May 2021
EmaiLink mō ngā kura #3 -

Key dates

Key Dates

10 May Exam Centre Manager nominations open online
28 May Return signed Exam Centre Memoranda of Understanding for Tēina/Tuākana kura and schools
1 June Data file submission due
3 June Digital Technologies & Hangarau Matihiko Common Assessment Tasks (DCAT) and MCAT Level 1, 91027–Departments start to confirm entries.
NZQA advertises for external markers. Online applications open
7 June Queen’s Birthday
16 June Final date to submit Exam Centre Memorandum of Agreement online
18 June Exam Centre Manager nominations close online
23 June Candidate NSN cards sent to schools
1 July Data file submissions due
SAC entitlements to external standards from now
9 July Term 2 ends

PN checklist

PN Checklist: things to do

  • Complete the May data file submission
  • Check that student details are accurate in preparation for the 1 June data file submission
  • Nominate your ECM online between 10 May and 18 June
  • Complete the online Memorandum for Agreement for rebate by 16 June
  • Inform staff that applications to be exam markers open online on 3 June
  • Consider entries for 2021 digital practice and end of year exams
  • Update key contact details if required
  • Tēina/Tuākana kura and schools complete a MoU and send to NZQA

Ngā rārangi take I tēnei Emailink:

General Administration and Data

  • 1 May data file submission
  • Keep contact details current
  • Update of NZQA access guide
  • Students Using a School Address

External Exams Administration

  • No External Entries for 2021?
  • Exam Centre Manager for 2021
  • Exam Centre MoU

Digital Practice Exams

  • Entering Students for Digital Practice Exams
  • Student Log-in for All Digital Exams
  • Digital Technologies Common Assessment Tasks (DCATs)
  • Key Change to End of Year Digital Language Exams
  • NCEA Online 2020 Student Survey and School Participation Information
  • Examination Calculator Use

International Students

  • Trapped Overseas and Unable to Sit External Examinations 2021

Consultation Opportunities

  • RoVE
  • Assessment and Aromatawai

Information for Staff

  • Level 1 Media Studies sample assessment


General Administration and Data

1 May Data File Submission

Please review the error messages from your data file submission and make the necessary amendments to your system, then generate and submit a new file.

Your NZQA Data Liaison and Records Officer will monitor this and email you about any errors as they occur. Please refer to the SMS User Guide and Web Entries User Guide below, but also through your provider login under Data File Submission for guidance on how to resolve the error.

SMS User Guide (PDF, 462KB)

Web Entries User Guide (PDF, 292KB)

Keep Contact Details Current

We need to be able to contact the right people, so please keep the contact details of your school up to date. Guidelines explaining how to do this were included in EmaiLink #7 of 2018.  A copy can be found through your Provider Login at General Security/EmaiLink/October 2018.

Update of NZQA Access Guide

Information on the levels of access you can give staff to your Provider Login page has been updated and is available here.  A copy of the guide can be found below.

Please ensure that your SENCO details are updated so that they can receive the regular SAC Updates and also consider adding your Learning Support Coordinator as a SAC contact.

NZQA School Access Quick Reference Guide (PDF, 110KB)

Students Using a School Address

Please ensure that when students use a School address, that they use the correct postal address for your school.

External Exams Administration

No External Entries for 2021?

If your school will not be making any external entries for 2021, please email this information by Friday 28 May 2021 to

Exam Centre Manager (ECM) for 2021

The online facility for you to nominate your Exam Centre Manager for this year’s external exams will be available from Monday 10 May until Friday 18 June.

The 2020 ECM job description may be subject to change for 2021.

ECM advertisement ad (DOCX, 15KB)

PN Memo Nominating your ECM (DOCX, 15KB)

Exam Centre Memorandum of Understanding

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) is required between a kura/school (Kura Tēina) that is not an exam centre and a kura/school (Kura Tuākana) where the candidates will sit external exams.

The Kura Tēina should email the signed agreement no later than Friday 28 May 2021 to once it has been signed by both parties.

Exam Centre Memorandum of Understanding 2021 (PDF, 124KB)

Digital Practice Exams

Entering Students for Digital Practice Exams

Submitting digital external entries to NZQA will mean we automatically provision you for both the practice exam subjects (English, Classical Studies, Media Studies, Te Reo Māori, Classics, Ag. Hort, and Te Reo Rangatira) and end of year exams.

To help us ensure your school is properly provisioned for digital practice exams we will contact you to confirm your intent and ask for:

  • a key contact to be the school administrator for the digital practice exams
  • the list of subjects and levels you plan to offer
  • an indication of the dates you have timetabled for these exams

Make sure you submit digital entries to NZQA by:

  • 1 July for digital practice exams in August
  • 1 August for digital practice exams scheduled in September and October

Digital practice information can be found here. Check out the next EmaiLink for details about how and when the training and support material will be provided for you to deliver practice exams.

Student Log-in for All Digital Exams

Students will use their NZQA student log-in details to access all digital exams this year including practice, end of year, RAS and Te Ao Haka pilots, and DCAT exams. Make sure that before these exams, they create an account if they don’t already have one, and check their username and password.

If students have any problems creating or using their login, they should call the NZQA Contact Centre on 0800 697 296.

Digital Technologies Common Assessment Tasks (DCATs)

This year we are planning to use the NCEA Online platform for students to answer and submit their work for the Level 1, 2 and 3 Digital Technology Common Assessments Tasks. The way you administer these assessments will be like the digital practice exams. While the details will be provided later in Term 2, if you are inexperienced with digital exams and want to think about the things you need to plan for, please contact your School Relationship Manager.

Key changes to end of year digital language exams

  • All 2021 end of year digital language exams will include an audio file for the listening component of the exam. Students will be able to choose when they answer the listening standard and will need headphones
  • A circular with further detail about this will be published later in Term 2

NCEA Online 2020 Student Survey and School Participation Information

  • Schools which participated in NCEA Online in 2020 can get the summarised responses for their school (in cases where there were more than 20 student survey responses)
  • The report provides separate data for Māori and Pacific students at school, region and national level where applicable
  • Contact your School Relationship Manager to request this report
  • The NCEA Online 2020 Evaluation reports will be published on our website in June

Examination Calculator Use

Information on the NZQA website calculator page will be amended today to read:

The scientific and graphing calculators listed below are approved for the following NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship examination subjects: Accounting, Agricultural and Horticultural Science, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Economics, Geography, Mathematics, Calculus, Statistics, Physics, Science.

Calculators are not permitted in other NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship examinations.

International Students

International students trapped overseas due to border restrictions preventing them sitting external examinations in 2021

Under the NCEA offshore rules, NZQA will recognise achievement for international students who in 2021 return to their country of origin to sit University Entrance examinations, and are then not able to return to New Zealand to sit NZQA external examinations due to border restrictions.

Schools can apply to NZQA requesting these students be awarded an Overseas External Result. This is like a derived grade as it is based on authentic standard specific evidence collected by the school before the student leaves New Zealand to sit their University entrance examinations.

NZQA has modified the NCEA offshore application to cater for this situation. If you wish to make an application, please contact your School Relationship Manager.

Consultation Opportunities

Review of Vocational Education (RoVE)

NZQA is launching a formal consultation on simplifying New Zealand qualifications and other credentials. The proposals seek to:

  • ensure that vocational qualifications support learner mobility and consistent skills for employers, whilst retaining flexibility for regional needs
  • simplify the credentials landscape so that it is easier for learners and employers to navigate
  • enable Workforce Development Councils to develop micro-credentials for providers to deliver.

For more information, go to - to check out the proposals. The consultation documents, along with videos and other resources are available on this site.

Consultation finishes on 16 June 2021.

If you have any questions about this consultation, please contact

Engagement on Draft Principles of Assessment and Aromatawai

NZQA is refreshing the assessment statement and principles that articulate, for all secondary and tertiary providers and assessors, NZQA’s position on high quality assessment.

Stakeholder feedback on draft Principles of Assessment and Aromatawai is being sought. More information, draft principles and survey questions can be found on the consultation page.

Feedback can be sent by Friday 28 May 2021 to:

Information for staff

Level 1 Media Studies Sample Assessment

Follow this link to find the sample assessment.


Circulars (available online only)

A2021/6 2021 National School Qualifications: Candidate Information Sheets - March

A2021/7 Reporting entries and results for schools piloting draft achievement standards. Draft achievement standards added to the Base Scope for schools

A2021/8 2021 Assessment Specifications for NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship External Assessment: March Update

A2021/9 Changes to NCEA History Examinations 2021

A2021/10 Information for Scholarship Media Studies 2021

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