NATIONAL CERTIFICATE OF EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT (NCEA)


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The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is the main national qualification for secondary school students in New Zealand. NCEA is recognised by employers, and used for selection by universities and polytechnics, both in New Zealand and overseas.

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 80 credits to gain an NCEA certificate.

There are three levels of NCEA certificate, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. 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. More information about course endorsements can be found here.

Visit NCEA for Parents for more information
or, if you'd prefer, you can watch a short animation on how NCEA works.


NZQA Publications

University Entrance


University Entrance (UE) is the minimum requirement to go to a New Zealand university.


To qualify you will need:

  • NCEA Level 3

Three subjects – at Level 3, made up of:

  • 14 credits each, in three approved subjects

Literacy – 10 credits at Level 2 or above, made up of:

  • 5 credits in reading
  • 5 credits in writing

Numeracy – 10 credits at Level 1 or above, made up of:

  • achievement standards – specified achievement standards available through a range of subjects, or
  • unit standards – package of three numeracy unit standards (26623, 26626, 26627- all three required).


For more information, visit NZQA's University Entrance page