Northland teenagers are more relaxed about the NCEA and scholarship exams this year after becoming eligible for an expected event grade if they miss exams for Covid-19-related reasons.
Around 4,100 Tai Tokerau students are able to sit for NCEA exams - between November 22 and December 14 - however, the announcement from New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) earlier this month has provided an opportunity to skip the exams altogether owing to the pandemic lockdown disruptions.
NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) will take the higher grade of either the derived grade exams or the ongoing exams for Auckland, Northland and Waikato students.
About 140,000 students across New Zealand are and will be sitting for their papers over the next several weeks.
Kamo High School year 13 student Savannah Cowan says the new change has meant less stress for people who passed their derived grades already.
Cowan would sit for five NCEA exams out of the six she could have opted into.
"Covid made it so much harder to prepare for externals because it set back our internals by quite a bit, and therefore the time we would have usually spent starting to prepare for externals, we used to finish off the internals.
"The new change this year, however, has made a huge difference. A lot of people I know are not sitting the actual exams because they passed their derived grade exam and therefore know it will count towards their actual external grades.
"It was initially confusing because no one was clear on the exact changes until a few weeks ago. I had already sat one of my derived grade exams before that new change was made clear, so I wish I'd known about it beforehand - I would have tried a bit harder."
In Northland, 1,700 students entered to sit some of their exams online. Online exams were being offered in 68 sessions across NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3.
Also, 86 students in Northland are entered for the New Zealand Scholarship, a system of competitive awards where top-performing students receive between $500 and $30,000 towards the cost of tertiary education or training.
For the first time, one New Zealand Scholarship exam - Media Studies – was being offered online this year.
In January 2022, NZQA will send all Level 2, Level 3 and University Entrance results that have been authorised for release to all New Zealand universities and some polytechnics, to help these institutions process pre-enrolments.
Any credits a student achieves will be recorded against their name and National Student Number (NSN) on their New Zealand Record of Achievement.
Ruawai College year 11 student Eva-Jo Tautari reflected that she would probably have done better if there were no Covid-19 lockdown disruptions. She said: "I would have done the work by the deadline, and it is easier to achieve the goal if I were at school more".
However, Tautari said the extra credits helped "a lot".
Another Ruawai College student, Tahlia Johnson, said she wasn't worried about the extra credits because "I was already on track to pass".
Whangārei Girls' High School year 12 student Bree Monaghan said she experienced the most pressure during her mock (derived grade) exams.
"The teachers told us whatever grade you get in your mocks will be your final externals scores if we are in lockdown at the end of the year."
Monaghan said she would still pass if she didn't sit for any of her NCEA exams, however "it is a good practice and chance to do better than mocks".