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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 July and September 2020, a total of 3,583 applicants took a CBT and 97 percent achieved a pass.

July - September  2020: CBT pass rates

This represents the total number of CBTs delivered including resits.

 

July
2020

August
2020

 September 2020

Qtr total

CBT sittings

1242

1023

1344

3609

Pass rate

97%

98%

97%

97%

OSCE 

Applicants are able to sit the OSCE in the UK at one of our approved test centres. Between July and September 2020, a total of 2786 applicants took the OSCE and 92 percent achieved a pass.

It’s important to note that the OSCE test centres reopened on 20 July which accounts for the decrease in testing capacity for that month. Since reopening we have been operating at a slightly reduced capacity to adhere to the social distancing procedures that we have set in place to ensure the safety of both candidates and test centre staff.

July - September 2020: OSCE pass rates

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

Test centre pass rates

July
2020

August 2020

September
2020

Qtr Total

Oxford Brookes University

OSCE sittings

163

278

323

764

Pass rate

79%

76%

68%

73%

University of Northampton

OSCE sittings

123

348

681

1152

Pass rate

79%

82%

82%

82%

Ulster University

OSCE sittings

181

464

448

1093

Pass rate

98%

97%

95%

96%

Total sittings 

OSCE sittings

467

1090

1452

3009

Pass rate

86%

87%

83%

85%

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.