NEBOSH Diploma Examination Technique

Simon Jones Head of Training at Santia consulting

The examinations are made up of one three hour paper per unit each paper is made up of section A which is six ten mark short answer questions and section B which requires candidates to answer three from five twenty mark questions.

Be Prepared

Making use of the time tables and scheduling for revision should ensure that you are thoroughly revised ready for the examination, do not rely on cramming.  All candidates should prepare themselves mentally for the exams.  The examination is a stressful situation where you are put under pressure and required to draw from your own mind answers to questions and solutions to problems set out in various scenarios.  It is not un-common for candidates to go blank in the examination and not be able to remember what they have read just the night before, if this happens you should try and relax, breathe deeply and attempt to jot down ideas using brain storming techniques just to identify words associated with the question.  This process will help you to relax and focus and assist the memory in recalling relevant information. 

Arrive at the examination centre in plenty of time.  Examinations which are due to start at 9.30am allow ten minutes reading time before candidates are allowed to write therefore candidates must be seated by 9.20am.  It is recommended that you arrive at the examination centre at least half an hour before the examinations are due to commence.  At this stage you should have just a few sheets of A4 or memory cards just to be browsing on the morning of the exam ensuring that you have your key words and key phrases firmly fixed in your minds.  Ensure that you bring with you everything that you will need for the exam a watch, a calculator, pens, pencils, rulers etc.

Section A

The short answer questions typically test the breadth of candidate knowledge, i.e. a range of topics and lateral information including alternative options for solving problems are usually required in these questions.  Do not waste time, you are advised to spend around fifteen minutes on each of the ten mark questions.  Remember that it is the first five marks of the ten mark questions which are the easiest to earn and you must ensure that you do not waste time trying to earn marks nine and ten at the expense of five marks on the next question. 

Section B

You are required to answer three twenty marks (essay type) questions from five in this part of the examination.  Clearly to earn twenty marks you are required to answer the questions in some detail and depth.  Remember the examiners are looking for you to demonstrate your competency, so ensure that you provide adequate technical detail in your answers to these twenty mark questions.  Again do not waste time, you are advised to spend thirty minutes on each of the twenty mark questions. 


Answering Questions

During the examination you should thoroughly read the question and identify key words and phrases within the question, what are the action verbs?  Prepare an answer plan, especially for the twenty mark (essay type) questions. Five minutes spent preparing the answer is five minutes well spent when you are able to answer the question that you have been asked (not what you wish you were asked) and apply your knowledge to the situation described and provide your answer in a logical manner.  If the question asked for a hierarchical approach then your answer should be presented by way of the most effective to the least effective measures as described in the relevant hierarchy. 

Keep an eye on the time, do not over run. 

Key Words

Typically examination questions will use the following action verbs:

Explain:          Give reasons for


Describe:       Give a word picture


Define:            Provide a generally recognised or excepted definition


Sketch:           A line drawing using labels to call attention to the most important features


State:              A less demanding form of define, or where there is no generally recognised definition


Discuss:         Offer and opinion, advantages and disadvantages, benefits and consequences


Outline:          The most important features (less depth and explain or describe)

List:                Provide a list without explanation.

Remember that all your answers should be related to the question that you have been asked and the scenario described. 

Good Luck!

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Simon Jones is a senior manager in progressive health, safety and environmental consultancy. Simon’s experience ensures that the products delivered by Consultants, i.e. training and client consultancy, meets the high standards which are set as well as expected by demanding clients.

is the Principal Examiner for the NEBOSH International Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety


Post date: 23 Feb 2015

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