High school students set to sit their exams yesterday were given the option of going for a "derived grade" due to a night disrupted by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake.

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority announced yesterday morning that New Zealand Scholarship examinations set down that day had been postponed.

Other NCEA exams were set to continue and "proceed at all schools not earthquake affected".

However, for any students unable to attend their exams there was the option of a "derived grade" process which is available so no students can be disadvantaged.

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The process is laid out so that if a student is unable to take part in all or some of the national end-of-year NCEA exams, their school can use standard specific work (such as practice exams) they produced during the school year to submit a recommended grade to NZQA.

"We put that message out on our Facebook page," William Colenso College principal Daniel Murfitt said.

Students which were affected were asked to contact the school, otherwise it was business as usual with a science exam getting under way on schedule.

Apart from the postponement of the scholarship examinations, yesterday Lindisfarne Rector Ken MacLeod said the "rest will go on".

The derived grade process was available, he said, "but I don't think there has been any major impact on our kids although some will be affected by the postponement of the scholarships".

Hastings Boys High School principal Rob Sturch said he had not been alerted there was an option for students to take a derived grade.

Apart from disappointed students who had worked hard to prepare for their scholarship exams, and couldn't yesterday, Mr Sturch said all other students had been fine and undertook their exams as planned.

A Havelock North High School spokesman said it had been "exams as normal" but had stressed there was the emergency derived grade process available if anyone required it.

Some pupils lived at Te Awanga and Haumoana so that option was there if they had endured a sleepless night and were not up to taking an exam.

There was no indication at this stage when the postponed exams would eventually take place.