Understanding the National Certificate of Educational Achievement/Introduction

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NCEA is split up into multiple levels. NCEA Level 1 is typically done by year 11 students, NCEA Level 2 by year 12 students and NCEA Level 3 by year 13 students. There are also scholarship exams available, usually open to year 13 students.

The Basics[edit]

NCEA unlike the previous School Certificate qualification is gained by earning credits. These credits may be earned internally (in class or assessed and marked by teachers at the school) or externally (assessed at end-of-year examinations). There are two types of standards that may be met in order to gain credits: Achievement Standards (A.S.) and Unit Standards (U.S.). Achievement Standards may be achieved at 3 levels: Achieved, Merit and Excellence. Unit Standards can only be Achieved or Not Achieved.

NCEA Level One[edit]

To pass NCEA Level One students require 80 credits including 10 literacy (English) credits and 10 numeracy (maths) credits.

NCEA Level Two[edit]

Level Two requires 60 credits at level 2 or above plus 20 credits at any level.

NCEA Level Three[edit]

Level Three requires 60 credits at level 3 or above plus 20 credits at level 2 or above.


NCEA offers scholarship exams. In these the top 3% for each subject will receive $500 for every year they are at a New Zealand University. The top 0.3% for each subject receive $2000 for every year they are at a New Zealand university.


Students are able to get an endorsement with their certificate. If 50 or more of the credits gained at one level are gained from assessments where the student achieved at a Merit or Excellence level than they will get NCEA endorsed with Merit. If they get 50 or more at Excellence level then they get NCEA endorsed with Excellence.