Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Overseas Aptitude Test – information for applicants

© Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery, RCSI December 2015

Please note that the contents of the Overseas Aptitude Test Information for Applicants 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.







1. Current test and timetable

(Last updated 18/10/17)

When one Aptitude Test closes, the next one opens.

On average, an Aptitude Test closes/opens three to four months in advance of the next test.

The Aptitude Test currently open is for 13 January 2018 (Theory on 13/01/18 and Practical the following weekend for those who pass the theory part). It opened on 26/09/17 and will close on 24/11/17 or when the maximum number of 40 is reached, whichever is the sooner. At 18/10/17, there were seven places still available.

View the timetable here.


  • Future dates are provisional only and are subject to change and are dependent upon there being a minimum number of 20 applications.

  • There is not a waiting list for any Aptitude Test.

  • A place cannot be pre-booked for any Aptitude Test.

  • There is no block-booking of places for any Aptitude Test.

  • As soon as applications for one Aptitude Test closes, then applications for the next one opens.

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2. Working as a nurse in the Republic of Ireland


(Last updated 21/02/17)

In order to work as a nurse in the Republic of Ireland a person must be on the Active Register of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI).

A person who trained outside the Republic of Ireland must undergo a regulatory assessment by the NMBI. When the assessment by the NMBI is complete, the outcome may be:

  • To register the applicant

  • To refuse the applicant registration

  • As a pre-requisite to registration, the applicant must successfully complete:

(a): The RCSI Aptitude Test

or

(b): A period of adaptation and assessment

 

For details of the registration process with the NMBI, click here.

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3. Overview of the Aptitude Test


(Last updated 18/10/17)

 

3.1 Background

The Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery (FNM) in RCSI developed, coordinates and manages the Aptitude Test for Overseas Nurses (hereafter referred to as the Aptitude Test) applying to register as a general nurse (RGN) with the NMBI. The Aptitude Test has been approved by the NMBI, which is the regulatory and competent authority for Nurses and Midwives in the Republic of Ireland.

Further details on the background to the Test are available here.


3.2 Eligibility to apply

The Aptitude Test is open to any applicant who is eligible to undertake it, both from a regulatory and a legal perspective, regardless of prospective employment. To be eligible from a regulatory perspective, the applicant must have an in-date decision letter from the NMBI, noting that the RCSI Aptitude Test is one of the options that must be successfully completed as a pre-requisite to registration as a general nurse (RGN) with the NMBI. To be eligible from a legal perspective (if relevant) the applicant must comply with the entry requirements to the Republic of Ireland, such as an atypical working scheme (AWS) letter of approval or an entry visa.


3.3 Parts of the Aptitude Test

The Aptitude Test comprises two parts:

Part 1: Theory or Knowledge Test or MCQ Test

Part 2: Practical or OSCE Test

Part 1 must be successfully completed before part 2 can be attempted.

Both parts of the Aptitude Test are based on the Requirements and Standards for Nurse Registration Education Programmes 3rd ed (February 2005) Refer pp 1-19 (hereafter referred to NMBI Requirements and Standards) and are what a newly qualified general nurse in the Republic of Ireland must be able to achieve.

The Aptitude 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).


3.4 Attempts

Two attempts (that is, one repeat) are allowed at each of the two parts of the Aptitude Test. The Theory part must be repeated in full. The particular competency/competencies failed in the practical part must be repeated.


3.5 Overview of Part 1: Theory/MCQ Test

The theory part consists of a supervised on-line assessment of professional knowledge and understanding. A method of assessment known as multiple choice questions (MCQs) is used. There are up to 150 questions and each question has four possible answers, only one of which is correct. A minimum pass mark of 50% must be achieved in the theory part. The theory part must be successfully completed before the practical part can be attempted.


3.6 Overview of Part 2: Practical/OSCE Test

The practical part comprises a methodology known as objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). OSCE is acknowledged internationally as an assessment methodology that enables the applicant to demonstrate competence in a simulated practice setting, known as a station. Assessment of competence for practice through a range of OSCEs includes a number of different simulated stations. A station is set up as a clinical setting and has all the necessary equipment. Up to 20 stations, with a minimum of 14 stations, must be completed. Each station assesses different competencies pertaining to general nursing. There are a number of aims and requirements that are expected to be achieved at each station.


3.7 Fee

The full fee of €2,800 must be paid upon initial application. The fee is not refundable except where an applicant is unsuccessful at the second attempt at the theory part, in which case the fee of €1,800 for the practical part will be refunded (as such an applicant would not be eligible to take the practical part of the Aptitude Test).


3.8 Venue

Both parts of the Aptitude Test are held in the RCSI Education and Research Centre, Smurfit Building, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9. The Centre is the modern, white building beside the Accident and Emergency building at Beaumont Hospital (click here to see a photograph of the building). Once on the Beaumont Hospital grounds, please follow the signs for the Accident and Emergency department, which are marked in red.

Regarding the Aptitude Test venue, please consider the following:

  • This is the only venue for both parts of the Aptitude Test
  • Paid public parking should be available near the venue
  • Child-minding facilities are not available
  • Space is limited and there is no room for family members or friends
  • There is no facility for securing personal belongings and RCSI accepts no liability for damage or loss
  • There are no facilities available for refreshments. Refreshments may be brought by the applicant but there are no facilities to warm or cool food and drinks 
  • Latecomers cannot be admitted
  • The building does not open until 8am
  • If an applicant leaves the test venue at any point during the day of the test, re-admittance to the building is not allowed
  • In line with current legislation, smoking is prohibited in all areas of Beaumont Hospital

3.9 Test infringement

Any documentation currently on the RCSI FNM website pertaining to the Aptitude Test is available but must be appropriately referenced if used. All other RCSI FNM documentation pertaining to both parts of the Aptitude Test is strictly confidential and is for use only by RCSI FNM and must not be copied or recorded in any format or by any method.

Any electronic device such as mobile phones, iPods/iPads, MP3/4 players or any product with an electronic communication/storage device or digital facility is not permitted at any part of the Aptitude Test and must not be in an applicant's possession, whether switched on or not. Only the handouts given by RCSI during the tutorials can be brought to the Aptitude Test centre. Communication with fellow applicants during any part of the Aptitude Test is not permitted.

Possession of unauthorised items is an infringement of the regulations and could result in disqualification from the Aptitude Test. Any sign of misappropriation or false information or any attempt to cheat at any part of the Aptitude Test will result in the NMBI being informed and your test being cancelled.


3.10 Immigration and employment

RCSI has no responsibility regarding employment or your immigration status in the country and cannot answer queries in relation to same. For further information regarding immigration matters please refer to inis.gov.ie, and for employment matters refer to djei.ie


3.11 Deferral (postponement) of an Aptitude Test date

A deferral, if granted, will be to the Aptitude Test that is open when the deferral is requested. If an applicant cannot attend the allocated date, then the applicant (only) must complete the following and email to marianeary@rcsi.ie. The email must be copied (cc) to the agent and prospective employer.

  • What is your name?

  • What is your RCSI number?

  • What is your NMBI number?

  • Why do you want to defer?

  • If relevant, when does your entry visa expire?

  • Have you discussed the situation with your sponsor/employer/recruitment agent?

Please note: Currently there is no extra charge for a deferral of a test date.


3.12 Request for an earlier Aptitude Test date (preponement)

If you need an entry visa or other documentation to enter the country, do not apply for an earlier date unless you currently have such documentation. You must upload a copy with your request for an earlier test date.

An earlier test date is not guaranteed and if one does become available you will be notified by email. If you get an offer of an earlier test date but do not accept it, then you remain on the original list. However, if you accept the earlier offer but do not avail of it, then you will be placed on the list that is open at that time.

If you do get an earlier date, your NMBI Candidate Registration Certificate must be in-date for the new test date.

If an applicant is eligible and would like to be considered for an earlier date than that allocated, then the applicant (only) must complete the following and email to marianeary@rcsi.ie. The email must be copied (cc) to the agent and prospective employer.

  • What is your name?

  • What is your RCSI number?

  • What is your NMBI number?

  • Do you need an entry visa or other documentation to enter the country?

  • Do you currently have your entry visa or other documentation to enter the country?

  • Have you discussed the situation with your sponsor/employer/recruitment agent and are they in agreement with the requested move?

  • From which test do you wish to move?

  • To which test do you wish to move?

Please note: Currently there is no extra charge for preponement (earlier) of a test date.


3.13 Withdrawal from the Aptitude Test

If an applicant wishes to withdraw from the Aptitude Test, then the applicant (only) must complete the following and email to marianeary@rcsi.ie. The email must be copied (cc) to the agent and prospective employer.

  • What is your name?

  • What is your RCSI number?

  • What is your NMBI number?

  • Why do you want to withdraw?

  • Have you discussed the situation with your sponsor/employer/recruitment agent?

Please note: Fees are not refunded


3.14 Unfit to continue during the Aptitude Test

If, after commencing but before completing either attempt at either part of the Aptitude Test, an applicant considers that she/he is unfit to continue, then the following must be adhered to:

  • The applicant contacts the coordinator on site and declares that she/he is unfit to continue.

  • The applicant leaves the test centre.

  • The applicant goes to a medical practitioner and gets a medical certificate stating that she/he was unfit to continue with the test and submits to the programme coordinator before 5pm on the Tuesday following the test (or before 5pm on the Wednesday following the test if the Monday is a public holiday).

  • The attempt for the day that the applicant declared her/himself unable to continue is then discounted. Any part of the test taken on the day is not considered and the applicant will have to retake the full test for that day.

  • If the applicant decides to complete the test on the day that she/he states that she/he is unwell, then the attempt is considered and the results stand.


3.15 Issues arising

Any issues arising during any part of the Aptitude Test must be addressed with the programme co-ordinator before leaving the test centre.

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4. Theory Test


(Last updated 21/02/17)

The Theory Test consists of a supervised online assessment of professional knowledge and understanding. A method of assessment known as multiple-choice questions (MCQs) is used. For a photograph of the Integrated Theory Lab where the Theory Test takes place click here.

  • You will be required to answer up to 150 questions over a three-hour period.

  • Each question will have four possible answers and you are required to give only one answer to each question.

  • A minimum pass mark of 50% must be achieved in the Theory Test.

On the day of the Theory Test

  • Arrive promptly at the start time and you are shown to the reception room where you sign-in and your documentation is checked with you.

  • When all applicants have been checked in, an RCSI representative gives a presentation regarding the theory part and addresses any queries.

  • Following the presentation, you are shown to the restroom where you can leave your belongings and any refreshments you have brought. Please note, no security is provided.

  • You are then brought to the Integrated Theory Lab where the Theory Test is undertaken.

  • Following the test, you return to the restroom, have the refreshments you brought with you and collect your belongings.

  • An RCSI representative gives a presentation on the next steps in the process.

  • Brief tutorials on equipment and documentation may be given.

  • Dress code: No specific requirements.

Sample MCQs

Please note: A rationale is given to assist with your revision for the Aptitude Theory Test but you are not required to provide a rationale in the actual test.

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5. Practical Test


(Last updated 14/08/17)

5.1 OSCE stations

A methodology known as Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) is used. OSCE is acknowledged internationally as an assessment methodology that enables the applicant to demonstrate competence in a simulated practice setting, known as a station.

Assessment of competence for practice through a range of OSCEs includes a number of different simulated stations. A station is set up as a clinical setting and has all the necessary equipment.

You are required to complete up to 20 stations, with a minimum of 14 stations. Each station assesses different competencies pertaining to general nursing.

Each station has a Descriptor Sheet and this is displayed both outside and inside the station and is available for you to refer to as you need. You spend ten minutes at each station carrying out the care as per the Station Descriptor. There are a number of aims and competencies that you are expected to achieve at each station. When the time is up then the assessment ends, regardless of whether or not you have finished.

There are two trained assessors at each station. The OSCE assessors are experienced nurses who hold a post-graduate qualification and have been trained by RCSI as OSCE assessors. Some stations may have a mannequin. Stations may have one of the assessors acting as a patient or a relative or a staff member. Both assessors observe the applicant's performance and mark as competent (pass) or incompetent (fail). In order to pass the practical part, the applicant must be deemed competent in each competency at each station


5.2. Scenarios for OSCEs

Each station has a station descriptor sheet containing the scenario/situation for the station.

The station descriptors may change from one Aptitude Test to the next.

When you commence at each station, one of the assessors will read the station descriptor with you before you commence your care. The station descriptor is available for you to refer to as you need.

Sample scenarios

Please note: These samples may or may not form part of a particular Aptitude Test.


5.3 Housekeeping matters

  • Arrive promptly at the start time; you will be shown to the reception room where you sign in and you are checked against your passport page and photograph that you uploaded with your application. Unless requested to do so, there is no need to bring any documentation with you.

  • When all applicants have been checked in, an RCSI representative gives a presentation regarding the practical part and addresses any queries.

  • The applicants are divided into two groups: half the applicants are brought to the ground floor and the other half are brought to the first floor. Members from one group must not meet with members of the other group until all stations have been complete.

  • There is a restroom where you can put your belongings and any refreshments that you brought with you. Please remember no security is provided.

  • Half the stations are on the ground floor and the other half of the stations are on the first floor.

  • Half the applicants complete the stations on the ground floor and the other half of the applicants complete the stations on the first floor.

  • There is then a break of approximately 30 minutes during which you may wish to have refreshments you brought with you.

  • Following the break, you switch floors: if you completed the stations on the ground floor before the break then you are brought to the first floor to complete the remaining stations and vice versa.

  • Following the practical part, an RCSI representative gives a presentation on the next steps in the process.

  • Dress code: As the practical part is a simulated setting, you are required to present as if you are working in the clinical environment, taking into account all aspects pertaining to comfort, clothes, footwear, hair style, make-up and jewellery. You will need a watch for checking pulse and respiration rate.


5.4 Possible contributing factors why applicants are failing OSCEs

The failure rate needs to be viewed against the backdrop that the OSCEs are based on the NMBI Requirements and Standards for Irish-trained general student nurses. Therefore the OSCEs reflect what an RGN working as first year staff nurse in a general hospital (or comparable) would be expected to know and do in a safe and competent manner.

Whereas the percentages pertaining to failures are by no means high, all the applicants are already trained as general nurses in their own country. Therefore, an exploration as to why applicants are failing might be useful for prospective employers, recruitment agencies and future applicants. Notwithstanding that a certain level of examination anxiety is normal, the following observations are offered as mere suggestions as to possible factors that may be contributing to some applicants failing.

  • Relevant experience: It would appear that some applicants, although qualified for a number of years, may not have had recent relevant experience in a general hospital. Obviously, this is not the business of RCSI, but might be something prospective employers/recruitment agencies may wish to explore.

  • Lack of preparation: Applicants are strongly advised to be fully aware of the most recent information on the RCSI website including all the links. It would appear that some applicants are working off a printed copy of older versions of the information.

  • Rote learning: Preparation for any examination is vital. However, nursing is not just about knowledge but it is also about the application of that knowledge to ensure safe delivery of patient care. It would appear that some applicants are rote-learning different aspects but not able to apply the knowledge. Applicants must be prepared for changes in scenarios and for safe application of knowledge that may not be required in the linear fashion in which a topic was rote-learnt.

  • Differences between countries: There will always be some differences between countries in regard to equipment and documentation. Images of equipment and documentation are clearly shown on the website. It would appear as if some applicants do not take care when studying the images of the equipment or practise filling in the documentation, both of which are crucial.

  • Not heeding: Short tutorials on equipment and documentation are given. It would appear as if some applicants do not fully pay heed at these tutorials. Again, in an effort to help the applicants, the possible scenario/s pertaining to an OSCE station are displayed outside the station. But again it appears as if some applicants do not take sufficient care in reading these. On the day of the OSCEs we advise applicants to avoid getting easily distracted but it would seem as if this happens to some applicants.

In conclusion, the vast majority of applicants prepare well; are able to apply knowledge in a safe way and give full care and attention throughout the Aptitude Test. However, the above observations may assist others.

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6. Revision and preparation


(Last updated 21/08/17)

Please note: RCSI does not endorse or approve any training or preparation course for the Aptitude Test.


6.1 Overview

It is essential that you base your revision on the NMBI publication: Requirements and Standards for Nurse Registration Education Programmes 3rd ed (February 2005) Refer pp 1-19.

The Aptitude Test is designed to reflect the nature of the syllabus and knowledge required for the general nurse pre-registration programme in the Republic of Ireland as per the NMBI Requirements and Standards. It addresses the NMBI Domains of Competency for the pre-registration general nurse programme in an attempt to ensure patient safety and public protection. The Domains of Competency and Indicative Content of the NMBI Requirements and Standards must be fully and carefully considered in order to help guide your revision for the Aptitude Test. RCSI does not recommend specific reading. Multiple sources might be considered including your notes and textbooks from your own training. It is essential that the most up-to-date research-based sources are used.

Please note: This website must be checked on a regular basis for additions and updates regarding revision and preparation.

 

6.2 Essential minimum background reading

As well as your revision, that is based on the NMBI Requirements and Standards, the following is the essential minimum background reading. However the below is only meant as an overview of a given topic. Further study in regard to a topic must be undertaken by studying your up-to-date textbook and other research-based sources.


6.3 Charts

Before presenting for the Aptitude Test, an applicant must be fully familiar with the following charts and must know how to complete and interpret/analyse each chart.


6.4 Equipment

Each station has specific equipment, which must be used as part of the care at that station. If something is not at the station, then it does not need to be used as part of the care at that station.

Sample equipment and photographs of OSCE stations


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7. Application process and documentation required


(Last updated 15/05/17)

Please note: All communication must take place through the RCSI email account only.

 

Stage one: Application

Applicant completes application form and uploads four documents:

  • NMBI Decision Letter

  • Biographic/photo page of passport

  • Recent passport photograph

  • Proof of fee payment

An automatic acknowledgement of your application is issued.

Stage two: Invitation to the Aptitude Test

The application form and the four uploads are assessed by RCSI. If these appear satisfactory, an invitation is issued to the next available Aptitude Test and the applicant is placed on the list for that date.

If the application is not found to be satisfactory or if the four documents have not been uploaded satisfactorily, the applicant is informed and is not placed on a list for the Aptitude Test.

Stage three: Reminder invitation

By 10am (Irish time) on the Monday prior to the Theory Test, you will receive a reminder email about the Theory Test. In order to secure your place on the Theory Test, you must reply to the reminder email by 10am (Irish time) on the Tuesday prior to the Theory Test.

Stage four: Results of Theory Test

An email is issued with the results by 2pm on the Monday following the theory part (or 2pm on the Tuesday if the Monday is a Public Holiday).

If the theory part is passed, then an invitation to the practical part is issued.

If the theory part is failed on the first attempt, then a proposed date for the repeat theory part is offered.

Stage five: Results of Practical Test

From 2pm on the Monday following the OSCEs (or 2pm on the Tuesday if the Monday is a Public Holiday) an applicant should:

  • Check the email account you have been using with the RCSI application process.

  • If your result is not in the inbox: check inbox is not full plus check the spam/junk mail folder.

  • If not received, email marianeary@rcsi.ie giving your RCSI number and NMBI PIN and name indicating you have not received your results.

Stage six: Next steps

If the Aptitude Test (both parts) is passed, then the results are issued to the NMBI. You must now pay the NMBI registration fee.

If the practical part is failed on the first attempt, then a proposed date for the repeat is offered.

If an applicant fails either part of the Aptitude Test on the second attempt, then the NMBI is informed.

Full details on the documentation required can be found here.

 

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8. Applicants to date


(Last updated 18/10/17)

From the December 2015 Aptitude Test to 18/10/17, there were 1,643 applicants, 68 of whom withdrew (primarily due to visa issues).

The following is a breakdown of the remaining 1,575 applicants:

Completed Tests Number and %
Successfully completed the Test and had their details sent to the NMBI 1,207
Unsuccessful at both attempts at the Theory Test and had their the details sent to the NMBI 1
Unsuccessful at both attempts at the Practical Test and had their details sent to the NMBI 10
Percentage pass on first attempt: Theory Test (between 95% and 100% with an average pass of) 98%
Percentage pass on first attempt: Practical Test (between 65% and 88% with an average pass of) 80%
Summary 2015: One Aptitude Test with 22 applicants, giving an average per calendar month of 22 applicants
Summary 2016: 17 Aptitude Tests with 604 applicants, giving an average per calendar month of 50 applicants
Summary 2017 (January to October): 15 Aptitude Tests with 640 applicants, giving an average per calendar month to date of 64 applicants.

Tests in progress Number
Invited to a future OSCE Test: First attempt 47
Invited to a future OSCE Test: Second (final) attempt 0
Invited to a future Theory Test: Second (final) attempt 1

Future Tests  Number
Invited to a future Theory Test 309

The above does not include incomplete applications where there is a document/s outstanding. Until all documents have been received and considered satisfactory, an applicant is not placed on a list for the Aptitude Test.

Country (19) of training, number and gender of those who sat the 33 Aptitude Tests, from December 2015 to October 2017.

Country Female Male Total
Australia 0 1 1
Botswana 3 0 3
Brazil 0 1
Canada 1 0 1
Croatia 16 6 22
India 678 179 857
Kenya 3 0 3
Malaysia 2 0
New Zealand 1 0 1
Nigeria 32 11 43
Pakistan 1 0 1
Philippines 206 68 274
Romania 18 0 18
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1 0 1
Slovenia 1 0 1
South Africa 5 0 5
UAE 1 0 1
USA 7 0 7
Zimbabwe 19 5 24
TOTAL 995 271 1,266

 

Further information on all applicants to date can be found here.

 

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9. Test results to date


(Last updated 18/10/17)

Information on the results of the Aptitude Tests to date can be found here.

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10. Before you apply


(Last updated 21/02/17)

Before you apply, you should consider if you are:

  • Eligible to take the Aptitude Test

  • Ready/Prepared to take the Aptitude Test

  • Interested in taking the Aptitude Test.

To assist with your decision making please consider the following:

  • You must fully familiarise yourself with the most recent version of the information on this page and the various documents and links referenced.

  • You must be able to upload all the required documents with your application.

  • You must be reasonably sure that you will be available to take the Aptitude Test on the dates provided; otherwise you may be taking a place that someone else could have availed of.

  • You must be able to pay the fee.

  • You must have a secure, personal email address via which all aspects of the application will take place.

  • You must have undertaken the necessary revision.

The onus is on you to ensure that you are eligible to undertake the Aptitude Test. If at any stage in the application process it is discovered that you are not eligible to undertake the Aptitude Test or if you decide that you do not wish to proceed with the Aptitude Test, then any fees paid will not be refunded.

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11. Further information

Queries regarding the application process including payment should be made to pamelapeppard@rcsi.ie.

For all other queries pertaining to the RCSI Aptitude Test contact marianeary@rcsi.ie

Ongoing updates will be placed on the RCSI website. 

We at RCSI will continue to be responsive and aim to address all queries in a timely manner.

On behalf of the FNM at RCSI, may I wish you every success in whatever course of action you decide to follow.

Prof. Thomas Kearns, Executive Director, Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery, RCSI


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