Since 2019, we've been working in partnership with AlphaPlus to develop a new Test of Competence (ToC) that reflects our new standards for nurses and midwives.

We launched the new version of the ToC for nurses and midwives on 2 August 2021. This is known as the Test of Competence 2021.

If you're applying to our register as a nursing associate, you will continue to take the existing Test of Competence for nursing associates.

Transitioning to the new test

We've introduced a transition period to gradually phase out the legacy 2014 Test of Competence for nurses and midwives, while giving candidates enough time to prepare for and take the test that's applicable to them.

The legacy version of the test will be available for some candidates to take up to August 2022.

Watch our transitional arrangements webinar recording or download the webinar slides to find out more about transition.

Who will take the new version?

You will take the new Test of Competence 2021 if:

  • you start a new application on or after 2 August 2021
  • you already started an application, but haven't sat an attempt at either the CBT or the OSCE before 2 August 2021.

Who will take the legacy version?

If you sat an attempt at either the CBT or the OSCE before 2 August 2021, you will have up August 2022 to complete the legacy Test of Competence 2014.

The time you have depends on when your CBT or OSCE will expire if you’ve previously been successful in either test. 

  • Your eligibility date remains the same.
  • You cannot mix and match the legacy ToC with the new ToC. 
  • Your CBT and OSCE must be passed within two years of one another.
  • You will continue to have three attempts at each exam, with 10 days between attempts.
  • We encourage you to sit your remaining part before it expires so you can avoid having to re-sit the test.
  • Once the transition period ends, if you haven’t been successful in
    completing the legacy ToC you will need to sit the new ToC.

Examples of how the transition period might apply to you

Example 1 Sat an attempt at the CBT or OSCE before 2 August 2021
  • Joanna started her application in March 2021 and received confirmation from NMC that she is eligible to sit the ToC
  • Joanna sat and passed the CBT in June 2021
  • Joanna will be taking her first attempt OSCE in September 2021

Which version of the test will Joanna sit?

As Joanna had sat one part of the legacy ToC prior to 2 August 2021, she will be allowed to sit and pass the legacy OSCE until August 2022.

Even if Joanna had failed the CBT in this example, she would still be allowed to re-sit the legacy CBT and sit the legacy OSCE after the new ToC goes live on 2 August 2021 as she had sat one part of the legacy exam prior to the new test going live.

Example 2 Started an application before 2 August 2021, but has not yet sat an attempt at the CBT or OSCE
  • Dessie started her application in May 2021 and later received confirmation from the NMC that she is eligible to sit the ToC
  • Dessie is planning to sit her first CBT attempt in September 2021 and is planning to sit her first OSCE attempt after she’s passed the CBT

Which version of the test will Dessie sit?

Although Dessie started her application before 2 August 2021, she will be required to sit the new Test of Competence 2021 as she hadn’t attempted either part of the ToC before the new test went live.

To continue with the legacy ToC, applicants must have attempted at least one part of the legacy test before 2 August 2021.

Example 3 Started an application after 2 August 2021
  • Brett will be starting his application for registration in September 2021
  • Once Brett has received confirmation from the NMC that he is eligible to sit the ToC, he will book his CBT and OSCE in the following weeks

Which version of the test will Brett sit?

As Brett will be starting his application after 2 August 2021, he will be taking the new Test of Competence 2021 for both the CBT and OSCE.

Example 4 Applying for registration via our old overseas registration route before October 2019
  • Trishna started her application in August 2019
  • Trishna sat and passed the CBT at the beginning of October 2019
  • After receiving her decision letter from NMC, Trishna sat and failed her first OSCE attempt in February 2020
  • Due to unforeseen circumstances, Trishna has returned home and is undecided when she will return to sit the OSCE

Which version of the test will Trishna sit?

As Trishna has already sat part of the legacy ToC (in this example both the CBT and OSCE) and she is in receipt of a decision letter, she will be allowed to re-sit the legacy OSCE two more times (three attempts in total).

As Trishna passed the legacy CBT in October 2019, she will have until October 2021 to pass the legacy OSCE.

The CBT and OSCE must be taken within two years of one another so she will have until October 2021 to successfully complete the ToC.

Should Trishna’s CBT expire before she’s passed the OSCE, she must contact TOC@nmc-uk.org for further advice.

Example 5 CBT expires before passing the OSCE when applying via the new registration process
  • Daniel started his application in November 2019 and is applying for registration via the new overseas process
  • Daniel sat and passed the CBT in December 2019
  • Due to personal reasons, Daniel has decided to take the OSCE in February 2022

Which version of the test will Daniel sit?

Daniel has until December 2021 (two years from passing their CBT) to sit and pass the legacy OSCE.

As Daniel has decided not to sit the OSCE until February 2022, Daniel will need to book and sit the new CBT via his Pearson Vue account. Daniel will also need to book and sit the new OSCE.

Alternatively, Daniel has until December 2021 to sit and pass the legacy OSCE. Should he do so, he won’t need to re-sit the CBT or take the new ToC.

How has the test changed?

As well as reflecting our new standards, we've made some other changes to the new ToC that we've announced over the last year:

  • The new CBT is split into two parts: Part A will cover numeracy and Part B will cover clinical questions related to nursing or midwifery.
  • The new OSCE has ten stations, rather than six, to assess additional skills as well as the candidate’s values and behaviours, and evidence-based practice.

You can find a range of resources for the new test in our Test of Competence 2021 hub.

Webinar recordings

We held some webinars covering different aspects of the new test. You can watch the recordings and download slides for each of the webinars.

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