Nervous Northland students will be hoping months of study pays off while procrastinators will be praying a day's worth of study is enough as thousands sit the largest NCEA exam this morning.

Many of the 4880 Northland students sitting NCEA exams this year have had their heads in books going over their English notes and practising algebra in preparation.

The exam season kicked off yesterday with scholarship drama but the largest exam - NCEA level one English - will take place this morning with 1761 students expected to sit the exam in Northland and 48,270 students nationally.

The exams will run until December 2. In Northland 2254 will be testing their knowledge in NCEA level one, 1783 will be taking part in NCEA level two and 1175 will be sitting NCEA level three exams. Some students will be sitting exams across more than one level.

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A team of about 1750 markers will mark all papers by Christmas, with NCEA results expected to be released online from mid-January.