NCEA has replaced School Certificate at Year 11, Sixth Form Certificate at Year 12, and University Bursary at Year 13. Each subject chosen by a student has a number of "credits" - most subjects offer 24 credits. Students gain these credits through a combination of internal assessment (tests, assignments, and internal exams throughout the year) and external examinations. Typically, 50% to 60% will be assessed by external examinations.
To complete NCEA Level 1 - students will need to gain 80 credits in total at Level 1 or above. At least 16 of these credits will have to be gained in literacy (10 credits) and numeracy (10 credits) of the subjects they take.
To complete NCEA Level 2 - students will need to gain 60 credits at Level 2 or above, as well as 20 credits from Level 1, to make 80 credits in total. Students need to have achieved 10 credits in both literacy and numeracy in NCEA Level 1.
To complete NCEA Level 3 - students will need to gain 60 credits at Level 3 or above, as well as 20 credits from Level 2, to make 80 credits in total.
Advanced students can also enter subjects at Level 4, which can lead to New Zealand Scholarship for a minimum of 72 credits across a minimum of 3 subjects within a 3 year period. Level 4 provides a substantial challenge and should only be considered after careful guidance.
For every achievement standard, students will receive Achieved, Merit, Excellence or Not Achieved. Receiving Achieved, Merit or Excellence gains the credits for that particular achievement standard.
Some subjects offer unit standards in addition to or in place of achievement standards. The credits for unit standards count towards NCEA in the same way as credits for achievement standards. However, there is no Merit or Excellence - only Achieved or Not Achieved.
Unit standards are not necessarily an easier option that achievement standards. In some cases, they may in fact be more difficult, although in some courses they can be a more appropriate means of assessment for certain topics.
During the year students will receive up to 3 documents as part of their NCEA results. In January of the following year, they receive a results notice and later will receive a full Record of Learning and any certificates they have completed.
The Record of Learning will show a lot more detail on their results in each subject and will compare their performance with other students nationally. Student results and Record of Learning is also available on the NZQA website.