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National Certificate in Educational Achievement (NCEA) is the most common way that school-leavers gain entrance to university. To be eligible for admission in this category, you must achieve the University Entrance standard through NCEA Level 3 by gaining:

  • NCEA Level 3, and
  • 14 credits at Level 3 in each of three subjects from the approved list.

You must also meet literacy and numeracy requirements:

  • Literacy: 10 credits at Level 2 or above in standards from the specified list, with at least 5 credits in Reading and 5 credits in Writing
  • Numeracy: 10 credits at Level 1 or above (can be achieved through a range of standards)

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

More information about the requirements for University Entrance is available on the NZQA website.

View NZQA University Entrance information

Please note that these requirements apply to students who had not obtained University Entrance by 1 March 2014. Students who were awarded University Entrance before that date obtained the qualification under the requirements in place at that time.

Evidence you will need to provide

University Entrance through NCEA Level 3 is awarded by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). Results are provided automatically to the University in January each year by NZQA . Your results will be matched to your application and your eligibility for entrance will be checked.

It is important that you make sure that you have not indicated to NZQA that your NCEA results should be withheld from tertiary institutions.

Preferential Entry requirement from NCEA

The entry score requirement for Preferential Entry for the applicable undergraduate programmes from NCEA Level 3 is 140 points. Scores which do not meet this requirement will be considered for Competitive Entry.

Entry Pathways - Preferential Entry

Please note that if you have completed tertiary study since obtaining University Entrance through NCEA you will not usually be eligible for Preferential Entry on the basis of your NCEA Level 3 results.

How to calculate an entry score

An entry score will be calculated using your 80 best credits in up to five approved University Entrance subjects taken at Level 3 or above (including only achievement standards).

No more than 24 credits in any subject can be used in the entry score calculation. Credits will be weighted according to the level of attainment.

If you achieve fewer than 80 credits at Level 3 or above in up to five University Entrance subjects, the entry score will be based on the credits achieved.

An entry score will be calculated by awarding points as follows:

  • Excellence 4 points
  • Merit 3 points
  • Achieved 2 points

An example of an entry score for an NCEA Level 3 student

Approved subject Excellence credits Merit credits Achieved credits
(best 24 credits per subject)
English 3 4 9
Physics 3 - 12
Biology - 3 18
Chemistry - - 16
Statistics and Modelling 2 3 10
Subtotals 8 10 65
Best 80 credits 8 10 62
Calculate points 32 points (8x4) 30 points (10x3) 124 points (62x2)
Entry Score: 186

Note: Excellence and Merit credits are counted first, then Achieved credits as required to a maximum of 80 credits. In this example, only 62 of the Achieved credits may be counted.

See an indication of your entry score using our NCEA entry score calculator.

Admission to Summer School while NCEA Level 3 results are pending

You may be considered for Discretionary Entrance to take Summer School papers while your NCEA Level 3 results are pending. If you do not gain University Entrance in the January immediately after a successful application, you will be required to withdraw from the University at the end of the Summer School. You may apply for readmission in the second semester or subsequently.

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