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How many credits do you need to pass NCEA?

Each level of NCEA has different credit requirements for students to pass and there are a number of other requirements such as University Entrance and literacy and numeracy credits that both teens and parents need to be aware of. Below, we break down the minimum credit requirements for each level to help you better understand what your teen needs to achieve.

Students are required to attain a certain number of credits at each level of NCEANCEA Level 1

At least 80 credits total across Levels 1, 2 and 3. A minimum of 10 literacy credits and 10 numeracy credits must be included in the total 80 credits required (see below for more on this). 

NCEA Level 2

If your teen has completed Level 1 then they are required to complete 60 credits at Level 2 or higher. 20 of the credits they achieved in Level 1 will be rolled over to their Level 2 certificate to help them reach their '80 credit' requirement.

If your teen hasn't completed Level 1 then they must complete 80 credits. 60 credits can be from Level 2 or higher while an additional 20 can be from any of the three levels. They must also pass the Level 1 literacy and numeracy requirements (more on this below).

NCEA Level 3

If your teen has completed Level 2 then they are only required to complete 60 credits at Level 3 or higher. 20 of the credits they achieved in Level 2 will be rolled over to their Level 3 certificate to help them reach their '80 credit' requirement.

If your teen hasn't completed Level 2 then they must complete 80 credits. 60 credits can be from Level 3 or higher while an additional 20 can be from Level 2 or higher. 

University Entrance 

It's important to note that passing all three levels does not guarantee University Entrance. There are additional requirements for students to gain University Entrance. A student must:

  • Pass Level 3
  • Attain 14 credits from each of their three 'University Entrance approved' subjects 
  • Pass 10 literacy credits - 5 reading and 5 writing - at Level 2 or higher in addition to the 10 literacy credit they should have passed at Level 1
  • Have met the Level 1 literacy and numeracy credit requirements.

Literacy and numeracy 

In addition to accumulating credits from achievement and unit standards, students must also achieve literacy and numeracy credits. 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 subjects.

Students must attain a minimum of 10 literacy and 10 numeracy credits to pass their Level 1 certificate. To gain University Entrance they must accumulate an additional 10 literacy credits - 5 reading and 5 writing - at Level 2 or higher. 

Monitoring progress 

To monitor your teen's progress, you can log onto their school's parent portal or the NZQA website which allows you to see if they are on track to pass.


For more information about NZ's secondary school qualification download our eBook - Getting to grips with NCEA

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