Record 74 per cent pass rate for March NQJ exam

A record 74 per cent of candidates achieved senior status in the March sitting of the National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ).

Fifty-one journalists passed from the 69 candidates who sat the exam at eight centres on Friday, 4 March.

This was the highest pass rate in the 10 sittings since the NQJ was introduced three years ago to replace the National Certificate in Journalism (NCE). The previous highest pass rate of 72 per cent was recorded in March last year.

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. Of the 69 candidates who sat last month, 50 were taking the exam for the first time and 19 were re-sitting.

Congratulating candidates in the examiners’ report, NCTJ chief examiner Steve Nelson said: “The pass rate had dipped to 61 per cent in both of the previous two sittings, so I am delighted to see this improvement.

“The best figures came from the media law and practice section, and this reflects the increased focus on legal and ethical issues by the NCTJ following the Leveson inquiry and introduction of IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation).”

The media law and practice paper produced a best-ever pass rate of 90 per cent, with 53 of 59 candidates successful. Examiners said that with IPSO now operating for more than a year, its adjudications would come into play more and more in future exams. However, candidates would still need to be aware of some landmark rulings from the old Press Complaints Commission.

The exam tested knowledge across major legal and ethical issues which trainees should be familiar with in their working lives. These included contempt of court, defamation, identification of children involved in legal proceedings and the practical application of the editors’ code of practice.

Sixty-six candidates sat the news report exam and 52 passed, or 79 per cent. Candidates were asked to report on a speech from the incoming head of a leading girls-only school as it prepared to welcome boys as pupils for the first time with the aim of helping to solve the country’s shortage of scientists and engineers.

The news interview paper produced a 77 per cent pass rate, with 47 successful candidates from the 61 who sat. The story in the exam centred on the police hunt for three drunk and rowdy train passengers who fled after assaulting the conductor and a fellow passenger who had complained about their behaviour. Examiners said the best copy captured the drama of the incident while also including plenty of important details.

In the e-logbook section, there was a 91 per cent pass rate, with 50 successful candidates from 55 who submitted their work. Reflecting on the exam overall, Steve Nelson said: “The only disappointment was the failure of several candidates to complete the logbook correctly, resulting in overall fails.”

Read about the award winners and see the full examiners’ report on the NCTJ website.

The next National Qualification in Journalism exam will take place on Friday, 8 July 2016. The closing date for enrolment is Friday, 27 May 2016.