How to do well at NCEA during a Level 4 lockdown

Georgina Palmer (Aug 27 2021)

Welcome back to another Level 4 lockdown! Amidst these uNpReCeDeNtEd tImEs, I want to share three things you can do to excel in your end-of-year exams. Last year I was one of a very small number of students at my school to endorse NCEA Level 3 with Excellence (albeit, only just!) No matter how good or bad your school is with online learning, in the end it comes down to YOU and how much time and effort you’re willing to put in. These tips help you do just that!

1) Make a list of daily tasks, and cross them off as you complete each one.
There’s something very satisfying about having a pen and paper handy and crossing out tasks on a list as they’re completed. At the beginning of each lockdown school day, make a list of the academic tasks you want to complete and cross them off as you go along. Write the list in order of priority – often, this doesn’t necessarily mean putting the next due task at the top, but rather the task that’s the most difficult and/or going to be the most time-consuming. You can even apply this tip to out-of-school and out-of-lockdown life. Even though I’m not an NCEA student anymore, I find this approach to my work to be extremely effective and it usually results in maximum daily productivity.

2) Group Zoom is tedious, but asking your teachers for help isn’t.
I was really rather blessed as a Year 13 last year in that my teachers quickly realised that a whole-class Zoom call in an all-girls school was just lonely, depressing and extremely counterproductive for everybody. If your teachers are yet to cotton on to this, I am deeply sorry for you. However, Zoom (or Google Meet, or Discord, or - dare I say it - Microsoft Teams) actually does have its uses – talking to a teacher one-on-one is immensely helpful, especially if a) they/you suck at replying to school emails or b) the questions you may have for them are a bit tricky to explain over text.
Arrange a Zoom chat with your teachers one-on-one and write down any specific questions you want to ask them beforehand so you can make the most of both your time and theirs. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in 10 minutes one-on-one versus what you accomplish in an hour-long whole-class Zoom call, especially when everyone’s cameras are off and their mics are muted.

3) Create some sort of school-day routine and stick to it.
Last year, some teachers encouraged students at my school to use their regular school timetables to dictate how they went about their online learning each day. However, the reality is that some of your subjects will require more time and attention than others, especially if you take subjects that are essentially impossible to do online (PE? How would that even work?). I think the best approach is to allocate time in your day for schoolwork, going by the prioritised list from Tip #1 as to what tasks you complete and in what order. Make sure you allocate regular break times during the day (the daily press conference could be a good excuse for a break!) as well as a decent amount of time for outdoor physical exercise and sleep. Instilling some degree of discipline into your day makes you far more motivated to do productive work and far less likely to spend valuable learning time anxiously sitting in your room awaiting the next Covid case numbers announcement.

Of course, there are many other things you can do to enhance your academic performance and wellbeing during lockdown. If you were an NCEA student last year, take lessons from the last time around and improve on your areas of weakness: felt lonely? Organise a Zoom quiz with your friends. Felt anxious? Take a break from watching the Covid announcements on TV. Need academic help? Check out LearnCoach’s awesome learning resources and contact your teachers if you need specific questions answered. It’s important to remember that we’ve been here before, and we’ll likely be here again at some point down the line. Be kind to one another, stay at home in your bubble and most importantly, enter the comedy competition every week during lockdown to make light of an otherwise less-than-optimal situation!

For NCEA Students
By NCEA Students