If you are a foreign nurse hoping to work in the UK, one of the many requirements an aspiring UK RN will need is to pass the CBT or Computer Based Test. It is a 120-item multiple-choice test that will assess your competence and knowledge in nursing.
It is the next step after passing an English language test such as IELTS or OET. A new update from NMC is that they will accept an overall score of at least 7 with at least 6.5 in the writing section and at least 7 in the reading, listening, and speaking sections for IELTS. For OET, one should get at least a grade C+ in the writing section and at least a grade B in the reading, listening, and speaking sections.
Before you will be able to take the CBT, you will need to register with NMC and upload documents like your IELTS result and Diploma. Once completed, they will send via email the (ATT) authorization to take the test. The booking of the test is done through Pearson Vue. The current CBT fee is 83 Pounds.
It is through the Pearson Vue website that you can choose the location and time of the test. In the Philippines, CBT is available in Cebu City and Makati City. In my case, I chose Makati City just because I would not be quarantined at that time. During that period, people flying to Cebu City were required to be quarantined for 14 days in a COVID government facility.
How I Prepared for CBT
One of the best resources I read was The Royal Marsden Hospital Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures. It is very easy to understand compared to other nursing books I have read in the past. Overall, it was very informational as it was also like a refresher course for me.
Another Filipino nurse I met online, who used to work in one hospital in my town, added me to a Facebook page that is all about the test and the processes involved. It is on this page that people discuss questions, share resources, and review materials, and give tips for test-takers.
The other thing I did which was the most helpful for me was to read through previous questions and to truly understand the rationale for each question. If I can’t find the answers in the Royal Marsden book, I looked them up on the NHS website or the NICE UK or other trusted resources.
Taking the Test During A Pandemic
The number of times I rescheduled the test was probably more than eight times in total. I originally planned to sit the test in Cebu. Just a couple of days before the first lockdown was implemented in the city. Like everyone else, I was very hopeful that the situation would get better after a month so I rescheduled it the next month.
That was actually when cases surged up in big cities and many people were dying in the country. Nevertheless, I didn’t stop being hopeful, I booked it again after a month and rescheduled again and again. At the same time that the pandemic continually went on and on. Luckily, rescheduling the test is free of charge. You can also change the venue if you want. From Cebu which was my original venue, I changed the location to Makati City in the end.
Taking the Test in Makati
I could say that on the actual test day, I felt more than ready to do it. Although I was feeling excited, I was a bit nervous too.
It was raining that morning so I took a taxi from my accommodation to the venue. When I arrived, however, I still had more than an hour to kill. So, I went out to look for food as I don’t want to be hungry during the test. That’s actually tip number 1 in every test, never take a test hungry.
When I went inside the building, the staff told me to sign in, collected my passport, and had me sign a consent form. They also took my photograph. Even though I still have at least 30 minutes before my scheduled time, they told me that I can start if I was ready. In this, I agreed because I wanted it done and be over with once and for all.
Due to COVID, all takers should wear a mask and a face shield during the test. Social distancing is strictly followed too.
After the Test
CBT gives four hours to complete the entire test. For me, I finished the test including a final review in two to three hours. After making sure that all items were answered, I clicked ‘Submit’, went out of the exam room, and informed the staff that I was done.
It was still raining when I arrived at my hostel. As a treat for myself, I ordered ramen online because I’ve been craving it for a very long time. There are not many good Japanese restaurants in my town and since I was in Makati, why not splurge for food once in a while. Unfortunately, it was not a good one.
Test results will be available after four hours. I checked mine through the Pearson Vue website at around 8 PM on the same day. It showed I passed. Yey! I was so relieved like a thorn was pulled out from me.
Like every other test out there, I invested (lots of) time, money, and effort for this test. My final tip is just DO YOUR BEST. Read and understand the questions well. Prioritize your patient, what is best for them in every scenario question in the test.