After socialisation, the next most common question asked of home educators is “What about qualifications?” It is worthwhile asking other home educators about their experiences by posting a message on one of the online discussion boards if you are at this stage in your home educating. With regard to formal high school qualifications, there are at least four possibilities.

Option 1: National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA)
Level 1 NCEA is generally completed at Year 11 (aged about 15yrs, old 5th Form Certificate level), Level 2 in Year 12 (aged about 16yrs, old 6th Form Certificate level), and Level 3 in Year 13 (aged about 17yrs, old University Entrance level). Theoretically, home educated children could sit NCEA by linking in with a local school, however most schools are not very co-operative on this. The other option is to do NCEA via Te Kura (formerly The Correspondence School) – this can be expensive unless your child is 16yrs+, in which case it is free. You can enrol your child at (for example) Level 3 English, even if they haven’t done Levels 1 and 2. More information about how NCEA works can be found on the NZQA website.

Option 2: University of Cambridge International Examinations
Cambridge University offers a number of qualifications including the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE). Home educators can enter a large number of subjects at IGCSE, AS and A2 levels. Students take exam papers at a host school and receive grades for each subject. There is no age limit and no minimum or maximum number of subjects required. Passing an IGCSE subject is not required in order to take AS/A level though it is usually beneficial.

Students need to pass maths at IGCSE with a grade D or above to fulfil the numeracy requirement for UE and pass English at AS or A2 level to achieve the literacy requirement. Plus they need to have 120+ points total from their AS and A2 exams to achieve UE. See the Association of Cambridge Schools in NZ website, the email loop regarding Cambridge examinations on Yahoo Groups, or ask in one of the Facebook groups.

Option 3: Stanford Achievement Test (SAT)
There are two SAT tests – the SAT I Reasoning Test (general test) and the SAT II (subject tests). The SAT I is a three hour test of maths and English. The SAT II tests are one hour each in separate subjects. The tests can be sat in a variety of cities around New Zealand. Universities may accept SAT scores as supporting evidence for your teen’s application. To find out more go to the Fulbright NZ website.

Option 4: Christian Education New Zealand Foundation Trust (CENZ Trust)
The CENZ Trust offers a Certificate of Academic Achievement (replacing the lower-level Accelerated Christian Education [ACE] range of certificates). More information on the CENZ Trust can be found here, and for information on the qualification pathway click here.

Many home educated students are able to enter into NZ universities and polytechnics via the Special Admissions department without any set qualifications. Students may write an admissions application, provide a portfolio of work they have achieved over the past few years and have an interview with the Admissions Officer as part of their entrance criteria. A home educated student may also be able to gain entrance to a NZ university or polytechnic with NCEA, Cambridge exams, SAT, or other qualifications relating to the particular programme of study they followed (such as ACE) – however it depends on the course the teen wants to undertake and what the entry requirements are. Some universities may have written entry requirements for home educated students on their website like the University of Canterbury does. It is advisable to contact the Admissions Office of the university or polytechnic you wish to study at about two years before you are considering admission so that you can discuss the entry requirements and plan an entrance pathway. Ask plenty of questions to find out exactly what their current standards of entrance entail. There is a lot of competition to get into some courses and tertiary institutions like to keep their drop-out rates low so some courses will be harder to get into than others, and some will have more stringent criteria than others. Most tertiary institutions offer bridging and foundation courses or can recommend suitable courses prior to entrance if needed.


Navigating Through Highschool & Beyond

View a discussion on options for homeschooled students at secondary school level…whether it’s moving toward further learning, an apprenticeship, or other avenues for qualifications/ experience. What pathways are there for university entrance apart from NCEA? How can you help your child move toward their goals if they are not in highschool? These questions and others are answered by a panel of experienced NCHENZ Committee members – Sheena Harris, Cynthia Hancox, Nadia Sole, and with guest Careers Advisor, Jane Hunter.

At a glance …

  • There are several options for high school qualifications including NCEA, Cambridge, SATs, ACE, etc
  • Most home educators approach qualifications on a case-by-case basis, depending on the goals of their particular child
  • Entry into university depends entirely on the course of study and the university itself
  • It’s worthwhile contacting the university two years prior to admission in order to plan an entrance pathway