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 April and June 2019, a total of 6,003 applicants took a CBT and out of those 98 percent achieved a pass. 

April – June 2019: CBT pass rates

This represents the total number of CBTs delivered including resits.

 

April 2019

May 2019

June 2019

Qtr total

CBT sittings

2,012

1,982

2,094

6,088

Pass rate

95%

98%

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 April and June2019, a total of 2,273 applicants took the OSCE and 94 percent achieved a pass.

April - June 2019: OSCE pass rates

This represents the total number of OSCEs delivered including resits.

Test centre pass rates

April
2019

May
2019

June
2019

Qtr Total

Oxford Brookes University

OSCE sittings

207

275

213

695

Pass rate

72%

78%

70%

74%

University of Northampton

OSCE sittings

321

374

336

1,031

Pass rate

81%

86%

85%

84%

Ulster University

OSCE sittings

240

329

295

864

Pass rate

88%

87%

86%

87%

Total sittings 

OSCE sittings

768

978

844

2,590

Pass rate

81%

84%

82%

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.