What is the NMC CBT Test?

What is the NMC CBT test?

If you’re looking to migrate to the UK to work as nurse, you might be asking yourself ‘what is the NMC CBT Test and do I need to complete it?’. The NMC CBT, or Nursing and Midwifery Council computer based test, is a mandatory component of the registration process for nurses and midwives who wish to practice in the United Kingdom but have trained outside the EU. The CBT is designed to assess whether the candidates possess the necessary knowledge and skills required to meet the high standards expected of nurses and midwives in the UK. This test is part of the NMC’s two-part test of competence; the first part is the CBT, and the second part is the OSCE, or Objective Structured Clinical Examination.

The CBT is conducted online and typically consists of multiple-choice questions that cover a range of topics relevant to nursing and midwifery practice. These include understanding professional values, communication and interpersonal skills, nursing practice and decision-making, and leadership and management. The test aims to evaluate both theoretical knowledge and practical understanding to ensure that the candidates are capable of delivering safe and effective care. Successfully passing the CBT is a significant step for international nurses and midwives toward obtaining their NMC registration, allowing them to proceed to the OSCE and ultimately qualify to work in the UK healthcare system.

Who Might Need the NMC CBT Test?

The NMC CBT Test is primarily required for nurses and midwives who have completed their training outside the European Union and wish to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council to practice in the United Kingdom. This includes professionals from countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, India, the Philippines, the United States, Canada, Australia, and others who seek to work in the UK’s healthcare system. 


International nurses and midwives pursuing employment opportunities in the UK need to demonstrate that their training and professional skills meet the UK’s stringent healthcare standards. The CBT serves as an initial assessment to ensure that these candidates have the foundational knowledge necessary for safe and competent practice in the UK. It’s part of a broader competency evaluation that helps the NMC maintain high standards of nursing and midwifery, ensuring that patients receive care from qualified and knowledgeable practitioners. This requirement is especially pertinent for those aiming to transition into the NHS or other UK healthcare facilities, where adherence to the NMC’s standards is mandatory for providing quality patient care.

Can the NMC CBT Test be Taken Online?

The NMC CBT can be taken online, but with specific conditions and through designated testing centres. While the test itself is computer-based, meaning it’s conducted using a computer, it is not taken at home or in an uncontrolled environment. Instead, candidates must go to authorised testing centres, typically managed by organisations like Pearson VUE, to sit for the exam. These centres are equipped to provide a secure and monitored setting that ensures the integrity of the testing process.

The CBT is conducted in a digital format, which allows for efficient and consistent assessment of candidates’ knowledge and skills. The online nature of the test at these centres provides flexibility in scheduling and a consistent experience for all candidates regardless of their location. It also allows for prompt processing and feedback, enabling international nurses and midwives to quickly advance to the next stages of their registration process. This structured and secure online testing ensures that all participants are evaluated fairly and accurately in a controlled environment.

How is the CBT Test Different to OSCE?

The CBT and the OSCE, or Objective Structured Clinical Examination, are two distinct components of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s ‘test of competence’, designed to assess the readiness of internationally educated nurses and midwives to practice in the UK. While they both evaluate essential competencies, they do so in fundamentally different ways, focusing on separate aspects of professional practice.


The CBT is a theoretical exam conducted online at authorised testing centres, and it primarily assesses the candidate’s knowledge base. It consists of multiple-choice questions that cover various domains such as professional values, communication, nursing practices, and clinical decision-making. The CBT focuses on evaluating a nurse’s or midwife’s understanding of the concepts and standards that are crucial for safe and effective practice. It tests the ability to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios and ensures that candidates have a solid foundation in the principles of nursing and midwifery as practiced in the UK.


The OSCE is a practical examination that evaluates a candidate’s hands-on skills and clinical competencies. This test is conducted in a simulated clinical environment where candidates perform various tasks on mannequins or actors playing patients. The OSCE assesses the ability to perform clinical procedures, make critical decisions in patient care, and interact effectively with patients and colleagues. It involves a series of stations, each designed to test specific skills such as patient assessment, clinical management, and communication. Unlike the CBT, which is knowledge-based, the OSCE provides a real-time assessment of how candidates apply their skills in practical, often high-pressure scenarios, reflecting the complexities of actual clinical practice.


Together, the CBT and OSCE comprehensively evaluate both the theoretical knowledge and practical abilities required for safe and competent nursing and midwifery practice in the UK. This two-part approach ensures that only those who meet the rigorous standards set by the NMC are eligible for registration.

How many Questions are there in the NMC CBT Test?

The NMC CBT Test consists of 115 multiple-choice questions. These questions are designed to assess a broad range of knowledge and competencies that are crucial for nursing and midwifery practice in the UK. The questions are divided into two parts:

Part A

This part focuses on numeracy and contains 15 questions. These questions test the candidate’s ability to perform drug calculations and other numerical tasks that are essential in clinical settings. Given the importance of accuracy in medication administration and patient care, these numeracy questions are critical in assessing the candidate’s competence in handling such responsibilities.

Part B

This is the main part of the test, with 100 questions covering a variety of topics relevant to nursing and midwifery practice. These questions evaluate the candidate’s knowledge in areas such as professional values, communication, interpersonal skills, nursing practice, decision-making, and leadership. This broad range ensures that candidates have a comprehensive understanding of both the theoretical and practical aspects of their roles.

Candidates have a total of 3 hours to complete the CBT, providing ample time to carefully consider and respond to each question. The structure of the test is designed to ensure that it thoroughly assesses both the breadth and depth of a candidate’s knowledge and readiness to practice safely and effectively in the UK healthcare system.

Do Different Types of Nurses sit Different CBT Tests?

Depending on their specialism, nurses are required to sit for different CBT tests tailored to their specific field of practice. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) acknowledges that the competencies required for various nursing specialties differ significantly. Consequently, the NMC provides specialised CBTs for different nursing and midwifery roles to ensure that the assessment aligns with the unique demands of each specialty.

Adult Nursing

For Adult Nursing the CBT focuses on the care of adults across a wide range of healthcare settings. This test includes questions on general medical and surgical nursing, the management of chronic illnesses, and elderly care. It aims to assess the skills and knowledge necessary to support adult patients in various stages of health and illness.

Children's Nursing

The CBT for Children’s Nursing is designed for those working with infants, children, and young people. This exam covers paediatric care, developmental milestones, family-centred care, and common childhood illnesses and conditions. It ensures that candidates are well-versed in the unique aspects of caring for young patients and their families.

Mental Health Nursing

For Mental Health Nursing, the CBT targets nurses specialising in mental health care. It includes questions on psychiatric disorders, therapeutic communication, crisis intervention, and the principles of mental health nursing. This test evaluates the understanding of mental health conditions and the best practices for supporting patients with mental health needs.

Learning Disabilities Nursing

The CBT for Learning Disabilities Nursing is aimed at nurses supporting individuals with learning disabilities. The test covers personalised care approaches, behavioural support, communication strategies, and promoting independence and well-being. It assesses the knowledge required to provide effective care and support for individuals with learning disabilities.


The CBT for Midwifery assesses competencies specific to pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care. This exam includes topics such as antenatal care, labour and delivery, neonatal care, and maternal health, ensuring that midwives are equipped with the necessary skills to support mothers and babies through the childbirth process.


Each specialised CBT is structured to reflect the distinct roles and responsibilities of the different nursing and midwifery professions. This tailored approach ensures that candidates are evaluated on the most pertinent aspects of their practice, aligning with the diverse needs and standards of the UK healthcare system.