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NCEA in a nutshell -The basics every parent should know

NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) is the official secondary school qualification in New Zealand. It was phased in between 2002 and 2004, replacing School Certificate, Sixth Form Certificate and University Entrance Bursaries and Scholarships. This relatively new qualification system has been set up to equip your teen with the skills and knowledge he or she needs to pursue further tertiary study and embark on a successful career. It caters to a student's strengths and allows them to take charge of their own learning.  

NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) is the official secondary school qualification in New Zealand

The three levels

There are three levels in NCEA, which is similar to the former School Certificate. 

  • Level 1 (Year 11) (known as Fifth Form in School Cert.)
  • Level 2 (Year 12) (known as Sixth Form in School Cert.)
  • Level 3 (Year 13) (known as Seventh Form in School Cert.)

How students are assessed 

At each level, students usually study five to six subjects. Each subject is broken down into a number of standards, which test students on a range of skills and knowledge pertaining to the individual subject. For each standard, students complete a combination of internal and external assessments for which they receive credits. Students must achieve a specific number of credits to pass each level, including a set number of literacy and numeracy credits. Still confused? Read our other blog that breaks down NCEA education jargon.

University Entrance 

Although students may pass Levels 1 through to 3, they may not necessarily gain University Entrance (a certificate required to attend university). There is a different set of criteria for gaining University Entrance than Levels 1 to 3. It is important that students understand the University Entrance requirements early on to keep their options open. 

The difference from School Certificate

Although the secondary school system has changed over the last decade there are a number of similarities between NCEA and School Certificate, Sixth Form Certificate and University Bursary qualifications.

  • Students are assessed through a combination of internal assessment and exams.
  • Students can study at a level higher than their school year.
  • It is recognised by employers and used for selection by universities and polytechnics, both in New Zealand and overseas.
  • It allows students to be graded on a specific skill within a subject, rather than receiving a final overall result.
  • Students may have the opportunity to resit internal aspects of standards they have not achieved.
  • Students have greater control over their independent learning.

For more useful information to help you better understand NCEA download our eBook - Getting to grips with NCEA.

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