Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Moment of truth for 58,000 Bay students

Stress levels for Hawke's Bay high school students will tomorrow reach new highs as the end-of-year examination period kicks off.

More than 5800 Year 11, 12 and 13 students from the region are getting in some last-minute cramming before tackling NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship exams during the next month.

They join thousands of anxious teenagers across New Zealand hunkering down for examinations.

First in the firing line are New Zealand's Scholarship Drama students - tomorrow morning's exam is the first of 120 gruelling examination sessions.

William Colenso College principal Daniel Murfitt said the school adjusted student timetables to suit their end-of-year exam needs.

Instead of regular classes, teachers opened up their classrooms so students could drop in and ask questions around the subjects they needed to focus on, Mr Murfitt said.

This way students attended classes they needed the most help with.

Mission Nutrition nutritionist Rene Schliebs warns there's more to exam success that last-minute revision, chocolate bars and strong black coffee. Students hoping to last the distance - the final NCEA exam is on December 4 - also need to monitor their eating habits, she said.

"The thing to remember is the brain relies on carbohydrates for energy," Mrs Schliebs said.

Students looking for a power-breakfast should begin their day with a bowl of porridge, which is a great source of B vitamin.

"B vitamins act like an anti-stress mechanism as well as providing energy for the brain," Mrs Schliebs said.

And the best way to avoid an afternoon concentration lapse was to eat regularly, schedule in breaks and stay away from caffeinated products.

Mrs Schliebs recommends taking a break and doing some exercise to help with re-focusing: "Even if it's just half an hour each day, exercise is great for stimulating endorphins, which makes them [students] feel better, more alert and increases circulation around the body. It's better for the brain."

More than 143,000 students are sitting NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship exams.

NZQA deputy chief executive qualifications Richard Thornton said the biggest exam was Level One English. More than 46,000 students were due to sit the exam on Monday.

The smallest is NZ Scholarship Latin on November 20, with just 19 students.

Total student count sitting exams in Hawke's Bay: 5844

- Hawkes Bay Today

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