While awaiting NCEA results can be nerve-wracking for some students, that wasn't the case for Whangārei's Flynn Symonds.

The 18-year-old, who was a head prefect at Whangārei Boys' High School last year, had already achieved university entrance and had passed NCEA level 3 with merit before he sat exams last year.

So unlike many students, he wasn't worried when exam results were released yesterday.

"I was obviously interested to see what they were like, I would've loved straight excellence but I was pretty happy with what I had," he said.

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Results for around 140,000 NCEA students - including more than 4000 in Northland - were posted on the NZ Qualifications Authority website yesterday.

NCEA is the main national qualification for secondary school students in New Zealand.

There are three levels of NCEA and to achieve each level students must gain a defined number of credits which they can get through internal assessments and exams.

To pass Level 1 80 credits are required at any level; to pass Level 2 students must gain 60 credits at that level or above plus 20 credits from any level; and to pass Level 3 students need 60 credits at that level or above plus 20 credits from Level 2 or above.

Symonds said he worked pretty hard on his internal assessments throughout the year.

"I knew if I worked hard on the internals I'd be set up a lot better for exams," he said.

Last year was busy for Symonds. He worked part time, was the youth MP for Whangārei, and chair advisor to the Whangārei District Council on the Youth Advisory Group.

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This year Symonds is off to Victoria University of Wellington to study law and commerce.

"I kind of want to be an MP and go into Government right out of university. Part of it is because I have a huge interest in politics, as well as the fact I sort of believe that there aren't enough young MPs in Parliament," he said.

Symonds said students starting NCEA for the first time shouldn't stress if they mess up.

"Everyone has that paper or internal that they completely screw up - it's fine. I don't look back and go 'damn, I failed that level one maths external or anything like that'; it'll be fine.

"But at the same time try your best. NCEA is a system and if you can work it to your advantage do it. If you need lots of credits take papers with lots of credits, if you want higher scores work really hard on one thing. Learn the system, and learn how to work it."

Students who sat New Zealand Scholarship exams will be able to view their results online from February 5.