Record 76 per cent pass rate in July NQJ exam sitting

A record 76 per cent of candidates achieved senior status in the July sitting of the National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ).

Fifty-eight journalists passed from the 76 candidates who sat the exam at seven centres on Friday, 8 July.

This was the highest pass rate in the 11 sittings since the NQJ was introduced three years ago to replace the National Certificate in Journalism (NCE). The previous highest pass rate of 74 per cent was recorded at the last sitting in March this year.

Chief examiner Steve Nelson said: “I am full of admiration for today’s trainee journalists, who are not only multi-skilled and operating on various platforms but also required to show thorough knowledge in ever-expanding areas of media law and ethics.”

“The NQJ exams can only be taken after a minimum training period of 18 months, and during that time the trainees will have tackled a multitude of stories and honed their skills.

“The attainment of the industry’s professional qualification remains a key moment in the careers of these journalists.”

Candidates must be successful in all four parts of the NQJ – interview, media law and practice, logbook and news report – to pass and achieve senior status. The 76 candidates sitting last month represented the highest total for more than a year. Of those, 57 were sitting for the first time, with 19 candidates re-sitting parts of the exam.

There was a record 83 per cent pass rate for the news interview paper, with 59 successful candidates from the 71 who sat. The story in the exam centered on the gruesome discovery of dog carcasses in an old lock-up garage, with the police warning pet owners to keep their animals safe. Examiners praised the many candidates who captured the horror of the scene inside the building in their stories, using compelling detail and strong quotes.

The media law and practice paper produced an 89 per cent pass rate, with success for 58 of the 65 candidates. Examiners said the results were “gratifying”, pointing out that successful candidates generally combined a good writing style and a logical approach.

The main thrust of the law questions required candidates to show how qualified privilege and the Contempt of Court Act 1981 works, along with elements of court reporting. Ethics were tested in both the law questions as well as a separate ethics question. Examiners noted that most candidates were aware of recent changes to the Editors’ Code of Practice.

Fifty-five candidates passed the news report exam. In total, 71 candidates sat this exam, giving a pass rate of 77 per cent, just short of the record 79 per cent success in March 2016. Candidates were asked to report on the appearance of a giant sinkhole during demolition work which had revealed an almost complete Roman bath house just below the surface.

Examiners said shorthand standards appeared to be better, with good use of full quotes, but noted examples of “an annoying habit of merging bits of different quotes and presenting them as a verbatim quote” among those with weaker shorthand.

“This would irritate a person being quoted and candidates must ensure their shorthand is up to the required speed to take down full quotes accurately,” the examiners said.

In the e-logbook section, there was a 95 per cent pass rate, with 58 successful candidates from 61 who submitted their work.

The next National Qualification in Journalism exam will take place on Friday, 4 November 2016. The closing date for enrolment is Friday, 23 September 2016.