Overseas Aptitude Test

Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery

COVID-19: Update for applicants

26 June 2020

A number of factors resulting from COVID-19 have necessitated changes to the test, including the need for social distancing and the requirement to increase capacity during this emergency period.

To contribute to frontline needs resulting from the current pandemic, capacity has increased by over 40% per test and there are currently 15 tests planned between April and August. Each test may have up to four consecutive dates (Thursday to Sunday) and these dates will appear on the invitation email.

Applicants need to be ready for any of the four days. However, three days prior to their test, each applicant will be emailed their specific two days: one for MCQ and one for OSCEs.

You can go on a wait list for an earlier test date only if you are currently in Ireland and will have completed your 14 days self-isolation before the test date or if you have an entry visa; plus you have a flight ticket; plus you will have completed your 14 days self-isolation before the test date.

Between September and December 2020, a maximum of eight tests are planned with the Theory/MCQ on one weekend and the Practical/OSCEs on the following weekend. The full timetable for the rest of 2020 is available on the website.

The NMBI Candidate Registration Certificate (CRC) is no longer required to take the Aptitude Test.

Regarding the notice on the COVID-19 section of the RCSI website, stating '… all RCSI professional exams, scheduled to take place up to the end of August 2020 ... will not take place' – Please note, this does not apply to the RCSI FNM Aptitude Test for Overseas Nurses.

Some links
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Health Service Executive Ireland
Dr Toney Thomas - Infection Prevention
Dr Toney Thomas - Donning and Doffing PPE

Please note: Aspects pertaining to COVID-19 now form part of the Aptitude Test.

Working as a general nurse in the Republic of Ireland

In order to work as a nurse in the Republic of Ireland you must be on the active register of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI). If you trained outside the Republic of Ireland you must undergo a regulatory assessment by the NMBI. When the assessment by the NMBI is complete, the outcome may be:

To register


To refuse registration


As a prerequisite to registration, you must successfully complete one of two compensation measures: (a): the RCSI Aptitude Test or (b): A period of adaptation and assessment.

In 2015 the RCSI Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery (FNM) developed the Aptitude Test for Overseas Nurses (hereafter referred to as the test). Since December 2015, the Faculty has coordinated and managed the test for overseas nurses applying to register as a general nurse (RGN) with the NMBI.

Structure of the test

The test comprises two parts:

  • Part 1: Theory or knowledge test or MCQ, which must be successfully completed before part 2 can be attempted.
  • Part 2: Practical or OSCE test

Both parts of the test are based on the NMBI Standards and Requirements for Nurse Registration Education Programmes and are what a newly qualified general nurse in the Republic of Ireland must be able to achieve. The test examines your potential suitability for registration as a general nurse with the NMBI and not just the suitability to work in one specific environment (for example where you may have an offer of a job).


Two attempts (that includes one repeat) are allowed for each of the two parts of the test. The theory test must be repeated in full. An applicant who fails at the first attempt of the practical part/OSCEs will be required to resit the OSCE station/s failed. You must allow sufficient time to prepare for the second/final attempt and a minimum of two weeks is strongly recommended.

Principles underpinning the test

In the Republic of Ireland, registered nurses and midwives are accountable healthcare professional practitioners working within a scope of practice. Fundamental to safe patient care is competent registered nurses and midwives.

The principles and values underpinning the test include:

  • The priority to ensure patient and public protection.
  • The test must assure the NMBI that the assessment methodology determines whether applicants meet the standards for safe, effective and competent practice in order to be eligible to register with the NMBI.
  • Providing a robust, fair, objective, valid and reliable assessment methodology.
  • Providing a responsive efficient, effective, economical and equitable assessment for all applicants.
  • The competencies for entry to the NMBI register inform this assessment.
  • The assessment structure and process support the applicants to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competencies that are determined by the NMBI in terms of the registration standards and requirements.


Both parts of the test are held in the Smurfit Building, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9.

Please note

  • RCSI does not endorse or approve any training or preparation course for the test.
  • The contents of the test, including the contents of these webpages, is copyright of RCSI Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery. It is for the use of applicants only and cannot otherwise be copied or used without the written permission of the Executive Director of the Faculty.