COVID-19 Changes to NCEA and What it Means For Your Child

Jun 3, 2020NCEA, Parent advice

Without a doubt, 2020 has been a year of trials and change. 

Students have experienced some of the toughest challenges to their learning this year. From schools closing to the emergence of online learning, there has been a lot to keep up with.

Recently, the Ministry of Education announced changes to NCEA for 2020 which aim to alleviate some of the pressures of this year. In this article, we will be discussing all of the changes thus far, and what this means for your child’s’ learning for the rest of the year.

Preliminary Changes

In an update from NZQA, on the 13th of May, it was announced that finals exams would be pushed back by 10 days. 

This delay will see exams run from the 16th of November to the 9th of December. Previously, exams were expected to run from the 6th of November to the 2nd of December.

The decision intends to give students the opportunity to prepare further for their exams, as well as give them more time on any in-class work that has been pushed back due to COVID-19 disruptions.

Additionally, portfolios are now due on the 12th of November. This again will give students more time to complete their work in their given portfolio subject.

Recent Changes

In a further update from the 3rd of June, NZQA announced some more extensive adjustments to NCEA for students. These are aimed to address disruptions NCEA students have felt on a wider scale and to accommodate for students at every level of the curriculum.

Learning Recognition Credits

One of the first changes to NCEA this year is the introduction of Learning Recognition Credits for all students. 

A Learning Recognition Credit will be awarded for every 5 regular credits earned. However, there is a limit to the number of credits awarded depending on the NCEA level:

  • Level 1: Up to 10 Learning Recognition Credits. 
  • Level 2: Up to 8 Learning Recognition Credits. 
  • Level 3: Up to 8 Learning Recognition Credits.

For NCEA Level 1 students, this means they will need to gain 50 credits to earn the limit and 70 overall to pass.

At Levels 2 and 3, students will need 45 earned credits for the 8 Learning Recognition. While NCEA Level 2 students still need to earn 80 overall credits to pass the level, they still have 20 available credits to bring up from NCEA Level 1. 

These credits will be calculated in January once all internals and externals have been submitted for the year.  


Additionally, the number of credits required to gain endorsements have been adjusted. 

For an overall course endorsement, students must earn 46 credits at that level or higher. In previous years, the requirements have been 50 credits. The 4 credit difference is the equivalent of one typical internal or external paper. 

Subject endorsements have also changed, asking for 12 credits at that level or higher in that subject. However, at least 3 credits that contribute to the subject endorsement has to come from both an internal and external assessment. This is a reduction of 2 credits from previous years.

University Entrance

Lastly, the credit requirement for University Entrance (UE) has decreased.

This year, 12 credits are needed in 3 university-approved subjects, as opposed to 14 credits. However, to gain overall UE, students still need to pass NCEA Level 3 and earn their literacy and numeracy credits.

In saying this, students aiming for UE should still be mindful of any course requirements set out by their chosen university. This is to best prepare them for their next year of study so they are able to keep up at a tertiary level.

What These Changes Mean for Your Child

While these adjustments will benefit many students across the country, it is not a sure-fire pass for the year. Students will still be expected to persist in their studies, and work hard to achieve their goals.

Students should be cautious of buying into a ‘write-off’ mentality, where they feel that the disruptions they have experienced mean it’s not worth putting effort into the rest of the year. 

Additionally, students may be experiencing wider implications of this year such as:

  • Less content learned overall throughout the course.
  • Less confidence in the content they have been taught.
  • Less confidence in exam strategy and external content.

By no means is the rest of this year a waste of time, nor is it a hopeless cause. The danger for students here is taking their eye off the target.

Keeping Up for the Rest of the Year

The key to success this year is continuing to treat it as seriously as any other year. This includes:

  • Exploring effective study techniques to solidify knowledge.
  • Practising questions and different explanations of concepts.
  • Taking every assessment as seriously as any other.
  • Practising exam technique and strategy for the end of the year.
  • Relying on teachers and wider resources like StudyTime.

The ability to succeed this year is still in the hands of you and your child. Students still have the chance to take control of their learning and find outcomes that will make them happy with their efforts.

Personalised Tuition

One effective way to ensure your child is getting the support they need to succeed for the rest of the year is one-on-one tutoring

Some benefits of tutoring are:

  • Better ensure a high quality of learning through personalised explanations.
  • Exam strategy and subject-specific advice to tackle any external.
  • Study help that caters for your child’s needs and preferences.
  • Help your child get ahead of the curve and achieve their goals early.
  • Learn self-management techniques to succeed in the long-run.
  • Preparation for next year through advice for NCEA, university, and beyond.

Tutoring is a great option for all students, from those who need to catch up, to those who are looking to refine their knowledge and skills further.

Looking Forward

The changes made to NCEA this year will help students in overcoming the unique challenges they have faced this year. However, it does not eliminate every difficult situation they may yet to face.

Taking the changes into account, and persevering with the year ahead is a more certain way to ensure your child will gain the best knowledge they can, prepare for next year, and meet their educational goals.


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