Are NCEA Exams Compulsory?

The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is New Zealand's secondary school qualification. It is based on a system of credits, which can be earned for completing internal assessments and external exams. But are NCEA exams actually compulsory?

Compulsory Components:

Not all components of NCEA are compulsory. However, students must pass certain NCEA assessments to be eligible for the qualification. These compulsory components include:

  • Literacy and Numeracy: Students must demonstrate proficiency in literacy and numeracy by passing an assessment in both areas.
  • Level 1 Achieved: To earn an NCEA Level 1 qualification, students must earn a minimum of 80 credits, including:
    • 10 Literacy credits
    • 10 Numeracy credits
    • 60 credits in other approved subjects

Are NCEA Exams Compulsory?
Are NCEA Exams Compulsory?

Non-Compulsory Components:

The vast majority of NCEA components are not compulsory. Students can choose which subjects they want to study and which assessments they want to complete to earn credits. This flexibility allows students to tailor their NCEA qualification to their individual interests and aspirations.


There are some circumstances in which students may be exempt from NCEA exams. These include:

  • Students with a disability that prevents them from taking exams
  • Students who are in a special education programme
  • Students who are enrolled in a non-exam based subject

Consequences of Not Passing:

Students who do not pass the compulsory NCEA components may not be eligible for the qualification. They may also have difficulty progressing to higher education or employment.


While some components of NCEA are compulsory, students have significant flexibility in choosing which subjects they want to study and which assessments they want to complete. By passing the compulsory components, students can earn the NCEA qualification, which will open up opportunities for further education and employment.

Description: This article provides a comprehensive overview of NCEA exams in New Zealand, including their compulsory components, non-compulsory components, exemptions, and consequences of not passing.

Labels: NCEA, NCEA Exams, Compulsory Education, Secondary Education, New Zealand Education

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