Pass rate remains high for NCE

Sixty-two per cent of the trainee reporters who sat the National Certificate Examination in November passed. The high pass rate is almost identical to that of the previous sitting.

A total of 86 candidates sat the NCE on Friday, 5 November at seven centres across the country. The certificate was awarded to 53 candidates who achieved success in all four sections: news interview, news report, newspaper practice and logbook.

Commenting on the entry numbers, the chief examiner said: “The smaller entry was expected as the impact of the recession continued to have an effect on recruitment in the industry.”

Although registrations of trainees have increased in recent months, trainees must complete a training period of at least 18 months before sitting the NCE so it will be a while before entry numbers return to their previous levels.

The pass rate for the news interview exam was 74 per cent – 49 of the 66 who sat the exam.

The News Interview centred on a heart-warming story about a young couple who had given birth to quintuplets. The aim was for candidates to conduct a face-to-face interview with the hospital staff and elicit enough information to write a vigorous and well-balanced story. They were provided with lots of biographical details about the parents and the babies as well as facts on the pregnancy and birth.

The examiners said: “It was encouraging that candidates checked and rechecked spellings and facts, but some still managed to misspell names and places.”

“Successful candidates managed to include all the relevant information, along with some ‘colour’ and descriptive quotes which made it a rounded story.”

In the news report examination 50 out of 75 candidates were successful – a pass rate of 67 per cent.

This exam focused on the annual drink-drive campaign by the police, due to be launched the following week. Candidates were asked to either write a single 300-word story or two, shorter stories totalling 300-words. They were provided with figures for accidents and failed breath tests the previous year, as well as an outline of the new campaign that featured a 24-hour hotline.

The examiners commented: “To produce the most comprehensive story, candidates needed to blend information from the brief with that from the speech. Most achieved this to a large extent.”

However the examiners also felt: “Shorthand is still a problem for many candidates who find it difficult to record more than a few words at a time and often get them out of context. Those candidates who have worked on their shorthand were able to produce stories with full accurate quotes that were a delight for the markers to read.”

The pass rate for the newspaper practice paper was 80 per cent – 51 candidates out of 64.

The law questions focused on core areas of contempt, court restrictions and libel with the practice questions featuring topical discussions on obesity, marriage and newspaper sales.

The examiners said: “The trend for very strong papers continued at this NCE with a large number of very high-scoring candidates. Those who did particularly well combined extremely strong law answers with very competent practice answers.”

They also commented that: “Candidates who did well had lots of ideas and some real-world experience which they cited in their answer. Those who did less well often seemed to struggle to come up with questions and ideas.”

In the logbook the pass rate was 93 per cent – 40 out of 43 candidates achieving success.

The examiners said: “The November submission has shown once again that candidates are prepared to take a great deal of time compiling a logbook which is an excellent record of their work to date. Both in terms of the copy supplied and the time taken to present the logbook, it is pleasing that both the candidates and their editors/trainers have given it a great deal of thought.”