NCEA results for 2021 have gone live online this morning on the NZ Qualifications Authority's website.
More than 160,000 students should now be able to access their results, with no delays so far despite high loads on the student portal.
The provisional results show overall attainment is slightly lower than 2020 but higher than 2019, NZQA deputy chief executive Andrea Gray said.
"This suggests the interventions put in place to support students following lockdown last year were largely successful."
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It's not yet known how results might differ across the country as they have not yet been analysed in depth, a spokesman for NZQA said.
One education leader has warned the differences between regions mean comparing results across city boundaries may not be helpful.
But the data does show exam attendance rates were low in the regions worst hit by lockdowns.
In Northland, Auckland and Waikato, students were absent for 43.2 per cent of externally assessed standards in 2021. In 2020, the rate was 10.7 per cent across those regions.
Nationally, the absence rate was 27.3 per cent, compared to 11.5 per cent in 2020.
Gray said the authority always expected students to attend exams where possible, but had anticipated Covid-19 would have "a considerable impact on attendance".
"Students worked hard to overcome the impact of lockdown, with outstanding support provided by teachers and whānau."
Seniors in Auckland, Waikato and Northland spent a large chunk of 2021 in lockdown and learning from home or online.
In recognition of the difficulties they faced, those students were made eligible for unexpected event grades, meaning they could choose to skip external exams and gain marks based on their work from earlier in the year.
That means many students in those regions will already know what their marks will be when they log in to the NZQA website.
Gray said NZQA expected overall attainment would be slightly lower than 2020 across NCEA levels 1, 2 and 3 and University Entrance, but up on 2019.
But that data was still only provisional as students had the opportunity to request a review or reconsideration of their exam papers. Extra results could also still come in from summer school programmes and schools could yet submit corrected or late-reported internal assessment results.
A full analysis will be completed in April and published in May as part of NZQA's annual statistics report.
Reviews, reconsiderations: What to do if you have questions
Gray said around 750,000 personalised exam booklets and digital exam entries had been marked. From January 31 marked NCEA exam papers will also be available online for the first time, instead of through the mail.
Students will then be able to apply for a review or reconsideration if they believe an error has been made in marking, with February 25 the last day to apply.
Results for New Zealand Scholarship exams are also expected to be released on February 10, with March 4 the last day to apply for a review or reconsideration. Top Scholar Award winners will be announced soon afterwards.
As well as seeing external assessment results when they log in, students will be able to see how many learning recognition credits they have earned, and whether they have been awarded course endorsements, a certificate endorsement or University Entrance.
Those who have not got the credits they need to attain NCEA or receive UE can get information on the NZQA website about the range of options and support available.
Students unsure of their National Student Number (NSN) or login can call on 0800 697 296, use the NZQA website's chat function, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For privacy reasons, NZQA can only give NSNs and results to the students themselves.
The authority's call centre opening hours have been extended until 8pm tonight, with extra staff ready to answer queries.