Unsuccessful Exams Results - Exam preparation and tips

Unsuccessful NEBOSH exam result?

Four General Reasons Why You May Fail

For all of those that are successful in their exams, there are those who are not.

It can be a very stressful and difficult time when an unsuccessful NEBOSH exam result is received, especially as there is no feedback on your paper to guide you for resitting.

Whilst NEBOSH do not provide individual feedback, there are four general reasons why students are unsuccessful in their exams:

  1. Students have not studied enough to have the depth of knowledge required to be able to answer the questions asked.
  1. Students misread a question and instead answer what they think the question asked rather than what was actually requested.
  1. Students do not put enough different points in their answers as per the number of marks available for the question.
  1. Students do not include enough depth to their answer as requested by the command word in the question e.g. explain, describe, outline and identify. If a question asks for explain but an answer only outlines, then the amount of marks available will be very limited even if all points were correct.
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Four tips to turn around NEBOSH exam failure

We have stated above the main reasons why students are unsuccessful in their exam, but what can be done to overcome these? Here are four tips to turn around exam failure:

  1. Study time is vital for all NEBOSH courses – both tuitional study (the online materials) and private study. Many students assume that because they have a qualification equal to or higher than the NEBOSH one, that they should easily pass the NEBOSH exams. Our experience has shown that this is not always the case. NO matter how many qualifications you have you still need to put the hours in. Each course has a minimum recommended study time for the full course as well as each individual element. You should use this to guide you on the number of hours to set aside.

Please also bear in mind that these are the minimum recommended hours; some students may go through them faster based on current knowledge and some may need more time. We have also seen students sign up to a course and register for the next set of exams immediately – sometimes only giving themselves a couple of months to study and revise. This does not always provide enough time when you factor in work and home life that also requires your time. For this we recommend only registering for an exam once you have fully completed your studies.

The time between registering for the exam and sitting, is then spent solely on revision. This is the best approach. You may want to get it over with as quickly as possible but if you are unsuccessful it is an even longer wait for the next exams and for your results to be released. It is therefore more time efficient to put in the study time in the first place.

  1. Misreading a question is common place, I have done it myself. You need to read and re-read the question to fully take in what is required of you. I know time is short in the exam but putting the extra minute into reading through carefully should reduce your chances of misinterpreting a question.
  1. If a question is worth 8 marks, then 8 different points are required to gain full marks. Marks will not be awarded where the candidate has repeated a point but worded it differently, for example; if a question asked for control measures for work equipment and the candidate noted two or three different types of signs to put up, whilst all may be correct – only one mark will be gained for noting signage.

It is always best to include a couple of additional points on top of the required amount, just in case a couple are incorrect. Here the additional ones may be right and you could still gain full marks.

  1. Know your command words – they do confuse quite a few candidates so we recommend that students read and re-read through the NEBOSH Guidance on Command Words document; found in your SHEilds eLearning course in the resource section. This has been written by NEBOSH and includes examples of what they would be looking for to guide you. It is an invaluable resource that all students should be fully familiar with before sitting their exams. You may also wish to utilise our quick reference sheet to re-familiarise yourself with the essentials.

We hope this guidance proves useful and ensures more students pass their exams and do not fall into any of the common exam pitfalls as noted previously.

Good luck with your exams.


Emma Wiles


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