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NCEA Assessment Handbook


Students needing detailed and specific careers information whilst making their option choices should make an appointment to see Kay Wallace the HOD of Careers, who is based in the Library or in her absence, Margaret Ruland.


There are NO prerequisites for Year 11 courses apart from Languages. You must have studied the language in Year 10 or have a degree of fluency to continue in Year 11.

Entry to most Level 3 courses requires students to have gained 12 NCEA credits at Level 2 in that subject (or sometimes an allied subject as an alternative). Entry may also be gained at the discretion of the HOD.

Optional and Compulsory Subjects

At Year 11 students must take English* Mathematics and Science, and take three optional subjects. NPOW students must take TRM or TRR, and take two optional subjects.

At Year 12 students must take English* and take five optional subjects. NPOW students must take TRM or TRR, and take four optional subjects.

At Year 13 students choose five optional subjects although one of these must be English* if students do not already have U.E. Reading and U.E. Writing. NPOW students must take TRM or TRR , and TRP and three optional subjects.

*English = English, Te Reo Pakeha or English Language (formerly ESOL).

General Information for making a course selection

Year 11 to Year 13


  • 60 credits are required to achieve level 1 in Waiōrea; 60 credits from Level 2 standards are required to achieve level 2; 60 credits from Level 3 standards are required to attain level 3.
  • 10 literacy credits and 10 numeracy credits are required to achieve an NCEA certificate at any level.
  • Students intending to study at university should aim to Achieve with Merit or Excellence in as many achievement standards as possible.
  • There are three levels of achievement for standards – Achieved , Merit and Excellence (apart from some unit standards which only have achieved).

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 shows endorsement awards. An Achieved endorsement with 50 credits at Achieved is also now available.

Course endorsement

Course endorsement will provide recognition for students who perform exceptionally well in individual courses. Students will be able to have their strengths in individual courses recognised with a course endorsement at Merit or Excellence. The key objective of course endorsement is to motivate students to achieve their potential in one or more course.

Students will gain an endorsement for a course where they achieve:

  1. at least 14 or more credits at Merit or Excellence standard required to gain course endorsement at that level.
  2. at least 3 credits from externally assessed standards (apart from PE) and at least 3 credits from internally assessed standards.
  3. sufficient credits in a single school year.

For more information on course endorsements please go to the NZQA link

University Entrance

This is the minimum requirement for entry to university, however, this does not guarantee a place at university.

Students will need all of the following to be awarded UE:

  • attain NCEA Level 3 (60 level 3 credits).
  • achieve 14 credits at Level 3 in each of three subjects from the list of approved subjects.
    (The list of approved subjects will consist of subjects derived from the NZ Curriculum with achievement standards at Level 3)
  • achieve UE Numeracy – 10 credits at Level 1 and above from specific achievement standards, or the Numeracy common assessment task
  • achieve UE Literacy – 10 credits (five in reading and five in writing) at Level 2 or above from specified standards.

In addition, all universities have different and more stringent requirements for competitive entry courses like Medicine, Engineering etc where specific standards and particular subjects have to be taken as well as high scores or grade point averages. To get this level of detail you need to see the Careers staff for the most up-to-date requirements.

Since 2016 the University of Auckland has required all new students to have at least 17 credits at Level 2 or higher from the subject of English.

Follow this NZQA link for more details on University Entrance requirements

Policy and Procedures

Western Springs College/ Ngā Puna O Waiōrea has policy and procedures in place for assessment for National Qualifications.

At the beginning of the year students will be able to access course information for each subject outlining:

  • Topics to be covered
  • Standards to be assessed and credit values
  • Assessment guidelines and calendar

Students are also informed by HODs, HoH and the Yr 13 Academic Director, about the processes concerning:

  • Storage of assessed work – completed assessments are stored for external moderation purposes
  • Special assessment conditions – for students with severe learning conditions
  • Moderation of work – to maintain valid, fair and consistent assessment
  • Authentication of work – to ensure that students submit their own work
  • Breaches of the rules – to ensure that cheating does not occur
  • Missed assessments – extensions may be granted if there are valid reasons for missing a deadline
  • Appealing a grade – students have the right to appeal internal assessment results
  • Absences – prior permission must be sought for an anticipated absence
  • Reporting – Records of Achievement are regularly updated during the year to indicate progress. A minimum of 2 reports will be sent annually.
  • Fees- qualification fees are set by NZQA for International Students only.

Study Skills

  • Homework Centres are run through the school library, Learning Centre and by some departments.
  • The Library is open for students Monday – Friday 8.00a.m- 4.30pm
  • The Learning Centre is also available for students who would like help with examination technique, revision skills and essay writing.

Selecting Your Course of Study

  • In Term 3, you will be asked to select your subjects for the following year.
  • This selection tells us what you are most interested in studying next year.
  • We then ‘block’ the timetable.
  • We try to avoid clashes (2 of your subjects in the same block) but some are inevitable.

Course Recommendations

Western Springs College/ Ngā Puna O Waiōrea recommends that students take a ‘balanced’ course in the senior school. What we mean by this is that students and parents should be mindful of the following:

  1. Have a balanced course in terms of the internal/external assessment workload – e.g. too many ‘practical’ or ‘performance’ based subjects may mean the internal workload is too much.
  2. Have a balanced course in terms of strongly heavily written vs less heavily written subjects.
  3. In general students should take not more than one subject that is not ‘UE approved’ – most courses are and those that are not are clearly shown in the course book. If in doubt contact your HoH or the Yr 13 Academic Director.
  4. Students should also be mindful of possible career options in the future when they make subject selections and keep options as open as possible.

Multi-levelling and Acceleration

Students are encouraged to study at levels appropriate to their ability. This may mean pursuing courses beyond their year level. It could also mean that senior students can combine courses from level 1, 2, and 3. You should be aiming to study at a level that enables you to achieve National Qualifications to your full potential. The Heads of House and Year 13 Academic Director will work with students who are accelerated in one or more subject/s.

Course Entry Requirements

Western Springs College/ Ngā Puna O Waiōrea strives to create a learning community in which all students develop to their potential.

Guidance about subjects and courses will take account of researched evidence which supports the view that students are likely to realise this potential at different ages.

Entry requirements are guidelines only and may be adjusted for individual circumstances. Please ask subject HoH, the Yr 13 Academic Director and Senior Managers.

Course Changes

Please note that you cannot just drop a subject. If you are not happy with your course then please discuss this first with your form teacher or HoH, or the Yr 13 Academic Director. You may be referred on to a Deputy Principal.

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