Becoming a registered nurse in the UK requires passing the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) Test of Competence. This consists of a multiple-choice Computer-Based Test (CBT) and a practical Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the NMC registration process and detailed information on preparing for and passing the CBT and OSCE.
NMC Registration Process Overview
The typical NMC registration process for international nurses has five main steps:
- Self-Assessment: Determine your eligibility and suitability to practice as a nurse in the UK.
- Pass the CBT: Study for and pass the multiple-choice computer-based test.
- Submit Documents: Provide identity, qualification, health, and other required documents.
- Pass the OSCE: Prepare for and pass the practical clinical skills exam.
- Complete Registration: Receive final approval and registration from the NMC.
The CBT and OSCE must be passed within two years of each other to complete the NMC registration application.
All About the CBT Exam
CBT Format and Content
As of August 2021, the updated CBT format consists of:
- Part A – Numeracy assessing your math skills and ability to carry out drug calculations.
- Part B – Clinical testing your understanding of clinical topics like health promotion, nursing interventions, anatomy and physiology.
The clinical portion is tailored to your specific nursing field such as adult, mental health, learning disabilities, or children’s nursing.You will have access to an on-screen calculator and sheet of common formulas. Each section is timed separately and you can take short breaks between parts.
Booking and Taking the CBT
You must first receive CBT eligibility from the NMC. Then create an account at the Pearson VUE NMC portal to select an exam date and test location.On exam day, bring your passport for ID verification. Follow all instructions from staff to avoid issues. Testing rules and policies like exam security and misconduct procedures are covered in the NMC CBT candidate handbook.Results are emailed within 48 hours. You must pass both sections to pass the overall CBT.
CBT Revision Resources
It’s essential to properly revise for the knowledge-intensive CBT exam. Recommended study materials include:
- NMC CBT Information Booklets: Detailed breakdowns of exam content, format, registration, rules, and results.
- NMC Standards and Proficiencies: Provide the competencies and principles assessed in the exam.
- Textbooks: Such as Oxford Handbook for Nurses and Mosby’s Nursing Skills cover key theory and procedures.
- Online Practice Tests: Mimic real NMC CBT questions like those on Nurse Theory, Nurse Express, and Nurse Achieve.
- Study Groups: Connect with peers to discuss concepts, test each other’s knowledge and keep motivated.
Set a structured revision schedule and focus on your weakest nursing domains. Allot time to practice drug calculations as numeracy accounts for 30% of the CBT.
Mastering the OSCE
Upon passing the CBT, the next stage is preparing for the practical OSCE exam.
The OSCE tests your ability to demonstrate clinical and communication skills in simulated real-world scenarios. Key details:
- 8-10 stations each with a nursing task or simulation.
- 5 minutes per station to read instructions and 15 minutes to complete the skill.
- You are observed and marked by assessors using detailed criteria.
- Covers areas like patient assessments, documentation, infection control, medications, and emergency response.
Scoring and Results
You must pass all stations to pass the OSCE overall. Results are typically available within 5 working days. OSCE resits involve rebooking and repaying for the full exam.
Where and How to Prepare
- Review Resources: Download the NMC OSCE information booklet covering content, format, rules, and the marking scheme. Also read guidance like the NMC Code and Skills for Health National Occupational Standards.
- Online Video Libraries: Watch step-by-step demonstration videos of core nursing skills and procedures. Useful channels are RegisteredNurseRN and Nurse Bass on YouTube.
- Practice OSCE Stations: Book dedicated OSCE training workshops where you rotate through mock exam stations for hands-on practice.
- Peer Roleplay: Ask nurse friends to act as patients while you simulate assessments and interventions. Provide feedback to improve each other’s technique.
- Develop Checklists: Create station-specific checklists covering equipment, step-by-step process, communication phrases to memorize and use for each case.
Thorough preparation and repetition of OSCE scenarios will boost your clinical abilities and confidence for test day.
Continuing Your NMC Application
Once you receive your passing CBT and OSCE results, you can submit supporting documents to the NMC for review.Required identity, health, qualification and other documents are outlined on the NMC registration page.The NMC aims to assess applications within 30-90 days. You will then undergo final checks before receiving your NMC pin and joining the official register as a licensed nurse.
Becoming a registered nurse in the UK is a straightforward but rigorous process with the NMC CBT and OSCE exams at its core.Diligent preparation using the best textbooks, online question banks, training workshops and other revision resources is key to successfully demonstrate your nursing knowledge. This will allow you to pass both tests on the first attempt and continue with your application.
Stay motivated towards your goal of receiving those cherished NMC registration pins allowing you to positively impact patients. All the hard work will pay off when you officially join the NHS workforce as a licensed nurse.
- Step by Step Process of Becoming A United Kingdom Registered Nurse (UKRN): This article explains the benefits, requirements, and procedures of becoming a nurse in the UK, as well as how to find a job as a nurse in this country.
- Overseas Nurses recruitment and OSCE preparation – UK: This article provides information on the legal requirements, the NMC registration process, and the OSCE preparation for overseas nurses who want to work in the UK.
- Requirements for International Nurses who want Register as A United Kingdom Registered Nurse (UKRN) with UK NMC: This article covers the specific requirements from the NMC for overseas nurses to register in the UK, such as the evidence, the CBT, the OSCE, and the registration fee.
- Free UK NMC CBT for overseas nurses: This article offers a free online course to prepare for the NMC CBT, which is a computer-based test consisting of 120 multiple choice questions for 4 hours.