Myth # 9: Derived grades

Show: All Mythbuster sheets  


  • "Results from internally assessed standards can be submitted as derived grades."

  • “Evidence for derived grades can be partial and naturally occurring in learning activities.”

  • “A teacher can collect a derived grade after a student misses an NZQA exam.”

  • “Derived grades from practice assessments do not need to be quality assured."

  • "I can predict the grade based on my professional judgment.”

  • " Unmodified NZQA exam papers can be used to generate a derived grade."

  • "A student cannot apply for a derived grade if they sat the examination."

  • "The Principal's Nominee approves derived grade applications."


  • Derived grades can only be used for external assessments as they provide a result for a student whose performance is impaired in an NZQA external exam or who cannot attend the exam or submit an external portfolio.
  • Evidence for derived grades must be collected in a way that mirrors NZQA’s assessment of the external standard, ie mirrors the format and conditions of the externally assessed standard.
  • Evidence for a derived grade must be:
    • pre-existing – collected prior to the start of the timetabled NCEA assessment
    • authentic
    • standard-specific 
    • quality assured through verification or justification
  • Sufficiently modified past NZQA assessments and keeping commercially produced practice assessments secure help ensure authentic evidence.
    Students are encouraged to sit the examinations, where possible. The grade awarded will be the higher of the exam grade and the derived grade.
  • NZQA approves derived grades. If a school does not support a student’s application, they should still submit it to NZQA.
  • Students can appeal to NZQA when derived grade applications are declined.

More information

Overview of the derived grade process

Derived Grade guidelines

Some other things to think about

  • Senior Management is responsible for ensuring that all derived grades are based on valid, authentic evidence and have been subject to quality assurance processes.

  • Like all external assessment results, derived grades are provisional until confirmed by NZQA.

  • A student making an individual application may choose not to apply for a derived grade when the grade to be reported would be 'Not Achieved'.

  • The derived grade process is not available for New Zealand Scholarship, as it is a competitive award.

  • Derived grades are for events at the time of the exams/external assessment eg temporary illness, injury, bereavement or misadventure.
    Students suffering from long-term or recurring conditions may:

    • be entitled to Special Assessment Conditions

    • be eligible for a derived grade if there is a documented exacerbation of the condition just prior to the examination/external assessment

    • have to accept that their results from practice assessments may be affected by their condition and that a derived grade would not be appropriate.

Skip to main page content Accessibility page with list of access keys Home Page Site Map Contact Us