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National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA)


New Zealand's qualification for school learners is the National Certificate of Educational Achievement - NCEA. NCEA is a qualification on New Zealand's National Qualifications Framework (NQF). It sits alongside more than 800 other national qualifications used throughout tertiary education and industry training. 

  • NCEA is achievement based. National standards have been set in each area of learning. When students achieve these standards they earn credits towards their NCEA qualification.

  • The NQF contains two types of national standards: achievement standards and unit standards. Credits from all achievement standard and unit standards count towards NCEA. 

  • Achievement standards allow students to show the quality of their achievement in a standard - students can just achieve the standard, or achieve it with merit or with excellence. 

  • For unit standards students can either achieve the standard by meeting the criteria or not achieve the standard. There are no merit or excellence grades. 

  • Some achievement standards are assessed in school during the year (internally), other achievement standards are assessed externally (usually in end-of-year exams). 

  • All unit standards are internally assessed

Apart from the NCEA there are a wide variety of other National Certificates students can achieve. At Avondale College students can gain credits towards a number of these.


In January the New Zealand Qualifications Authority issues students with a full profile of their achievement in each subject. This interim results notice shows:

  • The student's credits and grades for each standard.

  • How the student's achievements compared with the achievement of other students across the country in each standard.

NZQA will also provide each student with a record of learning which summarises all of the standards, credits and qualifications gained to date.

NCEA candidates can also access personal performance information themselves by using their NZQA learner log in.


There are three NCEA qualifications. The requirements for each level are shown below:
Level 1 - 80 credits from any level, including 8 literacy and 8 numeracy credits 
Level 2 - 80 credits, with at least 60 credits from Level 2 or higher 
Level 3 - 80 credits, with at least 60 credits from Level 3 or higher. Any credits below Level 3 must be from Level 2.


Students are able to achieve qualifications with Merit or Excellence certificates. Endorsement with Merit: 50 credits at Merit or Excellence at the same level or higher. Endorsement with Excellence: 50 credits at Excellence at the same level or higher. Credits counting towards endorsement may be gained over more than one year and more than one level, but must be gained at the level of the certificate or above. For example, Level 2 credits will count towards endorsement of a Level 1 NCEA, but Level 1 credits will not count towards endorsement of a Level 2 NCEA.


To find out more information about NCEA, please download the PDF from the NZQA website here or go straight to the NZQA website by following this link.



NCEA and CAIE qualifications are available in Years 11, 12 and 13. Students have two pathways to qualification:

  • Pathway 1 -  NCEA Level 1 (Year 11), NCEA Level 2 (Year 12), NCEA Level 3 (Year 13)

  • Pathway 2 - IGCSE (Year 11), AS Level (Year 12), A Level (Year 13 )

(Note: Multi-levelling can occur within each pathway.)


For more information about NCEA at Avondale College, please download our information booklet below.

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