What is NCEA?

NCEA stands for the National Certificate of Educational Achievement. It’s the main qualification for senior secondary school students, and it’s available at Levels 1, 2 and 3. NCEA is internationally recognised.

Ncea Levels

NCEA is very flexible. In Year 11, students usually work towards Level 1, and progress to Level 2 in Year 12 and Level 3 in Year 13. Some schools focus on Level 2 across years 11 and 12. It’s not unusual to be working at a mix of different levels, depending on your learning programme.

For example, you might be doing mostly Level 2 courses but start something new at Level 1 or study a course at Level 3 because you're good at it. You don’t have to finish one level of the NCEA qualification before starting to work towards the next one.

Standards and Credits

Every subject you take is assessed by standards.

Standards describe different areas of knowledge and skills. There are specific standards that recognise mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge). Schools decide what subject to provide, and which standards to assess in those subjects.

You can also achieve standards through some activities away from the classroom. For example, you may be able to achieve standards by:

  • getting your driver licence
  • performing at a regional or national kapa haka competition or Polyfest
  • completing approved work or study programmes

Each standard is worth credits. When you achieve a standard, you earn the total number of credits that standard is worth, and it’s these credits that build towards NCEA.

NZQA website | Information about assessment and skill standards

Standards And Credits

What you need for NCEA

From 2024, you will need:

Ncea Credits

Literacy, Te Reo Matatini, Numeracy and Te Pāngarau

To be awarded NCEA, you need to achieve 10 credits in Literacy or Te Reo Matatini and 10 credits in Numeracy or Te Pāngarau to show you can use and understand language, as well as mathematics and statistics.

In 2024 and 2025 you can earn these credits through the new Literacy, Te Reo Matatini, Numeracy and Te Pāngarau standards, or from a list of other approved standards. These credits are known as ‘co-requisites’ because you require them alongside your other credits for NCEA.

There will be many opportunities to earn these credits while you are at secondary school, and once you have gained them, you have met the Literacy, Te Reo Matatini, Numeracy and Te Pāngarau requirements for all three levels of NCEA. If you met these requirements in 2023 or earlier, you do not need to attempt them again.

NQZA website | Guidelines for literacy and numeracy credits

More Information

NCEA Guides:

The NZQA guide to NCEA contains lots of helpful information about:

  • Basics of NCEA
  • Assessments
  • Endorsements
  • University Entrance (UE)
  • New Zealand Scholarship
  • Vocational Pathways
  • and much more...

A Guide To NCEA | English

Te Aratohu mō te NCEA | Te Reo Māori

NCEA Online:

NCEA Online Digital Transformation | English

Te tautoko i ngā mahi aromatawai matihiko i roto i ngā kura | Te Reo Māori