Not enough NCEA credits to get into your course? Don’t panic!


Don't panic written in spray paint on the concrete

There is something worse than jandal tan at this time of year – the panic of NCEA results.

Every year we get calls from students who have opened their envelopes to a nasty surprise – they don’t have enough credits to get university entrance. They cannot get into their planned university or polytechnic course.

Don’t let this happen to you!

Here is what you can do if you are only a couple of credits short of your future:

Contact your school as soon as possible

Your school may allow you to do work to gain these credits. You need to complete the work and your school needs to send it to NZQA. NZQA will usually accept results up to 28 February.

Already moved to your university town? Oops! Contact your old school and ask if you can do this by distance. If that fails, contact a local high school. Beg and plead.

Carefully review your results

Check your exam papers and your internal marks from the year. Have they been added correctly?

If you feel there has been a mistake in your results, appeal to your school and NZQA. You can contact them at

Talk to the course provider

There may be exceptions. Sometimes a course provider may assess your overall results from your time at high school. This is unlikely to happen for those wanting to get into pre-med!

Go to summer school

Some universities and polytechnics run summer courses. This is a good way to get credits. These are not always open to undergraduates.

If these steps don’t work you could:

Delay study

If you can, re enrol for the next semester or intake. In the meantime, make up the credits through a course or Te Kura – The Correspondence School of New Zealand.

Study a related course

You don’t have enough credits to get into nursing? Why not study a health certificate in the meantime, earn credits and reapply for the next semester?

If you have really mangled your NCEA, you could study a related course. For example, you may be well off the marks needed to be a veterinarian, but you have enough to get into veterinary nursing.

Go back to school

NCEA gone Titanic? Why not go back to school for a bit next year? You don’t have to go the whole year. 

Gap year

Work for a year, do some distance learning if you can. Save money and get a scary taste of the real world that will motivate you to study harder.

Change your career plan

Maybe you won’t be a dentist, but you could be a damn fine phlebotomist. Don’t be afraid to change plans if all else fails – you may be surprised at the result.

Has anyone out there had disappointing results? What did you do?

Image credit

‘Good Advice’ found on


  1. Patricia Laurenson

    Very good – factual, helpful and concise, with flair – & web-friendly as well .

    Looking forward to the next ones!

  2. V Summerfield

    Begging schools to let you try for some emergency credits is unsound advice in my opinion. If a student hasn’t been able to meet the entry criteria after a years learning they
    probably do not have what it takes to succeeded on the course.

    • Mariella

      not sure if I agree to that… it may be the incentive needed to get cracking! I remember my maths teacher saying I wasn’t good enough to go on to 6th form (year 12) and I worked all the harder to prove her wrong!:)

    • Conserned Student


      This is why a lot of Avonside students when they don’t get Uni entrance do not want to go back there. They are concerned of your attitude being like this towards them.

      • Angry Student

        My Father got sick with cancer during exams, dying just after and even though i passed all my in school assessments i was under too much stress and really struggled with all the stress to the point i’m likely not pass this year. is it fair i miss out due to uncontrollable circumstances? i got top 25% both year 11 and 12 and have failed year 13. People like you make me mad don’t class everyone into one category

  3. Mary Garner

    NCEA allows students to work towards other qualifications on the New Zealand qualifications Framework at the same time as they are working toward their NCEA. For example, a student studying materials technology at school might also be working on the National Certificate in Elementary Construction Skills. So, they can earn NCEA credits and a national certificate at the same time.

  4. Mrs W

    Parents and students need to check high schools’ policies on resubmitting opportunities for NCEA internals. NCEA allows schools to decide if they have resources to allow this. My daughter’s doesn’t but my sons’ does. Therefore my daughter has more opportunities to pass at a different school. This has nothing to do with students being prepared, half of the time the schools set the questions so that the kids know the answers but they don’t know the questions. This is because all schools in the local cluster try to word their question differently due to them asking it on different exam days. NCEA is hit and miss for our students and I now realise that going to a school offering the international exams is the best idea. I have a smart kid who did the study, but still we wonder if she will pass all of her exams. It shouldn’t be like that.

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