Waitākere College

Courses and Study Path

Students aged between 13 and 18 years of age are welcome to apply to attend our school; on arrival each student is interviewed and placed in a personalised course most suited to his/her needs.

This diagram shows the wide range of subject choices at various levels  Waitakere College 2024 Curriculum Map
Short Term students will have a Kiwi Study Experience designed for them (with no national exams).
Longer Term students may wish to take exams in New Zealand's senior high school qualification, acceptable for university entrance worldwide, i.e. NCEA - National Certificate in Educational Achievement. Please see this link for more detail: www.nzqa.govt.nz   
We strongly recommend that students aged between 16-18 years attend Waitakere College for at least two years in order to have the best chance of acceptance into a chosen course at university. Most students will need this time to complete the English requirements. Students also need a good understanding of the methods of study used in New Zealand schools and universities in order to be successful at university.


English is compulsory for all International Students. On arrival each student is tested to verify the level of English currently understood. This ensures they are placed in the English course that best meets their needs.

This could be:

  • Year 9-10: ESOL Reception class, and/or ESOL English, or Mainstream English
  • Year 11-12-13: ESOL Reception Class, and/ or NCEA Level 1 or 2 ESOL English, or Mainstream English (only in exceptional cases). 

Courses of Study

Other subjects chosen depend on the English class a student is placed in. Choice of subjects is outlined under SUBJECT CHOICES. It is possible for students to study different subjects at different levels at the same time.

Reception Class

These students study introductory English for half their programme. They also study Mathematics and two other subjects (with limited choice).

Some of these subjects may be at NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) level. When students have sufficient English language they are transferred to the next level.

Year 12: In the year 12 programme, students study English at Level 1. They also choose 4 other subjects at Level 1 or 2. They sit NCEA examinations in these subjects to gain entry to the next level.

Year 13: In the year 13 programme most students are preparing for the NCEA Level 2 English qualifications, which are required for entry into a university. In particular, these examinations test reading and writing, appropriate to academic study at secondary and tertiary levels. They also study up to 5 other subjects, usually from NCEA Levels 2 or 3.

Entrance into Tertiary Institutes: All 8 universities in New Zealand are equal. Different universities offer courses not available at other universities. Other good quality Tertiary options include Unitec, or Auckland University of Technology, with unique courses that are equivalent to any other university, but which may allow entry with fewer credits. 

In order to apply to a Diploma course (generally 2 years), students studying in New Zealand must gain:

  • 4 Credits at Level 1 in Reading
  • 4 Credits in Level 1 in Writing
  • 48 Credits at Level 2 (or higher) over 4 subjects with a minimum of 12 Credits in each subject. 

If University entrance qualification is not met while at school, a one year Foundation course is a good pathway to degrees.

In order to apply to a Bachelor course (3 or 4 years duration) in any university, students studying in New Zealand must gain: 

  • 10 credits in Mathematics; at NCEA Level 1 or higher. 
  • 5 credits NCEA Level 2 or 3 in Reading 
  • 5 credits NCEA Level 2 or 3 in Writing 
  • 14 credits in 3 different approved Level 3 subjects 

University of Auckland requires students to gain a minimum of 17 credits in English at Level 2 or Level 3.  Alternatively, students may gain 10 credits through our EAP Programme (English for Academic Prurposes). Those who do not meet the standard will need to include a specific English-rich course in their first year of university study. 

Universities and their departments may have further requirements for entrance into their courses and there may be some variables. 

Standards for International students are often higher than for New Zealand Resident Students.


NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) at Level 1 (Year 11), Level 2 (Year 12) and Level 3 (Year 13) is administered by NZQA (New Zealand Qualifications Authority). All students must pay a fee to sit these examinations in November. This should be included in fees for Year 11, 12 and 13 students.