September 2021
EmaiLink mō ngā kura katoa #6 -

Key dates

The key dates for 2021 have now been updated to show the changes made to timelines in response to disruptions. Please refer to the online version of the Key Dates to ensure you have access to the most up to date information.
Assessment specifications for submitted subjects that have a submission date will have the submission date updated by the end of Monday 6 September.

Ngā rārangi take I tēnei Emailink:

General Administration

  • Derived Grade Update
  • SAC Update
  • International Student NCEA and Scholarship Fee Payment

Pūtake Online Workshops

  • New Online Making Assessor Judgements Workshops Available

External Examination Administration

  • NEW NCEA Timetable
  • Exam Timetable Clashes
  • External Assessment of Lea Faka-Tonga, Korean and Cook Island Māori

MCAT Administration

Digital Practice Exam Administration


  • Circulars

Introducing New School Relationship Manager

  • Tim Dagger

PN Checklist

General Administration

Derived Grade update

The derived grade timelines and process have been updated to reflect the changes to exam timelines. For further details on these updates, please refer to the information below, derived grade information on our website , and the updated key dates calendar.

Further information on Derived Grades and Unexpected Event Grades will be published later in September.

Gathering school-based evidence for external assessments

Collecting evidence for students’ externally assessed standards ensures grades are available for derived grades, or where an unexpected event is declared.

Information on gathering school-based evidence for external assessments has been emailed previously and is available here. It includes:

  • How to gather evidence from both formal assessment events and the learning process
  • How to quality assure grades using a verification or justification process
  • Further support in a PowerPoint presentation and useful templates

Report showing unexpected event grades submitted to NZQA

Unexpected Event Grades are used to provide a result for students in external standards where a significant event occurs during the exam period that interrupts the normal assessment process. Grades should be submitted to NZQA in a datafile prior to the start of the end of year exams. Where further evidence has been gathered right up to this date you can update your Unexpected Event Grades in subsequent datafiles.

Use the Unexpected Event Grades Report in the Reports section of your Provider Login to check whether grades have been reported against all entries in externals. Follow up with teachers if there are gaps.

Pre-approval process for a derived grade due to the 2021 exam timetable change

Should the timetable change for the 2021 exam result in a student now having a conflict with an existing confirmed commitment, they can seek pre-approval for a Derived Grade.

We will pre-approve applications on a case-by-case basis where evidence shows:

  • the student cannot sit their exam at another exam centre. Where possible, we expect students to sit their exam at another exam centre - see here for this process.
  • the commitment was made prior to the announcement of the exam timetable change on 25 August 2021
  • the commitment cannot be changed.

If the commitment does not subsequently occur, pre-approval is withdrawn, and the student must attend their exam.

Pre-approval process

Email the application and supporting evidence to  by 14 November, including

  • the completed application form (DOCX, 82KB)
  • proof that the commitment was made prior to 25 August 2021
  • the candidate’s contact email address

NZQA will email the outcome to the candidate, with a copy to the Principal’s Nominee.

Submitting pre-approved derived grade applications to NZQA

Use the NZQA online process to make the derived grade application only once you can confirm the student attended the commitment. Principal’s Nominees are required to attest the student attended the commitment as part of the online application.

Derived Grades when students travel overseas

Derived grades are available in these circumstances.

Disruptions due to overseas travel, including becoming trapped overseas or unable to return to New Zealand before their exams are not reasons for a student to be awarded a derived grade. NCEA assessments are not offered to students in MIQ facilities. Families are encouraged to factor this into any decision to travel out of New Zealand.

Managing student absence for the MCAT

Use the school’s missed assessment policy for student absence. See the MCAT Administrative Guidelines.

Changes to date for injuries to an arm or hand prior to a student’s examinations

Where an injury occurs prior to 15 October, the injury must be managed through Special Assessment Conditions. An application for Writer/Computer or Extra Time must be made.

Where the injury occurs after 15 October, a candidate should apply for a derived grade. Special Assessment Conditions are not usually available because of insufficient time to practise working with a writer/computer.

SAC Update

Providing Special Assessment Conditions (SAC) entitlements:

  • The underlying principle is that, as SAC is an entitlement, a SAC student should not be disadvantaged if an entitlement cannot be provided through circumstances beyond the control of the student.
  • Wherever possible, please continue to provide SAC entitlements for students when they are being assessed.
  • With schooling disrupted, the same assessment principles apply for SAC students as for all other students. See the advice about assessment in the current environment.
  • If a SAC entitlement cannot be provided for a student for an assessment, for example because:
    • authenticity of student work cannot be assured
    • assistive technology (e.g. computer) is unavailable
    • a reader or writer, or reading/writing software is unavailable

the school should consider using the Evidence Gathering Templates. These are found on the subject pages of the NZQA website. Deciding when to use this tool is at the discretion of the school.

Submitting SAC applications

  • Please continue to submit SAC applications as usual, where possible.
  • If it is not possible to submit a SAC application, please:
    • use your professional judgement to ensure that the student is provided with suitable SACs
    • email with your school’s name and MoE number in the subject line and list the names and NSNs of the students concerned, indicating what SACs you have provided for them
    • submit the SAC application using the online tool when you can.

The deadline for applications made under the Learning category is the end of this term. Please email towards the end of the term if you cannot meet this deadline.

Attaching SAC entitlements to exam sessions

  • Please continue to attach SAC entitlements to exam sessions.
  • If you cannot confirm with students which SAC entitlements are required, please attach your best guess. It is possible to edit these later.
  • For exam planning purposes, it is better to add entitlements now and then later remove these via an edit rather than to add new entitlements later.
  • A short video explaining this process can be found here (MP4, 37MB) and the guide can be found here (PDF, 233KB).

If you would like advice and guidance in any particular instances please contact NZQA’s SAC team ( or your School Relationship Manager for advice.

International Student NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship fee payment

Ensure that NCEA and NZ Scholarship entries for fee-paying international students are accurate in your SMS for your data file submission.

Schools will be sent an invoice to cover the relevant fees following this file submission. Any changes due to COVID-19 can be adjusted at a later date.

Pūtake Online Workshops

New Online Making Assessor Judgements Workshops Available

Our online assessor support team has just published another six online learning modules on Pūtake.

Art History                                       Construction and Mechanical Technologies

Economics                                        English Language

Home Economics                              Languages - French

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

External Examination Administration

NEW NCEA Timetable 2021

The adjusted timetable is here (PDF, 162KB).

Exam timetable clashes

Exam timetable clashes can be identified from your September data file. Use the Key Indicators to check which students have clashes, then follow the process as detailed to confirm the arrangements for resolving the clash exams with them.

External assessment of Lea Faka-Tonga, Korean and Cook Islands Māori

Lea Faka-Tonga, Korean and Cook Islands Māori are being held as external exams for the first time this year.

Please note that candidates will need to sit these exams in the same way that they sit all their other exams. Now that these assessments are being managed as an exam, within the NCEA and NZ Scholarship exam timetable, it is important that students sit these exams at their home school or allocated exam centre.  (In the past some schools brought students together from a range of local schools to sit their common assessment tasks at one school.)

MCAT Administration

MCAT assessment materials

Please note that assessment materials for MCAT on 28 or 30 September 2021 will be delivered to schools by 24 September. Please check the MCAT Administrative Guidelines.

NB: All MCAT booklets have been printed with the original assessment dates (14 /16 September 2021). Please disregard these dates and ensure the correct Day 1 or Day 2 booklets have been received in your pack.

Materials are addressed to the Principal’s Nominee and packed in plain brown A4 boxes or white courier bags. Packages must be signed for at reception by office staff and kept securely until the assessment is held. Couriers are aware that they must not under any circumstances leave materials without obtaining a signature. Please alert your office staff and HOD Mathematics of the delivery timeframe. This may be a good opportunity to review your receipting processes.

Schools can print additional copies of the assessment booklet, if required, by downloading a password protected file from your Provider Login. You must contact the Business Liaison Officer, External Assessment on 0800 697 296 after 2pm the day before your nominated assessment day for the password.

If your school wishes to change your assessment day, complete the Alternative assessment day request form (DOCX, 842KB) and email it to at least one day before the assessment is due to be held.

If you have any concerns over the integrity of the delivery or materials have not arrived by 24 September, please contact NZQA’s Contact Centre on 0800 697 296 or email

Further information is available here or in this circular.

Digital Practice Exam Administration

Digital Practice Exams

Access to the digital practice exams for assessment and marking has been extended until 31 October. Student access to their marked answers will be extended until 19 November.

Check out information about how to administer, supervise and mark digital practice exams:

  • by accessing the digital practice exams course in Pūtake using your Education Sector Login
  • on our dedicated digital practice exams webpage
  • within your NZQA School Provider Login for those schools who have registered to run these exams.

Please remind students:

  • They will use their NZQA Learner Login details to access digital practice exams. They must create an account if they do not already have one and if they do, they should check their username and password.
  • If they have any problems creating or using their Learner Login, they can call the NZQA Contact Centre on 0800 697 296.
  • They should go through the digital practice exams (PDF, 161KB) checklist on our website.

End of year digital exams

  • Remember to tick the DE flag in your SMS and send the entries through in your datafile.
  • Use the Digital exam link under Exams in your Key Indicators to check the details of your digital exam entries, including whether students have created an account or checked their NZQA Learner Login.

Introducing New School Relationship Manager

Tim Dagger

My name is Tim Dagger, and I’m really happy to have joined the School Relationship team. I am a Wellington boy originally, having worked at Tawa College and Kāpiti College as a teacher of English and Drama, Dean and HoF Arts. Most recently I was Deputy Principal and Principal’s Nominee at Lytton High School in Tairāwhiti. I look forward to meeting you as I make my way around the motu.

PN Checklist


Data Entries

Ensure the 1 September datafile is accurate including entries for digital exams, submitted subjects and International students

Check entries for digital exams and digitally submitted subjects through the Key Indicator checklist page

Ensure that Unexpected Event Grades are included in a datafile


Prepare for the MCAT


Complete the attachment of SAC entitlements to external standards

External Exams

Distribute authenticity information relating to externally submitted assessment

Organise courier pick-up for Level 3 and Scholarship Visual Arts (PDF, 1.5MB)

Student Related

Inform teachers about the Student Exam Hub

Complete course approval attestation form for International students

Ensure students sitting digital exams, including digital practice exams, have created or checked access to their NZQA Learner Login

Evidence Gathering Template

Share with students the criteria and process for pre-approval for a derived grade because of the changes in the 2021 exam timetable

Update derived grade information and forms available for staff and students

Familiarise yourself with the information for gathering school-based evidence for external assessment on our website

Remind teachers the evidence gathering templates for external exams are available on individual subject pages

Derived Grade Processes

Ensure teachers are aware of the process to manage student absence or impairment for:

- the MCAT – use the school’s missed assessment policy

- Level 1 and 2 Visual Arts – use the school’s late assessment policy

- DCAT, submitted subjects and portfolio submissions – use the derived grade process.


- mark books are set up to send unexpected event grades with your monthly data file

- those working with unwell students are aware of the derived grade eligibility criteria

- staff managing practice exams/using external assessment evidence gathering templates are aware of how to use them and NZQA’s authenticity/quality assurance requirements


- information relating to an injury to an arm or hand with Deans and SAC Coordinators

- the pre-approval process for national representation with students and staff.

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