June 2020

Key dates

Key Dates

1 July
Data file submission due (correct any errors or warnings from previous submissions and send any additional candidate information in this file)
The information included in this file will be used to generate NSN cards
Special Assessment Conditions (SAC) - Attach SAC entitlements to external standards from now
20 July
Translated Papers – Check all entries requiring ‘Answer’ or ‘Request’ flags are correct for 1 August data file
Check 1 August file contains all known external entries (including NZ Scholarship) for SAC candidates; MCAT Level 1, 91027; Languages CATs and DTHM CATs
1 August
Data file submission due (used to calculate the quantity of exam papers and materials for external exams)
Ensure that enrolment data for all international fee-paying students is included in this file
Check timetable clashes and confirm candidates’ entries
Translated Papers – Final date for ‘Answer’ and ‘Request’ flags to be set in data file
MCAT Level 1, 91027 – Deadline for schools to advise NZQA of assessment day and number of booklets required

PN checklist

PN Checklist: things to do

  • Confirm the preferred date for the MCAT and the number of booklets required by 1 August
  • Register for the DT & HM CAT by 1 August
  • Include entries for digital examinations in your data file submission as soon as possible
  • Confirm list of students for translated papers in preparation for 1 August datafile deadline
  • Ensure as many external entries as possible for SAC candidates are included in the 1 August datafile
  • Prepare to attach SAC entitlements to external entries
  • Ensure teachers are aware of derived grade requirements
  • Advertise to staff external examination marker, verifier and other roles with NZQA
  • Inform teachers about external assessment evidence gathering templates

Topics in this EmaiLink:

General Administration & Data

  • Course Approval for International Student classes, courses or programmes (4E Education Act)
  • Digital exams 2019 student feedback

External Exams Administration

  • Candidate NSN cards
  • Common Assessment Task (DCAT & MCAT) changes for 2020
  • Entries for external exams, including digital exams
  • Examination Centre Manager (ECM) for 2020
  • External assessment evidence gathering templates
  • Secure storage of examination materials
  • Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu – external exam students
  • Translated papers and Answers in Te Reo data file flags

Special Assessment Conditions

  • Attachment of entitlements to external standards
  • External entries for SAC candidates


  • Circulars
  • Derived Grade and Unexpected Event Grades Updates

Information for Staff

  • Consultation invited for the NZQA strategic plans for Māori and Pacific learners
  • Contract Vacancies at NZQA

General Administration and Data

Course Approval for International Student Classes, Courses or Programmes (4E education)

The application documentation required for schools with consent to assess to offer 4E education will be forwarded in due course. Changes to the approval process were signalled in Assessment Matters A2020/1 – 03 Feb 2020 and discussed at the Leading National Assessment Seminars.

Digital exams 2019 student feedback

You may be interested in NZQA’s evaluation of 2019 digital exams showing NCEA Online continues to make good progress and students remain highly enthusiastic about their digital experience. The information includes a summary dashboard, a student experience report and a psychometric analysis comparing paper and digital results. Schools that participated in 2019, and had more than 20 students responding to the post-exam survey, can request their students’ survey results as compared with the national results by emailing or contact me.

External Exams Administration

Candidate Information Sheets

An updated 2020 Candidate Information Sheet and exam timetable will be sent to you by the end of term two. If these have not arrived by the start of term three, please contact your School relationship Manager.

Candidate NSN cards

These will be delivered to schools from 22 July 2020. Each card includes the student’s personal details and National Student Number (NSN).

The information from your 1 July data file submission is used to prepare the cards.

Please get the candidates to check their details. If there are any errors, make corrections in your student management system and resubmit a new data file.

Common Assessment Task (DCAT & MCAT) changes for 2020

Nominate the dates for your DCAT and MCAT assessment using the new section in the Key Indicators page of your Provider Login. Details for the DCAT are in this circular.

Schools are only able to hold the MCAT on one single nominated day to ensure the integrity of the assessment.

Changes for the 2020 MCAT are detailed in this circular. The changes are:

  • The nomination of day request process will use a new section on the Key Indicators page in your NZQA Provider Login (go to the bottom of the page).
  • to request Te Reo Māori booklets, the ‘Translated’ flag must be set on the candidate’s entry in the data files submitted to NZQA.
  • once a day has been nominated, schools that need to print the assessment for the alternative day will have to submit a form to NZQA to seek approval.

Entries for external exams, including digital exams

It is important that your entries for external exams are accurate, so NZQA can plan for all students who want to sit an exam, including digitally.

As usual, students with digital entries will be provided with a paper copy on the day of the exam if they change their mind.

Good practice is to include your entries in your 1 August file (or earlier) and then check the accuracy well in advance of 9 September.

Examination Centre Manager (ECM) for 2020

The deadline for the nomination of your Examination Centre Manager (ECM) for this year’s NCEA and NZ Scholarship examinations is Monday, 29 June 2020.

All ECMs, either new or returning to the role for 2020, need to be nominated using the ECM Recruitment link in your Provider Login High Security area.

If your 2019 ECM is returning this year, please nominate them immediately.

If you are still looking for a replacement for last year’s ECM or there will be a delay in entering their details via the link, please contact me.

All new ECMs will be trained by NZQA on one of the following dates:

  • Auckland - Thursday 13 August and 27 August
  • Wellington – Tuesday 11 August
  • Christchurch - Thursday 20 August

There will also be a series of digital training sessions in September for ECMs who have not previously been trained in digital exams.

Please ensure anyone nominated to the role for the first time is available to attend the session nearest to them.

External assessment evidence gathering templates

External assessment templates for externally assessed Achievement Standards at all NCEA levels are now available on the NZQA website. These are located on NCEA subject pages under the heading Resources for Externally Assessed Standards.

External assessment templates:

  • support schools to develop effective plans for NCEA assessment and qualifications for students affected by COVID-19
  • support schools to gather evidence from other than practice exams, which may be used for derived grade or unexpected event grade applications as appropriate
  • incorporate the assessment requirements of the Achievement Standard, and evidence statements that support the award of a derived grade, if required.

Note: External assessment templates are not a replacement for NCEA External Examinations. The dates for the NCEA External Examinations can be found (here).

Secure storage of examination materials

Secure storage and distribution systems are essential to ensure a smooth and safe examination round for our learners and schools.

NZQA carried out examination centre audits at 130 schools in 2018 and 2019 as part of our quality assurance programme for examinations each year. The intention is to ensure that examination centres are reviewed on a regular cycle.

NZQA was pleased to find that generally schools are adhering to requirements and maintaining high standards. Schools have continued to work closely and effectively with NZQA to maintain the security of examination materials.

As part of NZQA’s continuous improvement of examination systems we are ensuring that all schools are consistent with the requirement to securely store examination materials on the school site at all times. Those schools who have had alternative arrangements for storage will now be required to store onsite. We appreciate there may be constraints for some schools that have had alternative arrangements in the past, but we are committed to working with you to resolve these.

NZQA’s requirements are:

  • All examination booklets and materials must be stored securely on the school site at all times.
  • The facilities for storage of materials before, during and after the examinations must be a lockable storage unit inside a locked room. The storage unit could be either a lockable cabinet or container, a lockable cupboard or a large lockable filing cabinet.
  • Access to any keys or electronic access to the proposed storage area must be limited to two key holders authorised by NZQA, and the keys must be kept secure at all times.
  • Ideally the storage area needs to be electronically monitored by an alarm. If the storage room is unable to be electronically monitored, then the school building must have a monitored alarm system.

Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu – external exam students

This is included at the request of Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu.

Te Kura students, who are not enrolled at another secondary school, sit their external exams at a school in their community. This is because Te Kura is not an exam centre. If a Te Kura student requests to sit their external exams at your school, Te Kura will email you the student details, external standards they intend to sit, and the online link for you to approve or decline their request. Te Kura students are expected to contact the Principal’s Nominee to discuss whether their request can be accommodated.

Te Kura appreciates the support of schools in enabling its students to sit their external exams.

For more information, contact 0800 65 99 88 option 3 or email

Translated papers and answers in Te Reo data file flags

Students must have the correct flags set against their entries by 1 August data file for translated papers in Te Reo. NZQA uses the data from this file to calculate the number of exam papers and additional materials requiring translation, and the number of interpreters that are likely to be required.

We recommend you set these flags in earlier data file submissions.

There are two types of flags:

  • Te Reo Māori paper flag for candidates who would like a paper translated into Te Reo Māori for a standard; and
  • Te Reo Māori answer flag for candidates who will answer wholly or partly in Te Reo Māori.

If candidates from your kura/school expect to receive an exam paper in Te Reo Māori, and will also answer in Te Reo Māori, both flags must be set.

The list of subjects that can be translated into Te Reo Māori is found here.

The list of standards that have been translated into Te Reo Māori in previous years is found here.

Request for translation after 1 August

Schools may be invoiced if additional expenditure is required to produce a translated paper after the 1 August file has been processed. Requests made after this date may not be able to be met.

NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship English

Flags cannot be set for any NCEA Level 1-3 English standards or New Zealand Scholarship English as these standards require a response in English.

NCEA Te Reo Māori and Te Reo Rangatira, and New Zealand Scholarship Te Reo Māori and Te Reo Rangatira.

For New Zealand Scholarship and NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3 Te Reo Māori and Te Reo Rangatira exams, the titles, instructions and questions will be in either Te Reo Māori or in English. All answers are to be written in Te Reo Māori unless candidates are otherwise instructed.

Special Assessment Conditions

Attachment of entitlements to external standards

This facility for 2020 examinations opens on 1 July.

External entries for SAC candidates

Please ensure that as many entries as possible for external standards for SAC candidates are submitted in the 1 July and 1 August datafiles. This will facilitate the attachment of entitlements and the planning for personalised papers for these candidates.

If any of your SAC candidates require Braille papers for exams, please ensure that their entries for external standards are submitted as early as possible (even if this means submitting an additional datafile) and attach SAC to the exam sessions as soon as possible. There is considerable work and time involved in creating Braille papers.


Circulars (available online only)

A2020/10 NCEA Music Remote Learning and Assessment

A2020/11 Māori Performing Arts and Mau Rākau Guide to Remote Assessment

A2020/12 NCEA Digital Technologies and Hangarau Matihiko Common Assessment Task (DT&HM CAT) in 2020

A2020/13 NCEA Level 1 Mathematics and Statistics 91027 Common Assessment Task in 2020

Derived Grade and Unexpected Event Grades Updates

These are distributed from the Derived Grade Team Mailbox with copies available in the Derived Grade area of the school’s provider login.

Information in the June update:

  • Updated derived grade timelines
  • Updated derived grade application form
  • Use of Assessment Evidence Gathering Templates
  • Derived grade application information for Digital and Languages Common Assessment Tasks
  • Clarification of derived grades for portfolio subjects
  • Examination timetable changes of 13 May 2020 resulting in a clash between a student’s examination and an existing booking or event
  • Derived grade pre-approval process where the examination timetable changes clash with an existing booking/commitment
  • The pre-approval process will be published at the beginning of Term 3.

Information for staff

Consultation invited for the NZQA strategic plans for Māori and Pacific learners

Kia ora, Talofa lava, Malo e lelei, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Kia orana, Ni sa bula, Talofa ni, Halo ola keta, Bula vinaka, Mauri.

Consultation is now open for both of our new draft strategic action plans: Te Kōkiritanga 2020-2023 and Takiala Pasifika 2020-2023.

These strategies outline NZQA’s commitment to achieving equity for Māori and Pacific learners and their whānau.

You are invited to provide feedback to support the development of our two strategies by:

  • visiting the Te Kōkiritanga and Takiala Pasifika webpages for these strategies
  • reading and considering the draft strategies and
  • completing the short surveys.

Consultation for these strategies is open until 5pm on Wednesday 29 July 2020.

Contract Vacancies at NZQA

There are a number of contract vacancies available with NZQA, including markers, verifiers, panel leaders and examiner and materials developer roles for several NCEA and NZ Scholarship subjects. These are currently advertised on our NZQA website.

Skip to main page content Accessibility page with list of access keys Home Page Site Map Contact Us