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 Matatau i te Mātauranga Deep Learning Programme

To set the students up for success in Years 12 and 13, we offer an extension programme in NCEA level 1 called the Matatau i te Mātauranga Deep Learning Programme.  

The Matatau i te Mātauranga Deep learning philosophy involves the development of:

  • Knowledge from a broad curriculum of NCEA studies
  • Global competencies and international mindedness
  • Learning skills
  • An individualised profile of creativity, activity and service
  • Philosophies of thinking and reflective practices
  • Effective communication skills
  • Academic writing strategies
  • Public presentation skills
  • Career path plans
  • A deeper set of skills useful for College preparation

The target audience for this programme are students who are aiming for excellence endorsements in NCEA, New Zealand UE Scholarships, and/or to study the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at the College - but ultimately, to provide a targeted academic learning programme that sets up our students for academic success in their chosen high school studies.  Students who are aiming for academic excellence at the College and University are encouraged to consider this course option.

The Deep Learning Programme structure follows that of a regular NCEA level 1 programme where students are required to choose six subjects (English, Mathematics and Science as compulsory subjects and three options as outlined below), with the addition of a deep learning STAGE course. The overall programme focuses on “learning how to learn” through the systematic development of common approaches to learning skills.


STAGE Programme

STAGE is a framework of studies that involves a blended approach to teaching and learning where two lessons will be timetabled with a teacher each week, and the remaining two hours per week will be via a digital learning environment.  The STAGE framework is built upon the foundations of learning that comes from studying the six NCEA courses stated previously and the philosophy of Matatau i te Mātauranga Deep learning.  To develop this deep connected learning, students will be collaborating with each other and the STAGE teacher on learning tasks, projects and assignments.  

The STAGE framework of learning emphasises intellectual challenge and encourages connections between studies in traditional subjects and the real world. We will focus on “learning how to learn” through the systematic development of learning skills for communication, collaboration, organization, self-management, reflection, research, informational literacy, media literacy, creative and critical thinking, and transfer of learning. The STAGE framework also fosters intercultural understanding and global engagement—essential qualities for young people today.

There will be opportunities for Interdisciplinary teaching and learning that build a connected curriculum that addresses the developmental needs of students and prepares them for further academic study and life in an increasingly interconnected world.  The subjects studied use concepts and contexts as starting points for meaningful integration and transfer of knowledge.

STAGE focuses upon developing the character of the individual:

  • Service - Helping the local/global community
  • Talent - Developing creative talents or other creative endeavours
  • Action - Keeping balance and physically active
  • Graduate - Development of deep learning skills
  • Entrepreneurship - Development of a personal/service/ community/innovative project either related to curriculum or non-curriculum ideas

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:

  • Spanish
  • German
  • Te Reo
  • Economics
  • History
  • Food Tech
  • Materials/Design Tech
  • DVC
  • Digi Tech
  • Music
  • Visual Art
  • PE
  • Drama
  • Agriculture
  • Option(s) at Columba *
  • 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.