Ace the NHS Assessment Centre: In Tray and Group Exercises Practice

The NHS Graduate Assessment Centre usually lasts one day and consists of a variety of exercises. This page is dedicated to outlining the different tasks you may face and the ways in which JobTestPrep can help you prepare for them. 

Updated to match current NHS tests.

NHS Assessment Centre
  • Case study: 2 full exercises
  • In Tray: 2 full exercises
  • Role Plays: 1 full-length practice test
  • Group Exercise: 2 full-length practice tests
  • Interview preparation 
  • Study guides & tips

JobTestPrep offers a variety of comprehensive preparation packs for the different NHS schemes, each especially custom-made according to the real NHS tests.


For the Graduate Scheme, in which the NHS uses Capp (also known as Cappfinity), please see our NSH Graduate Scheme PrepPack.

For the Scientist Training Programme, in which the NHS uses Talent Q / Korn Ferry tests, please see our NHS Scientist Training Programme PrepPack.

For the Healthcare Assistant assessment, in which the NHS uses an internal numeracy and literacy test, please see our NSH Healthcare Assistants Test Practice PrepPack.

For the Faculty of Public Health assessment, in which the NHS uses Pearson (specifically the Watson Glaser and RANRA tests), please see our Faculty of Public Health PrepPack.

For other positions, see our SHL All-Inclusive Prepack or Cubiks All-Inclusive PrepPack.

Learn More About the NHS Assessment Centre

The NHS Assessment Centre is usually based on scenarios that run throughout the day. For example, you may be asked about a struggling hospital that is not meeting its targets and is experiencing a decline in the quality of care it is offering.

You are sent a brief note on the hospital ahead of the assessment centre, but you are not given any information regarding the exact scenario you will be tested on or the different exercises you can expect to face.

It is important to bear in mind the NHS key competencies while performing different assessment centre tasks. Doing so will help you stand out from the crowd, thus impressing the assessors in the right way.

Each of the exercises at the Assessment Centre is 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 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.

You must then discuss the implications of what you have read.

The information and discussion are based on the overarching scenario for the day. In the second task, you are moved into bigger groups in which you will expand on the earlier discussions. 

You are being assessed throughout these discussions. Assessors are looking for characteristics such as leadership, cooperation and communication.

They are looking at each member of the group based on their own performance, and not at the group as a whole.

Therefore, you should take 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 are asked to role-play a given scenario, such as dealing with an unhappy patient or difficult colleague.

This section is designed to assess a candidate's response when he or she has to think under time pressure or deal with an awkward or stressful situation.

Click here for more information about the role-play interview.


Candidates must present a short, individual presentation on a given subject.

Candidates are 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

On this test, you are given a laptop that contains 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, see our written exercises preparation.

Information Session & Social Events

This part of the assessment centre is more informal. Candidates are given the opportunity to learn more about the NHS and the positions available, while also being able to socialize with other candidates and NHS assessors.

Although assessors are not testing you, they are watching you, meaning that you should still behave in a proper manner that reflects well on you.


The National Public Health Specialist Training (NPHSTR) Exam is a special assessment process that is undertaken to ensure the suitability of candidates in the Public Health sector.

Applicants are tested on critical reasoning, numerical reasoning and situational judgement, in areas that are relevant to Public Health.

Often, applicants may also be tested using the Watson-Glaser or RANRA. You can practise for both of these tests with JobTestPrep.


Get the full NHS Assessment Centre PrepPack™ that includes practice tests, interview preparation, study guides and expert tips >>