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.

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 2021, a total of 6063 applicants took a CBT and 97 percent achieved a pass.

April - June 2021: CBT pass rates

This represents the total number of CBTs delivered including resits.

  April 2021 May 2021 June 2021 Quarter total

CBT sittings

1847

1562

2702

6111

Pass rate

95%

98%

98%

97%

OSCE

Applicants are able to sit the OSCE in the UK at one of our approved test centres. Between April and June, a total of 5880 applicants took the OSCE and 94 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.

April - June 2021: OSCE pass rates

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

  April 2021 May 2021 June 2021 Quarter total

Oxford Brookes University

OSCE sittings

770

896

971

2637

Pass rate

71%

73%

73%

72%

University of Northampton

OSCE sittings

708

692

771

2171

Pass rate

80%

75%

74%

76%

Ulster University

OSCE sittings

693

872

696

2098

Pass rate

91%

87%

84%

78%

Total sittings 

OSCE sittings

2171

2460

2438

6671

Pass rate

80%

79%

76%

80%

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: