Lower pass rate for March NQJ exams

Fifty-five per cent of trainees who sat the National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ) exams in March achieved the qualification. This is the lowest pass rate since the 49 per cent pass rate in July 2013.

Fewer candidates sat the March NQJ exams this year, a total of 42 candidates compared to 57 in March 2017. Of the 42 candidates who sat the exams, 23 were successful in all four parts – media law and practice, news report, news interview and e-logbook – achieving ‘senior journalist’ status.

There were two sittings owing to adverse weather conditions on the day of the scheduled exams on 2 March, which meant that a small number of exam centres were unable to open. The NCTJ offered a special exam sitting on 23 March for candidates affected by the centre closures.

For the third NQJ in a row, there was a 100 per cent pass rate for e-logbook. The moderator said: “These March exams saw a number of good submissions from candidates which led to some strong competition for the overall logbook prize.”

There was an overall pass rate of 65 per cent in the media law and practice exams; 24 of 37 candidates were successful.  The exams tested defamation, contempt, aspects of court reporting, ethical areas, confidentiality and copyright.

The moderator commented: “The overall pass rate for the media law and practice was lower than previous recent exams. Candidates with a logical approach, allied to knowledge, tended to do better in this paper.”

The news report exams produced an overall pass rate of 55 per cent, with 23 successful candidates from the 42 who sat the exams. The first exam on 2 March asked candidates to report on a story about the discovery of a dangerous chemical at an industrial estate, while the exam on 23 March featured a story about plans to lifeguard a popular beach where day trippers had died the previous year after being caught in rip tides.

The moderator noted that some part B answers were excellent and well-thought out, but poor shorthand and the ability to take accurate, selective notes from the news report were the most common problems experienced in part A.

The news interview papers had an overall pass rate of 64 per cent, with 27 successful candidates from the 42 who sat. The first exam on 2 March featured a story with two incidents which were linked – a police pursuit that ended when the vehicle being pursued overturned, killing the passenger, and an armed raid of a club, which happened 20 minutes earlier.

The exam on 23 March featured a story about a teenager who, on an early morning driving lesson with his mum, stalled his car on a level crossing and suffered broken legs and severe bruising after a train, which was running late, hit the car while the teenager was trying to push it.

The moderator said, of both exams, that those who passed had a readable writing style, caught the drama and included strong quotes.

You can now read about the award winners and see the full examiners’ report.

The next National Qualification in Journalism exam will take place on Friday, 6 July 2018. The closing date for enrolment is Friday, 25 May 2018.