Derived grade guidelines

The overriding principles for the derived grade process are:

  • fairness to the applicant and to all other candidates
  • the derived grade is based upon authentic pre-existing standard-specific evidence that has been quality assured.

Applications must refer to events of a medical or non-medical nature that:

  • have clearly had an effect on the candidate during the examination
  • prevented the candidate from attending the examination

Significant conditions or events in the month prior to the start of the examination period that interfere with preparation for the examination might be accepted, as well as temporary illness or trauma occurring during the actual examinations.

Candidates suffering a temporary illness, trauma or other serious event should be encouraged to sit the examination where ever possible.  Students should apply for a derived grade where they:

  • sat the examination but believe that their preparation or performance was impaired
  • were unable to sit the examination.


  1. If the candidate sits the examination and the derived grade application is approved, the better result will be awarded.
  2. Independent professional evidence is required confirming the temporary illness, trauma or other serious event that impaired their preparation, their performance or their attendance on the day of the examination, was beyond the candidate's control, and/or made it impossible for them to sit the examination.
  3. For events occurring in the period immediately prior to the examination. The applicant must clearly demonstrate that effective preparation was not possible in the week before the examinations and provide evidence that they were under continuous and well-documented care by a registered professional. Schools should discuss this with their School Relationship Manager, if necessary.

The temporary illness, trauma or other serious event must be of a significant nature. Applications will not be granted on grounds such as:

  • minor ailments
  • stress due to examinations
  • parents being on holiday
  • or day-to-day family disturbances.

Contact your School Relationship Manager if you have any questions.

Unique circumstances as approved by NZQA, such as selection for national representation preventing attendance at an examination(s), must be supported by appropriate documentation (eg. copy of letter from the national body, travel arrangements). Approval by NZQA prior to the examinations is required.

Candidates applying for a derived grade for a portfolio submission must submit their portfolio of work for assessment in the usual way, by the due date. Some aspect of the portfolio must provide evidence of the candidate’s actual level of performance, prior to the impairment.

The following conditions alone are not acceptable grounds for a derived grade application except where there is a sudden change in a managed chronic condition/illness which impairs a candidate's ability to perform on the day of the examination to the level they have been able to perform in that standard during the year.

  • long-term and ongoing illnesses and conditions (e.g., physical disability, anxiety, epilepsy, depression, anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders)
  • chronic relapsing conditions (e.g., glandular fever, ME)
  • ongoing personal trauma.

These conditions are usually managed through special assessment conditions. For example, a change in medication might cause a documented and observable change in the way that a chronic condition/illness is managed and have a clear and observable effect upon the candidate. The impairment is deemed to be temporary and a derived grade application with an appropriate current detailed report by a registered professional is required.

Candidates suffering from long-term or recurring conditions will have to accept that their results will be affected because the ongoing effects of their condition may have compromised their performance throughout the year.

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