Now the hard work of preparing for the exams is over. That day has finally arrived – exam day. It can be a worrying and stressful time and you need to ensure that you do yourself justice after all the hard work you’ve put in to revising.
Thinking about the exam itself can lead to many questions, such as:
- What are the arrangements on exam day?
- What will the exam paper look like?
- The command words – how do I ensure my answer is in line with these? Covered in Part 2
- How do I ensure I answer the questions fully and not go off on a tangent? Covered in Part 2
In this blog we will have a look at points 1 and 2.
1) What are the arrangements on exam day?
You will be informed of the date, venue and time of the exam. The NGC exams usually start at 9.30am so make sure you arrive in good time for the start – you don’t want to turn up all flustered with minutes to go. Therefore make sure you plan your journey to the venue with this in mind and have all the practical details covered you know exactly where you are going in advance including the room where the exam is taking place.
If something unexpected happens on the way to the venue or you feel ill then still try to get to the venue on time. Make sure you inform the invigilator (there are usually two invigilators) of the situation as soon as you arrive. NEBOSH operates a “Requests for Special Considerations” policy
If you had already applied for “reasonable adjustments” for things such as disability, learning difficulty etc. outlined in the NEBOSH website, check that these agreed adjustments are in place when you arrive at the exam venue.
Prepare yourself for the exam
Having arrived in plenty of time, make sure you only place on the exam table the things you need for the exam: your watch to keep time, pens etc. in a clear bag, keep all other items in your bag and make sure you have turned off your mobile phone. Your bag should either be kept by your desk or at the back of the room. You can have a drink on your desk, but the labels on any bottles must be removed. You are also allowed sweets as long as they don’t make any noise, so something like hard sweets without wrappers would be best.
The exam desks will be positioned so that you are away from everyone else and the invigilator will check your photographic ID, check you candidate number and give you your answer book. Your answer book is simply a stapled book containing pages of lined paper each page having a square in the top left corner where you write the question number you are answering. You don’t need to write anything on the front of the answer book as it has already been pre-printed with your candidate number on the front.
The invigilator will then open the exam paper envelope, give out the exam paper and let you know when the exam is starting. You can then begin. The invigilator will also indicate when the exam will finish, usually by writing the exam finish time on a board or flipchart. There will also be a clock in the room so you can check the time. The exam lasts 2 hours.
If you need to visit the toilet during the exam then be sure to attract the attention of the invigilator who will then authorise you to leave the exam room. One invigilator may accompany you out of the exam room to ensure there is no cheating or malpractice takes place.
2) What will the exam paper look like?
The exam paper comprises of an A4 sheet printed on both sides. It contains two sections, the first section is made up of one 20 mark question and you are advised to spend about 30 minutes on this question. The second section comprises of 10 questions, each worth 8 marks. You are advised to spend 1.5 hours on this section.
Don’t start writing as soon as you receive the exam paper. Read through the whole paper first. This will give you a little time to think and plan how you are going to answer the paper. You can answer the questions in any order that you like so use the first minute wisely. Some people may like to answer the question they feel more confident about first, others may prefer to leave these to the end.
Exam answer requirements
- All notes or answer planning should be done in your answer book.
- You can answer the questions in any order.
- Write the number of the question you are answering in the box on the top left of the page in the answer book.
- Start a new page for each question you are answering.
- You should not write anything on the exam paper.
Remember before and during the exam
Don’t panic: You’ve done all the hard revision prior to the exam and you don’t want to blow it because you have worked yourself up into a state and you are panicking. Try to relax a bit by taking some deep breaths. Read the paper first, and this will help to settle you into exam mode more easily.
Read the question: Make sure you read the question carefully and identify the context of the question, any key words and also the command word of the question. For example, in a question such as;
“Identify the THREE main sections of a health and safety policy document and explain the purpose and general content of EACH section (6)” (NEBOSH question)
The command words are “Identify” and “explain” and the questions requires you to tell the examiner what are the three main sections of the policy and what is the purpose and general content of each, in other words, what is each section meant to do and what would you typically find in each section. All of these issues would need to be covered in the answer to gain 6 marks. Typically the command words and other key words are placed in bold in the question to help.
Read the question again: A reminder to stop and read the question again carefully before attempting the answer.
Watch the time: 2 hours sounds a long time but it will pass by very quickly during the exam. It is therefore important that you plan your time carefully. Let’s break it down:
Time usage breakdown
120 minutes to earn 100 marks
1 min of writing= 1 mark
20 mins of planning time for 11 questions:
2 mins to read the whole question paper
1.5 mins of planning for the 10 questions worth 8 marks
3 mins of planning for the 1 question worth 20 marks
80 mins of writing for the 10 questions worth 8 marks
20 mins of planning for the 1 question worth 20 marks
Make sure you have a watch with you on your exam table and you keep an eye on the clock in the exam room. Be disciplined, once you run out to time on one question, move onto the next – you can come back to it if you have time at the end.
Links to other useful blogs on preparing for the NEBOSH Certificate