English Language Level Certification - Guide

NZQA Guidelines for English Language Certification

Check the student visa decline rates that apply to each country on the Immigration New Zealand website

Students from a country with a visa decline rate of 20% or less:


  1. NCEA Level 3 with University Entrance
  2. Certificate of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA)
  1. Completed Bachelor Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Bachelor Honours Degree, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, Master’s Degree or Doctoral Degree, but only if:
    • The qualification is obtained from a tertiary education provider from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States; AND
    • The language of instruction was English.
  1. Internationally recognised English language proficiency test listed in the Appendix to Rule 18, but only if:
    • The student has achieved the required test scores for the level of the programme as specified in the Table in the Appendix; AND
    • The scores were achieved in a single test during the preceding two years. Combination of scores from multiple tests is not acceptable.
  1. An NZQA approved English language proficiency test, administered by a Category 1 or 2 institution, where the student has achieved an outcome that is equivalent to or better than those listed in the Table of the Appendix.
  1. Completion of all primary education and at least three years of secondary education at schools with English as the language of instruction.
  2. Completion of five years of secondary education at schools with English as the language of instruction.

Students from a country with a visa decline rate of more than 20%:

  1. NCEA Level 3 with University Entrance
  2. Certificate of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA)
  3. Completed Bachelor Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Bachelor Honours Degree, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, Master’s Degree or Doctoral Degree, but only if:
    • The qualification is obtained from a tertiary education provider from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States; AND
    • The language of instruction was English.
  1. Internationally recognised English language proficiency test listed in the Appendix to Rule 18, but only if:
    • The student has achieved the required test scores for the level of the programme as specified in the Table in the Appendix; AND
    • The scores were achieved in a single test during the preceding two years. Combination of scores from multiple tests is not acceptable.

The Table

of Internationally Recognised English Proficiency tests for International Students – as referred to above:


  1. CAE– the examination of Cambridge English Language Assessment called Cambridge English: Advanced, also known as the Certificate in Advanced English, found here
  2. CPE – the examination of Cambridge English Language Assessment called Cambridge English: Proficiency, also known as the Certificate of Proficiency in English, found here
  3. FCE, or FCE for Schools – the examination of Cambridge English Language Assessment called Cambridge English: First, also known as the First Certificate in English, found here
  1. IESOL – Internal English for Speakers of Other Languages qualifications by City & Guilds, found here
  2. IELTS – the International English Language Testing System, jointly owned by the British Council, IDP Education Australia, and Cambridge English Language Assessment, found here
  3. LanguageCert – a set of English Language qualifications owned by PeopleCert Qualifications Limited, member of the PeopleCert Group found here
  4. LRWS – listening, reading, writing and speaking
  5. NZCEL – the New Zealand Certificates in English Language listed on the NZQF (NZQA being the qualification developer
  6. OET – the Occupational English Test of Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment, found here
  7. PToE – the Pearson Test of English (Academic), found here
  8. TOEFL – the Test of English as a Foreign Language of the Educational Testing Service, whose headquarters are in Princeton, United States, found here
  9. TWE – in relation to TOEFL is the Test of Written English.


Whitecliffe Programmes

Programme Level

IELTS Test 2

TOEFL Paper-based pBT

TOEFL Internet-based Test iBT

Cambridge English Examinations

NZCEL 3 a) Expiring b) Current

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

City & Guilds IESOL

Language Cert

Certificates - Arts and Design, Digital Media and Design

NZQF Level 4

General or Academic score of 5.5 with no band score lower than 5

Score of 530 (with an essay score of 4.5 TWE)

Score of 46 (with a writing score of 20)

FCE or FCE for schools with a score of 162. No less than 154 in each skill OET at Grade C in all sub-tests

a) Level 3 (Academic) b) Level 3 (Applied)

PToE (Academic) score of 42

B2 Communicator with a score of 42

B2 Communicator IESOL (LRWS) with PASS

Bachelor of Fine Arts - Fine Arts, Photo Media, Fashion Design, Graphic Design

NZQF Level 7

Academic score of 6.0 with no band score lower than 5.5

Score of 550 (with an essay score of 5 TWE

Score of 60 (with a writing score of 20)

FCE, or FCE for schools, or CAE, or CPE with a score of 169. No less than 162 in each skill OET at Grade C in all sub-tests

a) Level 4 (Academic) b) Level 4 (Academic)

PToE (Academic) score of 50

B2 Communicator with a score of 66

C1 Expert IESOL (LRWS) with PASS

Bachelor of Fine Arts - (Honours) Degree

NZQF Level 8

Academic score of 6.5 with no band score lower than 6

Score of 590 (with an essay score 5.5 TWE)

Score of 79 (with a writing score of 21)

CAE or CPE with a score of 176. No less than 169 in each skill. OET at Grade B in all sub-tests

a) Level 5 (Academic) or (Professional) b) Level 5

PToE (Academic) score of 58

C1 Expert with a score of 42

C1 Expert IESOL (LRWS) with HIGH PASS or C2 Mastery IESOL (LRWS) with PASS

Post-graduate Diplomas - Arts Management, Arts Therapy

NZQF Level 8

Academic score of 6.5 with no band score lower than 6

Score of 590 (with an essay score 5.5 TWE)

Score of 79 (with a writing score of 21)

CAE or CPE with a score of 176. No less than 169 in each skill. OET at Grade B in all sub-tests

a) Level 5 (Academic) or (Professional) b) Level 5

PToE (Academic) score of 58

C1 Expert with a score of 42

C1 Expert IESOL (LRWS) with HIGH PASS or C2 Mastery IESOL (LRWS) with PASS

Master’s Degrees - Fine Arts, Arts Management, Arts Therapy

NZQF Level 9

Academic score of 6.5 with no band score lower than 6

Score of 590 (with an essay score 5.5 TWE)

Score of 79 (with a writing score of 21)

CAE or CPE with a score of 176. No less than 169 in each skill. OET at Grade B in all sub-tests

a) Level 5 (Academic) or (Professional) b) Level 5

PToE (Academic) score of 58

C1 Expert with a score of 42

C1 Expert IESOL (LRWS) with HIGH PASS or C2 Mastery IESOL (LRWS) with PASS