New Zealand Scholarship

New Zealand Scholarship assessments enable candidates to be assessed against challenging standards and are demanding for the most able candidates in each subject. Assessment is by either a written/spoken examination or by the submission of a portfolio or report of work produced throughout the year.

Scholarship candidates are expected to demonstrate high-level critical thinking, abstraction and generalisation, and to integrate, synthesise and apply knowledge, skills, understanding, and ideas to complex situations.

New Zealand Scholarship provides recognition and monetary reward to top students in their last year of schooling.

Entry to New Zealand Scholarship

Students can enter for New Zealand Scholarship if they are enrolled in a consented New Zealand secondary school. This means entry is open to:

  • secondary school students who hold New Zealand residency
  • international fee-paying students enrolled with a consented New Zealand secondary school; or
  • students enrolled in a non-consented school which has a Memorandum of Understanding with one which is consented; or
  • home-schooled, secondary school equivalent students, who make an entry as a link student with a consented school and attest to their eligibility through a Justice of the Peace.

For full details of the entry requirements, see NZQA Assessment Rules for Schools, TEOs assessing against Achievement Standards, and Candidates 2023.

There are fees for international students, see fees for NCEA.

Eligibility to receive a monetary award

To be eligible to receive a scholarship award, the student must be enrolled in tertiary study in New Zealand for the years in which they receive monetary awards. For awards with second or subsequent year payments, recipients must maintain a 'B' grade average each year of their tertiary study in New Zealand.

For more information on Monetary Awards see Schedule 1 section 6.2. of NZQA Assessment Rules for Schools, TEOs assessing against Achievement Standards, and Candidates 2023.

The New Zealand Scholarship Monetary Awards are available to candidates who meet the eligibility and entry requirements.

How many candidates are awarded New Zealand Scholarship?

Approximately 3 percent of all students studying each subject at Level 3, who achieve 14 or more credits in the subject, are awarded Scholarship if they reach the standard that has been set. There is some tolerance around the 3 percent, mainly for those subjects with few candidates. See Scholarship subjects for a list of this year's scholarship subjects.

How is New Zealand Scholarship marked?

Markers allocate a score of 0-8 for each component in the New Zealand Scholarship assessment using subject specific schedules. These are based on a Generic Marking Guide, as follows:

  • An answer given a score of 8 is an Outstanding answer in all respects. Strong evidence of integration and synthesis. As good as could be expected under examination conditions. Accurate, comprehensive, coherent, lucid, perceptive.
  • A score of 1 shows Meagre understanding relevant to the question.
  • A score of 0 is awarded for answers that are blank or irrelevant.

The work of the highest-scoring candidates is reviewed by marking panels, to identify the top candidates in each subject. Exam booklets for candidates whose scores are close to either the Scholarship or Outstanding cut-offs are also re-marked, to ensure their results are correct.

New Zealand Scholarship assessments have between 3 and 5 components, and the scores for each component are totalled to give the final result. For further information, see New Zealand Scholarship results publication, under the New Zealand Scholarship cut scores heading.

Student exemplars

A selection of examination papers have been reproduced with permission from previous Top Scholars. To view these examination papers, go to the New Zealand Scholarship subjects page and click on the 'assessment specification and resources' link for each subject. The Top Scholar examination booklet is at the bottom of the page under the [subject] resources heading.

New Zealand Scholarship results

New Zealand Scholarship results are released about mid-February each year. If you want to know more about:

  • accessing your results, or
  • how you will receive your booklets, or
  • what options are open to you after you get your booklets (such as applying for a Reconsideration or Review),

see New Zealand Scholarship results publication for more details.

Further information

  • If you are a student or parent, your school should be able to answer your specific questions.
  • You may also find the information you require in frequently asked questions.
  • If you are unable to find what you require here, please contact the NZQA Call Centre.
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