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 three 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) sat at the end of Year 11, AS exams at the end of Year 12, and A2 at the end of Year 13 (AS + A2 = your “full A Level” results). These exams are quite difficult and can be sat by home educated students, 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.
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 A.C.E) – 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.
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