The National Certificate in Educational Achievement (NCEA) is New Zealand's main national qualification for secondary school students. Year 11 students complete NCEA Level 1, while Years 12 & 13 focus on levels 2 and 3 respectively.  Many of our senior students opt to take  multi-level courses incorporating subjects from 2 or more of these levels.


NCEA subjects at John McGlashan College have a mixture of internal and external assessments for each course. External assessment takes place in November with nationwide examinations, whilst internal assessment can take place throughout the year using either Achievement Standards or Unit Standards. Most subjects offer around 20-24 credits from their course with a balance of both internal and external assessment. Details of each course are contained on our Course Selection site.


Credits towards NCEA can be attained through Achievement Standards. Standards are a little like topics within the subject – the larger the topic, the more credits it will be worth. A typical subject could have between five to nine standards topics) giving a total of 20 to 24 credits. Most Year 11 or 12 students (Levels 1 or 2) will study 6 subjects whilst Year 13 students will typically study 5.

Gaining the NCEA Qualifications

Level 1 NCEA: Students must gain a minimum of 80 credits as well as a minimum of literacy and numeracy credits.
Level 2 NCEA: Students must gain a minimum of 80 credits (60 of which must come from Level 2 standards or higher).
Level 3 NCEA: Students must gain a minimum of 80 credits (60 of which must come from Level 3 standards or higher. No more than 20 credits may come from level 2).

Tertiary entry requirements

Details of entry requirements for University are listed on the NZQA website.

Alignment for Overseas Institutions

For overseas Academic institutions, New Zealand has qualification agreements with Australia and the United Kingdom and New Zealand qualifications are accepted for most purposes in the United States. NCEA is included in the publication International Qualifications for Entry into Higher Education, which is used in the UK and internationally for tertiary entrance and selection. Level 3 NCEA is broadly equivalent to English A Levels and Australia’s Higher School Certificate.

Further Information

Please see the documents below for useful forms and guides and should you require further information please go the NCEA website.

NCEA Level 1 Course of Study

Students are required to take English, Mathematics and Science as compulsory subjects.  They also can choose three option subjects from the following list:

  • German
  • Te Reo Māori
  • Commerce
  • History
  • Geography *
  • Food
  • Materials/Design Technology
  • 3D Design (DVC)
  • Digital Technology
  • Music
  • Visual Art
  • PE
  • Drama
  • Agriculture
  • Deep Learning Extension Programme
  • Option(s) at Columba * (incl. Geography)
  • Option(s) at Correspondence School

* Note: Options at Columba College from Year 11 are available to the students of John McGlashan College where timetable constraints require it.

Deep Learning Programme brochure: View

NCEA & Deep Learning Presentation Slides: View (Updated Aug, 2023)