Following a review of the NCE conducted last year, a revised and updated professional qualification will be introduced from March 2013. The NCE will be re-launched as the ‘National Qualification in Journalism’ (NQJ) and will consist of the following four sections:
Media Law and Practice (replacing the Newspaper Practice exam)
The new exam will consist of three compulsory questions: Two (40 mark) law questions plus one (20 mark) ethics-based question.
Time allowed remains the same: 1 hour 20 minutes
The news report exam has been updated to include a story development section (part B)
Candidates will be required to write a 350-word story plus suggest story development ideas (follow-up style questions previously used in NP, but relating to the news report story).
Candidate will have less leeway in the word count allowed – ten words above or below 350 (reduced from 25 words).
The speech will be delivered by one person, recorded and shown on video across all exam centres. This will standardise the delivery of the speech for all.
Time allowed -1 hour 30 minutes: Ten minutes to read brief, videoed five minute speech, one hour 15 minutes to write a 350-word story plus four story development ideas (which can be completed with bullet-point answers).
The news interview exam remains the same apart from five minutes less reading time at the start of the exam (reduced to 10 minutes). A 20-minute interview followed by one hour and ten minutes to write a 400-word story.
Candidate will have less leeway in the word count allowed – ten words above or below 400 (reduced from 25 words).
Time allowed: 1 hour 40 minutes
20 key tasks for a new online version of the logbook will be introduced for new registrations for the NQJ. Candidates will complete a new key task on ‘Social Media’ and have the opportunity to include four pieces of work of their own choice with two key tasks for ‘Trainee’s choice/showcase’.
The above changes have been communicated to refresher trainers and they will be provided with three complete sample exams with marking guides in the New Year. Many refresher trainers attended an NCTJ training workshop where the new exams were explained and discussed in detail.
An example of the new Media Law and Practice exam, ‘ethics’ question, with sample answers and guidance from the chief examiner will be also be made available on the website and short refresher training workshops on this exam and the new News Report will be offered by the NCTJ.
Examination papers and logbooks are marked by teams of assessors who are or have been working journalists. They are then subjected to rigorous moderation to ensure consistency of marking.
The pass mark for each of the four sections is 60 per cent. Candidates who achieve at least 50 per cent in all sections will pass if they achieve an overall average mark of 60 per cent.
Candidates who achieve less than 50 per cent in any section fail that section and the NQJ as a whole, regardless of their overall total.
Candidates who fail the NQJ must re-sit all sections for which they achieved less than 60 per cent. Passes of 60 per cent or more are carried forward.
Re-sits for the news interview, news report and media law and practice sections are available three times a year on NQJ exam days. Failed logbooks may be re-submitted at any time.
After each NQJ the NCTJ publishes an examiner’s report which includes advice for future candidates. Trainees are strongly urged to read it and note its recommendations.