Welcome to the Term 3 holidays! A time of relief because Term 3 is finally over, but also of stress and anxiety – because your first proper exams are only 5 weeks away. You probably can’t believe how fast the year has gone – it seems like yesterday that exams were just a speck on the horizon. I remember being incredibly anxious, scared, overwhelmed, at this time last year. So I thought I’d write a little open letter to impart some wisdom, and hopefully make your holidays a little less stressful.

But first, I must congratulate you. You’ve nearly made it through your first year of NCEA! You’ve finished all of your internals! Well done! No matter what those cynical Year 13’s might say, Year 11 really does take a heap of effort and perseverance, so give yourself a pat on the back for that – you’ve done a great job.

Onto the serious advice-y stuff: now is the time to start studying, if you haven’t already. If you’ve been looking for a sign, this is it. I know that exams still seem like kind of a long way away, but soon five weeks will turn into three will turn into one and suddenly it’ll be the night before your maths exam and you still haven’t picked up your geometry book. And that is not a good feeling, trust me. If you’re not sure how exactly to study, don’t worry, most Year 11’s will be in the same boat as you. Now is a great time to figure it out – look for tips online or ask teachers or friends for advice. Try out different methods to see what works for you. And remember, if you’re still confused about something, ask! There’s no shame in still not ‘getting’ it, the important thing is that you get it before exams, and you’ve still got time.

That said – don’t stress too much. Your first ever lot of proper exams can seem like the biggest deal ever, but I’ll let you in on a little secret – in the grand scheme of things, they’re not actually too important. Still try hard and prepare yourself of course, but don’t feel like you need to spend 8 hours a day studying to ace everything. Finding that balance is hard, but necessary to make sure exams don’t consume your life. Sure, they’re important, but not too much, so try not to get yourself worked up over them and make a mountain out of a molehill. They’re just one way to measure your skills, not the defining moment of your school career.

And one final tip – once your exams are done, forget about them. Results come out in the middle of January, which is a looooong time to wait. They’re done now, and there’s nothing you can do but wait. There’s no point stressing over what you could have done better, just try to enjoy the summer holidays without the dark cloud of standardised testing looming over you.

All the best,

A Year 12

Kate is a Year 12 student from Canterbury. She enjoys music, languages, sunny days, and a good book.

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