Typical format of an OSCE

Examiners, candidates and patients will be informed in advance of the date, time and venue of the OSCE. On the day of the OSCE examiners will receive a brief about the OSCE and an examiner pack containing their specific station instructions. Simulated patients also receive a briefing session which aims to prepare them for the OSCE and highlight the importance of portraying their role in a consistent fashion. Candidates are briefed about the format of the OSCE and what is expected of them.

Examiners and simulated patients proceed to their station and prepare themselves for the OSCE. Candidates line up in order in the front of each station / cubicle. On the sound of a bell candidates are allowed a brief period of time to read the station instructions and ascertain what is specifically asked of them. Another bell will sound and candidates can then enter the station to perform the clinical task. Examiners observe candidates perform the task and mark their performance against a standardised mark sheet. Typically the mark sheet will take the form of a piece of paper that can be optically read. Therefore examiners need to make sure that they follow the instructions given to them in the briefing session. Examiners are expected to take a neutral role and are encouraged not to prompt candidates in any why unless indicated in their instructions. Once candidates have finished the clinical task they must remain within the station until the next bell sounds. Only on the sound of the bell can candidates proceed onto the next station. While candidates are reading the instructions, examiners can complete the mark sheet and prepare to receive the next candidate.

Typically in an OSCE there may be more than one circuit running at any one time. Therefore examiners are encouraged to talk to other examiners who are marking the same station to ensure consistency.