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8 facts you need to know about NCEA Level 1

Before your teen starts the first year of their New Zealand Certificate of Education it's important you arm yourself with as much information as possible about NCEA Level 1 including the 8 facts below that every parent should know.

Students can display their literacy and numeracy skills through subjects like Biology rather than Math and English
  1. 80 credits are required

    A student must achieve a minimum of 80 credits across all of their subjects in order to be awarded a NCEA Level 1 certificate. They can attain their 80 credits from any three levels - Level 1, 2 and 3. 

  2. Literacy and numeracy is essential

    Your teen must pass 10 literacy and 10 numeracy credits (this is included in the 80 credits mentioned above). Literacy credits reflect a student's writing, speaking and listening skills while numeracy credits reflect their number, measurement and statistical aptitude. These credits can be attained from a range of different literacy and numeracy rich subjects not just from English or Mathematics.

  3. E is for Excellence

    Back in the day if an essay or test was returned to you with an E on it, it meant failure. Not so in for today's students. In fact, it is the total opposite. E stands for Excellence – the highest grade a student can attain. There are four grades your teen can be awarded - Not Achieved (NA), Achieved (A), Merit (M) and Excellence (E). The more Merit and Excellence grades your teen gets, the better.

  4. Endorsements should be encouraged

    There is a way for top students to distinguish themselves, this is through course endorsements and certificate endorsements earned through achievement standard courses. For more about course and certificate endorsements and how students can achieve this download this FREE eBook.

  5. Career and goal setting is a must

    Career and goal setting is key in the early years of any high school qualification. Students should meet with their dean and the school's careers advisor to set up a three year subject plan. This should be reassessed when choosing subjects for their Level 2 and Level 3 years. If a student is unsure of what they want to do when they leave school, they should choose subjects that will keep their options open. Career planning should not be left to the final year of a student's study. This could be at huge detriment to them - it may limit the subjects available to them in senior years and their tertiary or employment options after high school.

  6. Be mindful to add other dimensions

    It's important for your teen to aim high academically but they should also focus on adding other dimensions to their CV. Employers and universities look favourably on students who show experience in leadership, service and extracurricular activities like sport and/or culture. If two bright students apply for the same job or tertiary scholarship, the student with a more rounded portfolio will usually win the race.

  7. Benchmark exams could be their saving grace

    Students are usually required to sit benchmark (practice) exams towards the end of Term 3. Some students don't bother studying for these exams because they believe they're not the 'real deal.' This is the wrong approach to take. Your teen should study just as hard for their benchmark exams as they will for their end-of-year exams. When a crisis occurs that prevents a student from completing their end-of-year exams then their benchmark grades will be used as their final result. This recently happened with the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that prevented Canterbury and Wellington students from sitting their exams.

  8. You can track their progress online

    You can monitor your teen's progress online through NCEA Track. This online tool is a great way to see if your teen is on their way to passing or if they need some extra help to get across the line. You can log in at any time throughout the year to check on their progress.


What to find out more about NCEA? Download our eBook - Getting to grips with NCEA.

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