What is NCEA

NCEA

National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is New Zealand’s main qualification for secondary school students. NCEA qualifications are organised by the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA).

There are three levels of NCEA and generally you’ll work through Levels 1 to 3 in Years 11 to 13.

Gaining NCEA

In each subject, your skills and knowledge are assessed against a range of standards. These are the building blocks of national certificates, including NCEA. Each standard describes what you need to know, or what you need to be able to do, in order to meet it. When you gain a standard, you are awarded credits.

There are two types of standards - unit standards and achievement standards. They both count toward your qualifications.

  • Unit standards are always internally assessed.
  • Achievement standards are internally assessed, and some are externally assessed in exams, or by submission of a portfolio/report.

Internal standards are assessed by your Te Kura teacher.

To gain each level of NCEA, literacy and numeracy requirements must be met. They only need to be gained once and count for each NCEA qualification.

Literacy requirements

Minimum of 10 credits through either:

  • achievement standards – specified assessment standards available through a range of subjects
  • unit standards – package of three literacy unit standards (all three required)

Numeracy requirements

Minimum of 10 credits through either:

  • achievement standards – specified assessment standards available through a range of subjects.
  • unit standards – package of three numeracy unit standards (all three required)

Learn more about Level 1 literacy and numeracy requirements on the NZQA website.

To be awarded NCEA Level 1, you will need to gain a minimum 80 credits at Level 1 (or above) including literacy and numeracy requirements.

60 at Level 1 or above+10+10
  Level 1 literacy Level 1 numeracy

Click here to view the credit requirements.

To be awarded NCEA Level 2, you will need to gain a minimum 60 credits at Level 2 (or above) and 20 credits from any level. You will also need to meet the NCEA literacy and numeracy requirement if you haven't done so at Level 1.

60 at Level 2 or above+20 at any level

Click here to view the credit requirements.

To be awarded NCEA Level 3, you will need to gain a minimum 60 credits at Level 3 (or above) and 20 credits from Level 2 or above. You will also need to meet the NCEA literacy and numeracy requirement if you haven't done so at an earlier level.

60 at Level 3 or above+20 at Level 2 or above

Click here to view the credit requirements.

To be awarded University Entrance, you will need to gain:

  • NCEA Level 3
  • Three approved subjects at Level 3 made up of 14 credits in each subject
  • Literacy – 10 credits at Level 2 or above, made up of:
    • 5 credits in reading
    • 5 credits in writing
  • Numeracy – 10 credits at Level 1 or above, made up of either:
    • achievement standards – specified achievement standards available through a range of subjects
    • unit standards – package of three numeracy unit standards

Learn more about University Entrance on the NZQA website.

New Zealand Scholarship awards recognise excellence for top students in their last year of secondary schooling. It is used to determine top scholars and allocate monetary awards.

You attempt NZ Scholarship by sitting an end of year exam, or by submitting a portfolio/report if you are enrolled in Design and Visual Communication, Physical Education, Technology or Visual Arts.

NZ Scholarship exams can only be sat in New Zealand secondary schools.

The fee for each NZ Scholarship exam is $30.00 and is in addition to your NCEA fee. If the person paying your NCEA fee applies for financial assistance, there is no additional NZ Scholarship fee.

Learn more about New Zealand Scholarship on the NZQA website.

Registration and payment NCEA

If you are studying NCEA courses, you’ll be attempting standards and gaining credits from those standards.

In each year that you gain credits, you’ll be required to pay an NCEA fee. The NCEA fee must be paid to have your credits added to your New Zealand Record of Achievement and count towards your qualifications.

We will tell you how to register and pay your fee when NCEA registration opens in June.

NCEA fee

Te Kura collects your $76.70 NCEA fee on behalf of NZQA. The fee covers your internal credits, and registration for any external standards. Financial assistance is available to reduce the NCEA fee. If applied for, the fee is $20.00 for a single student. Credits must be paid for in the year they are gained to avoid an additional late payment fee.

If you are a young adult student – your Te Kura enrolment is free, but you must still pay for your credits.

If you are an adult student – this fee is in addition to any tuition administration fee you have paid.

Secondary dual enrolled students

If you are enrolled at another face-to-face secondary school studying NCEA courses with Te Kura, your NCEA fee will be collected by your face-to-face school. It is also their responsibility to report your internal results and external entries to NZQA for your Te Kura courses.

Assessments NCEA

NZQA works in partnership with schools to manage assessments for national qualifications. These are separated into internally and externally assessed standards.

Internal assessment

Internally assessed standards are marked by your Te Kura teachers during the year. Results from your internal assessments are regularly reported to NZQA from April to December.

Completing your online NCEA registration and paying your annual NCEA fee will ensure your results are included in your New Zealand Record of Achievement and count towards your qualifications.

External assessment

Externally assessed standards include end of year exams, portfolio submissions, the Maths Common Assessment Task (MCAT), NZ Scholarship and Te Kura’s overseas exams for eligible students.

NCEA and NZ Scholarship exams are sat during November and early December.

Te Kura is not an exam centre school. This means you’ll need permission from one local secondary school where you can sit all your exams with their students. You’ll get more information about sitting end of exams in June.

You will need to take photo ID (student ID, driver’s licence, passport etc) and an exam admission slip to each exam. Exam admission slips are posted to you from late October.

Practice exams are available in Term 3 if you have submitted an online registration with Te Kura for end of year exams. These are sat at home in under strict supervision.

Students enrolled with Te Kura by their face-to-face secondary school will sit practice exams at their school.

Practice exams are important not only for feedback about your progress but also if you wish to apply for a derived grade.

Practice exams are not available for:

  • portfolio externally assessed standards
  • Maths Common Assessment Task (MCAT)
  • students sitting exams overseas.

Portfolios (or a collection of work) are submitted for external standards in these subjects:

  • Design and Visual Communication
  • Digital Technology
  • Technology
  • Visual Arts

Achievement standard 91027 (Maths and Statistics 1.2 – Apply algebraic procedures in solving problems) is an external standard and only available if you are enrolled in our Level 1 Maths course MX1000.

It is a one-hour exam assessed in September at a special Te Kura MCAT venue.

You must take photo ID (student ID, driver’s licence, passport etc).

If you require additional information, please contact your Maths teacher.

High achievement is recognised by course and/or certificate endorsement. 

Certificate endorsement

If you perform above the 'achieved' level, your NCEA can be endorsed. Credits can be gained over more than one year. 

  • If you gain 50 credits at merit (or mix of merit and excellence) at the level of the certificate (or above), your NCEA will be endorsed with merit. 
  • If you gain 50 credits at excellence at the level of the certificate (or above), you NCEA will be endorsed with excellence. 

Course endorsement

Course endorsement provides recognition if you perform exceptionally well in an individual course. Your credits must be gained in a single school year and made up of at least 14 credits at merit or excellence including:

  • at least three credits from external assessment
  • at least three credits from internal assessment. 

Learn more about NCEA endorsements  on the NZQA website. 

Overseas exams are available for students living overseas if you are a:

  • full-time student (this does not apply to young adult or adult students)
  • fee-paying student enrolled in at least three NCEA courses.

You must also be overseas at the time of the New Zealand based exams in November/early December.

The exams are sat in October so there are no practice exams available.

New Zealand Scholarship exams are not available to sit overseas.

Learn more

If you’re still confused, NZQA provides detailed information about how NCEA works.

Check your NCEA result

Log in to NZQA to check your latest results.

To register for this service you’ll need to enter your National Student Number and date of birth to confirm your identity.

Contact your learning advisor if you don’t know your National Student Number.

Log in