68 per cent pass rate in November NQJ sitting

After National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ) sittings in March and July this year that achieved record-breaking pass rate percentages (74 per cent and 76 per cent, respectively), the pass rate percentage for the NQJ November sitting was a solid 68%.

Fifty-nine reporters sat the NCTJ senior qualification at six centres on Friday, 4 November. Despite this being the lowest recorded entry for the NQJ, 40 candidates achieved passes in the four sections required to achieve their senior qualification. 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 59 candidates who sat, 43 were first-timers and 16 resat elements of the exam.

Chief examiner Steve Nelson said: “The low entry probably reflects the shrinking newspaper industry. However, it is expected that the number of candidates will show a small rise for the next sitting in March.

“The November sitting is always that bit more special for those candidates who achieve a pass because it makes for a fantastic early Christmas present.”

The logbook section saw the highest pass rate at 98%, while 67% were successful in the interview section. Pass rates for news report and media law & practice were 71% and 80%, respectively.

The media law and practice examination once again produced a high pass rate, which is good news for editors, especially in a digital publishing era. Examiners noted that those candidates with a good writing style and a logical and knowledgeable approach were more successful.

Those candidates who passed the news interview examination demonstrated good chronology, a readable writing style, captured the drama and had strong quotes. Examiners noted that for this sitting, shorthand appeared to be an issue, and spelling and grammar could have been better.

In the news report exam, candidates were asked to consider two key aspects in their reporting: a local man had come forward at the 11th hour to claim his half of a £10 million rollover Lottery jackpot and announced how he was going to spend the money. Peter South said he would give all of his winnings to the donkey rescue charity he and his wife volunteer for so that it could purchase land and facilities for a much-needed sanctuary.

Examiners stated that shorthand can often pose problems in this section of the examination and said, “Candidates with weak shorthand are unable to get down accurate quotes and information, which leads to either made-up direct quotes or an incomplete story.”

The markers were looking for clean copy with a good clear explanation, in chronological order, of the information presented to candidates of this key human-interest story.

The next National Qualification in Journalism exam will take place on Friday 3 March 2017. The closing date for enrolment is Friday 27 January 2017.