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 January and March 2019, a total of 5,564 applicants took a CBT and out of those 79 percent achieved a pass so far. 

January – March 2019: Monthly breakdown 

 

January 2019

February 2019

March 2019

Qtr total

CBT sittings

2,015

1,994

2,095

6,104

Pass rate

67%

72%

78%

72%

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 January and March 2019, a total of 1,961 applicants took the OSCE and 92 percent achieved a pass so far.

January - March 2019: OSCE pass rates

Test centre pass rates

January 2019

February 2019

March 2019

Qtr Total

Oxford Brookes University

OSCE sittings

227

212

170

609

Pass rate

65%

67%

61%

65%

University of Northampton

OSCE sittings

285

281

348

914

Pass rate

89%

83%

84%

85%

Ulster University

OSCE sittings

272

214

243

729

Pass rate

91%

82%

86%

87%

Total sittings

OSCE sittings

784

707

761

2,252

Pass rate

83%

78%

79%

80%

Background context

The OSCE is rightly a challenging test because it gives us assurance that nurses and midwives coming to the UK are capable of working safely.

There are a range of factors that affect the OSCE pass rates. We have worked with the test centres and employers to better understand what affects candidates’ success.

We know that the support that an individual has through the process to help their preparation is important. We also know the level of support candidates receive can vary.

The length of time a candidate has been in the UK can also affect the likeliness of whether they will pass.

The number of applicants sitting the test at each test centre will also influence the pass rate. The fewer the people who sit the test at a centre, the greater the influence their individual result has on the overall pass rate.

The number of first attempts versus number of resits in any given month can also influence the pass rates.

Over the last couple of months, test centres have released additional OSCE support material, including a mock exam and a corresponding marking criteria. These documents can be found on their websites:

OSCE resit requirements have changed as of 16 July 2018, which means anyone taking an OSCE resit will only need to re-sit the part that they’ve previously failed.

We've also reduced the 3 months waiting time between the second and third attempt to 10 working days as of 1 December 2018.