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NCEA – The National Certificate of Educational Achievement

The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is New Zealand’s national qualification for senior secondary students. NCEA is part of the New Zealand Qualifications Framework and is the main secondary school qualification.

For further information please visit

Assessment is Standards Based

  • Nationally prescribed Standards for all subjects show what students need to know/do in the important aspects of a subject.
  • Standards describe the level of work students need to produce and how well they’ve done.
  • Students know exactly what they have to do to achieve the Standard.

Students Gain Credits

Every Standard is worth a set number of credits.

Achievement Standards

In nearly all school subjects.

Three levels of achievement:

•  Achievement

•  Merit

•  Excellence

Unit Standards

In a few subjects.

Usually one level of achievement:

•  Achievement

NCEA Level 1

80 credits at Level 1 or higher


  • 10 credits from literacy Standards (not just in English);
  • 10 credits from numeracy Standards (not just in Mathematics).

NCEA Level 2

80 credits


  • at least 60 credits at Level 2 or higher and 20 credits at any other Level (these may include credits which counted towards the Level 1 certificate);
  • students should also plan to gain literacy credits in Level 2 English for their University Entrance the following year;
  • Level 1 literacy and numeracy.

NCEA Level 3

80 credits


  • at least 60 credits at Level 3 or higher and 20 credits at Level 2 or higher (these may include credits which counted towards the Level 2 certificate);
  • Level 1 literacy and numeracy.

For further information about Literacy and Numeracy Standards, please click here.

Certificate Endorsement

To qualify for an endorsement with Excellence, students must gain 50 credits at Excellence. Excellence credits at a particular NCEA level can be accumulated over more than one year (applies for Merit endorsement).

An endorsement with Merit requires 50 credits at Merit (or Merit and Excellence).

For example, a student gains a Standard, worth 5 credits, with Merit and so gains 5 Merit credits. These credits can be gained from both internally and externally assessed Achievement Standards (Unit Standards that do not have at least a Merit achievement level are not included). The Interim Results Notification in mid-January will show if candidates have qualified for Certificate Endorsement.

For further information about Certificate and Course Endorsement please click here.

Course Endorsement

Students gain an endorsement for a course (subject) where they achieve:

  1. 14 or more credits at Merit or Merit and Excellence = endorsement with Merit.
  2. 14 or more credits at Excellence = endorsement with Excellence.
  3. Included in the 14 credits must be at least 3 (Merit or Excellence) credits from externally assessed Standards and 3 (Merit or Excellence) credits from internally assessed Standards (this does not apply to NCEA Physical Education as this subject has no external assessment).
  4. Sufficient credits in a single school year.


  • subjects in our curriculum which provide assessments that award Merit and Excellence grades are eligible for course endorsement;
  • subjects in which there is assessment of Standards from more than one NCEA ‘domain’ are eligible for course endorsement, e.g. Year 11 Physical Science (Physics and Chemistry);
  • students who change schools during a school year may still be eligible for course endorsement;
  • students who are studying multi-level courses can gain endorsement, however, the endorsement is awarded at the lower level. For example, a student studying 13ENGL who gains 8 Merit credits at Level 3 English and 6 Merit credits at Level 2, gains a Level 2 Merit endorsement in Year 13 English (this assumes that a minimum of 3 of those Merit credits are external and 3 internal).

The Interim Results Notification, available in mid-January when results become available, shows if candidates have gained a course endorsement in a particular subject. Typically, students access their results online via their NZQA Learner Login that they have set up, or refreshed, earlier in the year. They may choose to order a hard copy of their Results Notification by following the instructions on their Learner Login.

For further information about Certificate and Course Endorsement please click here.


The Record of Achievement is ordered from NZQA through the ‘Learner Login’.

Record of Achievement:

The Record of Achievement (ROA) is the official ‘academic transcript’ and is available from mid-April each year. It displays all Standards with results of Achievement/Merit/Excellence. The ROA is usually requested as ‘evidence’ for various university applications. The Record of Achievement is ordered online through the student’s Learner Login.

For further information about Certificates, please click here.

Internal Assessment

Many skills are assessed internally with teachers setting and marking assessments. Marking samples are checked by external moderators to maintain standards nationally.

External Assessment

  • usually in the form of a three-hour examination where one or more Standards are assessed (November);
  • some subjects have no examination (e.g. Physical Education, Arts and Technology);
  • some subjects require students to submit a portfolio which is completed in school but assessed externally (e.g. Design and Visual Communication and Arts);
  • other subjects require students to do practical design projects which are completed in school and assessed externally (e.g. Technology).


Examination subjects have formative (practice) assessments during the year and a school Prelim examination in September to provide students with practice in the external Standards, and to provide derived grades for NCEA externals. These provide evidence of student achievement and progress in these Standards.


There is no fee for domestic students.

For international students, the fee is $383.30 per student.