20 November 2023

My First Exams in New Zealand: Gabe’s Story | Study With New Zealand

Gabe Pinvanichkul
Health Science student at University of Otago

Studying in New Zealand since 2018, international student Gabe Pinvanichkul is now well aware of what to expect from exams from Kiwi education providers, the differences between the exams in New Zealand and the exams he’d be expected to sit back home in Thailand, and the best ways to cope with exam-time stress.

He talked about what surprised him most about New Zealand exams, how he prepared for them, and also shared some advice for other international students who were about to sit exams in New Zealand for the first time.

One aspect of New Zealand exams that Gabe didn’t expect was their scheduling.

“Back in Thailand, we might do two or three exams a day, but in New Zealand you might do one exam then have a couple of days off to study for your next exams”.

“This reduced my stress and tension”

Another thing that surprised Gabe about New Zealand exams was their format.

“Thai high school exams were all multichoice, so I needed to learn to write a lot more for NCEA exams in New Zealand.”

New Zealand’s NCEA exams often require students to write long-form essays for different subjects – a challenging but rewarding way for Gabe to improve his English.

“It really did help develop my English skills”

Throughout his New Zealand education, Gabe found that the best way for him to study and prepare for exams was in a group environment. By gathering friends and classmates into a study group, he felt better prepared, more relaxed and was able to perform better in his exams.

While some students in New Zealand decided to pay for hiring a tutor, he felt like he didn’t need one. Compared to his friends back in Thailand who all needed tutors, Gabe used other resources that his education providers had on offer.

“I didn’t need a tutor, which is better than back in Thailand. All my friends back home really needed a tutor to pass their exams”.

“My school gave us some practise papers and some other resources we could use to study – those were really good.”

And his favourite way to deal with exam stresses and pressures? Taking time away from his books and notes to unwind with friends. A big fan of basketball and badminton, Gabe always felt more relaxed after catching up over a game, or after a session in the gym.

Even if he didn’t feel like exercising, he still had ways to reduce his stress.

“Hanging out in town, getting something nice to eat, just chatting with friends – that’s the best way!”

If there was one thing that Gabe wanted other students to remember for when their exams were getting closer, it was to use other people, study in groups, and stay social.

“You don’t know what you don’t know, so make sure you study with others to cover more material and understand the subject better”.

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About the contributors
Gabe Pinvanichkul
Health Science student at University of Otago