The Qualifications Authority has proposed making university entrance harder to get but easier to understand.
The authority would like to see level three of the NCEA made a prerequisite for university study, but with more literacy credits required for entry.
To pass level three a student needs 60 level three credits and 20 other credits from levels two or three; university entrance currently requires only 42 level three credits.
The authority's chief executive, Karen Poutasi, says that only 5% of school-leavers who go to university do not have level three, and that under the changes most students would still get in.
The authority is consulting on the changes, which could be introduced in 2014.