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How are NCEA exams marked?

Hi! I’ve been doing lots of practice exams and self-marking them, but I’m unsure if I’ve been doing this correctly.

I understand that a certain amount of A/M/E bullet points gets an N1-E8 per question, then these points are added for an overall score based on the cut scores for the standard.

What I don’t understand is whether marks count downwards. For example, let’s say I attempt a biology exam, and for M6 I need 3 M bullet points, and 1 E bullet point for E7.
If I only got 2M bullet points, but 1 E point, does this E point count downwards to fulfil the requirement for M6, or would I get E7 regardless?

Thank you! :blush:

If for this particular assessment marking score ranges between 14 and 19 for Merit, then if you get two M6’s for two questions and one E7 the total mark would be 6+6+7=19. That is the top boundary for Merit. It will be the top Merit, but still Merit. For total Excellence you would need to have at least 20 marks in total, so two E7’s and one M6 would do. Or two E8’s and one A4.

But “cut scores” may be different each year. Look at this link https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/ncea/ncea-exams-and-portfolios/external/grade-score-marking/

I hope that helps. Good luck with your exams!

Hi, thanks for your reply!
Sorry, I think my question wasn’t written very clearly, I meant for a singular question - like how in a biology exam you have 3 main questions, and you can get an M6 or E7 on 1 individual question out of three depending on how many bullet points you hit:


In this example, if I only got 2 Merit statements but I got the 1st excellence bullet point, would that excellence count down to M6 or would it still be E7 for this question only (not the exam overall)

Oh sorry I didn’t understand you. From this example if you answered an Excellence question (first excellence bullet point) you will definitely get E7.

Read this quote:

Markers are instructed to ensure a high quality response is not marked down for a minor error. Marking is “top down” , which requires the marker to initially look for evidence for Excellence, as described by the Excellence criterion in the standard. Only if this evidence is missing or deficient, do markers look for Merit evidence, and then down to Achievement.

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