Derived grade guidelines

The overriding principles for the derived grade process are:

  • being fair to both the applicant and to all other candidates
  • the derived grade is based upon authentic pre-existing standard-specific evidence that has been subject to a quality-assurance process.

What will be considered?

Derived grades are for exam candidates who, just before or during the examinations, suffer

  • a temporary illness,
  • trauma ( ie. a deeply distressing or disturbing experience) or misadventure (i.e. an event beyond their control)
  • another serious event.

Candidates should sit the examination where-ever possible.

Candidates who sit the examination but believe that their preparation or performance was impaired or were unable to sit the examination should apply for a derived grade.

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

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

What won't be considered?

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
  • day-to-day family disturbances
  • death or euthanasia of a pet.

What about long-term conditions?

The following conditions alone are not acceptable grounds for a derived grade application:

  • long-term and ongoing illnesses and conditions (e.g. concussion, 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 and/or modifyig the candidate's assessment programme.

However, where there is a sudden change in a managed chronic condition/illness that is documented by a medical professional, and the candidate believes they are unable to perform on the day of the examination as well as they usually have, NZQA will consider an application.

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 on the candidate. In such a case, the impairment is seen as temporary and if a registered professional is willing to support an application, NZQA will consider it.

Exam result versus derived grade

If the candidate sits the examination but also applies for a derived grade which is then approved, the better result of the two will be awarded.

What has to be provided?

Independent professional evidence is required confirming the temporary illness, trauma or other serious event that affected the candidate's preparation, performance or attendance on the day of the examination, was beyond their control, and/or made it impossible for them to sit the examination.

For events occurring in the period immediately prior to the examination, the candidate must clearly demonstrate that effective preparation was not possible in the week before the examination and provide evidence that they were under continuous and well-documented care by a registered professional.

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 a letter from the national body, travel arrangements). Approval by NZQA (DOCX, 76KB)prior to the examinations is required.

If the candidate is applying for a derived grade for a portfolio submission they 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 their actual level of performance, prior to the impairment.

Where to next?

Derived grade scenarios 

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