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Intern Assessment

Graduates of an accredited Bachelor of Pharmacy programme or applicants via the Non-Recognised Equivalent Qualifications Route (those with a pharmacy qualification from a country other than Australia, Canada, Ireland, the UK or the USA) must complete the New Zealand Intern Training Programme (ITP) within the intern pharmacist scope of practice and pass Council assessments.

Council accredits the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand (PSNZ) to run the ITP. Those undertaking the ITP must complete a set number of hours of supervised practice, as well as pass both Council assessments: Written Examination and the Assessment Centre. These assessments are the summative assessments that are included in the prescribed qualifications for registration in the Pharmacist scope of practice. 

Intern Written Examination

It is important that you read the information carefully and make yourself familiar with the format of the exam with the links provided.

The Intern Written Examination is a New Zealand specific examination used as part of the summative assessment of intern pharmacists. Its purpose is to assess the clinical knowledge and the application of that clinical knowledge of intern pharmacists.

The exam is a three hour open-book exam consisting of 125 questions. The main focus of the exam is practice-based (clinical) questions, the majority of which are associated with a patient profile.

The exam questions are all reviewed by current New Zealand pharmacists from community, hospital and academic settings to ensure that they are relevant, in terms of their context and content, to New Zealand pharmacy practice.

There are three exams a year, these take place in March, July and September. The exam will be held on the following dates in 2018:

  • Sunday, 16 September 2018

The fee for this will be $745.20 incl. GST. 

The exam will be held concurrently in the three main centres - dependent on registrations:
  • Auckland
  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
NOTE: Interns must pass the exam to be eligible to attend an Assessment Centre; in addition, the Intern Training Programme must confirm the intern as competent to practise as a pharmacist.

To pass the exam, candidates must achieve an overall pass mark of 65% or above, as well as the minimum pass mark in each of the following four domains:

  • Domain M1: Practise Professionalism in Pharmacy (minimum pass mark 63%) - this domain will not test ethical behaviors within M1
  • Domain O1: Health and medicine management. May include some if O2.2 Health promotion (minimum pass mark 50%)
  • Domain O3: Supply and administration of medicines (minimum pass mark 50%)
  • Pharmaceutical Calculations: (minimum pass mark 63%)

Those on the ITP must complete at least 50% of their supervised practice undertaken while enrolled in the Intern Training Programme before attending the Written Exam. (For this purpose, supervised practice commences on 1 February, and does not include any supervised practice undertaken before that date).  

Those on the ITP who are completing the Non REQR pathway to registration and pharmacists who are Returning to Practice (category 4) are not required to complete 50% of their supervised practice before attending a Written Exam although it is strongly recommended.
Intern pharmacists can have up to three attempts to pass the exam. Any further attempts will be at the discretion of the New Zealand Pharmacy Council.

As Australian interns sit a similar examination, on-line modules for interns to prepare for the exam can be accessed by following the link below.  Although the legislation and practice (forensic) questions in the on-line modules will apply only to an Australian pharmacy context, the vast majority of the other questions will apply to New Zealand pharmacy practice. All questions in the New Zealand exam will be of New Zealand pharmacy content.

Helpful links:

An online application form to register for the Written Exam will be available near to the time of each exam

Registering for the Intern Written Exam and tips on how to prepare

Pearson VUE registration instructions (step two)

Exam Rules

Domain type written exam questions - examples

Practice paper - questions

Practice paper - answers

Sample legislation questions - questions and answers

Online - modules

Pearson VUE this tutorial will give you an indication of what the exam will look like on screen

Written Exam - a problem during the written exam? See Council's Examination and Assessment Adverse Event Policy and Process. Note - any action must be taken before the examination results are published.


The exam is 'open book' which means interns can bring any (paper based) reference material to the exam. Electronic reference materials may not be brought into the examination. This includes all cell phones and electronic tablets, smartphones etc.

The New Zealand Formulary will be provided electronically on each candidate's computer in a pdf version for use in the exam. It is therefore important that the intern is familiar with this pdf format; available at the New Zealand Formulary site: Users must register to use the New Zealand Formulary e-book, downloadable as a pdf version.

Refund of fees for Examination Cancellation - After examination registrations have closed

If you need to cancel your examination registration AFTER the registration period has closed, you will need to provide supporting documentation explaining the reason for your cancellation. Applications for refund will be assessed on a case by case basis.Your supporting documentation should be scanned and emailed to Assessments Manager.

Circumstances that may prevent you from attempting the examination on the day

If you are aware in the lead-up to the examination day that you may not be able to attend, please contact Fiona McCourt as soon as possible on the day of the examination. All decisions on candidates entering the exam will be made by the Pearson VUE who invigilate the exams on Council’s behalf. 

You will need to email a scan of your original relevant supporting documentation explaining the reason for your absence. We will consider your circumstances and your supporting evidence on a case by case basis, and you may be eligible to receive a partial refund.

Illness or personal circumstances
If you are unwell or influenced by personal circumstances on the day of the examination, but have made the decision to sit the examination, your results will stand and you will not be offered a refund.

For further information please do not hesitate to contact the Assessments Manager.

Intern Assessment Centre

The intern pharmacists' Assessment Centre is available to eligible candidates in May and November each year.

Candidates must pass the Written Exam and successfully complete the Intern Training Programme in order to attend an Assessment Centre. 

The Assessment Centre is an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) comprises of a series of stations where Candidates encounter a standardised patient and have to deal appropriately with the situation presented. A standardised patient is an actor who must be trained to play the role of a patient consistently, accurately and repeatedly.

The stations are based on ecological validity - that is real life day to day encounters that a pharmacist may come across. All the stations have been developed and moderated by the profession. 

The best practice for an Assessment Centre is for interns to use the time in their internship placement to meet and interact with patients. The more experience interns have in channelling their clinical knowledge into application and communication with the people that come into their pharmacy the more they will gain both personally and professionally.