NCEA - National Certificate of Educational Achievement

The primary qualification which students at Fiordland College work towards is the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). There are 3 levels to this qualification, with varying requirements at each level.  The qualifications are gained by achieving credits from successfully completed assessments for unit standards or achievement standards.  Unit standards are all internally assessed and can only be “achieved” or “not achieved”.  Achievement standards may be internally or externally assessed with most subjects having some examinations at the end of the year.  Grades for achievement standards can be “not achieved”, “achieved”, “achieved with merit” or “achieved with excellence”.  

NCEA Structure

There are three levels of NCEA certificate, depending on the difficulty of the standards achieved. At each level, students must achieve a certain number of credits to gain an NCEA certificate. Credits can be gained over more than one year.

NCEA Level Achievment Requirements

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

80 credits are required at any level (level 1, 2 or 3)*

60 credits required at level 2 or above

60 credits required at level 3 or above

*including 10 literacy credits (reading and writing) and 10 numeracy credits (maths).  

+ 20 credits from any level

+ 20 credits from level 2 or above



Credits gained at one level can be used for (or count towards) more than one certificate. For example, unit standards in the domain 'generic computing' might be used towards a Level 2 NCEA certificate, as well as towards a National Certificate in Computing (Level 2); or 20 credits gained at Level 1 can also count towards a Level 2 NCEA certificate.

Certificate Endorsement

If a student gains 50 credits at Excellence, their NCEA will be endorsed with Excellence. Likewise, if a student gains 50 credits at Merit (or Merit and Excellence), their NCEA will be endorsed with Merit. The Record of Achievement, which comes out in January, shows endorsement awards.  Credits earned can count towards an endorsement over more than one year and more than one level. However, they must be gained at the level of the certificate or above. For example, Level 2 credits will count towards endorsement of a Level 1 NCEA, but Level 1 credits will not count towards endorsement of a Level 2 NCEA.

Course Endorsement

A course endorsement provides recognition for a student who has performed exceptionally well in an individual course.  Students will gain an endorsement for a course if, in a single school year, they achieve 14 or more credits at Merit or Excellence at the lower level that supports the endorsement.  At least 3 of these credits from externally assessed standards and 3 credits from internally assessed standards unless only internally assessed standards are available.

University Entrance Requirements

The following requirements are the minimum criteria for University Entrance currently.  Individual universities are now setting their own entry requirements however, that require minimum “points” in addition to these criteria.  Points are an aggregate of both the credits gained and the grades achieved.  Points required vary between universities and between courses.  It is essential that students know what the requirements for their proposed university are as early as possible in the year.  

To be awarded UE you will need:  NCEA Level 3. Three subjects - at Level 3 or above, made up of 14 credits each, in three approved subjects. Literacy - 10 credits at Level 2 or above, made up of 5 credits in reading and 5 credits in writing. Numeracy - 10 credits at Level 1 or above, made up of achievement standards – specified achievement standards available through a range of subjects, or unit standards - package of three numeracy unit standards (26623, 26626, 26627- all three required). 

Once you have met the requirements for University Entrance it will appear on your Record of Achievement.

The approved standards can also be found at:

For more information on NCEA go to