Stress levels for Rotorua's secondary students are likely to reach new highs from today as the end-of-year examination period officially gets under way.
More than 9400 Year 11, 12 and 13 students from the Bay of Plenty region will be tackling NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship exams over the next month.
They join thousands of anxious teenagers across New Zealand. Scholarship Drama students start their exam this morning, the first of 120 examination sessions.
John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh said all students needed to pay careful attention to their exam timetable.
"Every year in most schools in the country, we invariably get students turning up to the wrong exam at the wrong time.
"The second thing is to ensure that [students] have your NCEA entry code number - we get lots of kids turning up and they can't sit the exam until they have that slip of paper," Mr Walsh said.
Students also needed to be smart about their extra-curricular commitments, Mr Walsh advised.
"We've been encouraging students at this time of the year to cut back on their part-time work, social activity and sport until their exams are over."
Extra tutorials had also run since the beginning of term for the school's senior students.
Mission Nutrition nutritionist Rene Schliebs warns there's more to exam success that last-minute revision, chocolate bars and coffee.
Students hoping to last the distance - the final NCEA exam is on December 4 - need to watch their eating habits. "The thing to remember is the brain relies on carbohydrates for energy."
Students wanting a power breakfast should begin with a bowl of porridge, a great source of B vitamin. "B vitamins act like an anti-stress mechanism as well as providing energy for the brain."
And the best way to avoid an afternoon concentration lapse was to eat regularly, schedule in breaks and stay away from caffeinated products.
Snack foods such as almonds and sunflower seeds contained omega-3 fats which helped with staying alert, Mrs Schliebs said.
For a real boost, she recommended a serving of salmon with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
And students should also resist reaching for an afternoon chocolate bar or coffee when the going gets tough.
"That's just a great big energy hit and great big energy drop."
Mrs Schliebs advises taking a break and doing some exercise to help refocus.
"Even if it's just half an hour each day, exercise is great for stimulating endorphins, which makes [students] feel more alert and increases circulation."
Studying Tips Eat regularly:
* Stick to mixed-grain foods like Vita Wheat crackers, Vogels and Burgen bread
* Snack on seeds and nuts
* Take regular breaks and exercise each day
* Staying up all night to study
* Junk Food
* Fizzy drinks and other caffeinated products
* Other students who are stressed out
Bay of Plenty students sitting exams
* Level 1: 4514
* Level 2: 3583
* Level 3: 2458
* New Zealand Scholarship: 694
* Total student count sitting exams in the Bay of Plenty: 9468