What is 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.

Guide to NCEA – te reo Māori

Guide to NCEA – English

Registration NCEA

If you are studying NCEA courses and wish to register for externally assessed standards, you will need to submit an online registration. 

We will send you some instructions when our NCEA Registration facility opens in June.

Externally assessed standards registered for via our NCEA Registration facility include:

  • End of year exams for NCEA and NZ Scholarship sat in November
  • Level 1 Digital Submissions
  • Level 1 Te Ao Haka Common Assessment Activities sat in September
  • Level 2/3 Digital Technologies Common Assessment Tasks (DCAT) sat in October
  • Portfolio or report submissions for Design and Visual Communication, Technology, Visual Arts, NZ Scholarship Music, NZ Scholarship Physical Education.

Secondary dual enrolled students

If you are enrolled at a face-to-face secondary school as well as Te Kura, they will register the externally assessed standards for your Te Kura courses. They will also report your Te Kura internal results to NZQA.

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 and will be updated in your Record of Achievement the following January.

External assessment

Externally assessed standards include NCEA and NZ Scholarship end of year exams, Level 1 Digital Submissions, Level 1 Te Ao Haka Common Assessment Activities, Level 2 and 3 Digital Technologies Common Assessment Tasks (DCAT), portfolio or report submissions for Design and Visual Communication, Technology, Visual Arts, NZ Scholarship Music, NZ Scholarship Physical Education, Te Kura overseas exams for eligible ākonga, and the new Literacy and Numeracy co-requisite Common Assessment Activities.

NCEA and NZ Scholarship exams are sat during November.

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
  • Digital Technologies Common Assessment Tasks (DCAT)
  • Digital Submissions for Level 1
  • NZ Scholarship
  • Students sitting exams overseas.

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

Learn 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