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What is covered in the NCEA English examinations.

NCEA exams are right around the corner, which means we are heading into our busiest season of the year! NCEA students are receiving effective tuition so they can feel confident about their NCEA mock exams and NCEA external exams (FYI, a mock exam is another term for a practice exam).


So here is a breakdown of the NCEA English external assessments. It is likely your school has selected one or two assessments out of the three available, but it is at the school's discretion how many you are enrolled in.


Students need to be familiar with their NCEA external exams and what skills they need to showcase. We cover this in our NCEA English tutorials.
Students need to be familiar with their NCEA external exams and what skills they need to showcase. We cover this in our NCEA English tutorials.

#1: NCEA English Genre Studies Assessments


NCEA students will typically study a novel, a film and a short story each year. Other added texts are at the discretion of the school. There are also NCEA approved NZ texts available to study, alongside age-appropriate films, poetry, and autobiographies. The two NCEA externals exams focus on a written text, and the other covers oral or visual text, meaning a speech or a film.


What does the NCEA Gerne Study exams look like?


The exam provides students with a series of questions which they must select one to respond to. They are to complete their answers in a formal writing style and link evidence from the text studied to their own critical analysis. I cover how to do this within my NCEA English tutorials.



What the NCEA genre study assessments focus on:

  • plot and structure

  • character growth and change

  • positive and negative relationships

  • ideas/themes

  • setting

  • symbolism

  • scenes/chapters/moments

  • the writer/playwright's influences




What the NCEA film genre study assessment also focuses on:

  • camera shots

  • camera angles

  • music

  • SFX

  • costume

  • props

  • lighting

  • dialogue

  • director's influences and decision making




Influences from a playwright, writer and/or director can include:


  • What is happening in the world or in New Zealand at the time

  • What has happened in the world or in New Zealand earlier that has impacted them

  • What guides them to write about certain topics, culture and values of their era




A helpful NCEA exam tip:

  • 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). This is something I cover in my NCEA English tutorials.




NCEA study notes:


NCEA assessments can coincide with each other, which NCEA students find to be of value when developing a bank study notes for their NCEA exams. I cover this in my NCEA tutorials and help students develop their awareness of what is relevant and important content to retain and reuse in their NCEA examinations. The notes are taken from the stories and films discussed in the Genre study assessments, as well as retrievable content from online sources.





#2: NCEA English Close Reading assessment(s)



The NCEA English Close Reading assessment is the next step after analysing a specific text, which is what occurred in the other two assessments in the NCEA genre study exams. The NCEA students are able to practice all the skills using a text they haven't read before and make informative judgements. 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. However, if NCEA students practice analysing texts, like we do in our NCEA English tutorials, they are capable of doing this on their own.



What does the NCEA Close Reading exam look like?


The NCEA exam provides students with a text they have likely never studied before. It is usually an extract, a poem and/or an extended piece of writing. On some occasions in has been an advertisement.



What content knowledge do they need to have for the NCEA Close Reading exam?


It is their goal to demonstrate an analytical formal discussion about aspects within the text that they notice. Therefore, they need to know how to dissect a written text or visual text, and have sound knowledge of:

  • language features

  • syntax

  • writing styles

  • colour and imagery symbolism

  • implied ideas, subliminal messages and connotations

  • wider world influences

  • what each aspects' purposes are



NCEA study notes:


As addressed earlier, NCEA internal and NCEA external assessments can coincide with each other. I cover how this occurs in my NCEA tutorials. NCEA students find developing a bank of study notes for their NCEA exams valuable. I help students develop their awareness of what is relevant and important content to retain and reuse in their NCEA examinations. The notes are taken from their creative writing, static image, oral/speeches, and formal writing assessments, as well as research developed from online sources.




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:


The following skills are used in both NCEA exams:

  • Writing paragraphs with examples and evidence which can be of value for NCEA examinations and NCEA internal assessments

  • Researching and crafting informative conclusions

  • Reading and writing comprehension

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

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


As well as the following skills that caters to the NCEA close reading external exam:

  • Identifying language features

  • Understanding the effect language features have

  • How to look at language features in a text and then explain their effect

  • Using language features in answers

  • Identifying writing styles and communicating through purposeful writing


Other areas we cover in our NCEA English tutorials:

  • Analysing, writing and delivering oral speech

  • Analysing and developing static images

  • Creative writing

  • Identifying and discussing connections found across a variety of text



We have group tutorials available in a variety of NCEA subjects that caters to NCEA exam preparation now through to the official NCEA exams in November.


See you in one of my NCEA English tutorials!



Tovah O'Neill

Tovah's Tutoring Company Ltd


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