Unit standard definitions and explanations

Parts of a unit standard


The title of a unit standard expresses the main outcome that someone who is credited with the unit standard has demonstrated they know and/or can do.

Outcomes (Elements)

Outcome statements describe the more detailed outcomes that learners’ knowledge and skills are assessed against.  Collectively, these comprise the outcome expressed by the title.  In order to be credited with the unit standard, a learner must achieve all of the outcomes described in the outcome statements.

Evidence requirements (Performance criteria)

Evidence requirements specify the critical evidence required to meet the outcomes.  Collectively, evidence requirements provide the standards against which outcomes are assessed.

In relation to each outcome, the evidence requirements will specify what is expected to have been done or demonstrated to a particular quality, quantity, level or standard.

Range statements

Range statements may be included in unit standards. These ensure that the same factors are considered for assessment of each learner.  Range statements are also sometimes used to clarify evidence requirements and/or assessment conditions.

Assessors should note the placement of range statements.

  • If written in the Explanatory notes (Special notes) section, the range statement applies to all outcomes in the unit standard.
  • If written immediately below an outcome statement, it applies to all evidence requirements in that outcome. 
  • If written immediately below a specific evidence requirement, it applies to that evidence requirement only.

Assessors need to note the wording of range statements when deciding what evidence is required.  Included below are several range statements that illustrate a number of possible variations.

Variation 1:  If there is no wording that indicates otherwise, evidence from all items in the range must be considered in deciding whether the outcome has been met.  The range statement for Unit 26624 (version 1), evidence requirement 1.2 is an example of this variation:

1.2 Text is described in terms of its ideas and/or its purpose.
  Range: explicit and implicit ideas and/or purpose.

Variation 2:  The wording ‘includes but is not limited to’ followed by listed items means evidence for all listed items must be considered, but other evidence from unlisted items can be considered as well.  (The main reason for this sort of range is to ‘future proof’ the standard as much as possible, and/or to allow for different assessment contexts.)  The range statement for performance criterion 1.1 in Unit 2780 (version 5) provides an example:

1.1 Hardware components are identified in terms of device type and functions.
  Range: device types include but are not limited to - input, storage, output, processing.

Variation 3:  A list prefaced by ‘may include but is not limited to’ (for example the second part of the range statement for Outcome 1 in Unit 26622 version 1) provides suggested factors for consideration.  You can consider evidence from the listed items, or evidence from a completely different list; the learner’s context will probably indicate what those items might be. 

Outcome1 Write to communicate ideas for a purpose and audience.
  Range: two different purposes across three texts;
    purpose may include but is not limited to – persuade, inform, describe, narrate, explain, instruct, recount.

Variation 4:  The range for evidence requirement 1.3 in Unit 26624 (version 1) indicates the minimum number of factors must be considered from the given list.

1.3 Text is evaluated in terms of reader’s purpose.
  Range: one of - usefulness, interest, validity, credibility.

Explanatory notes (Special notes)

Explanatory notes convey information that will help assessors interpret the standard and/or increase the likelihood of consistent assessment judgements.  They can also be used to indicate any special assessment requirements or conditions.

Explanatory notes may also include guidance – for example, about education and training (to assist educators and trainers in their interpretation of the unit standard), or specific licensing or Consent and Moderation Requirements (CMR) specifications, among other things.


Unit standards are registered at one of the approved levels of the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.  Read the level descriptors.


Credits allocated to unit standards reflect the notional learning time expected for learners to meet the outcomes in those unit standards.  (Actual learning time will, of course, vary from learner to learner.)  Notional learning time includes time spent in structured tuition and self paced learning and practice; time taken to gather and provide evidence for assessment purposes; and time taken to be assessed in all the outcomes and contexts.

One credit represents a notional 10 hours of learning, practice, and assessment time.

Purpose statements

Purpose statements express the outcomes of the unit standard in terms of the knowledge, skills, behaviours, attitudes and values the unit standard recognises.  Often, a purpose statement is a collation of the unit standard outcome statements.

The purpose statement may also say for whom the unit standard is intended.  This may or may not exclude other people from being assessed against the standard – the wording should make that clear.  For example, the purpose statement for Unit 15007 (version 5) states, “This unit standard is for people for whom English is not their first language.” 

Entry information

Unit standards may contain entry information.  Entry information will relate to critical prerequisites (health, safety or legislative requirements), or to recommended skills and knowledge. 

Assessors are responsible for ensuring learners have met any requirements specified in this section prior to the award of credit.


Each time there is a change made to a unit standard, a new version is created.  Minor changes to standards may not affect outcomes.  However, assessors should always check their assessment tasks or evidence guides, and evidence and judgement statements carefully against the new version of a standard to ensure that material reflects the requirements of the new version of the standard, as adjustments may be required.

When a version of a unit standard has been replaced, the Standard Setting Body responsible for the unit standard may specify a last date of assessment against the superseded version.  It is recommended that assessing organisations check with the Standard Setting Body to confirm the transition period available.


One grade is available for every unit standard: Achieved.  Some unit standards may also include Merit, or Merit and Excellence grades.  These are used for the purpose of recognising differentiated performance in the outcomes of the unit standard.

Successful learners will need to demonstrate a better (higher quality) performance in the same outcomes in order to achieve the higher grades.

Expiry date

When a unit standard is designated as ‘expiring’, the unit standard document is no longer available on the NZQA website.  The unit standard can still be assessed against until the date of expiry (as specified in the Change report).  Once a unit standard’s status changes to ‘expired’, it can no longer be assessed against.  For more information regarding this, refer to Outcomes of unit standard reviews.

Other explanations

Change reports

Every time a change is made to unit standards or qualifications, a report is published on the NZQA website at the same time as the new versions.  These change reports summarise the main changes that have been made to the standards, their rationale, and standard expiry dates, among other things.


All unit standards must periodically be reviewed to ensure that they are fit for purpose.  The frequency of review will be driven by factors such as the strategic plan of the Standard Setting Body responsible for the unit standard, the level and type of industry change, legislative requirements, and moderation feedback.  A review involves full industry and stakeholder consultation.


The purpose of rollover of a unit standard is to extend its registration period.  If it is nearing its planned review date and there has been insufficient information to inform a review, the standard is rolled over to maintain currency.  It is then issued as a new version but with content unchanged. 


This occurs when a unit standard requires amendment prior to review.  The revision generally focuses on fixing a known defect in the unit standard (such as wording that needs correcting, out-of-date legislation or prerequisites, or assessability issues).   The unit standard is issued as a new version.


New Zealand Qualifications Authority. (2015). Outcomes of unit standard reviews.  Retrieved from http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/qualifications-standards/standards/outcomes-of-unit-standard-reviews/.

New Zealand Qualifications Authority. (2010). Quality assurance criteria for the listing of unit standards on the Directory of Assessment Standards.  Wellington, New Zealand: Author.  Retrieved on 13 September 2010 from http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/assets/Providers-and-partners/Development-of-National-Stds-and-Quals/quality-assurance-criteria-us-2.doc.

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