October 2021
EmaiLink mō ngā kura katoa #7 -

Key dates

Please refer to the online version of the Key Dates to ensure you have access to the most up to date information. The highlighted sections are changes since August 2021

Ngā rārangi take I tēnei Emailink:

General Administration

  • Te Marautanga o Aotearoa UE subjects

Pūtake Online Workshops

  • 2021 Assuring Consistency Workshops

External Assessment Administration

Overall Preparation

  • Derived Grade Timeline
  • Planning for disruption to NZQA provider login
  • Changing Exam Centre
  • Working with your Exam Centre Manager (ECM)
  • Kura Tuākana, Kura Tēina Guidelines
  • Setting flags for Digital submissions
  • Teacher Release during exam times
  • Digital Exams Resources for schools

Student Matters

  • Change to return of marked student NCEA exams 2021
  • Preparing your students for digital exams – important reminders
  • Preparing for external exams – briefing staff and students
  • Exam Admission Slip
  • Exam Clashes
  • Sensitive Issues during the exam period
  • Student Authenticity

Examination Matters

  • Managing Late External Entries
  • Translated Papers
  • Ensure Unexpected Event Grades are submitted to NZQA
  • Headphones for listening standards and TRR digital language exams
  • Use of calculators in exams

Special Assessment Conditions

  • SAC processes

Vocational Education

  • Reform of Vocational Education, Use of Unit Standards, and Transitional Industry Training Organisations


  • Level 3 Visual Arts Clarification
  • Gathering school-based evidence for external assessments
  • Student login credentials for school leavers
  • Updating contact information
  • Data checks and updates

PN Checklist

General Administration

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 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. Please also note that the temporary removal of external credit requirement for course endorsement was approved for 2021. See details here.

Pūtake Online Workshops

2021 Assuring Consistency Workshops

Two final workshops for 2021 are available.

22 October                              Online                         Register

19 November                          Online                          Register

Please remember that you should use your Education Sector Logon (ESL) to access these resources.

External Examination Administration

Overall Preparation

Derived Grade Timeline

The Derived Grade timelines and application form have been updated following the examination timetable change. Further information on managing 2021 Derived Grades will be included in the Derived Grade Update distributed at the start of Term 4.

15 October

Derived Grade on-line application tool opens for all schools

5 November

Pre-approval applications for National Representation close

14 November

Pre-approval applications for clashes with commitments as a result of changes in the examination timetable close

Planning for disruption to NZQA provider login

To manage the risk of an Education Sector Logon (ESL) or network failure affecting your ability to access the school’s NZQA provider login, we recommend 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 of exam centre for a student 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.  A copy is attached to this EmaiLink as Appendix 5 (DOCX, 50KB).

Working with your Exam Centre Manager (ECM)

Make sure you work with your ECM on a regular basis leading up to the exam period. Things to cover include any late entries, changes to SAC applications, confirmed number of students sitting Scholarship exams, confirmation of available rooms and any recorded files that need to be digitally submitted to NZQA.

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

Kura Tuākana and Kura Tēina guidelines

Attached to this EmaiLink (Appendix 2 (PDF, 210KB)) is a checklist of good practice for Kura Tuākana (schools that host students from another school for exams) and Kura Tēina (the school whose students sit exams at a different school).

The Principal’s Nominees from both schools should work together and use this as they plan for the exams.

Setting Flags for Digital Submissions

If you have not flagged entries as Digital Submissions (DS) they will not show in the Digital Submissions link in Key Indicators, but you can still submit student work through the Digital Submission Upload link or the Candidates/Standards page. Always check the External Assessment Submission Instructions for submitted subjects on the relevant subject pages. RAS pilot schools should follow the emailed instructions.

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 2022. Thank you for your ongoing understanding and support.

Digital exam resources for schools

Check out the information and resources available for kura and schools offering digital NCEA exams for the first time and those schools that are increasing their participation:

Look at the Getting ready for digital exams page

Read the Guidelines for SAC provision

Run through the preparation timeline

Check out the video overview of what the digital interface looks like.

Look at The digital exam experience – videos of Paraparaumu College and Rongotai College visits (October 2018 - scroll to bottom of page)

Remind students that they can:

  • access modified 2020 Level 1 digital language exams which now include audio files. They use their NZQA Learner Login and select the ‘Find past digital exams’ link.
  • look at activities and information to get familiar with digital exams.
  • access the digital end of year exams through the banner at the top of the NZQA homepage (available just prior to exams starting on 22 November). This is the fastest and most direct link into a student’s digital exam.

Student Matters

Change to return of marked student NCEA exams 2021

This year students will be able to view all their NCEA L1-3 end of year marked exams (digital and paper responses) online using their Learner Login account details. (Circular available here).

This will change the way most exam material is returned to students, and the reviews and reconsiderations processes. In Term 4 our website will detail what’s happening.

Preparing your students for digital exams - important reminders

  • Students use their NZQA student log-in to access all digital exams this year. Make sure that before any digital exam, they create an account if they don’t already have one, and check their username and password.
  • If students experience any problems creating or using their login before the exam day, for a more timely response they should click on the “Help” function in the login area or use the “Chat” Bot found on right hand side of the login area) to reset their username or password. Alternatively, they can call the NZQA Contact Centre on 0800 697 296.
  • Share the student checklist for digital exams with your students and teachers.  Make sure teachers go through the ‘Before exam day…’ checklist with students, so that they are well prepared.
  • Remind students to install language keyboards where needed and disable screensavers, notifications and software updates on their device before their exam.  More information can be found here.

Preparing for external exams – briefing staff and students

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

Attached as Appendix 3 (DOCX, 38KB) is a possible self-review checklist to alert you to things to consider for the external exams. It may be useful to help you prepare for the upcoming exams. Review your exam processes at the end of the year and work through with your ECM.

Exam Admission Slips

These will be delivered to schools from Wednesday 3 November 2021.

If a student loses their admission slip, they can reprint one using their Learner Login or you can through the NZQA Provider Login under Reports/Exam Reports. The Principal’s Nominee must sign any reprint.

Exam clashes

Check the information about managing clashes here. If you have three-way clashes, you will be sent draft letters by the start of next term. Please follow the clash guidelines and contact your School Relationship Manager if you have any questions.

Sensitive issues during the exam period

If a traumatic or sensitive incident occurs that has an impact 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 their own work. Reproducing published exemplars, or parts thereof, from any source is a breach of the exam rules. 

Examination Matters

Managing late external entries

To manage late entries please follow the process detailed in the document NZQA Examinations Late Entries Process for 2021 that was emailed to you in September and can be found in Emailink, in the general security area of your Provider Login.

Translated papers

Please check the Te Reo Translated Paper Requests on your Key Indicators matches your planned entries. If one of your teachers ticked this request flag by mistake in their mark book, the student will have a personalised paper in both the Te Reo Māori and English versions. Let the student know that they can just complete the English version.

In a digital exam, students can select their preferred language.

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

Ensure Unexpected Event Grades (UEGs) are submitted to NZQA

Make sure that you continue to submit UEGs in your datafile. This makes it much easier for you if there is an event that affects multiple students in the external exams. Use the Unexpected Event Grade report in your Provider Login to check by student which externally assessed standards have UEGs submitted. See more information about UEGs here.

If you are unsure how to submit the grades to NZQA, contact your School Relationship Manager or your Student Management System vendor.

Headphones for listening standards and TRR digital language exams

All digital language exams with a listening assessment will include audio files. Students will have control over playing the files from their device as detailed in our 16 June Assessment Matters Circular.

Students must use headphones that are compatible with their device. They should use the language listening standards familiarisation activity to check their headphones and play the audio files to see how they work.

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.

Digital Te Reo Rangatira Level 1-3 exams will also include an additional voice-over function which covers instructions, questions, and resources (Circular available here).


Use of calculators in exams

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

A list of external exams where calculators are permitted is attached as Appendix 4 (PDF, 10KB).

Special Assessments 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.

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

If you have any queries, please email

Vocational Education

Reform of Vocational Education, Use of Unit Standards, and Transitional Industry Training Organisations

On 4 October 2021 six Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) – being established through the Reform of Vocational Education – will take over the standard setting and qualification development functions that were previously delivered by Transitional Industry Training Organisations (TITOs). The WDC establishment team has been working closely with TITOs and NZQA to ensure the transition of these functions is as smooth as possible for providers and schools.

Here is the link to the interim factsheet produced to provide transition information on the

  • Qualifications and standards moving to WDCs
  • Qualifications and standards that NZQA is retaining
  • What does this mean for schools?

We hope this factsheet provides the information you need. If you have any questions prior to 4 October 2021, please email After 4 October 2021, please refer to the WDC websites via:


Level 3 Visual Arts Clarification

Visual Arts teachers and Principal’s Nominees are reminded that all Level 3 and Scholarship Visual Arts portfolios must be physically sent to the marking venue, including those of candidates who have applied for a derived grade. The ONLY exception to this is Moving Image portfolios, which are sent in digitally using the submission instructions on the Visual Arts subject resource page on the NZQA website.

Schools are responsible for making courier arrangements for the collection of your NCEA Level 3 and NZ Scholarship submissions on the nominated collection date -Thursday 18 November). You may use any courier company. NZQA does not supply pre-paid courier tickets for the delivery of Level 3 and NZ Scholarship materials to the marking venue. Physical copies of these submission instructions are included in your schools’ pack sent in Term 4 (2 – 5 November).

Any queries should be emailed to

Gathering school-based evidence for external assessments

Up-to-date information on gathering school-based evidence for possible use as a derived or unexpected event grade for external assessments is on our website. This includes a PowerPoint presentation and templates on how to gather evidence from learning and summative events and quality assuring grades.

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 Learner Login to ensure it remains accessible. Email addresses are used for logging into and resetting NZQA accounts. If your leavers are using a school email address they should update this to a personal email account before their school email account is deleted.

Updating contact information

Please check that your school contact information is accurate, particularly mobile phone numbers, so we can contact you, or the Principal, in case of an unexpected event during the exam or summer holiday periods. Guidelines on how to do this are included in Appendix 1 (PDF, 369KB).

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 2021 is 13 December.

PN Checklist


Follow the late entry process as per the September Late Entries EmaiLink

Check the accuracy of the data you have submitted to NZQA and correct any errors

Liaise with your ECM regularly

Ensure all exam clashes have been resolved

Complete any outstanding SAC processes for 2021

Become familiar with the Derived Grade process

Ensure that NCEA and NZ Scholarship fees for international fee-paying students have been paid

Distribute exam admission slips to students

Ensure that Unexpected Event Grades are included in a datafile

Notify NZQA of any students undertaking the four TMoA subjects for UE

Check translated papers entries for errors

Check the Candidates’ Last Login report in your Provider Login to ensure all students sitting digital exams can login

Exam Day/s

Brief staff and students about the exams and remind students about authenticity of their work

Familiarise yourself with the exam management resources

Organise staff for checking calculators, see Appendix 4 (PDF, 10KB)

Download and save exam candidates’ NSNs, admission forms and the SAC exam timetable

Share the student checklist for digital exams (PDF, 161KB) with students and teachers. Get teachers to cover the checklist with students

Post Exam

Complete the self-review on exam organization, see Appendix 3 (DOCX, 38KB)


Update your school’s contact information through your Provider Login

Encourage staff to consider standards that they would like to suggest for inclusion in the Assessment Plan 2022 (External Moderation Plan for 2022)

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