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Changes to the Competency Tests for Overseas Qualified Nurses

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has upgraded the pattern of the CBT exam as a part of continuous improvement. The new test of competence has designed to make candidates meet the current standards of nursing practice in the UK and also to provide the candidate with a fair registration process experience. This will be the first review of the test of competence introduced since October 2014.

Currently, the test is conducted by Pearson Vue. However, the new test of competence has been designed by Alpha Plus which will be implemented from the 19th of July.

Alpha Plus, the test of competence technical support provider company for the NMC, reviewed the current test of competence to be able to register with the NMC UK for the overseas qualified nurses. The company has designed two tests of competence for the NMC, the CBT and the OSCE.

Important Dates

18 July 2021

This is the last date to apply for the CBT exam in the current pattern. If the candidate holds a CBT authorization and wants to sit in the current CBT on or before 1 August, the candidate must book the CBT with Pearson VUE on or before 18 July and after this date, the applicant will not be able to book the current exam model.

If the candidate is eligible to take the current CBT after bookings close on 18 July, then the applicant needs to contact the ToC team at, which can arrange the booking for that candidate.

Candidates route to the type of CBT exam varies based on the following conditions.

  • · Up till 31 July 2021, every candidate will appear in the old version of OSCE or CBT examinations. In the case of failure, the candidate will get three chances with ten days gap between each sit. However, the test needs to be completed two years or before August 2022.

  • · The new format will be applicable only after August 2022. If the candidate has not attempted CBT or OSCE before August 2021, the candidate will appear for the exam in the latest test of competence format.

The CBT exam pattern for the midwives will be similar to that of the adult nurse test of competence.

Changes in the CBT Examination

Current Test Format (Before August 2021): A single test of 120 multiple-choice questions with a duration of three hours.

New Format:

It has two parts. Part A is numeracy carries a weightage of 15 marks with 30 minutes duration, at the same time, Part B has clinical questions with 100 marks weightage and 2 hours and 30 minutes duration.

There is a buffer period is till august 2022.

Latest Fee Structure:

The new fee structure for the CBT exam is £83 for both A and B sections. In the case of failure of any single part; then the fee will be £50 for part A alone and £70 for part B alone.

Exams can be booked through the Pearson Vue website via the NMC portal.

Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) Updates

Current Exam Format:

There are six stations in the current format, i.e., four APIE and two clinical skill stations.

New Format:

The latest OSCE consists of ten stations.

· 4 APIE stations

· Two pair of two clinical skills with one professional value and one evidence-based practice.

Professional value and the evidence-based station are written stations and are a new addition to the latest test of competence. The marks for each station vary, and the time duration in total will be 2 hours and 45 minutes.

The OSCE test for Midwives

The midwifery OSCE assessment is similar to the adult test of competence with ten stations of four APIE and two pair of two skills. One linked skill will always include systematic examination of the newborn and postnatal check. The duration of the pair will be between 20-30 minutes. The total period of the test will be for 2 hours and 45 minutes, the same as that of the adult test of competence.


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