We use the Test of Competence (ToC) to assess the skills and knowledge of people applying to join our register from overseas or rejoin our register after a long period away from practice.

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.

Test of Competence 2014

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 2021, a total of 59 applicants took the legacy CBT and 75 percent achieved a pass.

This figure is a smaller sample in comparison to the previous quarters just because most of the candidates are now taking the new CBT since this went live on 2 August 2021.

October - December 2021: CBT pass rates

This represents the total number of legacy CBTs delivered including resits.

  October 2021 November 2021 December 2021 Quarter total

CBT sittings

28

18 15

61

Pass rate

71%

78%

67%

72%

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 5,715 applicants took the legacy OSCE and overall, 91 percent achieved a pass.

October - December 2021: OSCE pass rates

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

  October 2021 November 2021 December 2021 Quarter total

Oxford Brookes University

OSCE sittings

881

961

727

2569

Pass rate

68%

68%

68%

68%

University of Northampton

OSCE sittings

794

748

743

2285

Pass rate

77%

80%

77%

78%

Ulster University

OSCE sittings

721

749

514

1984

Pass rate

84%

83%

84%

84%

Total sittings 

OSCE sittings

2396

2458

1984

6838

Pass rate

76%

76%

76%

76%

Test of Competence 2021

TOC 2021 launched on 2 August 2021 for nurses and midwives and on 31 January for nursing associates.

CBT

Between October and December 2021, a total of 8,612 applicants took the new CBT and 83 percent passed both parts of the CBT on their 1st attempt, across all fields of practise.  

October - December 2021: CBT pass

This represents the total number of new CBTs delivered including resits.

  October 2021 November 2021 December 2021 Quarter total
Part A: Numeracy

Total sittings

2942

3176

3171

9289

Pass rate

91%

92%

91%

91%

Part B: Clinical 
Total sittings 2922 3193 3237 9352
Pass rate 90% 88% 89% 89%

OSCE

Between October and December, a total of 506 applicants took the new OSCE and overall, 65 percent achieved a pass.

  October 2021 November 2021 December 2021 Quarter total

Total sittings

60

167 380

607

Pass rate

52%

54%

54%

54%

The lower number of candidates taking the new OSCE is due to the fact that most applicants currently taking the OSCE are still eligible to continue with the legacy OSCE during our transition period, until 31 July 2021.

Find out more about our transition period

As we are seeing an increase in applicants taking the new OSCE month by month, in the next quarter when we will present the breakdown of volumes and pass rates across the delivery partners (same as the legacy stats).

Factors that influence pass rates

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.