Sixty-eight per cent pass rate for November NQJ

Forty-eight candidates have been awarded senior status after passing the National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ).

Seventy-one candidates sat the exam on Friday, 7 November at nine centres across the UK. Over two-thirds of the candidates were successful – a pass rate of 68 per cent.

Commenting in the examiner’s report, chief examiner Steve Nelson said: “I am delighted that the pass rate has remained relatively high. The NQJ remains as tough a test as ever of the various skills and experience required to achieve senior status.

“The new emphasis on ethics and the growing importance of social media were both reflected in the examination process.”

The NQJ for reporters is divided into four sections: a media law and practice paper; a news report; a news interview; and an e-logbook.

The media law and practice exam produced a pass rate of 77 per cent, with 47 successful candidates out of a total of 61. While there was a high pass rate for this section, concerns were raised over answers to the ethics question. It was noted that trainees were not leaving enough time to consider the ethical dilemas and apply the relevant parts of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

The law questions, which prompted many excellent answers, tested areas that all candidates should come across in their normal working lives, including defamation, contempt of court and reporting restrictions, and copyright.

Sixty-nine candidates sat the news report exam and 47 passed, or 68 per cent. The story was a follow-up to a major fire on Sandhavon Pier. The top candidates produced stories with “punchy intros” leading on strong angles. However, basic spelling errors and a lack of fresh ideas for follow-up stories were noted as the main issues by examiners. Candidates were reminded that being able to demonstrate a sharp news sense and produce fresh ideas would help them to progress in their careers.

The news interview exam produced a pass rate of 82 per cent, with 53 successful candidates out of a total of 65. This exam featured a story about armed raiders entering a house and threatening the occupants.

The examiners thought the scripts were “encouraging”, with trainees coping well with the chronology of a story with “a lot of detail and drama”. Interview technique and accuracy were raised as issues by examiners in this section.

In the e-logbook there was a 100 per cent pass rate with all 54 candidates who submitted entries achieving success.

The examiners said candidates showed a “firm grasp of the requirements of the key tasks”. They were pleased that the social media and additional trainee’s choice tasks were being handled well.

The next NQJ exam will take place in March 2015. The examiners’ report, including a full pass list, can be viewed on the NCTJ website.