Education Minister Chris Hipkins has acknowledged the "unprecedented disruption" and extraordinary challenges faced by students this year before NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship exams begin on Monday.
About 140,000 high school students will be taking the exams, which are being held 10 days late because of the impact of Covid-19 on learning this year.
"I want to congratulate students for their hard work during a year of unprecedented disruption, and I wish students all the best as they begin exams," Hipkins said.
"The wellbeing of students is one of the top priorities for the Government. I encourage students to stick to a study plan, remember to build in breaks for exercise and relaxation, and talk to someone if the pressure is getting too much.
"This is an important time of year, and whānau have vital roles to play in supporting and encouraging students to do their best."
Despite the impact of the virus outbreak, Hipkins said students would have a fair opportunity to achieve NCEA and go on to further study or work.
He said the Government had taken a range of steps to support students.
"Extra support is in place for Auckland students who faced a second lockdown, and those in other areas who were unable to attend school due to the resurgence of Covid-19 in August," Hipkins said.
"Exams end on 9 December, by which time around 140,000 students will have participated in 120 NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship exam sessions.
"Around 35,000 students from almost 300 schools are entered to sit some NCEA exams online. This year, 58 online exams will be available across NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3."
The minister said the increase from about 20,000 students entered for digital exams last year reflected the growth in online teaching and learning, which had accelerated this year.
NCEA results will be released in late January, and New Zealand Scholarship results in February.