Myth # 9: Derived grades

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  • "Derived grades can be used for internal assessment."

  • "Previous unmodified NZQA papers can be used for practice assessment for generating a derived grade."

  • "Grades from internally assessed standards can be used to provide a derived grade."

  • "Practice assessments used for a derived grade do not have to cover the whole standard or be quality assured."

  • "I can submit a Merit grade even if the evidence or practice assessment is only Achieved."

  • "A student cannot apply for a derived grade if he/she sat the examination."

  • "Only a doctor's certificate is acceptable for a medical application."

  • "The Principal's Nominee makes the decision."


  • Derived grades can only be used for external assessments.
  • Sufficiently modified past NZQA assessments and keeping commercially produced practice assessments secure will help ensure students can present authentic evidence.
  • Derived grades submitted must be based upon:
    • an authentic pre-existing grade
    • standard-specific evidence covering the entire standard
    • a justifiable process (either because they have been quality assured or because evidence exists that the teacher’s judgements are consistent with the national standard)
    • the specified conditions of assessment.
  • It is a student's decision to apply for a derived grade.
  • Students are encouraged to sit the examinations, where possible. The higher grade will be reported.
  • Supporting evidence may include medical evidence, a death notice or health specialist letter.
  • NZQA makes the decision to approve a derived grade. A school does not have to support an application, but must still process it.
  • Declined derived grade applications can be appealed.

More information

Overview of the derived grade process

Derived Grade guidelines

Some other things to think about

  • A school must have quality assurance processes that give it confidence that the derived grade submitted is valid and authentic.
  • Students suffering from long-term or recurring conditions:
    • may be entitled to Special Assessment Conditions
    • may be eligible for a derived grade if there is an exacerbation of the condition just prior to the examinations
    • may have to accept that their results from practice assessments may be affected by their condition and that a derived grade would not be appropriate.
  • A student may choose not to apply for a derived grade when the grade to be reported would be 'Not Achieved'.
  • The derived grade process is not available for New Zealand Scholarship, as it is a competitive process.


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