2 in 3 NCEA students severely affected by anxiety or stress, survey reveals
17 November 2017
Two-thirds of New Zealand secondary students identify stress and anxiety about assessments as a challenge to learning,
and about half believe they are not taught how to study or deal with exams, according to a new survey of nearly 6000
The survey by free online NCEA study platform StudyTime
also reveals students don’t feel they are taught skills to help them beyond school and they find “procrastination and
lack of motivation” as one of the biggest barriers to their learning.
The online survey of 5,761 New Zealand secondary school students aged between 15 and 18 was conducted between August and
When asked to identify challenges to their learning, 70 percent identified procrastination/lack of motivation; 66 per
cent identified stress/anxiety about assessments; 53 percent identified learning how to consistently study; 49 percent
identified dealing with exams/exam technique, and 48 percent identified knowing how to study.
When asked to narrow this down to the most challenging aspect, 24 percent of respondents identified procrastination and
lack of motivation; 21 percent identified stress/anxiety about assessments; 8 percent was knowing how to study; 5
percent was learning how to consistently study, and 5 percent was dealing with exams/exam technique.
StudyTime founder William Guzzo, 26, says the survey aimed to understand students’ views on their education, the key
issues they are facing, and their ideas to resolve them.
“This survey suggests that students feel what they learn in the classroom doesn’t prepare them for their exams, and they
feel ill-equipped with the skills and resources required to study effectively and prepare for their exams
He says it was particularly concerning a majority of students feel anxious about assessments and exams - and their
education was not preparing them for their future.
Comments and explanations given by students
followed themes of: not feeling prepared for life after secondary school; not being well advised about university
options; being taught how to “earn credits, not taught how to learn”, and not feeling supported in issues of mental
health or learning difficulties.
“The data implies students feel their high school education is doing little to prepare them for their futures,” says
“Specifically, students feel their learning experience fails to teach them ‘learning skills’ and ‘life-skills’ for after
their secondary school education - perhaps this partly explains students’ lack of motivation to engage in their
learning, and procrastination.
“Perhaps the most worrying of all is the fact that so many students feel under supported for issues with mental health.”
Participants were invited to the survey via Facebook targeted ads and of the students surveyed, 78 percent were female,
20 percent were male and 2 percent identified as “other”.
Participants came from Auckland (29%), Christchurch (13%), Wellington (12%), Hamilton (6%) and Palmerston North (5%) and
were a range of students in NCEA Level 1 (27%), NCEA Level 2 (36%) and NCEA Level 3 (34%).
From the sample, 11 percent of students reported suffering from anxiety and 8 percent reported suffering from
StudyTime is the NCEA branch of tutoring service Inspiration Education
which has more than 100 tutors who’ve helped hundreds of high school students throughout New Zealand understand course
content and prepare for exams.
It was founded by Guzzo after his own experiences in the New Zealand education system
inspired him to help other students achieve academically.