Webinar: Find your perfect pre-reg placement

From what to consider when choosing a pre-reg position, to writing a stand-out application, this webinar will take you through all you need to know about getting the perfect pre-reg placement.

Find your perfect pre-reg placement – FAQs

We received lots of questions during our pre-reg placements webinar in early October. We didn’t have time to answer all of them live, so Sophie Harper, our Lead Assessor, has answered some of your most frequent queries in this blog.


What are employers looking for and how can I stand out?

Employers are looking for enthusiastic people who have a passion for optometry. You should find something out about the practice you plan to work in and the type of patient you will be seeing in the practice. You’ll stand out if you have a good academic record, work experience, a good personal reference and also contributed to society or completed other extracurricular activities. The work experience should ideally be in an optical environment but most types of work experience will teach you some new skills e.g. team working, professionalism.

When should I start applying for my pre-reg position? Why are the applications in second year and not third year?

The most popular pre-registration posts will be filled early so you do need to start considering where you want to complete your Scheme for Registration in your second year. Competition in some areas is high. Start to have a conversation with the practice where you are doing your work experience or apply for a summer scheme in a particular store. Employers are also looking to attract the best students and companies work well ahead of deadlines. That is why much of the recruitment takes place towards the end of second year but there are usually positions available in third year and also once you have completed your degree. Refer to the College's jobs board.

What will make me stand out in the interview process?

When you attend an interview ensure that you arrive on time and are dressed professionally. Find out as much as you can about the position by talking to previous trainees or newly qualified members of staff in the practice. Appear enthusiastic and passionate about the job you are applying for. Think about what you can contribute to that practice.

Does the pre- reg year strictly have to start in September or can it start in January?

Increasingly the Scheme for Registration can start in any month of the year, especially if you are attending Hertfordshire or Portsmouth University. The traditional months to start are still July to September.

Issues and concerns

What do I do if I don’t like my placement or my supervisor? Can I change?

Yes, you can change positions during your pre-registration period but it is very important that you communicate with your supervisor and employer and try and solve the problem locally first. 

What happens if I’m not able to find a pre-reg position?

At the moment there are enough pre-registration positions available for everyone but you may have to relocate. Visit the jobs board for positions.

What happens if I don’t get the numbers of refractions, dispensing and contact lens patients?

You are not allowed to enter for the OSCEs until the numbers have been achieved.

Can I increase my time on the Scheme?

The time allowed on the Scheme for Registration is 2 years and three months unless exceptional circumstances have been granted.

How many times can we resit the OSCEs? Are the OSCEs the same for people doing hospital pre reg and practice pre-reg?

You can resit the OSCEs three times as long as you are still within the 2 years 3 months from your enrolment date. The OSCEs are the same for all pre-registration students.

As a pre-reg can I test children?

Yes you can test children as the pre-reg but you may not start testing children immediately. Some of the competencies in visit three require you to have seen patient episodes involving children.

What are the most difficult patient episodes to obtain during the Scheme for Registration?

This does depend which type of environment you are working in. Speak to the previous pre-reg and see what they found difficult. Be very aware of all the patient episodes that you require – you can do this by reading the Scheme for Registration guidance thoroughly at the start of the year.


Do many pre-reg practices pay for the Scheme for Registration as part of our salary? Do hospitals pay?

Yes many practices do pay the fees as part of the salary but as a general rule hospitals do not pay. It is very important that you read your contract so that you are aware of what costs you will be responsible for e.g. resits.

Can I cancel my pre-reg contract if I am resitting a year in university (so I will graduate one year later)?

Yes you should always communicate with your future employers and act professionally if your plans change. 


The College is an approved licensed sponsor under the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) scheme. This means the College can issue Certificates of Sponsorship to Non EEA students in order for them to complete the Scheme for Registration in the UK. You can find out more about Visas here.