Candidates achieve highest pass rate of the year in November NQJ

Candidates sitting the National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ) have achieved the highest pass rate since the National Qualification in Journalism (NCE) became the NQJ in March 2013. Fifty-four reporters achieved senior reporter status – a pass rate of 62 per cent.

A total of 88 candidates sat the exam on Friday 8 November at nine centres across the UK – 49 for the first time and 39 re-sits. The NQJ is divided into four sections: media law and practice; a news report; a news interview; and a logbook.

Eighty-six candidates sat the media law and practice exam and 59 passed – 69 per cent.

The law questions tested areas that all candidates should come across in their normal working lives, including defamation, contempt and reporting restrictions in court, as well as copyright and privacy. The ethics question concerned problems encountered by a reporter on a police raid.

Comparing the result with the previous NQJ in July, Steve Nelson, chief examiner, said: “It was particularly pleasing to see a 26 percentage point rise in the pass rate for the media law and practice section, from 43 per cent to 69 per cent.”

Examiners were impressed by the way in which candidates tackled the ethics question. The failure rate for this question was less than 25 per cent, showing candidates to be more confident dealing with ethical problems than in the past.

Seventy-nine candidates sat the news report exam and 52 passed – 66 per cent. This exam featured the Ashworth Valley Caravan Park which was proposing to spend £1.2 million of its record £3 million profits for the year on improving access for its holidaymakers.

While there was a good pass rate for the section, examiners said accuracy continued to be a problem for many candidates, with shorthand cited as a contributory factor. They added there was a tendency among candidates to tell a partial story and stressed the need for a good report to include enough background information for anyone to read it.

The news interview exam had a pass rate of 76 per cent. The story was about a fire fighter being critically injured when a batch of illegal and faulty fireworks exploded at an industrial unit.

Examiners agreed the standards had improved on the previous NQJ submissions. However, shorthand and lack of attention to detail were problematic for some candidates, prompting examiners to question how many trainees carried out face-to-face interviews on a regular basis.

In the logbook section there was a 100 per cent pass rate. This is the second time in nine sittings that all candidates who submitted logbooks have passed.

The examiners were impressed with the work submitted and were pleased that candidates seemed to be getting clearer guidance when compiling their submissions.

The next National Qualification in Journalism exam will take place in March 2014, and the enrolment form will be on the website in the New Year.

The full Examiners’ Report, including a list of successful candidates, is available here.