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Significant differences in basic life support skills including cardiopulmonary resuscitation and defibrillation (CPR-D) were detected when nurses working in one Finnish and one Swedish hospital were tested using an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). The purpose of this study was to use OSCE test in assessing guideline based CPR-D skills of newly qualified nurses. The CPR-D skills of newly qualified registered nurses studying in Halmstad University (n = 30), Sweden, Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences (n = 30), and Finland were assessed using an OSCE which was built up with a case of cardiac arrest with ventricular fibrillation as the initial rhythm. The Angoff average, 32.47, was calculated as cutoff point to pass the test. Forty-seven percent of the students in the Swedish group (mean score 32.47/49, range 26–39, SD 3.76) and 13% of the students in the Finnish group (mean score 23.80/49, range 13–35, SD 4.32) passed the OSCE (P<0.0001), the cutoff point being 32.47. Performance grade for the Swedish group was 2.9/5.0 and for the Finnish group 2.1/5.0 (P<0.0001). Good nontechnical skills correlated with high grading of the clinical skills. In conclusion, CPR-D skills of the newly qualified nurses in both the institutes were clearly under par and were not adequate according to the resuscitation guidelines. Current style of teaching is unlikely to result in students being able to perform adequate CPR-D. Standardized testing would help in controlling the quality of learning.