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What is the OSCE exam in the UK?

By Paul Hayward

If you’re planning to move to the UK for a nursing role, you will need to sit the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). It’s a competency test that is part of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) registration process for nurses and midwives trained outside the EU/EEA.

What do you have to do in the OSCE exam?

You will be required to act out scenarios that nurses and midwives are likely to experience when assessing, planning, delivering, and evaluating care in the UK. The exam is made up of six sections, using simulated patients in a clinical setting. Four of these are designed to test a person’s knowledge of assessment and evaluation of care, and the two remaining sections test clinical skills.

How to prepare for the OSCE exam

In the run-up to the OSCE exam, you will be given support and the opportunity to practise and prepare. An essential part of the preparation will be familiarising yourself with the NMC nursing exam blueprints. These will set out the content of the OSCE exam in terms of the topics and procedures that a newly registered nurse would need to know and be able to demonstrate. Other preparation support includes dedicated Facebook groups, mock exams and practice rooms.

Where can I take the OSCE exam?

Individuals must complete the OSCE exam in the UK, at an authorised test centre. There are now three universities that are approved OSCE test centres:

How long do I have to sit the OSCE exam?

A person coming into the UK for a nursing or midwifery role has up to three months, from the employment start date noted on their certificate of sponsorship (CoS), to sit the OSCE exam. During this time, they can be legally employed as a pre-registration candidate.

For more information on sitting the OSCE exam, or for additional preparation advice, get in touch with Paul Hayward, our Head of Nursing (International).