Trainees sitting July’s NCE tackle stories of heroics and rare sightings

80 trainees sat the NCTJ’s National Certificate Examination on Friday, 8 July at seven centres across the UK.

80 trainees sat the NCTJ’s National Certificate Examination on Friday, 8 July at seven centres across the UK. All were hoping to gain senior status by passing the four sections of the exam: News Interview, News Report, Newspaper Practice and Logbook.

Steve Nelson, chief examiner, said: “The exam questions constituted a challenging mix. Whereas the News Report was a straightforward test of combining the highlights of a speech with background information, the News Interview was complex and full of human interest and drama.”

The News Interview paper featured a heroic story about how an off-duty French fireman had come to the rescue after his sister-in-law’s wedding party, when a fire broke out in the hotel they were staying in. The fire alarm sounded at 2.40am and, after escorting his wife and son to safety, he returned to rescue the chief bridesmaid, who was unconscious, before firefighters arrived to help him.

A rare sighting of the UK’s smallest bird of prey was the topic of the News Report exam, while the Newspaper Practice paper had questions on how to develop stories – including an accusation by the National Farmers’ Union that the county police force was neglecting rural crime. There were also ethical and legal dilemmas about a sportsman and restaurant owner in the law section of the practice paper.

Steve added: “The Newspaper Practice section again provided a stiff test of the candidates’ legal knowledge, together with a diverse range of questions – from the lighthearted to a privacy issue – that provided plenty of scope for discussion.”

One candidate sat the NCE for Sports Reporters for the first time at Up To Speed Journalism Training, based at the Bournemouth Echo. The scenario for the Sports Interview paper was to question former British racing driver Damon Hill, the current chairman of the British Racing Drivers’ Association – who won the Formula 1 World Championship in 1996 – on the eve of last weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Results of the NCE for reporters and sports reporters will be emailed to candidates on Wednesday, 10 August and posted on the NCTJ website www.nctj.comon Friday, 12 August.

There were 40 volunteers who helped ensure last Friday’s NCE ran smoothly. The NCTJ is looking for more volunteers to help with the NCE by acting as news interviewees and assessors for the News Interview exam. If you feel you can spare a few hours, and would like to give trainee journalists the chance to progress their careers, please contact Sam Tonkin at

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