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6 essential study habits for better NCEA results

It is important for teens to develop healthy study habits early on in their NCEA journey. Below, we profile 6 essential study habits teens should adopt to master their study and achieve their very best NCEA results.

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  1. Set a routine

    The first step to creating good study habits is setting a routine. Your teen should complete a set number of homework hours each week. This amount varies, depending on which level they are currently completing. In the weeks leading up to exams they should complete the following study hours:

    • Level 1: 10-15 hours study per week
    • Level 2: 15-20 hours study per week
    • Level 3: 20+ study hours per week

    Encourage your teen to dedicate a set time each day to study. Once they break it down the ‘hours’ don’t seem so daunting. It works out to be about 1.5 to 3 hours of study each day. Also, find out when they are most productive. Do they study best in the morning or afternoon? Set a study time each day to help them get into a routine.

  2. Encourage breaks

    Your teen should take a short five minute break every 30 minutes. During this time they should have something to eat, go to the toilet or drink some water. By taking frequent breaks they are more likely to be alert and study more effectively. During short breaks they will also subconsciously absorb what they have just studied.

  3. Minimise distraction

    Teenagers have developed the habit of checking social media several times hourly. Unfortunately this multitasking gets in the way of acquiring high quality knowledge. It takes time to shift focus back to studying and vice versa. Not only does this constant shifting influence the amount of time it takes to get work done but it also affects the quality of study. Put their phone on the kitchen bench to charge while they study.

  4. Create a study space

    Dedicate an area of your home to study. This could be a study nook in the lounge room, the home office or at the dining table. It should be a space that your teen and the rest of the family recognise as a space of work where study can take place without distraction. Make sure there is sufficient lighting and no clutter. We suggest that students don’t study in their bedroom; this should be a place where they relax and unwind. 

  5. Less lounging, more studying

    The advantage of promoting behaviours, such as sitting at a desk, is that after a while the habit system kicks in. Sitting in a consistently structured environment (free of distractions) is where students thrive. If your teen is sitting on the couch while studying (with the TV on) they are going to get distracted. They may also like laying down on the floor or in bed with their laptop, this posture promotes sleep and isn't ideal for learning. 

  6. Benchmark exams could be their saving grace

    Students are usually required to sit benchmark (practice) exams towards the end of Term 3. Some students don't bother studying for these exams because they believe they're not the 'real deal.' This is the wrong approach to take. When a crisis occurs preventing a student from completing their end-of-year exams their benchmark grades will be used as their final result. This recently happened with the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that prevented Canterbury and Wellington students from sitting their exams. Stress the importance of studying for benchmarks to your teen.


For more tools to help your teen achieve good NCEA results download this FREE eBook - An exam marker's secrets to better NCEA results.

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