Where to start? Entering the NCEA system can be very daunting for both students and parents. There are lots of new words that are important to know about and understand, new information to manage, assessments that generate grades for life, and success needs to be tracked to make sure everyone stays on target.

The following information is designed to guide students and parents through their introduction to this new chapter of their lives.

1. How NCEA Works

NCEA is the system used to manage records of academic achievement. It is split into 3 levels which roughly align to Year 11 (Level One), Year 12 (Level Two) and Year 13 (Level Three). Each NCEA Level is a step up from the previous one in terms of curriculum level, but access to credits at any level is not restricted by age or school year.

Students gain credits as reward for achieving a set standard. Credit values vary from standard to standard, but usually reflect the amount of work required to meet the standard.

Students gain a Level Certificate when they satisfy the credit requirements at that level. This is the most basic qualification and is usually the student’s first priority. If students satisfy higher achievement, they can qualify for a Level Certificate with Merit or Excellence. Students who do well in a particular subject can also be awarded a Course Endorsement in either Merit or Excellence for that subject.

The requirements for the awards are:

Level One

  • 80 Level One (or higher) credits which MUST include:

  • 10 Numeracy credits

  • 10 Literacy credits

Level Two

Level One Certificate plus:

  • 60 Level Two (or higher) credits

Level Three

  • Level Two Certificate plus:

  • 60 Level Three (or higher) credits

Higher Certificates:

Merit Certificate:

  • At least 50 credits are Merit or Excellence

Excellence Certificate

  • At least 50 credits are Excellence

Course Endorsement:

    • Merit - at least 14 credits at Merit or Excellence in a course

    • Excellence - at least 14 Excellence credits in a course

An example of a student’s record after completing Level One may be: Level One Certificate (with Merit Endorsement) with an Excellence Course Endorsement in Mathematics. This tells a future interested party that this student has generally achieved well but has a particular strength in Mathematics.

Credits are generated when students pass standards (pieces of work) in their chosen subjects. Each standard generates a certain number of credits.

Standards are either Unit Standards or Achievements Standards. Unit Standards are primarily aligned with vocational pathways (industry specific) while Achievement Standards relate to more traditional school subjects. Credits from either have the same value, but most Unit Standards do not allow for Merit or Excellence (Achieved only). All Achievement Standards allow Achieved, Merit or Excellence results.

Achievement Standards are assessed either Internally or Externally. External assessments are prepared by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and are in the form of exams at the end of the school year. Internally assessed standards are administered by Menzies College and are offered throughout the year. Some subjects (e.g. Art) do not have exams for their externally assessed standards. These can require students to submit a portfolio or have a visiting assessor.

Unit Standards are all Internally Assessed.

Schools inform NZQA of standards that have been gained, and the associated grade. Students are able to look up this information on the NZQA website, the Student Portal of Edge and the Edge App.

2. Choosing Subjects at Menzies College

Subject choices are made through a selection form that will be made available late in term 3. Each student in Year 11 next year will choose 6 subjects to study. Of these:

  • One will be English

  • One will be Mathematics

This leaves 4 options subjects to choose from. Students are expected to read relevant information about subjects in this booklet and carefully consider their choices. It is important to note that these choices feed into the timetable structure. This means that these choices need to be as accurate as possible so that the school can cater for student needs in the best possible way.

The aim of this website is to provide information on the courses available. For each available course there an aim of the course, an indication of what will be studied in each course and an indication of associated costs.

Students wishing to study a subject that is not offered in this website should talk to their Dean – Menzies College will always endeavour to meet the learning needs of our students. Available options in these cases include distance learning and correspondence.

3. Other Things to Consider

There are some future considerations to take into account when making choices for Year 11. Choices made now can have an effect on future pathways. Students who have a clear passion for a subject area need to make sure they are taking the correct options for future study in that area. Those who are looking to keep their options open need to make good choices to avoid restrictions in later years. Some subjects can be picked up at a later date quite easily, while others tend to have very clear pathways which make this more difficult. Students should be speaking to Subject Teachers, Whanau Teachers, Heads of Departments, Deans and our Careers Team if they have any questions. Below is some extra information about future years to come.


To help with your course selection at Year 11 you may wish to bear in mind that in Year 13 to go to university students need gain University Entrance (UE). To do this they need to:

  • attain NCEA Level 3

  • achieve 14 credits at Level Three in each of three subjects from the list of approved subjects listed below

  • achieve numeracy at Level 1

  • achieve UE literacy at Level 2 – 10 credits (five in reading and five in writing) at Level 2 and above from specific standards


The list of approved subjects will be updated as subjects meet the criteria.

Accounting Agriculture and Horticulture Biology

Business Studies Chemistry Computing

Design (Practical Art) Economics English

Geography Graphics Health Education

History Home Economics Statistics and Modelling

Painting (Practical Art) Physical Education Physics



Vocational Pathways were developed between industry and the education sector to show students the direction they are heading in during their time at school. Most standards offered have a clear Vocational Pathway. For more information on how a course aligns to Vocational Pathways, the subject teacher or the Head of Department are the best people to talk to. The Vocational Pathways website also has a wealth of information here.

The six pathways align with six major industry sectors:

· Primary Industries

· Services Industries

· Social and Community Services

· Manufacturing and Technology

· Construction and Infrastructure

· Creative Industries