October 2020

Key dates

Key Dates


Data file submission due (include all confirmed entries into internally assessed standards and that they are assigned to courses)

Derived grade applications open online

SPECIAL ASSESSMENT CONDITIONS (SAC) 2021. First time applications for entitlement open for 2021


SPECIAL ASSESSMENT CONDITIONS (SAC) - Applications for Learning Disorder close for 2020

16 Languages CATs materials available for schools to download
19 Confirm with NZQA three-way exam clash arrangements
20 Languages CAT, Level 2
21 Languages CAT, Level 1
Admission slips for candidates sent to schools
22 MCAT Level 1, 91027 – Last day for entry of ALL provisional results and submissions sent for verification
Languages CAT, Level 3
31 Final date for school payment of NCEA & NZ Scholarship fees for international fee-paying students
1 Data file submission due (correct any errors or warnings from previous submissions and send any additional candidate information in this file)
6 Visual Arts Level 1 and 2 – start entering provisional results through the provisional results interface

Check accuracy of internally assessed entries for 1 December file

Submission of candidate work for the following external standards: (collected from schools)

- Dance: NZ Scholarship

- Design and Visual Communication (DVC): Levels 1, 2, 3 and NZ Scholarship

- Education for Sustainability: Level 3

- Music: NZ Scholarship

- Health and Physical Education: NZ Scholarship

- Technology: Levels 1, 2, 3 and NZ Scholarship

- Visual Arts Level 3 and NZ Scholarship

MCAT Level 1, 91027 - start entering final results
27 Visual Arts – Level 1 and 2: last day for changes to results through the final results interface

Final data file submission for 2020 (include all final verified internally assessed results)

Final date for withdrawals from internally assessed standards


School Relationship Manager Vacancies

We will soon be advertising for new School Relationship Managers to join our team in 2021.  One role will require expertise in te reo and tikanga Māori and to work productively with kura / wharekura communities.  Keep an eye out for the vacancies to be advertised in the Education Gazette and on the Careers Centre of our website.

PN checklist

PN Checklist: things to do

  • Ensure all exam clashes have been resolved
  • Check the accuracy of the data you have submitted to NZQA and correct any errors
  • Ensure MCAT provisional results and submissions are completed by 22 October
  • Complete any outstanding SAC processes for 2020
  • Inform relevant teachers of their submission dates and process
  • Ensure that Unexpected Event Grades are included in a datafile
  • Manage file sizes for candidate material for online submitted subjects to below 200MB where possible
  • Notify NZQA of any students undertaking the four TMoA subjects for UE
  • Ensure whitelisting is in place for digital language exams
  • Become familiar with the Derived Grade process
  • Check translated papers entries for errors
  • Liaise with your ECM regularly
  • Familiarise yourself with the exam management resources
  • Check the Candidate’s Last Login report in your Provider Login to ensure all students sitting digital exams can login
  • Share the student checklist for digital exams (PDF, 161KB) with students and teachers. Get teachers to cover the checklist with students
  • Brief staff and students about the exams and remind students about authenticity of their work
  • Distribute exam admission slips to students
  • Organise staff for checking calculators (DOC, 67KB)
  • Ensure that NCEA and NZ Scholarship fees for international fee-paying students have been paid
  • Update your school’s contact information through your Provider Login
  • Download and save exam candidates’ NSNs, admission forms and the SAC exam timetable
  • Encourage staff to consider standards that they would like to suggest for inclusion in the Assessment Plan 2021 (External moderation Plan for 2021)
  • Complete the self-review on exam organization (DOC, 106KB)

Topics in this EmaiLink:

General Administration & Data

  • Assessment Plans for external moderation
  • Data checks and updates
  • Student Login credentials for school leavers
  • Te Marautanga o Aotearoa University Entrance subjects – mainstream and immersion unit requirements
  • Updating contact information

External Exams Administration

  • Business Continuity Plan
  • Changing exam centre
  • Ensure Unexpected Event Grades (UEGs) are sent to NZQA
  • Exam Admission Slips
  • Exam Centre expectations for Kura Tuakana and Kura Teina
  • Exam clashes
  • Liaise with your ECM
  • Minimising late external entries
  • Online Submitted Subjects
  • Preparing for external exams
  • Sensitive issues during the exam period
  • Student authenticity
  • Teacher release during exam period
  • Translated papers
  • Use of calculators

NCEA Online

  • Digital language exams
  • Student checklist
  • Available resources

Special Assessment Conditions

  • Complete SAC processes

Information for Staff

  • Reminder of changes to the list of standards that contribute to UE literacy requirements
  • Visual Arts – external assessment evidence gathering templates


  • Feedback sought for draft Maori Performing Arts standards
  • Gathering school-based evidence for external exams

General Administration and Data

Assessment Plans for external moderation 2021

The Assessment Plan function of the external moderation app will open in early November.  Please remind your staff to consider the standards that they would like in the NZQA selected moderation plan.

You will receive an emailed auto-notification saying when you can access the Assessment Plan.  More information and instructions about external moderation for 2021 will be emailed to you at that time.

Data checks and updates

Please check the accuracy of the data you have submitted to NZQA and, if needed, make corrections and resubmit a new datafile. The last date to submit a datafile for 2020 is 1 December.

Student Login credentials for school leavers

Please advise students leaving school at the end of the year to check the email address they use for their Student Login to ensure it remains accessible.  Email addresses are used for logging into and resetting NZQA accounts.  Those using a school email address should update to a personal email account, as school email accounts are deleted.

Te Marautanga o Aotearoa University Entrance subjects – mainstream and immersion unit requirements

Mainstream schools with students studying in a kaupapa Māori context (such as through an immersion unit) must notify NZQA of the students undertaking any of the four TMoA subjects below for University Entrance:

  • Hauora
  • Ngā mahi a te rēhia
  • Ngā toi ataata
  • Ngā toi puoro.

Details about this process can be found here.

Updating contact information

Please check that your school contact information is accurate, particularly mobile phone numbers.  We may need to contact you and the Principal in case of an unexpected event during the forthcoming exam or summer holiday periods.

Guidelines can be found here (DOC, 624KB).

External Exams Administration

Business Continuity Planning over the exam period

To mitigate the risk of a failure of the Education Sector Logon (ESL) to the school’s NZQA page or a network failure, it is recommended that you download digital or paper copies of:

  • Candidates’ NSNs (via your SMS)
  • Candidates’ admission slips (via your NZQA Provider login at General Security/Reports/Exam Reports)
  • Special Assessment Conditions Candidates’ Exam Timetable (via your NZQA Provider login at General Security/Key Indicators).

Changing Exam Centre

Information on the process required to initiate a change is available here. Please contact your School Relationship Manager for any advice if required.

Schools hosting students from another school will need to add them to a paper copy of the Late Entry Attendance Roll (DOCX, 43KB).

Ensure Unexpected Event Grades (UEGs) are sent to NZQA

Make sure that you submit UEGs with your next file. This makes it much easier for you if there is an event that affects multiple students in the external exams.  More information here.

If you are unsure how to send the grades to NZQA, contact your School Relationship Manager or your student management system provider.

Exam Admission Slips

These will be delivered to schools from the start of Term 4. Full information is contained in this circular.

If a student loses their admission slip it can be reprinted either by the student using their Student Login or by you through the Provider Login under Reports/Exam Reports. The Principal’s Nominee must sign the reprint.

Exam Centre expectations for Kura Tuakana and Kura Teina

We have provided a checklist of good practice (DOCX, 17KB) for Kura Tuakana (schools that host students from another school for exams) and Kura Teina (the school whose students sit exams at a different school).

It is suggested that you use this as you plan for the exams.

Exam clashes

The return of signed three-way clash letters is now due.  A copy must be sent to your School relationship Manager. Please contact them if there are any issues.

Liaise with your Exam Centre Manager (ECM)

It is advisable to liaise with your ECM on a regular basis leading up to the exam period. Matters to consider include any late entries, changes to SAC applications, confirmed number of students sitting Scholarship exams and confirmation of available rooms.

More information about working with your Exam Centre Manager can be found here.

Minimising late external entries

Schools must establish and use processes to ensure that all entries for externally assessed standards are reported to NZQA to meet published deadlines.

Please follow the process detailed in the document NZQA Examinations Late Entries Process (DOCX, 93KB) for 2020 that was emailed to you in September.

Online Submitted Subjects

Schools are encouraged to manage the file size of candidate material they submit using the new interface in the Provider Login.

Schools should try to keep the file size to under 200MB.  Files over 200MB will create an error message and direct you to a Google Form through which files can be submitted.  This mainly affects NZ Scholarship Music, Dance and Drama.  Schools will require a Google account to use the Google Form.  Instructions on how to create a Google account can be found on your Provider Login.

Schools should also ensure only one file per candidate per standard is submitted.  The exception to this is Scholarship Music where up to two files can be submitted.  Multiple file submissions and large files create issues for accessing material and marking. This risks candidate material not being marked.

Instructions for Scholarship Music, Dance and Drama have been amended to reflect this process.

An overview of the Online Submitted Subjects process, Digital External Submissions Upload – Overview (PDF, 129KB), is available on each relevant subject page where there is a submitted component of the external assessment for that subject.

The 2020 Submission Instructions are available on the relevant subject pages of the NZQA website.

Preparing for external exams

Our website contains information on managing exams including briefing staff and students.  It also includes several resource documents to assist with the smooth running of external exams.

You can find a possible self-review checklist to alert you to things to consider for the external exams here (DOC, 106KB). You might use it to prepare for the upcoming exams, or to review your exam processes at the end of the year. It may be useful to work through it with your ECM.

Posters about watches in exam rooms, courtesy of a school, can be found here (PDF, 915KB).

Sensitive issues during the exam period

If a traumatic or sensitive incident occurs that impacts on one or more of your students during the exam period, please contact your School Relationship Manager as soon as possible.

Student authenticity

Please remind students that exam answers must provide evidence of the student’s own work. Reproducing published exemplars, or parts thereof, from any source is a breach of the exam rules.  You should remind students during the exam briefing for students.

Teacher release during the exam period

Your school’s continued willingness to release teachers to attend panel meetings during the school day is critical to completing the marking process before Christmas so that results are available by late January 2021.  Thank you for your ongoing understanding and support.

Translated papers

Please check the Te Reo Translated Paper Requests on your Key Indicators.  If one of your teachers ticked this by mistake in their mark book, the student will have a personalised paper that has both the Te Reo Māori and English versions.

If you find an error, the student will need to know that they can just complete the English version. If it is a digital exam, they can select their preferred language.

If an entry for a Translated Paper is missing, contact your School Relationship Manager urgently.

Use of calculators in exams

The list of approved calculators that can be used in exams can be found here.

List of external exams where calculators are permitted (DOC, 67KB)

NCEA Online

Digital language exams

Important: Digital language exams should have whitelisting (or equivalent) in place where supervisors can’t physically observe all student screens throughout the exam. Whitelisting provides a way to limit access to only those websites and features allowed during the exam period.

If students choose to use a language keyboard during the exam, the keyboard must be installed on their device prior to entering the exam room. This applies to both BYOD and school-provided devices.

N4L can assist as an extension to the Network Assurance Check process. If you have any questions or concerns, please email your School Relationship Manager directly. More information can be found here (PDF, 62KB).

Student checklist - important reminders

Please share the student checklist (PDF, 161KB) for digital exams with your students and teachers.  Teachers should go through the ‘Before exam day…’ checklist with students, so that they are well prepared.

Make sure students new to NCEA have created their Student Login account and returning students know their email/username and password before going into their digital exam. They can create their accounts or login here.

If students experience any problems creating or using their login (when not in a digital exam), they should call the NZQA Contact Centre on 0800 697 296.

Please remind students of the importance of disabling screensavers, notifications and software updates on their device before their exam.  More information can be found here.

Students should access the digital end of year exams through the banner at the top of the NZQA homepage. This is the fastest and most direct link into their digital exam.

Available resources

We have a wealth of practical information, resources, advice and support for schools offering digital NCEA exams for the first time and those schools scaling up their involvement. This includes:

Special Assessment Conditions

Complete SAC processes

Please ensure that all SAC processes are completed in preparation for the exams. Include your SENCO and ECM in any discussions.

Full information has been provided in the recent September SAC Update (#9 September) and in the previous EmaiLink (#6 September).

Instructions on how to request Special Papers (i.e. pdfs of the exams), where these are needed, will be provided in the October SAC Update.

If you have any queries, please email

Information for staff

Reminder of changes to the list of standards that contribute to University Entrance literacy requirements

After 31 December 2021, 13 standards will be removed from the list and another 15 standards will no longer count for one of either reading or writing. The list of these changes is available here (PDF, 77KB) for planning purposes.

Students and teachers planning for UE, especially students who intend to complete UE in 2022, need to carefully consider which standards will allow them to meet the reading and writing requirements.

The registered numbers of all assessment standards that currently contribute to UE literacy requirements can be found here.

More about the periodic review and resulting changes can be found here.

Visual Arts - external assessment evidence gathering templates

Additional information has been posted on the Visual Arts subject page to support Visual Arts Teachers at Level 1 to Level 3 with further guidance on quality assurance of evidence required for externally assessed standards.


Circulars (available online only)

A2020/19 2020 Candidate Admission Slips and Examination Information

A2020/18 Enabling students based offshore to continue their New Zealand schooling during the COVID- 19 pandemic

A2020/17 Course Approval for International Student Classes, Courses or Programmes

A2020/16 Examination period for 2021

Feedback sought for draft Maori Performing Arts standards

Please encourage relevant staff to be involved in the NCEA Change Programme and provide feedback on the draft MPA standards.  Details were emailed to you on 13 October.  More information can be found on the NCEA Review/Education Conversation website.

Gathering school-based evidence for external assessments

We have updated the information on our website on gathering school-based evidence for external assessments for possible use as a derived or unexpected grade.  This includes how to gather evidence from formative and summative events, quality assurance of the grades, a PowerPoint presentation and templates to assist.

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