The Government will look at whether NCEA is over-assessing students.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins said a review to start early next year would also look at teacher workload and the role of NCEA level one.
NCEA was introduced in 2002 and replaced School Certificate, Sixth Form Certificate and Bursary.
Hipkins said the review will look at the role of each level of NCEA, and in particular the structure and relevance of level one and whether all young people should attempt it.
"The introduction of NCEA represented a significant modernisation of the system of secondary school assessment. However, [its] full potential has yet to be fully realised. This review will build on what has been achieved to date, and respond to emerging needs and opportunities," Hipkins said.
He said the review was an opportunity to "refine and strengthen our key national qualification for young people leaving school, and to ensure that NCEA remains relevant in the modern world".
"The Government is committed to delivering a future-focused education system that equips students with skills and knowledge to be globally competitive."
He added that students and teachers had said overassessment was a "real issue" that affected their well-being and workload.
"This and the importance of teaching life skills in schools, such as resilience, creativity, communication and adaptability, will form part of the review."
The Ministry of Education will run the review. Interested groups would be consulted and all New Zealanders will have the opportunity to comment and contribute.
"I will also establish a ministerial advisory group of innovative thinkers, who can challenge traditional thinking on senior secondary education and assessment, to lead the initial phase of the review with a discussion document for public consultation in April 2018," Hipkins said.
"I am also keen to hear from young people who are working towards an NCEA. I have set up a youth advisory group and will be seeking their insights early on in the process, and I want other students to contribute as well during the wider public consultation phase."
The terms of reference and the cabinet paper Reviewing NCEA are available at www.education.govt.nz/ncea-review.