The National Certificate in Educational Achievement
This is the main qualification that school leavers in New Zealand will work towards. 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 explain how it works. You can download a pdf about NCEA at this link: Understanding how NCEA works. You can also download a brochure that explains NCEA by going to this link: Guide to NCEA Brochure. The guide is also available in Te Reo Māori, Tongan, Samoan, Cook Islands Māori, Fijian, Kiribati and Niuean.
At St John's College students gain their NCEA qualification through choosing subjects that they study - details of
Each subject is divided into several categories called Achievement Standards. Each Achievement Standard is assessed separately, so a student can gain several different grades for the one subject – one grade per Achievement Standard. Achievement Standards identify the learning outcomes students must achieve, plus the expected national standards of work. Some are assessed internally by subject teachers during the year and some are assessed by external examination at the end of the year.
There are four possible grades students can be awarded: Not Achieved, Achieved, Achieved with Merit or Achieved with Excellence. Each Achievement Standard is typically worth about 2 – 4 credits and there are approximately 20-24 credits per subject that can be awarded.
Unit Standards are offered in some courses. These courses typically have a focus on industry standards or offer an alternative to Achievement Standards which follow a more traditional course description. The majority of Unit Standards offer two possible grades students can be awarded - Not Achieved or Achieved. There are now some Unit Standards that are awarded like Achievement Standards.
Like Achievement Standards, Unit Standards also have a credit value that counts towards the NCEA. Unit Standards are all internally assessed.
A total of 80 credits need to be gained for students to be eligible to receive the NCEA Level 1 Certificate.
Students who have gained credits in Unit Standards and Achievement Standards at Level 1 in Year 10 will be able to count them towards NCEA Level 1 in Year 11. You will have achieved an NCEA Level 1 Award when you meet the following requirements:
80 credits required at any level (Level 1, 2 or 3)
Note that Literacy and Numeracy Credits are available in subjects other than just Mathematics and English. These are identified on the course summaries in SchoolPoint.
In order to achieve an NCEA Certificate at Level 2, students need 60 credits at Level 2 or above and 20 credits from any level. The 20 credits most often come from the work completed in Year 11. Students who have gained credits in Unit Standards at Level 1 or 2 in previous years will be able to count them towards NCEA Level 2.
To be eligible for University Entrance students must gain 10 Level 2 English credits in Reading and Writing and 10 Numeracy Credits at any Level. Note that the credits can be gained over more than one year. The reading and writing credits can be gained in courses other than English. The numeracy credits can be gained in subjects other than Mathematics.
In order to achieve an NCEA Certificate at Level 3, students need 60 credits at Level 3 and 20 credits from Level 2 or above.
To be eligible for University Entrance students must gain 10 Level 2 English credits in Reading and Writing and 10 Numeracy credits at any level.
Note that the credits can be gained over more than one year.
Students are qualified for entrance to a university in New Zealand when they have obtained:
Students have their academic successes recognised through NCEA endorsement, there are two types of 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.
Please note that there are dispensations for qualification endorsements In 2022 due to COVID-19. In 2022 for an NCEA certificate to be endorsed with Excellence a student must gain 46 credits at Excellence at the level of the certificate or above. For an NCEA certificate to be endorsed with Merit a student must gain 46 credits at either Merit/Excellence at the level of the certificate or above.
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:
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.
For up-to-date careers and tertiary course information visit: