Know how? The NMC is reviewing the tests of competence


There are two tests of competence conducted by the NMC and everyone has to pass both the tests and prove their professional competence in the process of NMC registration. The tests of competence give an assurance that the nurses are capable of working safely and effectively


Test 1: NMC – CBT

CBT is nothing but a Computer Based Test conducted through the network of Pearson Vue test centers located across the world. The test is an objective questionnaire containing 120 questions that are to be answered in a duration of 4 hours. A minimum score of 68% would enable the examinee to pass the test while there is no negative marking for the wrongly marked answers. This test can be taken from any part of the world, but only if the nurse gets a link sent by the NMC along with the NMC’s approval letter sent through an e-mail. The result would be published through an e-mail within 24 hours after the test. This concludes Part 1 of the NMC Application Assessment process.


Test 2: NMC – OSCE

OSCE is an Objective Structured Clinical Examination conducted through three designated test centers in the UK. An individual entering the UK as a nurse has up to three months (12 weeks) from the employment start date noted on the certificate of sponsorship to appear the OSCE. Applicants must complete the OSCE in the UK at an approved test center. The OSCE is made up of six separate stations using simulated patients in a clinical setting. Four stations are designed to test the candidate’s knowledge and understanding of assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation of care, and the remaining two stations test the clinical skills of the individual.

What is changing?

The NMC is introducing the changes to accommodate and promote higher standards of the nurses. The new changes will be effective from the beginning of the summer – June 2020. The NMC is also going to publish all of the support materials very soon to give candidates enough space for preparation and practice. The NMC seems to be very much in understanding from the side of a candidate and asserts, “We know that support and preparation for candidates is key to their success, so we’re putting in a lot of effort to improve the preparation and support materials we make available.”


The NMC has also found a new testing partner AlphaPlus and has been actively working with the team since June 2019. AlphaPlus is a specialist education assessment agency which is a pioneer working with many professional certification agencies.


Salient Changes are listed below:

The CBT will be split into two parts; Part A (numerical analysis) Part B (theoretical analysis)The OSCE will have 10 stations in total (4 more than the current 6) i.e., 4 Stations – 1 each for assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation, 4 Stations for testing the skill and 2 Stations (newly introduced), one will assess values and behavior and the other for evidence-based practice. OSCE marking criteria have also been improvised to be more holistic.The contents have been thoroughly reviewed and existing content has been also considered where ever found appropriate and safe apart from the additions. NMC has assured that the quality of preparatory materials would be improved and would be made widely available to the candidates and the trainers alike.


The NMC is focusing on wide publicity of the above changes among the people and the beneficiaries to ensure better understanding and also to promote maximum utility. The NMC in association with AlphaPlus is conducting as much as 4 workshops in different locations in the UK; apart from a number of webinars to facilitate the people who cannot attend the workshops.

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