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How NCEA works

The information on this page is taken directly from the NZQA website. Click here to visit that page. All students and parents should download the NCEA app (Apple).

National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is the main national qualification for secondary school students in New Zealand and the system of education we offer at Liston College from Years 10-13. From Years 7-10 we create our assessments from the achievement objectives outlined in the New Zealand Curriculum (link to NZC). 

NCEA is recognised by employers, and used for selection by universities and polytechnics, both in New Zealand and overseas.


  • From years 10 to 13, students at Liston study a number of subjects. In each subject, skills and knowledge are assessed against a number of standards. Schools use a range of internal and external assessments to measure how well students meet these standards. Internal assessments are conducted in and out of class in throughout the course of the year. External assessments are conducted under exam conditions in November and December each year. 
  • When a student achieves a standard, they gain a number of credits. Students must achieve a certain number of credits to gain an NCEA certificate. There are three levels of NCEA certificate, depending on the difficulty of the standards achieved. In general, students work through levels 1 to 3 in years 11 to 13 at school.
    • NCEA Level 1 certificate
      • 80 credits are required at any level (level 1, 2 or 3) including literacy and numeracy. What are these requirements?  Students need a minimum of 10 credits literacy credits and 10 numeracy credits in specific assessment standards or specific unit standards. Click here for further info.
    • NCEA Level 2 certificate
      • 60 credits at level 2 or above+ 20 credits from any level. The Level 1 literacy and numeracy requirements must also be met.
    • NCEA Level 3 certificate
      • 60 credits at level 3 or above + 20 credits from level 2 or above.  Level 1 literacy and numeracy requirements must also be met.

Students are recognised for high achievement at each level by gaining NCEA with Merit or NCEA with Excellence. High achievement in a course is also recognised.  These two areas of endorsement are known as Certificate Endorsement and Course Endorsement.

Certificate Endorsement requires student to gain 50 credits at Excellence at a level or above. If they do this they will have Excellence Endorsement at that level. Similarly, if they gain 50 credits at Merit at a level or above they will have Merit Endorsement at that level. 

Course Endorsement occurs when a student has performed exceptionally in a particular subject. In order to do this they need 14 or more credits at Merit or Excellence and at least three of these credits need to be from externally assessed standards and three need to come from internally assessed standards. It is important to note that Endorsements do not apply for PE, RE or Level 3 Visual Arts. Course Endorsement is not a qualification but instead demonstrates how well you have performed at you NCEA. Please click on this link for more information.

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