NMC Test of Competence for overseas nurses 

If you trained outside the United Kingdom, you will be required to complete the NMC Test of Competence which consists of two parts:  

  1. A computer-based test (CBT) 
  2. A practical test called an ”Objective Structured Clinical Examination,” (OSCE)

Part 1: Computer based test

The new CBT is split into two parts: Part A covers numeracy and Part B covers clinical questions for nursing or midwifery. 

CBT part Timing Number of questions
Part A: Numeracy
30 minutes
Part B: Clinical
2 hours and 30 minutes

All questions are scored as correct or incorrect and there is no partial credit. You will need to take the CBT test under formal exam conditions in a Pearson VUE test centre. See the www.pearsonvue.com/nmc/ website for more details. 

You can also read more about this exam in the NMC’s guide, Candidate information booklet for the NMC Test of Competence, Part 1: Pearson VUE. 

You can download the candidate booklets: 

Test guidance for level 1 nurse (PDF) 

Test guidance for nursing associate (PDF) 

The fee for sitting both parts of the new CBT will stay at £83. If you need to resit the new CBT, the following fees will apply: 

  • Resit Part A and Part B: £83 
  • Resit Part A only: £50 
  • Resit Part B only: £70 

Part 2: The OSCE exam (Objective Structured Clinical Examination)

Part 2 of the test is called the OSCE, which will act out scenarios which nurses and midwives would be likely to come across when they assess, plan, carry out and evaluate care. You must sit the OSCE exam at one of three test centres in the UK. These are: 

University of Northampton 

The University of Northampton’s website has some useful information and resources to help you understand and prepare for your OSCE:  

Oxford Brookes University (On campuses in Swindon and Oxford) 

Oxford Brookes University’s website also has some useful information and resources about OSCE: 

Ulster University  

you can also find information on the University of Ulster’s website: 

Exam attempts 

Candidates can have 3 attempts with 10 days gap between the attempts. Any candidates failed the 3rd attempt will require a 6 months gap before they can reapply to the NMC under a new application. 

OSCE preparation 

To ensure candidates have adequate time to prepare for the OSCE, they are given up to 12 weeks from the start date on their certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to complete the exam. In the run-up to the exam, candidates should be given support and the opportunity to practice and prepare for the OSCE.  

The experience a candidate has in the first few weeks is vital to their success in the OSCE. The NMC’s registration process no longer requires applicants to complete a period of supervised practice, therefore the importance of establishing a quality and well-structured induction and socialisation period is critical. Many trusts also provide specific OSCE preparation support for their international recruits.  

In preparation for the OSCE, it is important that candidates are familiar with the NMC nursing blueprints. The exam blueprints set out the scope and content of the OSCE in terms of the topics, skills and procedures that a newly registered nurse would need to know and be able to demonstrate. Find out more and access a copy of the blueprints on the NMC website. 

Top tips for preparing candidates for the OSCE 

The following top tips were provided by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – both trusts have support programmes in place.  

  • Empower candidates with practice and experience and stress the importance of being able to verbalise and demonstrate their knowledge. 
  • Build up their resilience and confidence to speak up in front of others, as this can be something which overseas nurses are not always comfortable with.  
  • Set up practice rooms in the same way as the OSCE, with simulated patients in a clinical setting, so that the setting is familiar to them. 

Fees for OSCE  

The fee for the new OSCE will stay at £794. You’ll also pay the same reduced resit fee of £397 if you need to resit 7 or fewer stations.