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An easy-to-follow breakdown of what to study for your NCEA English exams. Part 1!

NCEA exams are approaching, and it is time to start studying. I have great news! I am an expert English teacher who knows the ins and outs of NCEA English. I have 12 years' experience as an English, Drama and/or Dance teacher. In other words, I know what I'm talking about and here are some easy-to-follow tips to guide your NCEA English studies.

This blog will include a brief outline of what to study for one of the three NCEA English exams that you may be undergoing soon for your NCEA mock exams! Hopefully this will help you with knowing which one is which, and what you need to study.

If you'd like to spend some time with me making sure you are on track, you can by booking in a tutorial time here:

Tovah feels confident about your NCEA exam studies.
I can support you through your NCEA study prep so that you can feel confident about your NCEA exam studies.

What NCEA English exams are there? #1: NCEA English Genre studies: Written text #2: NCEA English Genre studies: Visual or Oral studies #3: NCEA English Close Reading: Unfamiliar text If you would like to follow along with the English Matrix (the outline of all NCEA English assessments from year 11-13), you can do so by viewing the NCEA English Matrix here.

A reminder, this blog will discuss the 'Written Text' exam. Follow along with the questions I have provided below to help you with your NCEA study prep.

#1: NCEA English Genre Studies: Written text Which text do you remember studying in your NCEA English class that you would you like to write about?

  • A novel

  • Autobiography or Biography

  • A collection of short texts in one book

  • A short story

  • A Shakespearean play

  • A New Zealand play

What was the title?

Memorise the title of the text.

Who is the author/playwright?

Memorise the author's name or playwright's name.

When was it published?

Memorise the publishing date.

Which type of question would you be most confident writing about? Choose two or three just in case one of these options isn't in the exam.

  • Character

  • Relationship

  • Idea/theme

  • Setting

  • Writing structure/format

  • Important or impactful moment

If you chose idea/theme, what is the idea or theme you'd like to communicate?

Memorise one of your chosen ideas that you studied in your English class. Examples include, betrayal, deception, passion, illusion, resilience, segregation, money is power, time is of the essence, vengeance, compassion, equality, or manipulation.

Collect your evidence.

You need to find at least 3 examples from within the text that links to your question type:

For example, 3 quotes based on the idea of justice, 3 quotes the main character said to show they had a bad relationship with another character:

Memorise three quotes as well as who said them and what page it was located on.

Paragraph writing:

Practice writing a paragraph that explains the question type and link your explanations with one of your quotes. Write a paragraph for each.

Essay writing:

Practice writing an essay answering a typical NCEA question. You can find old NCEA exam papers on the NZQA website. Otherwise, I have a collection of altered NCEA questions that I have used with my NCEA students that I can share with you during our NCEA English tutorials.


You're good to go. Make sure you also practise reading the questions, and breaking down what the keywords mean. You need to make sure you answer the questions completely. I can help you with this as I cover how to do this confidently in my NCEA English, NCEA Drama and NCEA Dance tutorials.


NCEA is great in the sense that many assessments can coincide with each other. This means that the stories and films discussed in the Genre study assessments can also be used in other assessments - so make sure you are looking back at the notes you have created with your teacher about the text you have studied in the classroom. You can use these notes in the genre study NCEA exams!

Look out for my future blogs about the other 2 NCEA English exams.

See you in one of my NCEA English tutorials!

Tovah O'Neill Tovah's Tutoring Company Ltd Email Website Mobile 0274530411


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