German recognition requirements for university entrance

International recognition of NCEA matters to you if you are:

  • a New Zealand student who wants to study abroad at the tertiary level
  • an international student who wants to study in New Zealand at the senior secondary level.

New Zealand National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) results can be used to apply for admission to German universities provided the minimum requirements below are met.

Minimum requirements for students applying for admission to German universities with NCEA results

NCEA Level 3 60 credits at Level 3 or above plus 20 credits at Level 2 or above in at least five distinct subjects including English (or Te Reo Rangatira) and Mathematics (or Calculus)
University Entrance 14 credits each in three approved subjects at Level 3
Literacy 10 credits at Level 2 or above in English (or Te Reo Rangitira)
made up of 5 credits for reading and 5 credits for writing
Numeracy 14 credits in Mathematics (or Calculus) made up of 7 credits
at Level 3 and 7 credits at Level 2 or above

It should be noted that the numeracy requirements for entry into German universities are more stringent than those of New Zealand University Entrance. Therefore, achieving New Zealand University Entrance does not mean that the requirements of German universities have been met.

For further information on the minimum number of credits required for each subject, refer to the requirement table. (PDF, 426KB)

Additional requirements for students applying for admission to German universities

  • Students are advised to check for further admission requirements of the state they plan to study in. Some German Länder (federal states, with responsibility for education policy and recognition of foreign certificates) may have additional requirements, for example the required number of years of study.
  • Students are advised to contact the universities they are considering studying at to check for additional requirements before commencing their final year of study at a New Zealand school.  Individual German university programmes may have specific subject and grade requirements where admission is competitive or restricted.

What subjects should be studied in New Zealand?

Subject combinations that most closely follow the Abitur requirements include:

  • English or Te Reo Rangatira*
  • Mathematics or Calculus**
  • any natural science subject
  • any language, literature and arts subject (preferably a second language)
  • any social science subject (preferably history)

*English or Te Reo Rangitira are substitutes for German which is compulsory in Germany

** Achievement Standards for mathematics must be predominately calculus not statistics

For the list of NCEA subjects that correspond to subjects approved for Abitur, please see the Approved subjects for University Entrance in Germany (PDF, 126KB).

Grade conversion for recognition by German universities

The Abitur certificate provides an average score, Abiturdurchschnittsnote, allowing German universities to rank students for the competitive allocation of places. To enable German recognition authorities and universities to calculate an equivalent Abiturdurchschnittsnote on the basis of a student’s NCEA results, NZQA provides a German Overseas Results Notice (ORN) to students who have achieved NCEA from 2012 onwards. It includes values for use by German authorities and universities to convert NCEA results into the equivalent Abiturdurchschnittsnote.

Students are advised to achieve 90 or more NCEA Level 3 credits and aim for as many Excellence and Merit grades as possible. Higher grades achieved in the standards in each NCEA Level 3 University Entrance subject will result in a better Abitur conversion.

German Overseas Results Notice

NZQA provides a German ORN for students who have completed NCEA in New Zealand. The German ORN includes:

  • a list of all NZQA qualifications achieved by the student
  • a summary of credits achieved, categorised by subject areas
  • the Nd value (i.e. the student’s individual average score)
  • the Nmax and Nmin values.

The Nmin, Nmax and Nd values use the full year’s NCEA Level 3 results from all students. Students leaving partway through a year will not be able to see their N value until the following January when NCEA results are released, unless they already have sufficient credits to calculate N values from the previous academic year.

Using a process developed in collaboration with, and regularly reviewed by the German KMK, students receive a N value based on their best 90 NCEA Level 3 credits each academic year. Nmax is the highest N value of all students achieving university entrance in that academic year.  Nmin is the lowest N value of all students achieving university entrance in that academic year. Students can have higher or lower N scores than Nmax and Nmin respectively where they haven’t achieved university entrance. Nd is the student’s score which will be somewhere between the highest and lowest score of students who gained university entrance in their year level cohort.

Please note, German officials expect students to have taken specific subjects and achieved 18+ credits from each of the five subjects for grade conversion (ie Abitur).

The formula for Abiturdurchschnittsnote is: 1 + 3 * ((Nmax - Nd)  / (NMax - NMin))

If a student’s Nd score was the lowest in their year level, Nd would equal Nmin and the equation would simplify to 1 + 3 * (x / x) = 4 where x / x = 1.

Conversely, if a student’s Nd score was the highest, it would simplify to 1 + 3 * (0 / x) = 1 where 0 / x = 0.

The German ORN is updated in mid-January each year to include the results from the previous academic year. German international fee paying students can download their German ORN by logging into the Learner Login. Non-German citizens and domestic students can order a German ORN by emailing

Completion of NCEA before 2012

NZQA is unable to provide a German ORN for students who achieved NCEA Level 3 and University Entrance prior to 2012 because the data sets are not available for conversion to Abiturdurchschnittsnote. German authorities and universities will convert existing NCEA results using the highest three Level 3 subject scores.


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