NCEA Information

The National Certificate in Educational Achievement

This is the main qualification that school leavers in New Zealand will work towards. It is available at Levels 1, 2 and 3 and is an internationally recognised qualification. Students are expected to leave full-time education with at least NCEA Level 2 (or equivalent). The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) administers NCEA and they have a Guide to NCEA (Te Reo Māori version here) which we encourage all students and parents to read. NCEA is currently undergoing some significant changes, if you've had a son recently go through school you will definitely want to bring yourself up to speed on what has changed. Check out the NCEA-How it works video.

Ncea L1 3

NCEA is very flexible, Year 11 students normally work towards Level 1, and progress to Level 2 in Year 12 and then, for those that stay on into Year 13, Level 3. Students at St John's choose their NCEA courses in August for the following year. Achievement in each course may be assessed through several standards, with each standard covering a specific set of skills and knowledge. St John's College use internal and external assessments to measure how well you meet these standards (you can find out more about standards here). When you achieve a standard, you gain credits. You must achieve a certain number of credits to gain NCEA. Achievement at each level or in a course is recognised with endorsements.

Ncea From 2024

University Entrance

Students are qualified for entrance to a university in New Zealand when they have obtained:

  • NCEA Level 3
  • Three subjects - at Level 3, made up of: 14 credits each, in three approved subjects
  • Numeracy - 10 credits at Level 1 or above
  • Literacy - 10 credits at Level 2 or above, made up of: 5 credits in reading and 5 credits in writing



Students have their academic successes recognised through NCEA endorsement, there are two types of endorsement:

Qualification Endorsement

Qualification endorsements reflect a students ability across all subjects. They are awarded at either Merit or Excellence levels.. Students gain a qualification merit endorsement by gaining at least 50 credits at merit/excellence at the level of the certificate or above, an excellence endorsement by gaining at least 50 credits at excellence.

Course Endorsement

Course Endorsement provides recognition for a student who has performed well across internal and external assessment in an individual course. Students will gain an endorsement for a course if, in a single school year, they achieve:

  • 14 or more credits at Achieved, Merit or Excellence, and
  • at least 3 of these credits from externally assessed standards and 3 credits from internally assessed standards. Note: this does not apply to Physical Education, Religious Studies and Level 3 Visual Arts.

A course endorsement can be at either Achieved, Merit or Excellence. A course endorsement is not a qualification, it can be gained independently of a qualification. For example, a student may achieve a Merit endorsement for their Level 2 Mathematics course regardless of whether they achieve NCEA Level 2.

Study Websites

For up-to-date careers and tertiary course information visit: