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Pass rates and number of candidates

Data on the nursing and midwifery 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:

  • Stage one - a computer-based multiple choice test (CBT) and
  • Stage two - 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 as part of an application to join our register as a nurse or midwife.

We update this information four times per year.

Stage 1 - 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 July and September 2019, a total of 5,620 applicants took a CBT and 98 percent achieved a pass. 

 July - September 2019: CBT pass rates

This represents the total number of CBTs delivered including resits.

 

July 2019

 August 2019

 September 2019

Qtr total

CBT sittings

2091

1857

1709

5,657

Pass rate

97%

97%

97%

97%

Stage 2 - OSCE 

Once someone has passed the CBT, they may go on to sit the OSCE in the UK at one of our approved test centres.

Between July and September 2019, a total of 2,727  applicants took the OSCE and 93 percent achieved a pass.

 July - September 2019: OSCE pass rates

This represents the total number of OSCEs delivered including resits.

Test centre pass rates

July
2019

August
2019

September
2019

Qtr Total

Oxford Brookes University

OSCE sittings

283

244

346

873

Pass rate

73%

68%

71%

71%

University of Northampton

OSCE sittings

424

430

586

1440

Pass rate

83%

81%

78%

84%

Ulster University

OSCE sittings

309

383

162

854

Pass rate

92%

86%

96%

90%

Total sittings 

OSCE sittings

1016

1057

1094

3167

Pass rate

83%

80%

78%

80%

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.