Student says decision to swap rugby for some hard study will pay off as thousands start their NCEA finals

Rugby fanatic Gafatasi Fuimaono swapped the ball for the books a few months ago and reckons doing so will get him a better exam result.

The 16-year-old was one of 47,000 Year 11 students from around the country to sit their first NCEA exam yesterday, in English.

Gafatasi, a student at Massey High School, West Auckland, said he felt good coming out of his first big test, having put in extra study time.

"I felt pretty happy about it going in and the same when I left. A few of my friends were saying they thought the 'unfamiliar text' was hard, but I thought it was good."


He did not think any of the examination booklets had mistakes and was "really happy" when he saw many of this year's questions were the same or very similar to those his class had studied from past exams.

Gafatasi loves rugby and is the youngest of his school's 1st XV rugby team, as a flanker and hooker.

He said he had sacrificed a few games at the local park with his friends in order to hit the books.

"Leading up to the practice exams a few months back, I was struggling. But then I got some help from my friends and family and just started studying hard out."

He also attended the local Power Up station - a homework centre initiative set up by the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs to help students studying for their NCEA exams.

Secondary Principals' Association president Tom Parsons, who is the principal at Queen Charlotte College in Picton, said he had so far had only positive feedback from students and teachers about the English test.

"I'm happy to say that they reported there were no surprises this year - that's always good to hear."

Several issues surrounded last year's NCEA exams; including a computer glitch which saw results being posted online early and then taken down again. As a result, some students were able to access their marks before others.


The NZ Qualifications Authority also came under fire after complaints that a German exam included lyrics with sexual connotations.

Other exams held yesterday were Year 12 German and economics, Year 13 Samoan and te reo Maori and scholarship statistics and art history.

Thousands of students head back into the exam room today for Level 1 German and accounting, Level 2 English and Latin, Level 3 Spanish and biology and scholarship English.

Year 11: 9.30am: German. 2pm: Accounting.
Year 12: 9.30am: English. 2pm: Latin.
Year 13: 9.30am: Spanish. 2pm: Biology.
Scholarship: English.

Don't forget

* Your exam admission slip.
* Photo ID.
* Blue or black pen only - and a spare.
* Other equipment you might need: Ruler, pencil, rubber and calculator. All equipment must be in a clear plastic bag or folder.