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Principals are questioning the New Zealand Qualifications Authority's move allowing pupils to use text abbreviations in this year's exams.

NZQA deputy chief executive of qualifications Bali Haque said credit would be given in this year's NCEA exams if the answer "clearly shows the required understanding", even if text abbreviations were used.

However, abbreviations would be penalised in some exams, including English, in which candidates were required to show good language use.

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Hastings Boys' High School principal Rob Sturch said permitting text abbreviations in NCEA exams made a joke of the teaching of proper grammar.

He said the school's exam markers had previously marked down boys using text language and would continue to do so, despite NZQA guidelines.

"I expect correct grammar and correct use of the English language and won't accept text format for our examinations."

Abbreviations are widely used in mobile phone text messaging and include abbreviations such as "2moro" for tomorrow, "cul8r" for see you later and "gr8" for great.

Mr Sturch said text language was a lazy practice, and he doubted pupils were so pushed for time they had to resort to the abbreviated form.

He accepted the school's stance could cause some issues with NZQA exam moderation.

"But if the boys understand text language is not accepted then it won't be a problem."

The president of the Hawke's Bay Principal's Association, Richard Schumacher, said he could understand the move. Texting was an evolving language but it was critical that children be able to express themselves in written English.

"Text is a very appropriate form of language to use when texting ... but it is not an appropriate mode of communication when doing formal exams," he said.

Havelock North High School pupil Nikki Paton, 15, said today that NZQA's move would legitimise what many pupils were already doing in exams.

However, she did not approve of it.

"I think it's weird - it's teaching people the wrong thing," she said.

Nikki said it was easy to slip into text mode when under time pressure.

She had been reprimanded for using the abbreviation "urself" instead of yourself by accident once, but had not been penalised.

She said some pupils would be "stoked" if they could get away with using text language in exams.

"But it's not really for me - I couldn't write in text language because I'm only used to doing it on the phone."

Mr Haque said the authority still strongly discouraged pupils from using anything other than full English and pupils should aim to make their answers as clear as possible.