NZQA digital practice exams 2023

We’ll use our usual email communications to schools/kura to highlight activities and actions, with links to more detailed information available on this section of our website. 

What’s happening in 2023

We’ll offer a final year of digital practice exams for Level 1 English, Te Reo Rangatira and Te Reo Māori only.

All schools/kura will have the chance to offer digital practice exams in these three subjects using Assessment Master, NZQA’s online platform, between 04-22 September 2023.

Digital practice exam subjects

We’re working with the NZ Association of Teaching of English (NZATE) to provide digital practice exams for Level 1 English (standards 90849, 90850, 90851).

The English digital exams will be available to all schools/kura, regardless of whether they are association members.

We’re also working with subject matter experts to provide digital practice exam content for Level 1:

  • Te Reo Rangatira (standards 91659, 91662, 91664)
  • Te Reo Māori (standards 91087, 91088).

Entering students for digital practice exams – 1 August deadline

You can make entries for digital practice exams in your SMS by ticking the DPE flag, or in the School Portal for Web Entry schools (for those without an SMS). Entries should be submitted to NZQA by data file as soon as possible from now to 1 August.

No entries will be processed in September, due to end of year exam entry processing.

Managing digital practice exams

Although the digital practice exams are offered on our platform, your school/kura will manage and mark these exams, as with any other internal practice exam.

Benefits of doing digital practice exams

Practice exams can be beneficial for schools that have never done digital assessments, and for those that want to increase their participation in digital assessments.

If digital practice exams are held under exam conditions, you could use the students’ results as evidence for derived grades or unexpected event grades.

It’s an opportunity for:

  • students to get digital exam experience using Assessment Master, NZQA’s online platform, before the ‘real thing’
  • testing devices and school systems, such as the wireless network
  • schools and students to gain confidence and familiarity with the platform used for external exams.

Preliminary timeline 

This section will be updated as timings and activities are confirmed.


We’ll provide login credentials for Assessment Master and assessment materials, including schedules and resource booklets, via your Provider Login. 

We’ll provide access to an eLearning DPE course on Pūtake.

4 September to

22 September

Our platform is open for digital practice exams.

18 October

Our platform is closed for markers (final day for teachers to access student work).

27 October   

Students can access their marked digital practice exam scripts until 27 October.

Resources for digital exams

Check out the following information and resources. These will help you and your students/ākonga prepare for digital practice exams and digital end of year exams.

For Principal’s Nominees and teachers/kaiako

  • Look at our webpage: Get your school ready for digital exams
  • Check out our video to get an overview of what the digital exam platform looks like: Digital exam preparation for students
  • Use the eLearning modules created to help your school manage, monitor and mark the digital practice exams. These modules can be accessed via Pūtake using your Education Logon.
  • Access your Provider Login from 21 August to access the DPE starter pack, practice exam guides, login credentials for Assessment Master, and assessment materials including schedules.

For students

Further support and information

We’re here to support your school/kura to provide digital practice exams to students. If you have any questions, please: 

Key considerations when offering digital practice exams 

You will need to:

  • have a senior member of staff available to lead these exams
  • submit digital practice exam entries to NZQA by specified deadlines
  • timetable these exams between 4 - 22 September 2023
  • have time for teachers to learn about digital exam administration, supervision and marking
  • have time to prepare students and resources to deliver these exams
  • have the space and IT infrastructure required for the students involved
  • have IT support available.

What you need to know

Planning for the exam

  • Digital practice exam content provided by NZATE will only be available from NZQA to participating schools/kura via Assessment Master. Printable versions may be available from the NZATE for their members/subscribers or for an extra fee to non-members.  
  • NZQA owns the practice exam content for Te Reo Māori and Te Reo Rangatira. All materials for these exams, including printable PDFs, will be available for download via the Documents section of the Provider Login in the Digital Practice exams folder.
  • NZQA will make marking schedules and resource booklets available via the Documents section of the Provider Login in the Digital Practice exams folder.
  • The exam content on the digital platform cannot be changed.
  • If you can ensure that student responses are authentic (for example, by being held under exam conditions) then students’ results could be used as evidence for derived grades or unexpected event grades.
  • Students access the exams using their NZQA student login. They will need to create one or check they can access their login before their practice exams start.
  • If required, teachers can view the practice exam online before it is delivered.

Administering the exams

  • We will provide support materials, such as videos, guides, job aids, and eLearning, to help your staff administer, supervise, and mark the exam.

    We recommend each staff member spends 2-4 hours’ familiarisation with these materials to develop confidence in their tasks
  • The school-based digital practice exam administrator is responsible for the security of the exams and opening and closing each exam in the exam platform. They can also change the passwords for the supervisors and markers.
  • Student activity in each exam is monitored by the school-based supervisor using an online dashboard.
  • As for all practice exams, you must use your own policies and processes to manage exceptions like student absences, unexpected events and investigating breaches.
  • If you need support with any issues that arise, you can call NZQA’s Contact Centre 0800 697 296 or send an email to
  • We will collect data such as log-ins, time spent in the exam, and log-outs, for statistical purposes only. The information will be held securely.

Marking and returning work and grades to students

  • For staff who currently mark NCEA Online, please note the marking software is different from the one used for end of year exams.
  • Teachers must complete marking of practice exams by 18 October 2022, as this is when the platform closes. Administrators will also have to complete all their tasks by this same date. 
  • Teachers can include formative feedback using the online marking platform. This feedback can be extracted for students by running a report.
  • After marking is completed, students can keep their answers for future reference by saving screenshots, or highlighting each response box then dragging and dropping the text into another document to save.

    Any formative feedback will not be shown in the marked script.
  • Students will have access to their marked digital practice exam scripts until 27 October. 
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