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March NQJ: What the examiners said

NCTJ logo The pass rate for the journalism seniors’ exam equalled the previous record of 72pc – but the examiners nevertheless expressed some concerns in their detailed report on the exam.

Here’s a summary of how the candidates performed in each section and what the examiners said.

Media law and practice

Candidates: 81
Passed: 67
Pass rate: 83pc

The main thrust of the law side of the paper required candidates to show how qualified privilege and the Contempt of Court Act 1981 works, plus where and when you can take photographs.

Examiners heralded what they called a “gratifying” set of results, with answers demonstrating a depth of knowledge of law and ethics.

Their report said the ethics questions were “well-tackled” but said candidates would have received higher marks if they had correctly identified the clauses in the Editors’ Code of Practice.

It also said some candidates did not give themselves enough time in which to tackle the compulsory ethics question, resulted in “rushed and superficial answers.”

News report

Candidates: 88
Passed: 66
Pass rate: 75pc

The news report featured a garage owner who was so impressed by the ambulance community first responder who saved his wife’s life when she had a heart attack that he decided to fund a CFR team in the remote area where he lived.

Examiners said many candidates tackled the paper well but expressed disappointment at the number of errors which appeared in stories.

“Several stated garage owner Douglas Morrison’s £16,000 donation as either £1,600 or in one case £160,000 and there were numerous errors about the vehicle he was donating,” said the report.

“Quotes were a problem for many, indicating that shorthand may not be up to the required standard. Too many candidates were blending extracts and presenting them as direct verbatim quotes which is not acceptable.”

News interview

Candidates: 78
Passed: 63
Pass rate: 81pc

The news interview revolved around a story about a family pet dog attacking a three-year-old and leaving him in a critical condition with a fractured skull and other serious injuries.

Examiners said there were some “good exam scripts” submitted but said some candidates struggled to portray the drama or went “overboard” with comment.

“There was a lot of drama and good quotes to be had, yet many candidates got lost in the story, had poor chronology and some clumsy writing which lost them mark,” said the report.

“Several candidates went overboard on “comment” – this story did not need it, there was enough going on to carry it on its own merit.”


Candidates: 65
Passed: 65
Pass rate: 100pc

Once again the candidates achieved a 100pc pass rate in the logbook section in which they present a selection of their work.

Examiners praised the “high quality” for logbook submissions and said the e-logbook format has proved “intuitive and easy for candidates to use.”

The report said: “There have been no major issues with any of our key tasks as those making entries have fulfilled all criteria well.

“However, candidates are reminded that where they are asked to include additional documentation via PDF or other format, or when they are asked to upload either a cutting or original copy, then they must double-check to make sure that this has been added.”