NCEA 2024

The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is the main school leaving qualification in New Zealand. 

NCEA has three levels:

  • Level 1 – usually in Year 11
  • Level 2 – usually in Year 12
  • Level 3 – usually in Year 13

Achievement Standards

Students are assessed against standards in each subject.  Each standard looks at different key skills / knowledge in the subject area.  Level 1 courses are assessed against 3-4 standards throughout the year, which are worth 5 credits each.

Most Level 2 and 3 courses will assess against 5-6 standards, but this will change from 2026 onwards   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 or via a portfolio of work.  

2024 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.  

Literacy and Numeracy

To gain their NCEA qualification, students MUST earn 10 "Literacy" credits and 10 "Numeracy" credits. Credits can be gained either the

  1. Common Assessment Activity (CAA) for Literacy and Numeracy 
  2. Limited specific standards where Literacy or Numeracy skills are required for the student to meet the standard

10 Level 1 Literacy and 10 Level 1 Numeracy Credits are needed to pass NCEA. In addition to this,  students need 60 credits to gain the qualification at each level. 

  • NCEA Level 1 - 60 Level 1 credits 

  • NCEA Level 2 - 60 Level 2 credits 

  • NCEA Level 3 - 60 Level 3 credits

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.

What NCEA 'grades' can my child achieve?

There are two types of standards that contribute to NCEA, and different levels of achievement for each.

Achievement standards

These generally involve studying traditional curriculum subjects and your child gain these with grades of:

  • achieved with excellence (an excellent pass)
  • achieved with merit (a very good pass)
  • achieved (pass)
  • not achieved (fail)
Unit Standards

These generally involve studying vocational subjects and your child is awarded unit standards with grades of

  • achieved (pass)
  • not achieved (fail)
2024 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

2024 University Entrance:

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

The requirements for University 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 a short video about how NCEA works and the 2024 assessment dates.