University Entrance and Prerequisites

Requirements for University Entrance

  • NCEA Level 3
  • Three subjects - at Level 3, made up of:
    • 14 credits each, in three approved subjects
  • Literacy - 10 credits at Level 2 or above, made up of:
    • 5 credits in reading
    • 5 credits in writing
  • Numeracy - 10 credits at Level 1 or above, made up of:
    • achievement standards – specified achievement standards available through a range of subjects, or
    • unit standards - package of three numeracy unit standards (26623, 26626, 26627- all three required).

To give a student the best possible chance of being accepted into the university or course of their choice we recommend the following strategies:

  • Achieving as highly as possible at NCEA Level 2 (for example, Otago University now offers preferential entry to Merit or Excellence endorsed students at Level 2 plus their University Entrance from Level 3)
  • Taking Achievement Standard courses in preference to unit standard courses;
  • Achieving as many Merit and Excellence grades as possible at NCEA Level 3 (to gain the preferential entry required)
  • Checking the individual university websites (direct links below) for their entrance requirements.

Specific Entrance Information

Otago University

Canterbury University

Guaranteed Entry Scores

As well as gaining U.E (See NZQA Information) universities also use the Guaranteed Entry Score (GES)  method of assessing students academic ability.
A Guaranteed Entry Score (GES) is calculated using the student’s best 80 credits in up to 5 approved subjects at Level 3 and uses the following formula:

4 points for Excellence credits

3 points for Merit credits

2 points for Achieved credits

The required ranked score for most degrees is around 150 points. You will need to check with the university of your choice for their required GES. Students with an entry score below the GES required may be considered for competitive entry. (See website links above)

Recommended Background Subjects for University Study

Including English, Maths, Science and Technology subjects will keep your future career options broad. Many tertiary courses require or recommend background school subjects. Outlined in the link below are the pre-requisites for Otago University degree areas. 
 For further specifications please contact the tertiary provider, careers team or your child's year level dean.


Other General Background Subject Requirements

 Architecture Level 3 Calculus, Physics, English plus one subject in creative area such as Art, Design, Graphics. Some workshop skills very useful
 Engineering Calculus, Physics, Chemistry required for most university majors. English recommended. Some practical experience also very useful.
 NZ Diploma in Engineering requires Maths to at least Level 2
 Health Science Level 3 Chemistry, Biology, Physics plus a Maths 
 Nursing For Otago Polytechnic, minimum of 14 L3 credits in an English rich subject, Biology and/or Chemistry
 Psychology Biology, Statistics and English rich useful
 Vet science Three Sciences, Maths and English rich subjects highly recommended
 Information Science Statistics, English, Computing helpful
 PE Biology, Statistics, PE recommended
 Journalism English rich subjects(eg; English, History, Classics, Drama)
 Law Essay based subjects useful (English, History, Economics, Geography)
 Marketing L3 Statistics and English useful. Looking at completing a double major could be worthwhile considering
 Teaching English, Maths, Sciences, Technology, Maori  very useful for Early or Primary teaching
 Aviation English and Maths, Physics are useful. Must be able to think logically, follow procedures, have good communication skills and work well under pressure.