Give yourself enough time to study, take breaks so you don't burn out, and make sure you get enough sleep the night before exams.

That's the advice a group from Tauraroa Area School have for the thousands of Northland students studying for their exams.

NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship exams started on Friday with 4090 students from 34 schools in the region expected to sit papers over the next month - including 660 students from 14 schools who are entered to sit some of their exams online.

Tauraroa Area School students Cassandra De Weyer, Chiquela Blomfield, Brodie Williams, Jatarla Absolum, Jared Mills, and Violet Blomfield said they were feeling nervous.

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"It's a really important year," said Brodie.

NCEA is the main qualification for secondary school students in New Zealand. There are three levels and to pass students earn credits from internal and external assessments.

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To pass level one 80 credits are required at any level - including literacy and numeracy.

To pass level two students must gain 60 credits at level two or above plus 20 credits from any level, and to pass level three students need 60 credits at level three or above plus 20 credits from level two or above.

Chiquela, who is year 13, has been preparing for these exams since the beginning of the school year.

"I'm just not naturally smart so I know I have to study and what not to make it stick, so I always do a little bit each day," she said.

For Violet, these will be her first NCEA exams. But because she has already earned enough credits from internal assessments to pass level one, she is not so nervous.

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"My mum keeps telling me to not get stressed out because it's just a bonus," she said.

"I still want to do really well on them but I'm not freaking out."

But for the year 12 students - Brodie, Jatarla and Jared - these exams were extremely important.

"We have to apply with these grades for university, so it's a big year," Jatarla said.

The students said they had learned that allowing enough time to study, not overloading themselves, and getting enough sleep before the exam were all important.

Their advice for students who were really worried?

"It's not the end of the world - you'll probably do better than you think you'll do," Cassandra said.

"And if you're doing everything you can to get to somewhere and you're still scared of failing, in a way it's not really failing... You'll be worried about your grades but you're putting everything you can into it and that's all that really matters," Violet added.

The last exams are on Tuesday, December 3 and results are expected to be released in mid-January.

SIX STUDY TIPS FROM TAURAROA AREA SCHOOL STUDENTS

• Study at short intervals and take regular breaks away from a screen
• Study in a quiet environment with a good amount of food and water in your system and enough sleep
• Put distractions away
• Find ways to make it fun
• If you're in a loud environment, listen to motivational podcasts
• Make a plan of what you want to do