About the OSFA

The emphasis will be on what you can do. You will be asked to perform certain tasks that are relevant to your specialism or generic across specialisms.

These may include:

  • Interpreting laboratory results
  • Devising and communicating a patient management plan
  • Evaluating the design or feasibility of a research project
  • Discussing how you might implement a health innovation

The tasks will draw upon the five domains of Good Scientific Practice, and the knowledge and skills you have gained across the whole of the Scientist Training Programme including your rotational modules.

There are several ways by which an OSFA differs from other assessments, such as written exams. These include:

  • Validity: the OSFA is a practical assessment that assesses a sample of the skills that underpin your role and fitness to practise in the workplace and which are clearly linked to your curriculum. The emphasis on practical skills (rather than knowledge recall) means that the results of your final assessment will tell us about your ability to perform as a clinical scientist from day one.
  • The reliability of outcomes: your pass or fail outcome will be based on the judgement of at least 12 assessors and an Exam Board consisting of representatives from the OSFA assessors, your specialism’s Professional Body and the School. This means that your result will not be dependent upon whether you got ‘lucky’ or ‘unlucky’ with one assessor and you cannot fail the assessment based on the judgement of one assessor alone. A pass outcome will be awarded where there is sufficient evidence across the 12 different stations to demonstrate that you are performing at the standard required of a Clinical Scientist just prior to registration.

Find out what your OSFA will be like

Types of OSFA

Mock OSFA – optional

As a final year trainee you are offered the opportunity to undertake a mock OSFA to help you prepare for the generic and specialist OSFA. It will allow you to familiarise yourself with the venue and logistics of moving between stations; it will also give you some insight to the kind of skills you may be asked to demonstrate.

The mock OSFA will consist of two generic and two specialist stations, each of 15 minutes duration. You will receive your station outcome (pass/fail) and feedback where this is provided by the assessor. These results will have no bearing on the outcome of your compulsory generic and specialist OSFA.

The mock OSFA is optional, but we strongly advise that you attend this assessment so that you do not feel disadvantaged in terms of confidence and familiarity with the process, when you attend your generic and specialist OSFA.

Generic OSFA – compulsory

This OSFA is compulsory for all trainees and consists of three 15 minute stations.

As a qualified Clinical Scientist you will be required to demonstrate certain skills independent of your specialism e.g communication skills, operating effectively as part of a multi-disciplinary team, ethical practice and leadership etc. This OSFA focuses on these generic skills.

Specialist OSFA – compulsory

This OSFA is compulsory for all trainees and consists of nine specialist stations, each 15 minutes duration.

The nine specialist stations will test commonplace skills that are relevant to your specialism.

These stations are written and assessed by professional practitioners in your field. In some smaller specialisms it is likely that you will know some or all of your assessors. All assessors will have received training and will assess only what they see on the day using pre-defined assessment criteria.

In total you will be assessed on 12 stations across the generic and specialist OSFAs. These are divided into two separate events to give both trainees and assessors the opportunity to perform at their best.


If you do not achieve a pass outcome for the OSFA, you will be offered an opportunity to resit.

Getting your results

Your results for the generic and specialist OSFAs are collated and reviewed by the relevant exam board for each specialism. The exam board will consider your station-level results and reach a consensus on whether it considers you have demonstrated sufficient evidence of performance at the standard required to practise safely as a Clinical Scientist.

You will receive an email with an attached transcript stating the outcome of your OSFA and the outcome of each individual generic and specialist station.