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The New Zealand Government is moving towards restricting access to tertiary education and implementing a managed entry scheme. It is therefore important to be able to predict whether a student has a reasonable likelihood of succeeding in tertiary engineering study. New Zealand secondary schools mostly operate on the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) model whereby subjects are assessed on the basis of discrete individual modules. The paper compares the NCEA results to first year grades in tertiary engineering subjects obtained from most New Zealand providers of the BE degree to determine whether these NCEA grades can be used as a predictor of success or failure in tertiary engineering programmes. This is the first nation-wide survey of its kind and has yielded surprising results. For example, predicting success based on whether a student has not achieved is more insightful than basing on achievements, which is counter to the basis of many school league tables worldwide.