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Exam first for springtime journalism candidates

More than 280 reporters who sat the National Council for the Training of Journalists’ professional qualification on Friday were the first to experience changes to the examination.

The exam day saw more than 18 months of hard work put to the test at the National Certificate Exam for newspaper reporters, taking place at 17 centres across the UK.

The candidates were the first to experience changes made to the ‘Speech’ section. The exam has been revised and updated and is in a new format called ‘News Report’.

The exam involved a longer briefing paper followed by a five minute speech which provided the bulk of the best quotes for the story and tests the candidates’ ability of selective note-taking.

NCTJ chief executive Joanne Butcher said: “It was clear from our discussions with editors that they were keen for us to continue to test the trainees’ ability to report the spoken word by using their shorthand, spotting an angle, and writing an accurate and interesting story in addition to the News Interview section.

“But we agreed that the Speech exam needed modernising and making more realistic.

“Candidates have to take information from at least two sources and merge them into a clear, vigorous and balanced news story in one hour.”

In addition, administrative improvements have been made to the results service and the agonising wait for results has been reduced with no compromise to standards of assessment.

Candidates will receive their results on Wednesday, May 31, ten days earlier than the last NCE.

To pass the NCE and qualify as senior reporters, journalists have to be successful in four different sections: News Interview; News Report; Newspaper Practice; and Logbook. They must achieve an average of 60 per cent across all four sections to be successful.

To be eligible to sit the NCE, trainees must first pass preliminary examinations in practical journalism, media law, public affairs and shorthand at 100wpm. They also have to complete a minimum of 18 months employment and training with a newspaper and compilation of their logbook.