At each level of the NCEA qualification (Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3), students are assessed on the learning attained in their selection of subjects.
Individual NCEA subjects are subdivided into Achievement Standards. Some standards are internally assessed and moderated externally during the academic year. Others are externally assessed through the NZQA (New Zealand Qualifications Authority) national examinations, which generally take place at the end of the year. Each successful assessment earns credits that contribute to a certificate at level 1, level 2 or level 3. Most subjects offer between 16 and 24 credits.