Everything You Need to Know About the CBT

Mar 15, 2023

So, you’re all pumped up for your exciting new nursing adventure here in the UK. We get that excitement – after all, it’s an amazing feeling to embark on a fresh start in a land that offers you a host of wonderful opportunities.

But before you begin to peruse the vast array of nursing jobs open to international Nurses, there are a couple of things to get in order. One of these is registering with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) which requires taking a few tests.

Here, we give you the full run-down on one of those, the Computer-Based Test (CBT), including information on what it covers and some super important preparation tips.

What is the CBT?

To register with the NMC, you need to pass their Test of Competence (ToC). This is a two-part exam comprised of a multiple-choice test known as the Computer-Based Test (CBT) and a practical one called the Objective Structure Clinical Examination (OSCE).

Why Do I Need to Take it?

Taking the CBT proves to the NMC that you have the right skills and knowledge to practise as a Nurse here in the UK.

Who Needs to Take it?

All international Nurses must take the CBT, unless they have a relevant European qualification that meets the requirements for automatic recognition. If you’re not sure if that applies to you, read about eligibility in this NMC document. Other Nurses who must complete the CBT are those who haven’t practised for a while and are no longer registered with the NMC.

What Does the CBT Involve and How Long is it?

The CBT has two parts:

  • Numeracy test (15 one-number answer questions)
  • Clinical test (100 multiple-choice questions)

You can get a little more detail about the test specifications (how it’s designed, what it assesses etc.) here: Test of Competence 2021: Nursing test specification.

The test takes three hours – 30 minutes for the numeracy part and two and a half hours for the clinical.

What Will I Be Tested On?

As a leading international Nurse recruitment agency in the UK, we’ve had many candidates sit the CBT and share their experiences with us. To our best knowledge, the CBT covers:

  • Professional values
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Nursing practice and decision making
  • Leadership, management and team work
  • Specific nursing field competencies

To further support our candidates, we also provide CBT study materials and mock tests. In addition, you can find practice tests on the Pearson Vue website, the organisation responsible for running the CBT.

How And Where Can I Take The CBT?

If you haven’t already, create an NMC online account. If you’ve already received confirmation you need to complete the ToC from the NMC, you’ll then get an email from them with details about how to book at the Pearson Vue website.

Note: If you haven’t received the NMC confirmation about registration, you’ll need to hang tight until you do.

How Much Does it Cost?

The fee is £83.

What’s Considered a Pass Mark?

You’ll need to achieve 68% or more in each part to pass.

What Happens If I Fail?

No stress there as you can take the CBT again, up to three times if you need it. But you’ll have to wait at least 10 days between each go and pay a re-sit fee (both part A and B is £83, part A only is £50, and part B only is £70).

Should you fail on your third attempt, your registration application ends and you’ll have to restart the process.

How Do I Get My Results?

You’ll get a copy of your test results straight after you’ve finished the exam. Alternatively, you can log into your Pearson Vue account within 48 hours of finishing your CBT to see them.

How Long Do I Have to Complete My CBT?

You must pass the CBT and OSCE within two years of each other.  You can sit them in any order, but you need both parts to keep going with your registration.

Once you’ve passed both exams, your ToC is valid for five years.

What Else Do I Need to Know Before Applying to Sit the CBT?

It’s really important you choose the right exam for your application type, otherwise your CBT won’t be accepted as part of your registration application (you’ll not only have to retake it, but fork out the fee again. Eek!).

Here are the exam codes per field of practice:

  • Adult Nurse – RNA
  • Mental Health Nurse – RNMH
  • Learning Disabilities Nurse – RNLD
  • Children’s Nurse – RNC

As an example, if you’re applying under adult nursing you’ll select:

Exam:                RNA 2021: Adult Nurse

Module 1:           RNA 2021: Adult Nurse – Part A: Numeracy only

Module 2:           RNA 2021: Adult Nurse – Part B: Clinical only

Extra CBT Resources and Support

That gives you the lowdown on what you need to do to sit your CBT. If you want to read all the details about getting your ToC (hot tip – you should!), you can access the full NMC guide here.

Here at WESolutions, we’re all about doing whatever we can to ensure international Nurses have a smooth transition to the UK workforce. To that end, we’ve produced a few handy videos that provide more detail about how to apply for your CBT. If you’re in the process of relocating or just starting to think about it, you might also enjoy reading our Nurse’s Guide to Living and Working in the UK.

Should you get stuck with any part of your registration, have further questions about relocating to live and work in the UK as a Nurse, or would like to find out more about our open nursing jobs, please connect with one of our specialist nursing recruiters. We’d love to help.