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The first major NCEA exam starts at 9.30am today when 47,000 Year 11 students sit English. For most, it will be their first big external secondary school exam.

Students taking Level 2 (Year 12) German, Level 3 Samoan and Scholarship statistics will have their exams at the same time.

Nicolas Matijasevich, of Auckland's Sacred Heart College, will be one of those lining up for the English exam. He said he was "pretty prepared" and had spent yesterday doing some crucial final studying. "I hope all that pays off."


The 16-year-old said he had spent 10 to 15 hours studying for the English exam alone, on top of class work and swotting for mock exams.

Nicolas' English exam will be followed by accounting, Level 1 maths, history, biology, chemistry, physics and Level 2 maths.

He said the pressure was intense for those who hadn't gained enough credits through the year.

He was most nervous about his physics exam.

"Everyone's pretty nervous, to be honest. Next year's the first year that you really need certain marks to get into the top classes. If you don't get those, there's not a lot of leniency.

"If you don't get into physics next year then the whole engineering field is just gone. I want to get into engineering."

More than 143,000 students will be sitting their Levels 1, 2 and 3 end-of-year examinations over the next few weeks. APNZ