I know that some students take Level 3 NCEA when they’re in Year 12 - what’s the point, and is it a big challenge?
If you think you are capable, I highly encourage you to take some Level 3 subjects as a Year 12 student. It will help you to challenge yourself and accelerate your learning, give you a taste of what you are capable of and open a lot of doors for your final year of school.
When I was in Year 12 I took Level 3 Accounting, Calculus, Chemistry and Physics. I had only done these subjects at Level 1, but didn’t find the gap from Level 2 very hard to transcend. I thoroughly enjoyed taking all of these subjects. I was in classes of bright, older students where I had to compete to earn my place. Fortunately, I managed to get excellence grades in all of the internals and externals in my Level 3 subjects, meaning that as a Year 13 I was done with these subjects and able to focus on the Scholarship exams and other subjects. For example, in Year 13 I was able to take Agricultural and Horticultural Science despite having never done it before.
Another great advantage of doing Level 3 in Year 12 was being able to take scholarship exams as a Year 12. Scholarship is only really possible (at least in science and math classes) if you’ve done Level 3, and winning scholarships in Accounting and Chemistry as a Year 12 gave me a lot of confidence heading into Year 13. In Year 13, I went on to sit scholarship exams in all of the subjects that I took at Level 3, including those I’d done as a Year 12, and my success was largely due to the fact that with most of Level 3 done, I could spend the year focussed almost entirely on my Scholarship exams.
Best of luck with your subjects, and feel free to ask if you have any specific questions!
What if my school doesn’t offer ANY Level 3 subjects at year 12? How am I able to tell this on my application, or be competitive with ncea students who have taken exams in advance?
Some schools may not offer you the option to take Level 3 in Year 12 explicitly, but as a first port of call I would say definitely try and talk to them and explain why you want to take these subjects a year early (explaining that you have overseas university goals). If they still refuse, then you can take it upon yourself to study some of it yourself and sit some Scholarship examinations in Year 12. You could also do some AP subjects.