Review of the list of standards that can contribute to University Entrance Literacy requirements

NZQA has completed the review of the list of assessment standards that contribute to University Entrance literacy requirements. To find out more, click on the blue arrows below.

Outcome of consultation on the reviewed list of standards

Consultation on the reviewed List took place between February and April 2018. The feedback provided resulted in consideration of 23 additional standards and in amendments to some of the proposed changes. There were 188 responses from 31 organisations and 157 individuals.

The panel considered all feedback provided and 19 standards will be added to the List, 13 standards will be removed, and 21 standards currently on the List will change whether they count towards reading or writing. See the final changes to the List for more information about the changes.

Aside from comment on inclusion of subjects and standards, several other themes emerged from consultation:

  • Inclusion of foreign languages on the List
  • Suggestions for future reviews
  • Accessibility issues related to reading and writing and examinations

Changes to the standards themselves or to the approved subjects list will be addressed separately.

See the documents below for more detail on the outcome of consultation:

Implementation timeframes for the reviewed list of standards



Changes to List available for planning purposes

From late 2018

Reviewed List applies

From 1 January 2020

Transition to reviewed List complete

31 December 2021

The next periodic review of the List is planned to start in 2022.

Background on the review

The 2016–2017 review of the University Entrance requirements found that the current University Entrance Literacy requirements themselves are largely fit for purpose. However, it concluded that the list of assessment standards that contribute to University Entrance literacy requirements (the List) should be reviewed. This would ensure that all the standards on the List provide appropriate evidence of the reading and writing skills required for university-level study.

The List ensures that students have a variety of opportunities to show that they can read between the lines, critically analyse what has been read, synthesise various opinions and present an opinion backed by acknowledged evidence from a reading(s).

Review Process

An expert panel reviewed the List against a definition of academic literacy, and made recommendations to NZQA for consideration. The panel consisted of three literacy experts, representing schools and universities, who previously contributed to the development of the List in 2012.

Advice on the review process and the expert panel’s recommendations was also provided by representatives from Universities New Zealand and the Ministry of Education.

Scope of the review

There are 162 assessment standards (160 achievement standards and two Level 4 English for Academic Purposes unit standards) in the scope of the review. In addition, 12 standards suggested during the review were considered.

The review did not include the 35 Māori-medium standards on the current List, which were evaluated for suitability for the List in October 2016.

Also out of scope were 18 standards evaluated as part of normal maintenance of the List and added in December 2017.

The review of the List is separate from the review of NCEA, which is concurrently being carried out by the Ministry of Education. That review specifically excludes University Entrance requirements.

Definition of academic literacy for University Entrance

The definition of academic literacy was developed by NZQA in consultation with Universities New Zealand’s University Entrance sub-committee in 2012 and confirmed again in 2017. Standards that contribute to the literacy requirements for university entrance must show that they meet the following definition of literacy for entrance into university-level study:

Secondary school students must exhibit a certain level of reading and writing ability to be sufficiently prepared to enter university-level courses. The reading and writing skills required to gain university entrance are generic, as once a student has commenced university study the level of literacy required will be more advanced and discipline specific.

Students should be able to exhibit the following generic reading and writing skills:

  • read with understanding – ‘reading between the lines’ in order to grasp the nuances of the type of text*
  • critically analyse what has been read
  • synthesise various opinions/insights/points of view
  • present an opinion/insight/point of view backed by acknowledged evidence from a reading(s)
  • write an opinion/insight/point of view coherently and cohesively

*At a level suitable for entry into university students should be reading texts intended for a non-academic audience (e.g. articles from Listener/ North & South/ Time magazines; textbooks or texts used in learning areas in senior secondary school; ac/edu/org websites).


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