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Register as a nursing associate

Taking the test of competence

Depending on where you trained, you may need to take a test of competence as part of your application for registration as a nursing associate.

The test of competence helps us make sure that you have the right skills and knowledge to practise safely in England.

It's in two parts: a theory based multiple choice exam known as the CBT and a practical test known as the OSCE.

The CBT and OSCE are designed against our standards of proficiency for nursing associates.

You'll need to wait until we tell you that you need the test of competence before you book your CBT or OSCE.

You'll need to complete both parts within two years of the date we tell you that you need to complete the test of competence, otherwise we'll close your application.

The CBT

The CBT is a multiple choice exam, which tests your theoretical practice-based knowledge. You’ll need to answer 120 questions and achieve a score of 66 percent to pass the exam. We review the pass mark regularly and it may change over time.

Booking your CBT

Once we've told you that you need to take the test of competence, you can book your CBT with our test provider Pearson Vue.

How to prepare

We recommend you read the following to help you prepare for your CBT:

Getting your result and additional attempts

Your CBT results will be available within 48 hours of your exam in your Pearson Vue account.

Once you have successfully passed your CBT, your NMC Online account will also update to reflect this.

You’ll be able to take a maximum of three CBT attempts as part of your application, with a minimum of 10 working days between each sitting.

If you’re not able to pass your CBT on your third attempt, your application will close and you’ll need to start a new application if you would like to continue with your registration.

The OSCE

The OSCE is a practical exam designed to test your clinical and communication skills. It's currently formed of six stations.

You’ll be asked to complete three clinical skill stations that you are likely to encounter whilst working in England. You’ll also need to complete three stations based on a scenario, during which you’ll be asked to consider ongoing assessment, implementing care and ongoing care for a service user.

Booking your OSCE

You will only be able to book your OSCE once we have told you that you need to take the test of competence; you won’t be able to book before this.

Once we have told you that you need to take the test of competence, you can book your OSCE with our test provider, the University of Northampton.

How to prepare

It’s important to remember that the OSCE is designed to test your ability to apply your clinical knowledge rather than testing how well you can remember and recite facts.

Questions will relate to current best practice in England and you will use equipment routinely available in English hospitals.

We recommend you read the following to help you prepare for your OSCE:

Once you've booked your OSCE you'll be able to access further resources provided by the University of Northampton.

Getting your result and additional attempts

We’ll send your OSCE result to you by email. We'll aim to let you know your result within 5 working days of your OSCE sitting.

You’ll be able to take a maximum of three OSCE attempts as part of your application, but you'll need to wait a minimum of 10 working days between each sitting.

If you’re not able to pass your OSCE on your third attempt, your application will close and you’ll need to start a new application if you would still like to register with us.

Requesting a reasonable adjustment

We’re committed to making adjustments to make sure that our processes are accessible for everyone.

If you think you'll require a reasonable adjustment for your CBT, you should contact us.

If you think you'll require a reasonable adjustment for your OSCE, you should contact the University of Northampton when booking your exam.

Pass rates

Depending on the number of test takers, we anticipate to share first pass rates on a quarterly basis.