Overseas Aptitude Test

Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery

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 register of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI). If you trained outside the Republic of Ireland, the first consideration is to apply to the NMBI for a recognition of qualifications, which involves comparison of your qualifications with the Irish education standards and requirements.

Possible outcomes:

  • qualifications recognised
  • submit missing document(s)
  • qualifications refused for recognition
  • compensation measure required

Click here for more information.

One of the compensation measures is the RCSI FNM Aptitude Test for Overseas Nurses.

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.

Statistics overview

In the first six and a half years of the RCSI FNM Aptitude Test, 8,440 applicants from 46 countries have taken the test. In response to health service need, the number facilitated to take the test during the pandemic has more than doubled that of the pre-pandemic years.

Era  Dates Months Tests Average interval Applicants Yearly average
Pre-COVID-19 December 2015 – February 2020 51 91 17 days 3,908 919
Pandemic March 2020 – May 2022 27 86 10 days 4,532 2,014

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.