NCEA exams begin Monday following COVID-19 delays

Thousands of high school students across New Zealand are cramming in the last few hours of study before exam season officially kicks off on Monday.

NCEA exams were supposed to start earlier in November, but COVID-19 disruptions pushed the date back to November 16, giving students more time to study.

Wellington College's school hall has transformed, with dozens of desks and chairs set up for NCEA exams in Te Reo, business, calculus and physics.

The exam room will look much the same as usual, but with a few COVID-19 adjustments. 

Physical distancing will be in place to maintain safety, and hand sanitiser will be readily available - signs of the times in a year hijacked by the virus.

"For our students that sat NCEA or are doing NCEA assessments this year, you know there were challenges and anxiety and worries," Wellington College Principal Gregor Fountain says.

Many schools across New Zealand have been directly affected by COVID-19 cases. Marist College in Auckland was the home of the country's 3rd largest cluster, the source of 96 cases.

In March, the Government shut all schools for more than a month.

"During the lockdown period it was a lot harder to motivate myself without a teacher there to keep me stuck on work," Harrison Wong, a Tawa College Year 12 Student says.

Wong is one of 140,000 students across Levels 1, 2 and 3 cramming in the last minute study, but NZQA has helped by changing some requirements.

The changes include pushing the start date for exams back from November 6 to November 16, introducing additional learning recognition credits and lowering the threshold for endorsements and university entrance. 

"It definitely will be a help, and I feel like that was really needed because we did lose a lot of time," Wong says.

Thousands of desks will be filled with eager and anxious students on Monday.