About NCEA Online

New Zealand schools are increasingly using digitally enabled teaching and learning, and NCEA assessments need to reflect these evolving practices.

NZQA aims to have NCEA examinations available online and formal implementation will start with the delivery of 14 NCEA exam subjects on a long-term platform in 2019.

The subjects will comprise 35 exam sessions across Levels 1-3 and are as follows:

Agricultural and Horticultural Science (L1-3)

Art History (L1-3)

Business Studies

Classical Studies (L1-3)

Education for Sustainability (L2)

English (L1-3)

Health (L1-3)

History (L1-3)

Home Economics

Latin (L1 and 2)

Media Studies (L1-3)

Social Studies (L1-3)

Te reo Māori (L1)

Te reo Rangatira (L1)


These subjects represent around a third of the exams that are mainly text based. NZQA will further expand the range of subjects in 2020 and beyond.

This is the next stage in delivering NCEA Online, after four years of Digital Trials (that did not count toward NCEA) and three years of Digital Pilot exams in English, Classical Studies and Media Studies (that did count towards NCEA). We are moving to where digital exams are becoming normal. To support that move, in 2019, students choosing to do digital exams will continue to have a personalised paper as a backup.

This year NZQA will not be offering Digital Trial exams. If for any reason a student needs to apply for a derived grade after entering either a digital or pen and paper exam, schools will use the assessments they have conducted during the year as evidence.

NZQA is adopting a planned, staged, managed approach to the NCEA Online programme. As schools gain confidence in completing text-based exams and technology evolves, we will look at those subjects where special characters are required, such as mathematics, science and music.

We are continuing to work with schools and students to ensure technology delivers a good user experience for a particular subject before it is offered as a digital assessment that counts towards NCEA. 

We also recognise schools are at different stages regarding their approach to digital teaching and learning and digital assessment needs to be in sync with that. We will continue offering the paper-based exams as schools transition towards digital education.

Digital learning and assessment will help students prepare for how they will learn, work and live. We are delivering digital assessment because it is most relevant for students, reflecting the way they use electronic devices every day.

NZQA is working closely with schools and students to ensure our approach meets their needs. We are designing and developing our external digital assessment services through working with schools and the wider education sector to ensure we get it right.

We will be supporting schools to prepare for digital assessment through:

Familiarisation – showing students and teachers the features of electronic examinations

Digitised examination papers from 2018 - for the 35 subjects available in 2019   

School readiness – working with school staff to assess school and student readiness for digital assessment

Training – providing Exam Centre Managers and Supervisors with the knowledge and skills to administer the assessments.

Schools considering participation in the 2019 digital examinations can visit this page for more information.

Since 2014, almost three quarters of New Zealand secondary schools and around 30,000 students have experienced at least one digital exam through NZQA’s Digital Trials and Pilots programme.


Page last updated 7 February 2019

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