How to survive NCEA (4 easy steps)
2019 is gonna be a big one.
Here’s our top tips on making it through the year with your mental health in tact.
1. Get yourself a resource that works.
One of the biggest struggles we’ve found with students in NCEA is that they have no sense of security or direction.
When you’re learning in an overcrowded classroom, with a subpar teacher, and not much self-determination – it can feel a bit like you’re flailing blindly through a curveball system with no sense of “control” over your grades.
Having an accurate, reliable and easy-to-read resource at the ready can make a world of difference to both your study habits and boost your reassurance that you’re on the right track.
Our walkthrough guides are designed specifically for NCEA students, to help them to get back this sense of control. They’re the perfect little textbook for anyone wanting better grades, or just a little more confidence and security in their studies.
They’re written and illustrated by students who’ve been through NCEA, who know what commonly trips students up in these subjects. They’re also small enough to carry with you on the go, so you can whip them out and learn more every time you get a spare minute.
2. Know what your teachers want from you.
“Answer the question” is a teacher demand familiar to most students, but we somehow still manage to muck it up.
We all know the feeling of spending hours slaving away at an assignment only to receive a low-achieved for our blood, sweat and tears. It sucks.
The simplest way to avoid excessive work + poor grades is to make sure we know exactly what the teacher wants from us with every assignment, test or question they ask.
When you get an assignment, don’t glance over it and then stuff it into your MacPac only to be retrieved a couple days before the deadline.
Instead, as soon as you get your assignment, read it thoroughly. Be 100% confident you understand the question, as well as the intended answer. This doesn’t mean you have to be uncreative or uncritical in your response. It just means you won’t waste your time slaving over a project that ultimately does not give the teacher the information they’re looking for.
If the question is lengthy and tricky to understand (as it often is with NCEA) make a time to sit down with your teacher and break it down. If you don’t have this option – message us on Instagram and we’ll help you work through it.
If you know exactly what the teacher wants from you, you’ll not only get better grades, you’ll save yourself wasted study time.
3. Don’t take it TOO seriously (but just seriously enough).
However flawed it is, NCEA is just a formal system that’s there to help you get the skills you’ll need to become a functioning member of society.
Credits are just numbers. Endorsements don’t really matter. You won’t remember your grades in 5 years time.
Taking this time of your life too seriously has ugly consequences. You could become a know-it-all, or a chronic perfectionist, or a wet blanket. None of these attributes are particularly attractive. What’s more, when you take NCEA too seriously, you often end up suffering a lot more than you need to.
Instead of agonising over the fact that Becky got 4 more Excellence credits than you – a better approach is to shrug and laugh at your own endearing flaws. Look at some of our memes, submit a funny story to our instagram, laugh at yourself on your private gram.
Whatever it is, purge your negative self-talk with a healthy dose of humour – and then move on.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should not try at all. It just means that NCEA is as hard as you make it. Try your best. Show up everyday. Study in small bursts. Take a break if you need to. Search for some meaning in your studies.
Remember how this system is here to help you – not hurt you.
Laugh with ya mates. Curse your teacher’s name. Just don’t act like missing out on those 4 Excellence credits is essentially a death wish. It’s simply not.
4. Study smart, not hard.
StudyTime will drive this point home until the cows come home. Until you kids learn how to master this point, we’ll keep it in our articles.
Are you guilty of spend hours and hours highlighting your textbooks, or making your notes Pinterest-level pretty? Do you put off all your revision until the day before your deadline, leaving only time for stress-crying, panic and all-nighters? Do you rarely revise material after class, only to have it gone from your mind by the time it comes up in an assignment or external?
Most of us are guilty of these tendencies. This is because school has ingrained in us a dangerous myth: that studying is a horrible and hard thing to do. This myth makes us believe that if study isn’t difficult, boring or long-lasting – it must not be real study.
Of course, this isn’t true. Believe it or not, study can be super fun actually – or at least non-painful. That is, if it’s effective study: you’re learning in the quickest, easiest and most efficient way possible.
The three key ingredients to effective study are:
- Consistency (study in short, consistent, frequent bursts rather than long blocks at a time)
- Focus (remove distractions, and train yourself to focus on one task at a time, instead of the entire mountain of work you have to do)
- Activity (don’t passively highlight notes – instead, test yourself, read your content aloud, make summary sheets of your material, or do practice papers)
If you follow these rules, you’ll have a much more efficient study routine, and even more time for other fun stuff like socialising or sport. This will get you better grades, save you unnecessary stress, and remove the guilt of procrastinating things for so long.