Overseas Aptitude Test

Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery

COVID-19: Update for applicants

18 November 2020

To allow for the various processes required between receiving an invitation to the test and the date of your test, a test opens on average 3.5 months in advance. To avoid unnecessary postponements, each applicant must carry out frequent checks including:

  • Check if you have applied for/received your ATWS (can be applied for 90 days before test).
  • Check if you have applied for/received your Entry Visa.
  • Check that your NMBI Decision Letter will be in date on the first day of the Aptitude Test.
  • Check that you will be ready for the allocated test date.
  • Check if you will be ready for an earlier test date and wish to go on a wait list.
  • Check if you need to postpone (this will be changed to the last date on timetable listed on the website).

Please contact marianeary@rcsi.com if:

  • Your details have changed such as change in agent/employer since application for the test 
  • You need to apply for a change in test date.

Please note: Always quote your NMBI (six-digit) or RCSI (eight-digit) reference number.

Each applicant is individually and fully accountable for protecting themselves and others against COVID-19 and must adhere, at all times, to: coughing and sneezing etiquette; hand-hygiene; social-distancing; self-isolation/quarantine requirements; safe use of personal protective equipment (PPE); and any other requirement as determined by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NEPHET). 

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.