New Zealand students work hard to pass NCEA assessments and ensure that they have a strong understanding of each unit standard. However, beyond passing NCEA with flying colours, students also can enter into additional assessments to gain financial awards with four different levels of scholarship.

Passing NCEA Level 3 an Excellent in every "standard" undoubtedly puts students in a better position to be accepted into the tertiary course of their choosing. But being in the top 3% of your year can also mean up to $10,000 each year for the first three years of your tertiary study.

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How does the NCEA Japanese Scholarship work?

There are different levels of financial awards for top students who pass NCEA level 3 and head off to university. Each level has slightly different criteria, and the monetary value goes up the higher you achieve.

Can I receive a monetary scholarship for only NCEA Japanese?

In theory, yes, you can. Called "Single Subject Awards", you can achieve scholarship level in NCEA Japanese Level 3, usually sat in year 13, and receive a one-off payment of $500. If you pass two subjects at the scholarship level, you can receive a one-off payment of $1000. However, that is the maximum for single subject awards.

Japanese Koi Fish the symbol of good fortune, success, prosperity and ambition are perfect for NCEA Japanese
Koi Fish for good success and ambition. Image by Endriqstudio from Pixabay

Achievement Levels for NCEA Japanese

As with all NCEA subjects, with NCEA Japanese, you can achieve one of four levels for every unit standard you sit:

  • Not achieved (N) for not meeting the criteria of the standard
  • Achieved (A) for meeting the criteria of the standard
  • Merit (M) for meeting the criteria of the standard to a very good level
  • Excellence (E) for meeting the criteria of the standard to an outstanding level

For each unit standard, you can look up the subject on the NZQA website to work out exactly what the requirements are to achieve the grade you are aiming for. For example, in unit standard 91555 (Interact clearly using spoken Japanese to explore and justify varied ideas and perspectives in different situations), the requirements for each level are offered freely to all students using past exams to study, so give a clear indication of what areas you should be looking at.

To achieve full marks and pass with Excellence, you need to communicate clearly in spoken Japanese and use an extended vocabulary that allows you to express your ideas and discuss different perspectives accurately.

While passing with only achievement requires clear spoken interaction but allows for more simple language and less fluency in expressing the range of emotions, ideas and perspectives.

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Study NCEA mindfully and with focus. Image by cromagnon130 from Pixabay
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Achievement Levels for Japanese Scholarship

Different levels of scholarship provide different degrees of a monetary prize. Still, of course, this also means the expectation for excellence is increased. You can sit the additional assessment for scholarship across multiple subjects, including Japanese. To receive the top awards, you will need to pass several.

Premier Award

The top scholarship award can provide the few top students who get to this level $10,000 for three years of tertiary study. Students need to obtain at least three scholar awards to be considered, though, so competition is fierce.

Outstanding Scholar Award

This level provides 40-60 top students $5,000 a year for three years of tertiary study. To receive this or the premier award, you need to excel at the scholarship assessment and receive a number of "outstanding" scholarships in a single year.

Scholarship Award

When you achieve the New Zealand Scholarship in three subjects or two at an "outstanding" level.

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Difference Between Japanese NCEA and Japanese Scholarship

Let's look at examples of the NCEA Level 3 Japanese exam and the Japanese Scholarship assessment in 2020. We can see the extra knowledge required to excel at the scholarship level. However, while more challenging, with study and perhaps extra tuition, a motivated student will achieve the high standards needed for the scholarship level.

Although multiple unit standards are taken to earn enough credits to pass NCEA Japanese, to earn a scholarship in Japanese students, one needs to undertake an additional single external assessment.

NCEA Level 3 Japanese

To pass standards at this level, students need to read, listen, write, speak and comprehend various Japanese exercises. Through various unit standards, many internally assessed, students provide evidence that they have at least a basic understanding of Japanese.

To pass with merit, students need to be able to show clear understanding. This doesn't mean that you need to have a greater level of comprehension but that you can demonstrate it. Think about the words you use in answers, are they simplistic, or more expressive?

While to achieve an Excellence you need to show thorough understanding. As with merit, this is about proving your fluency. Using idioms, writing in a natural (but appropriate) manner, and showing that you know when you should use formal or informal communication are all ways to demonstrate you have a strong understanding.

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Speaking Japanese is fun. Image by djedj from Pixabay

Scholarship Japanese

The scholarship Japanese assessment is an external exam that generally takes three hours. There is a writing component that accounts for an hour. Then students undertake the speaking component in the final hour. This assessment provides an opportunity to show your fluency in Japanese.

To earn a Scholarship, you will need to share your developed knowledge of the Japanese language and culture and bring in your ability in other subjects and share this knowledge in a Japanese context.

To reach the "outstanding" level requires students to show consistent fluency, using their own ideas and knowledge that goes into a greater depth while answering the questions. Speak slowly, clearly, and express yourself as accurately as possible. While a few errors are allowed, remember that you are being judged against others at award level.

Resources to Help Pass NCEA Japanese Level 3

The New Zealand Ministry of Education wants students to pass! To help this, there are a number of resources to help students study Japanese. There is also a range of options in New Zealand to work with tutors who specialise in teaching Japanese and helping students with exam confidence and NCEA Japanese as a topic.

Professional Tutoring for Japanese Scholarship

While you can find people to teach you Japanese or work with other Japanese learners to improve conversational fluency, to improve your Japanese enough to achieve an outstanding result in your scholarship assessment, students should hire a tutor with experience in tutoring within the NCEA system.

Teaching a language, particularly at NCEA and higher levels, is a specialised skill, requiring more than simply speaking Japanese. If you work with a Superprof tutor, you can choose someone with experience in teaching Japanese.

If you connect with a tutor whose knowledge of NCEA is not current – and unless they are a current high school teacher, this is likely, the Ministry of Education can come to the rescue again. On the Te Kete Ipurangi (knowledge basket) website are all the teaching resources for learning Japanese. This covers all NCEA Japanese levels, and achievement standards that will be tested on.

Because of the requirements for students to move to distant learning during the global pandemic, you will also find resources for learning online via Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu, (formerly known as The Correspondence School).

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Find a Japanese tutor you can connect with. Image by Tung Lam from Pixabay

Exam Preparation

On the NZQA website, you can find past exams to allow you to go through and practice. However, there are also papers with example answers that can help ensure that you are on the right path for your studies.

You will find previous years' audio recordings and matching transcripts for Japanese unit achievements with a listening component on the NZQA website. While for reading and writing comprehension units, students have access to the full resource booklet from previous years and exemplar answers that meet the criteria for Excellence, Merit, or Achievement.

Look at the expectations and exemplars to judge how well you placed with achieving the level of mastery you are looking for. For example, this is an example of "low merit" achievement where the student has made clear arguments and explanations. To achieve a higher mark, it is suggested that correct word choice would be more consistent.

ニュージーランド人や日本人の友達は私は中国人だから, 全部の漢字がよめると思っているはずです (1), 日本と中国の漢字は少し違いますから, 日本の漢字も覚えなければなりません (1) and 私は中国語ができますから日本語を読むことは簡単だし面白いし 日本のアニメやまんがも好きです (2).

Celebrating Japanese Scholarship Success

While waiting to hear the results of your scholarship assessment, it's time to research how to celebrate in Japanese style! It's a stressful time that doesn't end once you've sat your final exam – then the wait until results arrive to crash the NZQA website. Until that moment, relax, and keep using your Japanese ability to find great ways to celebrate your success in passing NCEA Japanese Scholarship.

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Alison