There is a lot riding on this year's exams for Year 11 Mount Maunganui College student Niamh Hooper.

The 16-year-old has her eyes on just three more excellence credits - and her first chance will be at today's big examination, NCEA Level 1 English.

"I have already passed the year, but to get an excellence endorsement I only need three more excellence credits. So I am banking on those credits," Miss Hooper said.

Miss Hooper is one of about 9000 Bay of Plenty students sitting end-of-year external exams this year.

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She started studying about three weeks ago and fits three to four hours of study in each day.

"I just made my own schedule and focused on the exams coming up and the ones that need work," she said.

Miss Hooper has to fit her study for dance, drama, English, science, maths and history around dance classes after school, but said she has tried to manage her time wisely.

"I am all right, I feel prepared," she said.

Year 13 Mount Maunganui College student Niamh Priest has already passed the year with an excellence endorsement and was going into her last school exams feeling confident.

"I do not have much riding on these exams...so I am going into it feeling quite relaxed. If you work hard during the year it takes the pressure off a little bit."

The 17-year-old student head of arts started studying about a week ago and generally spends about one hour on each paper for each subject.

Her subjects include biology, dance, history, geography and earth and space science.

Miss Priest's advice to students entering NCEA was to study hard and be strategic with their credits. She said students could learn which subjects they were good at and turn their focus to which subjects needed work.

"You have got to play to your strengths," Miss Priest said.

NCEA Level 1 English is the examination with the largest number of entries, with 47,000 students nationwide taking today's test.

In the Bay of Plenty region, 9155 students will be sitting papers in the end-of-year external exam round, including 446 students who have been entered for one or more Scholarship examinations.

NCEA and Scholarship examinations run through to December 1.


NIAMH HOOPER'S STUDY TIPS:

- Do not get distracted by your phone. I always put my phone in another room so you do not get distracted.
- Make a plan and stick to it so you do not procrastinate.
- Try not to focus on what you are already good at.


NZQA'S STUDY TIPS FOR STUDENTS:

Have a place to study: You need a quiet, organised and well-lit space to study for your examinations. Set regular routines and study goals. Talk to your family or whanau if you need more quiet time, or a different place to prepare.

Revision: You need to know what is required to achieve each standard. Make sure you have up-to-date notes from classes. Do some practice - there are resource pages for all subjects on the NZQA website that include previous years' examination papers and past examples of student work.

Be prepared: Make sure you know where your examinations are, and when. You can view the examination timetable on your mobile phone or get it from the NZQA website. You should try to get to examinations at least 20 minutes before they begin so you can relax and make last-minute preparations.

Balance study with free time: It is important that you stay positive and relaxed. While study is important, you should take regular breaks, eat well, get fresh air, stay in touch with friends and study groups, and get plenty of sleep - especially the night before an examination.