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Pass rates and number of candidates

Data on the test of competence for overseas applicants

Anyone trained outside the EU wishing to join our register must take a test of competence (ToC) as part of the application process to show they meet our high standards.

The ToC is made up of two parts:

  • a computer-based multiple choice test (CBT) 
  • an observed structured clinical examination (OSCE) where candidates carry out practical tests.

The information below shows the number of people who have taken each part of the test and their pass rates.

We update this information four times per year.

CBT

The CBT is run by our partners Pearson VUE. Candidates can attend one of a number of test centres to take the test.

Between April and June 2020, a total of 1,525 applicants took a CBT and 99 percent achieved a pass.

April - June 2020: CBT pass rates

This represents the total number of CBTs delivered including resits.

 

April 2020

May 2020

 June 2020

Qtr total

CBT sittings

45

353

1,127

1525

Pass rate

96%

100%

98%

99%

OSCE 

Our OSCE test centres closed on 24 March as a result of the government’s response to Covid-19 and re-opened to resume testing on 20 July. The below pass rate data therefore only confirms pass rate information for the first quarter of 2020.

Applicants are able to sit the OSCE in the UK at one of our approved test centres. Between January and March 2020, a total of 3,944 applicants took the OSCE and 96 percent achieved a pass.

January - March 2020: OSCE pass rates

The below table represents the total number of OSCEs delivered including resits.

Test centre pass rates

January 2020

February 2020

March 2020

Qtr Total

Oxford Brookes University

OSCE sittings

501

563

344*

1,408

Pass rate

59%

77%

72%

69%

University of Northampton

OSCE sittings

716

698

136**

1,550

Pass rate

77%

77%

96%

78%

Ulster University

OSCE sittings

538

594

686

1,818

Pass rate

87%

86%

91%

88%

Total sittings 

OSCE sittings

1,755

1,855

1,166

4,776

Pass rate

75%

80%

86%

79%

*Figures up to and including 23 March 2020. Oxford Brookes University closed on 23 March.

**In March, the University of Northampton (UON) was closed for a period of time due to refurbishment work. The pass rate for UON in March is based on re-sits only.

Factors that influence pass rates

The test of competence gives us assurance that nurses and midwives coming to the UK are capable of working safely and effectively.

There are a number of factors that influence an applicant’s success rate, in particular for the OSCE, and we've been working with OSCE test centres and employers who support applicants through the OSCE process to better understand these.

The most important factor is test preparation and having access to good quality support. The vast majority of applicants are supported by an employer or recruitment agency and the level of support and quality of test preparation can vary greatly.

Also important, in particular for candidates who are new to the UK, is the amount of time candidates have to settle in and acclimatise themselves to the UK ahead of the examination.

The impact of pastoral care that is given to applicants during the settling in, preparation period and on the day of the OSCE should not be underestimated. This period can often be emotional and, at times, stressful due to the high levels of pressure and responsibility that many candidates face.

Over the last year, to help candidates prepare for their OSCE, test centres have released various support materials, including OSCE mock exams, marking criteria and top tips. These materials and other guidance documents can be found on their websites:

Reviewing our overseas registration process

We're continually reviewing our registration process for nurses and midwives trained outside the EEA. Over the last year we've introduced a number of interim changes and have planned more improvements over the next year. 

Find out more about the changes.