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Everything you need to know about NCEA English exams from an expert teacher (part 1)

Everything you need to know about NCEA English

So, it's finally that time in your life to undergo NCEA English, yet there are some questions pondering through your mind – well, you've come to the right person, because I'm an NCEA English expert!

Here are the ins and outs of NCEA English!

This blog will cover the NCEA English externals (exams)

12 years teaching and now I am online
I have 12 years' experience as an English, Drama and/or Dance teacher.

To begin, let me introduce myself. My name is Tovah and I have a tutoring company called 'Tovah's Tutoring Company Ltd'. We have been available to New Zealand high school learners since February 2022. I have had a variety of employees, who like me, are all qualified and experienced teachers. Although my business has only been available for over a year, I have been a teacher for 12+ years. I have taught in a variety of high schools around Auckland and the Waikato/Waipa region(s). With a tool belt of knowledge in NCEA English, I also have worked in an intermediate and two primary schools. This is why I am very confident with all English curriculum levels within the NZ Curriculum. While teaching, I also received promotions where I led Performing Arts' departments. By doing this I was in charge of delivering units and assessments of my choice. So, I can say with confidence that I am an expert in my qualified subjects and know the ins and outs of each NCEA assessment available to NCEA students in NCEA English, NCEA Drama and NCEA Dance.

Something that is important to me is that I have helped many shy, anxious and bullied students thrive in the subjects they enjoy. So, if you are shy, anxious or having been bullied in school, our team will approach your learning with love and care.

If you'd like to know more about NCEA Drama and NCEA Dance, I will break this down in future blogs.

Let's dive on into NCEA English.

What skills do the NCEA assessments cover?

With NCEA English there are three skills that the tasks focus on: reading, writing and oral speaking. They are all components of communication skills. The external exams are literacy based, which means they are reading and writing assessments.

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.


#1: NCEA English Genre Studies Assessment(s)

It is likely that all NCEA students will study a novel, a short story and a film each year. Other added texts are at the discretion of the school, but commonly across NZ, NCEA English classes have assigned an NCEA approved extended text (novel/script), NZ written short story, and/or an age-appropriate film.

The genre study assessments allow for the NCEA students to look closely at specific aspects of the story such as the plot and structure, characters, relationships, ideas/themes, setting, symbolism, scenes/chapters/moments, and the writer/director/playwright's influences (such as what is happening in the world, what guides them to write about certain topics, culture and values of their era). Film has the added complexity of film techniques such as camera shots, camera angles, music, SFX, costume, props, lighting, and dialogue. As these are external assessments (known as AS 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, and 3.2), it is beneficial to learn how to communicate answers through formal writing (correct NCEA essay and paragraph structure).

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,

#2: NCEA English Close Reading assessment(s)

The NCEA English Close Reading assessment works well as a way to take all the skills the students have learned in the genre study assessment(s) and use them to analyse in this close reading written text assessment (exam). This NCEA exam (known as either AS 1.3, 2.3 and 3.3) is usually seen in the eyes of NCEA students as the hardest exam paper, because of the "unfamiliar" component. The exam provides students with a text they have likely never studied before. It is their goal to demonstrate an analytical formal discussion about aspects within the text that they notice. They need to have sound knowledge of language features, syntax, writing styles, symbolism, wider world influences, and what each aspects' purposes are. With a basic understanding of how to dissect a written text, the student should be able to complete this external assessment.

To close here are areas which we cover in our NCEA English group tutorials, NCEA English private tutorials, and NCEA English online one-on-one tutorials:

  • Identifying and using language features

  • Writing paragraphs with examples and evidence

  • Identifying writing styles and communicating through purposeful writing

  • Researching and crafting informative conclusions

  • Analysing, writing and delivering oral speech

  • Reading and writing comprehension

  • Basic literacy skills, such as, punctuation, syntax and spelling

  • Language extension and writing in a compelling and controlled manner.

We have group tutorials available in a variety of NCEA subjects from August through to the official NCEA exams in November.

ncea group tutorials
Our available NCEA group tutorials

A further NCEA English assessment breakdown will follow in the future, so keep an eye out on my blogs!

See you in one of my NCEA English tutorials!

Tovah O'Neill

Tovah's Tutoring Company Ltd






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