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 October and December 2020, a total of 4357 applicants took a CBT and 98 percent achieved a pass.

October - December 2020: CBT pass rates

This represents the total number of CBTs delivered including resits.

 

October
2020

November
2020

December
2020

Qtr total

CBT sittings

1420

1454

1506

4381

Pass rate

98%

97%

97%

97%

OSCE 

Applicants are able to sit the OSCE in the UK at one of our approved test centres. Between October and December, a total of 4170 applicants took the OSCE and 93 percent achieved a pass.

Since reopening on 20 July 2020, we have been operating at a slightly reduced capacity to adhere to the social distancing procedures. This is to ensure the safety of both candidates and test centre staff.

October - December 2020: OSCE pass rates

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

Test centre pass rates

October
2020

November
2020

December
2020

Qtr Total

Oxford Brookes University

OSCE sittings

449

499

438

1386

Pass rate

68%

72%

69%

70%

University of Northampton

OSCE sittings

664

602

567

1813

Pass rate

81%

84%

81%

82%

Ulster University

OSCE sittings

557

569

428

1554

Pass rate

94%

91%

90%

92%

Total sittings 

OSCE sittings

1650

1670

1433

4753

Pass rate

82%

83%

80%

82%

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.