Sixty-one per cent pass rate for November NQJ

Forty-three journalists are celebrating achieving senior status after passing the National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ) - a pass rate of 61 per cent.

A total of 71 candidates sat the exam on Friday, 6 November at nine centres across the UK – 51 for the first time and 20 re-sits.

Commenting in the examiners’ report, NQJ chief examiner Steve Nelson said: “The NQJ remains a very robust test of a candidate’s knowledge in areas of law and ethics and a practical examination of news reporting and interview skills, together with a demonstration of their ability in many key areas of journalism.

“While it is disappointing that the pass rate remains at its lowest since July 2013, I am delighted for those candidates who have now achieved seniority in the industry.”

The media law and practice exam produced a pass rate of 75 per cent, with 45 successful candidates out of a total of 60.

The law and ethics questions tested areas that all trainees should come across in their normal working lives, particularly contempt, defamation and the use of the Editors’ Code of Practice. To pass the exam, trainees need to be able to apply their knowledge of the law and the editors’ code to the questions and explain their thinking clearly. Examiners advised trainees to keep up to date with media cases and IPSO adjudications.

Sixty-eight candidates sat the news report exam and 44 passed, or 65 per cent. The paper featured a story about a local woman who had discovered a notebook, discarded by Sherlock Holmes’ creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It contained a letter and the author’s notes about a woman who witnessed a murder by Jack the Ripper and identified the culprit. Sir Arthur threw the notebook and letter away without taking further action and it was found by a chambermaid in the fire-grate. The examiners identified accuracy, news sense and shorthand as the key problem areas. Candidates were advised to improve their shorthand, read over their answers and work on developing practical follow-up ideas with flair.

The news interview exam produced a pass rate of 73 per cent, with 43 out of 59 candidates earning a pass. This exam featured a dramatic story about a millionaire businessman, Jason Blackwell, who was killed when his light aircraft crashed on his way home from putting the finishing touches to his wedding in France.

Candidates who performed well maintained a good chronology and a readable writing style, although issues with accuracy and a failure by some to visualise the story before writing led to candidates loosing marks.

In the e-logbook section, the examiners noted some excellent examples of work submitted. They wrote that all key tasks were handled well and there were no major issues to report with regard to the standard of submissions, resulting in a 95 per cent pass rate – or 53 out of 56 candidates passing this section.

However, the issue of a few candidates failing to upload either published or original copy for their key tasks led to duplicated submissions, resulting in a few failing marks. They advised anyone who is unsure of what is expected in each section to ask for help from their editor, trainer or the NCTJ.

The next National Qualification in Journalism exam will take place on Friday, 6 March 2016. An enrolment form is available on the NCTJ website and the deadline for enrolment is Monday, 25 January 2016.

The full examiners’ report, including pass list, is available here.

Read more about the NQJ award winners here.