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NCEA course and certificate endorsements explained

There is a way for top students to distinguish themselves while studying NCEA, this is through course endorsements and certificate endorsements which can be achieved by through achievement standard courses.

Course endorsements and certificate endorsements are a way for top students to stand out

The grades that lead to endorsements

Before we get stuck into the details of how to get a certificate of endorsement or course endorsement, it's important to understand the basics - the grades. There are four grades students can be awarded:

  • Not Achieved (NA) = Not demonstrating an understanding or knowledge of the subject at the depth required 
  • Achieved (A= Demonstrates understanding or knowledge of the subject through describing
  • Merit (M= Demonstrates in-depth understanding or knowledge of the subject through explaining
  • Excellence (E= Demonstrates comprehensive understanding and knowledge of the subject through being able to apply, compare, contrast and justify. This is a higher order of thinking.

It best for your teen to aim for the last two grades - Merit or Excellence; this will help them to reach an endorsement level and stand out among their peers. It's also a way of them showcasing their abilities to future employers or universities.

Certificate of endorsement 

A student who achieves NCEA Level 1 with 50 or more credits at Excellence level will be awarded a Level 1 certificate with an Excellence endorsement. A student who achieves Level 1 with 50 or more credits at Merit or higher will be awarded a Level 1 certificate with a Merit endorsement. The same is applicable for Levels 2 and 3. Certificate endorsements work favourably when applying for university. Generally students who achieve 80 Excellence credits or more at Level 2 or higher will have their pick of university and degree.

Course endorsement

Endorsements are also available at subject level. Normally a student can only earn a Merit course endorsement by gaining 14 credits or more at Merit or higher (at least one standard must be externally assessed and one internally assessed). The same applies for an Excellence course endorsement, students must gain 14 or more Excellence credits (at least three credits must be from externally assessed standrds and three from internally assessed standards). If the subject is entirely internally assessed then endorsements can be gained through internal assessments only, using the same 14 credit criteria as previously mentioned.


For more useful information about NCEA download our eBook - Getting to grips with NCEA.

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