?

What is the best way to study for NCEA external examinations? I’m doing a range of subjects from sciences, maths, english, economics and humanities.

Every subject is quite different and it’s best to study for different subjects in different ways.

For subjects like the sciences and maths, first of all you really need to know your content. NCEA isn’t quite as content heavy as other curricula, so this is sometimes the easier part. Once you are comfortable with content, you want to start looking at exam style questions. NCEA focuses quite heavily on application, particularly with Maths and Physics, so trying out exam style questions and getting practice in learning to apply the concepts that you have learned to different contexts is critical. Finally, and this is especially true with sciences, compare your answers to the mark schemes provided by NZQA. For explanation questions, you will notice that there are certain key words that pop up every time the question is asked. These key words are vital to writing an excellence answer, so take particular note of them.

English is a little bit different. While it’s still important, particularly for one of the externals in English (unfamiliar text) to get a lot of practice, there’s more of an emphasis in English on knowing the text/s you have studied. Once you’ve done this, you can start writing practice essays and ask for your teacher to mark them and give you feedback. Alternatively, you can swap with a friend and try and pick out things that you think they did well and not so well.

For Economics and the humanities, content and past papers again come into play, similar to with Maths and sciences. Key words in answers play a big part, but so now does essay structure. In this sense, it’s a little bit like English; although you want to know your content soundly, you need to get practice doing past papers and practice essays.