How competitive are my NCEA marks?



Just want to get an idea of how competitive my NCEA marks are in the New Zealand pool to the NESCACs and the Ivies.

I also look to be doing 3-4 NCEA Scholarship exams (Calculus, Economics, Physics and/or Chemistry) next year alongside Level 3.

Note that in 2017, I sat IGCSE Maths and Geography and achieved an A and an A* respectively.

Thank you!


Hi there,

When you say NESCACs, are you a student athlete? If so what sports do you play and at what level?

Depending on whether you are a student athlete, the answer to your questions would change a bit, since the requirements for normal academic applicants and student athlete are different.

The following thoughts are based on the assumption that you are a normal academic applicants. Let me know if otherwise.

First of all, your Level 2 results are certainly a lot better than Level 1 so congratulations! Although there is huge room for improvement in Year 11, it is important to show consistent performance and improvements and you are definitely on the right track! Going into Year 13 your goal needs to be straight Excellence across all of your subjects if you are aiming for the Ivy League, in order to keep that upward trend going.

That being said, as admissions to top US colleges are becoming increasingly competitive, it is no longer 100% safe just to get straight E’s plus a few scholarships so that you can be considered a top candidate. Lots of students nowadays go above and beyond their call of duty to take on additional challenges and demonstrate their intellectual curiosity and competence. Additionally, don’t forget that many strong candidates from NZ are doing IB or CIE! That means you have to be top of the top in NCEA in order to be considered competitive overall.

Let me know if the above helps. Feel free to follow up with me and I’m happy to share with you my tips on how you can be more competitive in NCEA and beyond. I did 7 NCEA L3 subjects alongside 6 scholarships and was the Dux of my college as well as a Premier Scholar for my year.



Thank you for your in-depth response, I appreciate it greatly.

To answer your question, I’m not a student-athlete. Does that put me at a disadvantage in the admissions process for the NESCAC’s (Amherst and Williams are the targets, and Bowdoin, Middlebury, Trinity, and Tufts are secondary targets)? Furthermore, in terms of the Ivies, I am looking at Princeton, Yale, Columbia, and Dartmouth. The reality is that taking on only 3-4 Schol exams most likely isn’t enough for Harvard, MIT or Stanford. So, therefore, would my NCEA work be competitive for the top NESCACs and the Ivies I said I was looking into?

When the admissions officers look at my NCEA grades, will they use my mock exam results as a gauge towards my academic performance; what Year 13 results do admission officers look at in regards to externals, and scholarship exams?

Lastly, you mentioned how students go above and beyond the call of duty. This year, I will also be submitting my website, LAS Charting, towards the Young Enterprise Scheme, and I’ll be completing Level 3 Business achievement standards on top of my Level 3 and Scholarship work. I also think that I have a significant chance of being the Dux of my school this year with those extra credits.

I’ve also cold-called people at Craigs IP and PieFunds, and have been doing a little amount of technical analysis research for them, as every week I rip through about 300 charts of global and US equities, commodities, currencies, and Intermarket spreads. I aim to expand my research for these firms throughout the year to improve my extracurricular profile. I will also be doing a conference call with some accountants at Spark in the next few days as they were interested in my email and will therefore take me through the work they do. I do have other minor extracurricular activities like debating, and in my junior years, astronomy and sporting, but market analysis and investing is most definitely the area I am incredibly passionate about, and will, therefore, reflect that in my application.

Thank you again, I really appreciate your response!