Review of the University Entrance Literacy List

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

Consultation on the reviewed list of standards

Consultation on proposed changes to the list of assessment standards that contribute to University Entrance literacy requirements was carried out between February and April 2018. This has now closed; the final decisions on the proposed changes and a response to the feedback provided should be available from August 2018. If the proposed changes and timeframes are agreed, the updated List will apply from January 2020.

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.

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 is also being 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 does not include the 35 Maori-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. See details of the standards added during maintenance.

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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