Whakamātautau Mutunga o te Motu
State Final Examinations

At the completion of a programme leading to registration as a registered nurse or enrolled nurse, students are required to sit and pass the Nursing Council State Final Examination (the examination).

2021 State Final Examinations

 The State Final Examination is offered every March, July and November.
The 2021 State Final Examination will be held on:
  • Tuesday 16 March 2021 (results released on 9 April 2021)
  • Tuesday 20 July 2021 (results released on 13 August 2021)
  • Tuesday 16 November 2021 (results released on 10 December 2021)
  • Tuesday 25 January 2022 (results released 18 February 2021).

Applying for the State Final Examination

The Nursing Council will email candidates the login information for the online application approximately 12 weeks prior to the examination date. Applications close 6 weeks before the examination. 

To complete the application candidates will need the following:

  • 2x Referees and their contact details (criteria apply see below *)
  • A personal email address – not one issued by the institute
  • If already registered with the Council, they will need to enter their registration number.
  • Examination/registration fee for candidates who pay individually – either credit card or direct credit – see fees page  of the website. 

* Referee criteria – candidates are required to submit the names, addresses, contact numbers and email addresses of two persons of good standing in the community where you live or have lived in New Zealand who have known you during the period of your nursing education. These people can not be relatives, flatmates, fellow students, or educators from your nursing school and must be willing to support your application for registration. 

Candidates will receive a confirmation email at the end of the application process.

Ministry of Justice Criminal Record History

In order to be registered you are required to supply us with your criminal conviction history obtained within the last three months. Please go to the Ministry of Justice website www.justice.govt.nz/criminal-records/get-your-own/ to request your own criminal conviction history. You need to request an electronic copy of your record and forward the results directly to us by email [email protected]. The process you need to complete with the Ministry of Justice is outlined below.

Ministry of Justice Process map

Failing to supply this information will delay your registration.

Note: We no longer require police vetting which is now replaced with the process outlined above.

Important: If we receive a criminal conviction report for a student who has more than one drink driving conviction, the student may be required to obtain a medical assessment by their General Practitioner (at their own expense). The assessment may also need to include CDT (Carbohydrate Deficient Transferring) and Liver Function tests which can cost $100 - $200 approximately. The purpose of this requirement is to satisfy us that the student is able to perform the functions required for the practice of nursing, and that the student is not unfit to practise because of an alcohol dependency or abuse.

Criminal Convictions

  • You are also required to disclose any convictions or charges that occur from the date of completing the application until your registration.
  • Under the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004 criminal convictions may have been removed from your record and you do not need to declare these convictions. Information about this is available at www.justice.govt.nz.
  • If you have a conviction you are invited to provide a written explanation, outlining any mitigating circumstances and any steps you have taken to address the conduct that led to the conviction. You will be required to satisfy the Nursing Council that the conviction does not reflect adversely on your fitness to practise as a nurse.
  • The Registrar may decide to register you after considering this response or may refer your application for registration to a registration committee. You will be given the opportunity to provide a written and/or oral response to that committee before any decision about your registration is made. 
  • The Head of Nursing from your school is also required to provide a letter acknowledging that you have declared your conviction and supporting your registration.

Privacy Act 1993

  • The personal information collected in the application form is required and held by the Nursing Council for the purpose of your application for registration under sections 15 and 16 of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003. 
  • You are entitled to ask the Nursing Council for access to, and correction of, personal information.
  • Unless you advise the Nursing Council otherwise, your results will be disclosed to the relevant school of nursing.

The State Final Examinations Structure has been simplified

Registered and Enrolled Nurses

The structure of the November 2021 State Final Examination will be simpler. The old framework which was based on four key categories and six subcategories will be replaced with the following three competence domains and a fourth section on medicine and fluid calculations. The domains and the proportion of questions for each are as follows:

  • Professional Responsibility  = 20%
  • Management & Delivery of Nursing Care = 60%
  • Interpersonal Relationships = 10%
  • Medicine & Fluid Calculations = 10%

These changes will make clear and specific links to Council's competencies for registered and enrolled nurses, emphasise the application of knowledge required for a newly graduated nurse to practise safely, and make the process for sitting the exam more straightforward for candidates.

There is no change to what is being assessed or the standard required to pass, only the format of the exam presentation has been altered.

A robust moderation process will continue to be undertaken by a psychometrician from the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) to ensure no candidate is disadvantaged and that pass rates remain consistent.


State Final Examinations results

Results for all candidates will be emailed directly from the Nursing Council to candidates’ email addresses as supplied on the online application form on the morning of the day the results are released.

Examination results are issued on a pass or fail basis and a percentage mark is not provided. 

Results are not available over the phone.

Successful candidates

Successful candidates who have met all other requirements are registered by the Nursing Council and will receive an email regarding their results. The email will also include a link to apply for an Annual Practising Certificate (APC) online. 

Successful candidates who have not met all other requirements will have their results issued as Passed/Requirements Not Met.

Candidates with criminal convictions may also have their registration delayed while further information is sought from candidates and candidate referees for consideration by the Nursing Council Registration Committee. 

Unsuccessful candidates

Unsuccessful candidates will receive an email regarding their results. These results will also include State Final Examination resit information where applicable. Results will also be posted out to unsuccessful candidates including resit information where applicable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q Why do I only get a pass or fail result rather than the actual percentage result for my exam?

A The Council state final examinations are assessed on a pass / fail basis, thus an overall percentage is not allocated. The purpose of the state final examination is to determine competence and safety to practise. Therefore those candidates who pass are considered safe to practice. 

Q I have passed the examination, can I get percentage results if I really want to?

A Yes, you will need to login to your Nursing Council account and click on the Request for Analysis of Exam Results button. Fill in the request form and pay the $79.00 processing fee.

Q Can I work as a Healthcare Assistant (HCA) once I am registered as a Registered Nurse or Enrolled Nurse?

A Yes you can work as a Healthcare Assistant once you have passed the State Final Examination, you are registered and have an Annual Practising Certificate. A Registered or Enrolled Nurse who wants to work as Healthcare Assistant is an employment matter and not something that the Nursing Council needs to be notified of.

The Nursing Council does have some words of caution for Registered or Enrolled Nurses taking on a Healthcare Assistant role.

As a Registered or Enrolled Nurse you need to be very careful that you only take on the Healthcare Assistant role if that is what you are employed as. This means ensuring that you are not taking on additional responsibilities that would ordinarily be part of the role of a Registered or Enrolled Nurse. The Registered Nurse or Enrolled Nurse needs to ensure that he/she is not using his/her nursing knowledge in the role as a Healthcare Assistant.

The Registered Nurse or Enrolled Nurse also needs to be aware that they may be held accountable under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (the Act), because he/she is still on the nursing register. It is not a requirement that a Registered Nurse or Enrolled Nurse holds a current Annual Practising Certificate for charges of professional misconduct to be brought under the Act. 

It is also important to note that Registered Nurses or Enrolled Nurses working as Healthcare Assistants are not maintaining competence through professional development and are not being measured against the Nursing Council competencies for the Registered Nurse or Enrolled Nurse scope of practice . This also means for example, that Healthcare Assistant ‘clinical’ hours do not count towards practice hours when applying for a practising certificate as a Registered or Enrolled Nurse and similarly professional development is unlikely to count either.

For more information email [email protected]