Learn more about the NHS Assessment Centre, In Tray and Group Exercises Practice

The NHS Graduate Assessment Centre usually lasts for one day and consists of a variety of exercises. The subject and design of these exercises may vary according to assessment centre but we will outline the different tasks that you can face.
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The NHS Assessment Centre is usually based on a theme running throughout the day. Scenarios for the day include a struggling hospital which is not meeting targets and is experiencing a decline in the quality of care it is offering. You are sent a briefing note on the hospital ahead of the assessment centre, but you will not be given any information about the scenario attached to that hospital or the exercises you can expect to face.

During the NHS Assessment Centre, particularly so for the NHS graduate scheme it is important to allow the NHS key competencies shine through in your actions and in the tasks that you complete. This will enable you to stand out from the crowd thus impressing the assessors in the right way. We will outline the tasks you can expect to face below.

Exercises include:

Each of the exercises at the Assessment Centre are designed to assess at least one of a list of competencies you must have as a future leader of the NHS. You should take every opportunity in each exercise to demonstrate these skills.

  • Motivation to join the NHS
  • Improving services
  • Setting direction
  • Working with others
  • Managing services
  • Analytical thinking
  • Numerical ability

The NHS Group Exercises

You will encounter a number of group exercises at the NHS Assessment Centre. In the first exercise, you are split into pairs and given materials to read, and then discuss the implications of what you have read. The information and discussion is based on the overarching scenario for the day, for example discussing the problems with a contract with a private supplier and solutions available for addressing these problems.

In the second task you are moved into bigger groups in which you will take the earlier discussions further. For example discussing the contract and problems with the private contractor in a meeting setting and looking for solutions together.

You are being assessed throughout these discussions. Assessors will be looking for characteristics such as leadership, cooperation and communication skills. They will be looking at each member of the group on their own performance, and not on the group as a whole, so stick with your own best course of action rather than follow a more aggressive team member. Learn more about how to approach a group exercise.

The NHS Role Play Interview

Candidates will be asked to role play a given scenario such as dealing with an unhappy patient or difficult colleague. This section is designed to assess the candidate's response when having to think under time pressure or having to deal with an awkward or stressful situation. More information about role play interview.


A short individual presentation must be given by candidates on a given subject. Candidates will be given time to prepare for the presentation and are allowed to use notes and visuals to refer to when presenting.

The E-Tray Exercise and NHS Written Test

In this test you will be given a laptop with which you will have a simulated inbox and other information. Your task is to analyse the data provided, and write a report based on the scenario of the day. You are given an hour and a half to read the materials, come up with the best solution and pull it together in a report. To learn more about how to approach this exercise and practice for this test, see our written exercises preparation.

Information Session & Social Events

This part of the assessment centre is more informal and candidates will be given the opportunity to learn more about the NHS and the roles available while being able to socialize with other candidates and NHS assessors. Although assessors will not be testing you, they will be watching you, meaning that you should still behave in a proper manner that will reflect well on you.


The NPHSTR (National Public Health Specialist Training) Exam is a special assessment process that is undertaken to ensure the suitability of candidates in the Public Health sector. Applicants will be tested on critical reasoning, numerical reasoning and situational judgement in areas that are relevant to Public Health. Often, applicants may also be tested using Watson-Glaser or RANRA. Both of these can be practiced here at JobTestPrep.

Why Prepare?

The NHS is the world's 5th biggest employer, with a personnel staff of 1.7 million people working across the UK. It is also currently ranked 5th in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers. This year, NHS has over 100 vacancies for graduate jobs with thousands of applicants vying for a place. Competition is stiff and the recruitment process is rigorous but the rewards are great. Graduates who qualify will become part of a passionate and talented team of NHS workers where they will be given an opportunity to enhance their careers as well as making a difference to the lives of people across the UK.

JobTestPrep provides you with the necessary tools needed in order to prepare and practice for the recruiting process of NHS. Our practice packs will provide you practice and guidelines for aptitude tests, interviews and assessment centre exercises. Begin studying now and assure your NHS career with JobTestPrep.

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