Scholarship provides recognition and monetary reward to top students in their last year of schooling. Scholarship exams enable candidates to be assessed against challenging standards, and are demanding for the most able candidates in each subject.

Scholarship candidates are expected to demonstrate high-level critical thinking, abstraction and generalisation, and to integrate, synthesise and apply knowledge, skills, understanding and ideas to complex situations.

Entry to Scholarship

Students can enter for Scholarship through an accredited New Zealand secondary school. For full details of the entry requirements, see NCEA Rules and Procedures - Secondary Schools.

There are separate fee structures for domestic students and international students, see fees for NCEA.

Eligibility to receive a monetary award

To be eligible to receive a scholarship award, the student must be enrolled in tertiary study in New Zealand for the years in which they receive monetary awards. For awards with second or subsequent year payments recipients must maintain a 'B' grade average during their tertiary study in New Zealand.

For full details of the eligibility requirements, see NCEA Rules and Procedures - Secondary Schools.

How many candidates are awarded Scholarship?

Approximately 3 per cent of Year 13 students studying each subject at level 3 are awarded Scholarship, if they reach the standard that has been set. There is some tolerance around the 3 per cent, mainly for those subjects with few candidates. See Scholarship subjects for a list of this year's scholarship subjects.

How is Scholarship marked?

Markers allocate a score of 0-8 for each component in the Scholarship assessment using subject specific schedules. These are based on a Generic Marking Guide, as follows:

  • An answer given a score of 8 is an Outstanding answer in all respects. Strong evidence of integration and synthesis. As good as could be expected under examination conditions. Accurate, comprehensive, coherent, lucid, perceptive.
  • A score of 1 shows Meagre understanding relevant to the question.
  • 0 is awarded for answers that are blank or irrelevant.

The work of the highest scoring candidates is reviewed by marking panels, to identify the top candidates in each subject. Exam booklets for candidates whose scores are close to either the Scholarship or Outstanding cut-offs are also re-marked, to ensure their results are correct.

Scholarship assessments have between 3 and 6 components, and the scores for each component are totaled to give the final result.

Scholarship results and winners

Scholarship results are released towards the end of February each year. For details of Scholarship results and winners see Scholarship results.

Read more about the most recent Top Scholar Awards Ceremony and previous years Top Scholar Awards winners.

A selection of examination papers have been reproduced with permission from previous Top Scholars. To view these examination papers, go to the Scholarship subjects page and click on the 'assessment specification and resources' link for each subject. The Top Scholar examination booklet is at the bottom of the page under the [subject] resources heading.

Further information

If you are a student or parent, your school should be able to answer your specific questions.

If you are unable to find what you require here, please contact the NZQA Call Centre.

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