NMC Test of Competence for Nurses CBT: What You Need To Know


If you're a nurse who wants to work in the United Kingdom, you'll need to take the NMC Test of Competence. This exam is designed to ensure that nurses have the necessary knowledge and skills to provide safe and effective care to patients. In this blog post, we'll answer some common questions asked about the NMC Test of Competence for Nurses CBT.

nurse preparing for the NMC CBT

What is the format of the NMC Test of Competence for Nurses CBT?

The NMC Test of Competence exam consists of two parts. Part 1 is a Computer-Based Test (CBT) which consists of multiple-choice questions that tests your theoretical knowledge, while Part 2 (OSCE) is a practical exam that assesses your clinical skills.

Part 1 (CBT) of the NMC Test of Competence takes the following format:

  • The exam consists of 120 multiple-choice questions that are split into two sections:
    • Part A (Numeracy) calculation-based questions: This section typically consists of a set of calculation-based questions designed to assess the ability of nurses to perform drug calculations, fluid balance calculations, and other related calculations.
    • Part B (Clinical) clinical-based questions: designed to assess the knowledge and understanding of nursing practice, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, infection control, and other related areas.
  • These questions must be completed in a maximum of 4 hours.
  • 50 questions will relate to generic nursing competencies found in each domain of nursing.
  • 50 questions will be the application of generic nursing competencies to the specific field of nursing being applied for, for example, as applied to the adult, child, person with a learning disability or person with a mental health problem.
  • 20 questions will focus solely on the specific competencies required for the field of nursing being applied for (e.g. adult nursing).
  • The questions are randomly selected and cover the 4 fields of nursing:
    • adult nursing (as outlined by the 7 platforms in the adult nursing blueprint)
    • child nursing
    • mental health nursing
    • learning disabilities nursing
  • Some questions may have more than one correct answer, so be sure to read the question carefully.
  • You can flag questions that you want to review later, and you can also go back and change your answers.
  • You will receive your results via email within 48 hours after taking the examination.

It is important to note that the format of the NMC CBT exam may be subject to change, so it is always best to consult the official NMC website for the most up-to-date information.

How often is the NMC CBT offered?

The NMC CBT is offered throughout the year, with multiple test dates available each month. You can select your preferred test date and location during the registration process via the Pearson VUE website.

How long is the NMC CBT?

clocking counting down the time to complete the NMC CBT

The maximum time limit for direct testing is 4 hours and this includes any breaks from testing, which is optional.

The amount of time that you spend on each part may vary depending on factors such as individual pace, familiarity with the exam format, and proficiency in the subject matter. However, it is generally recommended that candidates aim to allocate approximately 2 hours for Part A (Numeracy) and 2 hours for Part B (Clinical). No scheduled breaks are allowed during this testing period.

If you need to take an unscheduled break or leave the testing room for any reason, please raise your hand and wait for the exam invigilator to escort you out. You must leave the testing room during any break, and it is recommended that you remain in the test centre. It is strictly prohibited to access any personal items during a break from testing, as doing so may result in cancellation of your CBT results. Once you return to the testing room, the exam invigilator will resume the exam on your computer.

It's important to note that there is no penalty for completing either part of the CBT earlier than the allotted time. Hence, some candidates may finish each part earlier than others.

What is the pass rate for the NMC CBT?

The NMC CBT does not have a fixed pass rate, as it is not determined by a pre-set percentage. Instead, the pass mark is decided using a standard setting process, which takes into account the difficulty of the questions on the test. This means that the pass mark may vary from one test to another, depending on the difficulty level of the questions.

However, the NMC has set the standard for the Test of Competence for Nurses to assess whether a candidate can practise safely and effectively as a newly registered nurse in the UK.

How do I register for the NMC CBT?

nurse registering for the NMC CBT

To register, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Create an NMC Online Account by visiting the NMC website and clicking on the "NMC Online" link. From there, select "Create an account”.
  2. Fill in your personal details, including your name, address, contact information and professional details.
  3. Select a CBT test date and location that is most convenient for you.
  4. Pay your registration fee (this will vary depending on the type of registration you are applying for).
  5. Submit your application and await your confirmation email once your application has been processed.

What is the cost of the NMC CBT?

nurse registering for the NMC CBT

The cost of sitting both parts of the NMC CBT is currently £83. This fee covers the cost of administering the test and does not include any other expenses, such as travel or accommodation.

If you have failed the exam on your first attempt and need to resit the CBT, the following fees will apply:

  • £83 to resit Part A and Part B
  • £50 to resit Part A only
  • £70 to resit Part B only

The NMC reserves the right to adjust these fees from time to time, so it is advisable to check the NMC website for the most up-to-date fee information before registering for the exam.

How can I prepare for the NMC CBT?

nurse studying for the NMC CBT

Here are some tips to help you prepare for the NMC Test of Competence for Nurses CBT:

1. Understand the exam format
Familiarise yourself with the format of the exam, including the types of questions asked, the time limits, and how to navigate the computer-based platform.

2. Review the NMC CBT blueprint
The NMC provides a blueprint that outlines the topics and knowledge areas that the exam covers. Review this blueprint to understand what you need to know and focus your studying on those areas.

3. Use study materials
There are many study materials available for the NMC CBT, including textbooks, online courses, and practice exams. StudyPRN's NMC CBT revision resource is a useful tool for nurses who want to prepare for this exam.

4. Practice time management
Practice questions under timed conditions can be extremely beneficial in helping you manage your time more efficiently and setting realistic expectations for the NMC CBT exam. As you only have 4 hours to answer 120 questions, it's important to develop your ability to answer questions quickly and effectively, while pacing yourself throughout the exam.

5. Get enough rest and eat well
Taking care of your physical health is crucial in the months leading up to the exam. Make sure to get enough rest each night, eat a healthy and balanced diet, and stay hydrated to ensure that your body and mind are in the best possible condition on exam day.

What is the content of the NMC CBT?

The content of the NMC CBT for Nurses is split into two question banks that cover both Part A (Numeracy) and Part B (Clinical) of the NMC CBT exam.

The Part B (Clinical) question bank mirrors the Test of Competence 2021: Adult Nursing Blueprint and is separated into the following 7 platforms:

  1. Being an accountable professional
  2. Promoting health and preventing ill health
  3. Assessing needs and planning care
  4. Providing and evaluating care
  5. Leading and managing nursing care and working in teams
  6. Improving safety and quality of care
  7. Coordinating care

Are there any recommended study materials for the NMC CBT?

Yes, there are various study materials that you can use to prepare for the NMC CBT.

StudyPRN's online NMC CBT revision resource, for example, is a useful tool for nurses who want to prepare for this exam. It provides access to a wide range of study materials, including practice questions, a mock exam, and study guides. With the right preparation, passing the NMC Test of Competence for Nurses CBT is achievable, and StudyPRN's resource can help you achieve this goal.

It is important to note that you should use a combination of various resources to prepare for the NMC Test of Competence.

Is there a specific language requirement for the NMC CBT?

English is a requirement for the NMC CBT

Yes, the NMC CBT exam is held in the English language. To meet the language requirements, candidates must provide evidence of their proficiency in English through one of the following:

  • Passing an English language test approved by the NMC, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic test, with a minimum overall score of 7.0, and a minimum score of 6.5 in each of the 4 language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking).
  • Holding a nursing qualification from a country where English is the first and native language, such as the UK, USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand.
  • Having completed a nursing qualification taught in English, in a country where English is not the first language, but where the medium of instruction was entirely in English.

If you fail to provide sufficient evidence of your English language proficiency, you will not be permitted to take the test.

Are there any specific eligibility criteria for taking the NMC CBT?

Yes, to be eligible to take the NMC Test of Competence, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. You must have completed a nursing program that meets the NMC's education requirements. This means that your nursing programme must be equivalent to a UK nursing programme.
  2. You must have an active and unrestricted nursing licence in the country where you completed your nursing programme.
  3. If English is your second language, you must have completed an English language proficiency test and achieved the required score. The NMC accepts the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic test, the Occupational English Test (OET), and the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic).
  4. You must have submitted an application to the NMC and paid the required fees.
  5. You must have received an eligibility letter from the NMC, which confirms that you meet all of the eligibility criteria and allows you to book a test date.

How soon can I retake the exam if I fail the NMC CBT?

Your CBT is split into two parts, Part A and Part B, which are taken in one sitting. Each part is assessed separately, meaning that passing one part does not guarantee passing the other. If you fail a part, you will only need to retake the one that you didn't pass.

You have a total of 3 attempts for both parts, within 1 year of your application, with at least a 10-day interval between each attempt. If you don't succeed within this period, you'll have to re-take both parts again. If you fail all 3 attempts, you'll have to wait 6 months before reapplying to retake the CBT.

The following fees will apply when resitting the exam:

  • £83 to resit Part A and Part B
  • £50 to resit Part A only
  • £70 to resit Part B only

To increase your chances of passing, you should take the necessary steps to address your weaknesses and prepare thoroughly before retaking the exam. It's also essential to review your feedback report from the previous exam to identify areas for improvement.

How is the NMC CBT graded?

The NMC CBT is graded automatically by the computer system immediately after the test is completed. The grading system is based on the number of correct answers given by the candidate, with no penalty for incorrect answers or unanswered questions. This means that there is no negative consequence or deduction for incorrect answers or unanswered questions – the grading system simply focuses on the number of correct answers provided by the candidate, without considering incorrect answers or unanswered questions when calculating the final score.

Each question in the NMC CBT is assigned a certain number of points based on its level of difficulty. The total number of points that a candidate can earn is determined by the number of questions in the exam and the value of each question. The passing score for the NMC CBT varies depending on the type of registration or licensure being sought and is set by the NMC.

Within 48 hours of completing the exam, the candidate receives a score report (via email) that indicates whether they passed or failed the exam. The report also shows the number of questions answered correctly and the percentage of questions answered correctly.

It is important to note that the NMC CBT is a high-stakes exam, and preparation is essential to pass it. Candidates should review the NMC CBT test blueprint and take advantage of available study materials to ensure they are adequately prepared for the exam.

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