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NCEA 2023

NCEA is a standards-based qualification combining both internal and external assessments. NCEA was designed to challenge all students, including the most able and highly motivated. It was also designed to give schools the flexibility to develop a range of programmes to suit the specific needs of their students. 


NCEA is a tool that is used to measure a student's progress against the NZ Curriculum.  It has replaced the qualifications that many parents would have worked towards when they were at school. 

NCEA NZ Qualification it replaced:
Level 1 School Certificate
Level 2 Sixth Form Certificate
Level 3 Bursary



Students will be assessed against standards in each subject.  Each standard looks at different key skills / knowledge in the subject area.  Most courses will assess against 5-6 standards throughout the year.    If students can demonstrate that they have the skills/knowledge to meet the standard, then they are awarded credits.        

To demonstrate the skills / knowledge students may be asked to:

  • Do an assignment
  • Work with others in a group
  • Demonstrate skills (e.g. Performing sports skills) in front of the teacher
  • Give speeches / presentations
  • Sit exams / tests
  • Write an essay

There are 2 types of standards:

Internal standards – assessed during the year.  

External standards – assessed at the end of the year in an exam.  


2023 Credits:

Students build up credits by passing assessments.  Once the students have built up enough credits at a particular level they are awarded an NCEA qualification. The credits can be built up over one year or several years.   Students do not lose credits they have built up if they get to the end of the year and do not have enough credits for a qualification.  

The number of credits required to gain each qualification is:

  • NCEA Level 1 - 80 Level 1 credits (Must include 10 Literacy and 10 Numeracy Credits)
  • NCEA Level 2 - 60 Level 2 credits and 20 credits from any level*
  • NCEA Level 3 - 60 Level 3 credits and 20 credits at level 2 or higher**

*Once students have earnt 20 Level 1 credits they automatically count towards NCEA Level 2 / **Once students have earnt 20 Level 2 credits they automatically count towards NCEA Level 3

Credits can be awarded as Achieved, Merit or Excellence.  Credits awarded at Merit or Excellence indicate a higher level of skill / knowledge of the content.


Literacy and Numeracy:

To gain Level One as part of the 80 credits students must earn 10 "Literacy" credits and 10 "Numeracy" credits.     Credits earnt from specific standards where Literacy or Numeracy skills are required for the student to meet the standard, count towards this requirement.  Literacy and Numeracy standards will be found in most subject areas (not just English and Maths).


2023 Certificate Endorsement:

If student's earn at least 50 credits at Merit or Excellence at the level (or higher) of the certificate (ie 50 Level 2/3 credits at Merit or Excellence when working towards Level 2) then they are awarded an endorsed certificate.    These recognise a higher level of achievement.

Merit Endorsed Certificate - 50 credits at Merit or Excellence at the level (or higher) of the certificate

Excellence Endorsed Certificate - 50 credits at Excellence at the level (or higher) of the certificate.


Course Endorsement:

If student's earn at least 14 credits* at Merit or Excellence in a course over a particular year then they are awarded a course endorsement.  These recognise a high level of student achievement in a particular subject.  

*must include 3 credits from internal standards and 3 credits from external standards except for Physical Education and Level 3 Visual Art


2023 University Entrance:

University Entrance is an award which allows a student to gain entry into a New Zealand University*. 

The requirements for Unversity Entrance are

  • NCEA Level 3
  • 14 Level 3 credits in 3 University Entrance approved subjects
  • 10 University Entrance Literacy credits at Level 2 or above (5 reading credits / 5 writing credits).  These come from specified Level 2 and Level 3 standards
  • Met the Level 1 Literacy and Numeracy requirement

*most University courses will have additional entry criteria (please check with the University about requirements for specific courses)


More detail about NCEA can be found on the NCEA website including the NCEA assessment dates for 2023.

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