COVID 19 & NCEA Assessments - Updated

May 7, 2020


As a part of our response to COVID-19, Wellington College will be utilising the flexibility of NCEA to re-plan and adapt assessment programmes to help manage the impact of the disruption we have experienced during COVID-19 Alert Levels 3-4. To assist parents, whānau and students NZQA has provided a guide that addresses key messages and some frequently asked questions. You can find it here. 

It is important to remember that students only need 80 credits across all their subjects to be awarded an NCEA qualification and that the NCEA is cumulative in nature. While many students achieve an NCEA qualification in a calendar year (e.g. NCEA L1 is awarded in Year 11), the flexibility of the qualification means that some students will build a qualification over a longer period of time. 

For those of you needing a refresher or wanting to gain a little more insight into how the NCEA qualification works, please check out the information below:

How the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) works

 Watch a video explaining how NCEA works

  • Each year, students study a number of courses or subjects.
  • In each subject, skills and knowledge are assessed against a number of standards. For example, a Mathematics standard could be: Apply numeric reasoning in solving problems.
  • Schools use a range of internal and external assessments to measure how well students meet these standards.
  • When a student achieves a standard, they gain a number of credits. Students must achieve a certain number of credits to gain an NCEA certificate.
  • There are three levels of NCEA certificate, depending on the difficulty of the standards achieved. In general, students work through levels 1 to 3 in years 11 to 13 at school.
  • Students are recognised for high achievement at each level by gaining NCEA with Merit or NCEA with Excellence. High achievement in a course is also recognised.  For more information about NCEA endorsements click here.

To achieve NCEA Level 1, you need 80 credits made up of: 

  • 60 credits at Level 1 or above, and 
  • 10 literacy credits, and 
  • 10 numeracy credits. 

To achieve NCEA Level 2, you need 80 credits made up of:

  • 60 credits at Level 2 or above, and
  • 20 credits at any level, and
  • the Level 1 literacy and numeracy requirements must also be met.

To achieve NCEA Level 3, you need 80 credits made up of:

  • 60 credits at Level 3 or above, and
  • 20 credits at Level 2 or above, and
  • the Level 1 literacy and numeracy requirements must also be met. 

University Entrance (UE) is the minimum requirement to attend a New Zealand university. To qualify for UE, you will need all of the following:

  • NCEA Level 3
  • 14 credits in each of three approved subjects at Level 3 (Check the NZQA website for the list of approved subjects.)
  • UE Literacy – 10 credits at Level 2 or above, made up of:
  • 5 credits in reading
  • 5 credits in writing.
  • UE Numeracy – 10 credits at Level 1 or above (this is the same as the requirement for NCEA numeracy).

Universities have their own requirements for admission to programmes. Check with the university you wish to attend about what the requirements for its different courses are.  Our Careers and Transition Team is available to help you.

NCEA Brochures

You may also find it helpful to read this brochure that is a great guide to how NCEA works:

The Te Reo Māori version of the brochure can be found here

You can find the brochure in English here.

NCEA Mobile App

To help parents better understand NCEA, NZQA has developed an app designed for mobile devices,- phones and tablets. It is called NCEA Guide, and provides quick and easy access to key information about NCEA. You can find more information here.