Well NEBOSH have done it, they have pressed the “go button” on the open book assessment for the new syllabus diplomas and the first results are in. I thought it may therefore be a useful moment to reflect on what we have learned through the process.
Well, for those who shouted “they will all pass” and “it’s devalued the qualifications” and “the sky will fall in” the results certainly don’t reflect that (and the sun has continued to rise and set as it did before).
What is a “good” assessment?
In any assessment (open book, classroom or practical) for the assessment to be considered a “good” assessment there needs to be a range of results. If all of the candidates pass then that was a poor assessment of skill or knowledge. Conversely if everyone fails then that wasn’t great either! A good assessment unfortunately needs to result in a situation where the qualification is earned. And that does mean that some candidates won’t (initially) be successful. It also should allow the best candidates to shine and gain excellent grades as a differentiator, and that certainly seems to continue to be the case with the open book assessments.
One significant way in which the open book assessments differ from the classroom assessments is that candidates can get feedback! Yes, actual feedback! Not “you didn’t get enough marks to pass the exam” type feedback but the view of a tutor. Whilst the tutor won’t have the benefit of the mark scheme, they can for example look to see if the approach taken is suitable and if question responses look to be of the correct depth – a common pitfall historically with NEBOSH candidates.
Importance of time management
Whether you are studying for the certificate or diploma courses, time management remains as much of a challenge as it was in the classroom exams. You really shouldn’t rest on your laurels and assume that you have loads of time to spare. If NEBOSH estimate that for example the ND1/ID1 assessments will take 60 hours then (and I don’t want to sound rude) but even the tutors would expect to take about 60 hours to complete the assessment. And if like me you mash the keyboard with two of your fingers, then this may be a bit longer. How I wish I had listened when my Mum offered to teach me to touch-type!
Do you need to revise?
Well yes, you need to study albeit it perhaps in a different way to a traditional classroom exam. With access to textbooks and the internet (but NOT other people) you don’t have to rely as much on your memory to recall legislation, dates and theories. You will however need to use them and demonstrate understanding of them, and that if you are trying to learn, understand and apply the materials all at once then you’re creating a mountain to climb and with a tight deadline.
Now the awkward bit – can you have a life?
Well certainly nobody plans to have “Dip NEBOSH” carved on their gravestone, so NEBOSH shouldn’t take over your life, but just like in the gym you have to put in the effort if you want to get the results. For the certificate assessments the window to complete this is 24 hours so you should probably plan to start in the morning at a sensible time so that you aren’t working long into the night. You can take a break, have a meal, pick the kids up from school but the clock is ticking the entire time so you should try to plan your assessment day accordingly. For the diplomas the challenge is perhaps harder in that there is a window of several weeks to complete the work. This requires some planning – and some discipline. Nobody can be expected to work constantly on their assessment, and as the old saying goes “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. So perhaps make a plan, include time in your schedule for time away from the assessment to recharge the batteries but keep the endgame in mind at all times.
So when the results come out, undoubtedly many candidates will be celebrating but sadly some will be disappointed. But it’s important to remember that this isn’t the end of the road. Every tutor knows students who have faced disappointments only to see them finally triumph and trust us, when it happens it makes our day (or week) too!
Good luck, and as Journey sang “Don’t stop believing”.
And if you’re too young to know that track, google it or ask your parents!
RRC Lead Tutor