OSCE/ Aptitude Tests for Nurses

OSCEs or Objective Structured Clinical Exams are the ‘practical’ examinations that an overseas nurse has to take in order to qualify and register as nurse in UK, Australia, and Ireland. The Ireland the test is called the aptitude tests. They can seem really difficult and stressful, but with enough practice, you are likely to score well. Here are some tips to help you prepare for OSCE.

It seems obvious, but make sure you know which examinations, histories and procedures you’re expected to know and what you’re supposed to be doing in them.


Practice in the clinical setting helps. Get in touch with your friends or relatives who were successful in OSCE. Seek their guidance and prepare on nursing stations and wards. . Remember to practice with a timer too as the minutes fly by in the real thing.

Dress Appropriately

Dress professionally and accordingly to NHS dress code. Looking neat might not give you extra marks, but it does help you make a good first impression. Remember to tie up long hair, roll sleeves up above the elbows and take off your wristwatch.

Read the Instructions Carefully

Read the instructions carefully before you enter the station. It sounds silly, but people have been known to do the wrong examination in OSCEs (e.g. upper limb instead of lower limb neurological examination). If you don’t do what you’ve been asked, you just won’t get the marks.

Wash your Hands

Always begin and end a station with washing your hands! Not only is it just good clinical practice, this gives you vital and easy marks.

Introduce Yourself

This should consist of greeting the patient, introducing yourself, checking their identity, describing the procedure/examination and gaining their permission to continue. Easy marks, but important stuff.


Structure is Everything

Have a structure in place. Memorize is it, if necessary.

For history taking, a general structure applies:

  • Presenting complaint
  • History of presenting complaint
  • Past medical history
  • Drug history
  • Family history
  • Social history
  • Systemic enquiry

This may change during a consultation as patients don’t necessarily follow your rules – but having a structure in place makes it easier to keep track of what you have and haven’t asked and helps you with the flow of questioning.

Being Nervous is Okay

You may not be feeling very confident during your OSCE, but pretend you are! Stand up straight, smile when appropriate and speak loudly and clearly – being too apprehensive can give the impression you don’t really know what you’re doing and make the patient nervous too.

Maintain Professional Demeanour

Always be polite, empathetic and honest to your patient. Listen to them carefully and let them speak. Thank them and the examiner at the end of the station. After all, they’ve given up their free time to help you. A significant amount of marks are often awarded just for demonstrating these generic communication skills, so don’t neglect them!

Keep Calm and Carry On

Don’t worry about making mistakes during the OSCE – you haven’t got time to panic. Stay calm, take a deep breath and continue as you were.


If you finish your exam before time, revise. You may have missed something.

Learn From YourMistakes

If you made mistakes don’t forget to write those errors down so that you can review them for your next exam and ensure you don’t make the same mistakes again.

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International Indian Nurses

International Indian Nurses is an initiative to provide a platform for international hospitals to seek qualified Indian nurses the opportunities to work for them. The main objectives of the platform are two folds.

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