School pupils put to the test

01:05, Nov 12 2012
Relief: Wellington High students, Isaac Sharman, Callum MacRae and Lily MacRae, after sitting the 2012 NCEA English exam.

While some studied for just a few hours for the first significant exam of their schooling career, one Wellington High School pupil read a single book ten times in his prep for NCEA level one English.

The English exam, sat today by more than 46,000 pupils around New Zealand, was the biggest NCEA exam.

Callum MacRae, 15, a year 10 pupil sitting the exam a year earlier than standard, left early today confident of a good pass.

''It was okay, not particularly easy. We have amazing teachers,'' he said.

During the year he had read Montana 1948 by Larry Watson about 10 times, including three times in the past week.

Publishers Weekly describes Montana 1948 as a novel about a middle-class Montana family torn apart by scandal during the summer of 1948.


By contrast, Henry Thompson, 16, who said he was well-prepared, had only done four to five hours of study for the English exam.

Isaac Sharman, who went into the exam on a good dose of caffeine, said the end of year exam was ''much like the mocks'' - trial exams done during the school year.

Charlie Hard, 16, said the hardest part of the exam was the segment on unfamiliar text, in which pupils have to interpret poetry, non fiction, and fiction text not seen before.

Going into his first significant exam was nerve-wracking, he said.

''I didn't want to mess it up,'' he said, adding: ''It all came together pretty well.''

New Zealand Qualifications Authority deputy chief executive qualifications Richard Thornton said more than 143,000 pupils were right now going through the exam process, which began on Friday and ends of December 4.

"Organising the national NCEA examinations is a mammoth task - the number of students going into examination rooms this year could fill Eden Park three times over.''

More than 1.4 million individual standard entries had been entered for the examinations.

"While Level 1 English is the year's largest examination session, the smallest is New Zealand Scholarship Latin, with 19 candidates.''

A team of about 1850 markers from around the country would mark all papers by the end of the year, with NCEA results expected to be released online from mid January.

Contact Tom Hunt
Twitter: @tomdom76

The Dominion Post