Getting into a university 

To be accepted into a university in New Zealand, you will need to have your University Entrance (UE)

This is one of the main goals or measures that your teachers and school have, so they should be right up on what you need and how you need to get there. UE is also really helpful for getting accepted into a Polytechnic, especially if course or programme numbers are restricted.



I am doing NCEA

  • You will need NCEA Level 3, with
  • Three subjects at Level 3 or above, with 14 credits each in 3 approved subjects
  • Literacy: 10 credits at Level 2 or better, 5 credits in reading, 5 credits in writing
  • Numeracy - 10 credits at Level 1 or above

Check out more about NCEA University Entrance

  • From 2016 the University of Auckland wants prospective students to have 17 credits in English at Level 2 or 3 to be accepted into most of their courses.

 I’m doing the International Baccalaureate (IB)

  • You will need to get your International Baccalaureate Diploma with a minimum of 24 points.
  • Universities like Auckland, Canterbury and Otago now also require you to have English as Language A1 at Higher or Standard Level. Check on the particular university website to be sure. 

I’m doing Cambridge International Examinations (CIE)

According to Universities New Zealand, you will need:

  • A minimum of 120 points on the UCAS Tariff at A or AS level other than the General Paper, including at least three subjects (other than Thinking Skills) in which no grade is lower than D.
  • Literacy: An E grade or better in any one of AS English Language, Language and Literature in English, Literature in English; A D grade or better will satisfy one of the subject requirements of Part A; or as prescribed for university entrance with NCEA.
  • Numeracy: A D grade or better in IGCSE or GCSE mathematics, or any mathematics passed at AS level; A D grade or better will satisfy one of the subject requirements of Part A; or as prescribed for university entrance with NCEA.

Preferential Entry

Most universities have adopted some form of preferential entry system so that they can manage the sizes of their classes. They do this by using your Rank Score (which is calculated from NCEA credits) or CIE Entry Score.

Some university courses or programmes require more than just UE for entry, and the numbers able to get in are ‘capped’ or fixed at a certain level. This will be shown on the relevant course pages on university websites, with an indication of the Rank Score needed to get in.

Your Preferential Entry score (sometimes called your Guaranteed Entry Score (GES)) can guarantee you a place in a particular university, or a place in a specific course or programme.

Your Rank Score is based on your 80 best credits in all approved subjects at NCEA Level 3. It is calculated as follows:

  • For every Excellence credit—you get 4 points
  • For every Merit credit—3 points
  • For every Achieved credit—2 points
  • A maximum of 24 credits in each subject may be counted

See an example of calculating your Rank Score

Rank score examples for NCEA, CIE and IB

Find out more about tertiary study in New Zealand