Take a test of competence to return to practice

You have the option to complete a test of competence if you cannot meet our readmission or revalidation practice hours requirements

We've updated our return to practice standards.

From 28 January 2020, if you don’t have enough practice hours to readmit to the register you can take a test of competence.

If you prefer, you can still complete a return to practice course.

About the test of competence

The test of competence is made up of two parts:

  • a multiple-choice computer based theoretical test known as the CBT
  • a practical test known as the OSCE

There's a different test of competence for each part of the register for nursing, midwifery and nursing associates. For nursing, there's a different test of competence for each field.

There's no test of competence available for a SCPHN registration so you’ll need to do a return to practice course instead.

If you're readmitting as a nurse, you can take the test of competence that’s relevant to the field that you’ll be practising in, regardless of your initial registration.

Your entry in the register will still show the field from your initial registration if you take a test of competence in a different field of nursing.

Taking the test of competence

Preparation materials

The test of competence is designed to test your knowledge and understanding across all areas of nursing or midwifery care.

The information below may help you to prepare.

Essential reading

The OSCE test centres also publish helpful materials on their websites:

Standards of proficiency

Test blueprints

Booking the test of competence

From 28 January 2020, you can book your test of competence in your NMC Online account.

We’ll then send you an email with details of how to book your CBT and OSCE.

You can sit your CBT or OSCE in any order, but you must successfully complete both parts to continue with your application for readmission.

Once you receive our email you can book your CBT with Pearson VUE and book your OSCE with one of our three test centres:

Getting your CBT results

You’ll be able to see your results in your Pearson Vue account 48 hours after you sit your CBT.

Test centre staff do not have access to the examination results.

Understanding your results

The decision as to whether a candidate passes or fails the CBT is governed by an overall pass mark.

Your result will be either a pass or a fail.

Find out more about the passing standing in the CBT candidate information booklet.

Your CBT result will be valid for two years.

Resitting the CBT

You can take a maximum of three CBT attempts as part of your application, but you’ll need to wait at least 10 days between each sitting.

If you’re not able to pass your CBT on your third attempt, your application will close and you’ll need to start a new readmission application.

Getting your OSCE results

We'll email your results within 5 working days of the date of your OSCE.

Understanding your results

If you pass your OSCE, you’ll be sent an email with details of what to do next. If you do not pass your OSCE, you’ll be sent an email with feedback on which stations and elements you were unsuccessful in.

This information will help you prepare for your resit attempt as you only need to resit the stations you did not pass.

Resitting the OSCE

You can take a maximum of three OSCE attempts as part of your application, but you'll need to wait at least 10 days between each sitting.

If you’re not able to pass your OSCE on your third attempt, your application will close and you’ll need to start a new readmission application.

You’ll need to wait at least six months before you sit the OSCE again.

If it has been more than two years since your passed your CBT by the time you pass your OSCE, you will need to take your CBT again.

Completing your readmission application

Once you’ve successfully completed both parts of your test of competence, we’ll send you an email inviting you to complete your application for readmission.

You’ll then need to show how you meet our other readmission requirements.

Your test of competence pass remains valid for up to five years. This means that you can use your test result to join or readmit to the register up to five years after you have passed.

Also, if you register and leave the register within five years of passing your test of competence, you will not need to take a further test of competence as you can use that test to readmit.