48 journalists achieve senior status in March NCE

A further 48 journalists are celebrating achieving senior status after passing the National Certificate Examination for reporters. A total of 107 candidates sat the exam on Friday, 9 March at seven centres across the UK – 63 for the first time and 44 re-sits. The overall pass rate was 45 per cent.

The number of entries increased from the March NCE in 2011 when 79 candidates sat the exam.

Commenting in the examiner’s report, chief examiner Steve Nelson said: “It is always disappointing to report that the pass rate for the National Certificate Examination has fallen.

“With an entry of 107 candidates – one of the highest numbers seen over the past two years – there was plenty in this exam for candidates to show their worth. But what can only be described as silly errors cost some candidates dearly, while the challenging interview caught several people out when it came to attention to detail.

“However, a classic news report scenario brought out the best from more than a few candidates, continuing a strong pass rate. There were encouraging signs, too, among the logbook entries and there were clear signs of guidance in the office – something that was shown to be lacking previously.”

There are four sections which make up the NCE: news interview; news report; newspaper practice; and logbook.

96 candidates sat the news interview exam and 40 passed – 42 per cent.

This exam featured the story of a bank manager and his family held hostage by an armed gang before the gang attempted to rob the bank.

There were lots of strong quotes to be had, along with the drama of the story, however some candidates could not grasp the strands of the story, there were errors in the copy and several were also too long.

The news report featured a story about a possible church closure and 50 of the 95 candidates passed – 53 per cent. Shorthand was weak in a number of cases and there were also some careless mistakes with not enough attention to detail.

However the examiners also noted that there were some excellent papers among those submitted and that these candidates are a credit to their newspapers.

The newspaper practice exam challenged reporters on the legal issues they face on a daily basis. The pass rate decreased from 70 per cent in November 2011 to 44 per cent, with only 39 candidates out of 89 successful. 

In part A, candidates were tasked with answering law questions on covering court and defamation – issues that reporters are likely to encounter every day.

Part B asked candidates to put into words what they should be doing intuitively in their working lives – how to pursue a story, who to talk to, what to ask them and why. The scenarios included chemical dumping, the cost of public health funerals and National Pet Month.

In the logbook section there was another high pass rate of 97 per cent – with 62 out of the 64 candidates who submitted entries achieving success.

The examiners said: “In almost all cases it is clear that candidates have been given clear guidance in the compilation of the logbooks and this has been reflected in the standard of those submitted.”

The next National Certificate Examination will take place in July 2012 and the enrolment form will be on the website later this month.

The full Examiners' Report is available here.