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What to Expect from the NEBOSH General Certificate Open Book Exam

Find out everything you need to know about the NEBOSH General Certificate exams. 

May 2020

In this post we've gone through everything you need to know about the NEBOSH General Certificate exams so you know just what to expect.

What is the NEBOSH General Certificate Open Book Exam?

Unit NG1/IG1 of the NEBOSH General Certificate is assessed though an Open Book Exam (OBE). Unlike the old written exam, the new OBE allows you to use textbooks and digital resources to help you answer your questions.

The exam is typed and submitted online. This means that ou no longer have to travel to an exam center, you can complete your paper in a place that suits you. 

The OBE still assesses your understanding of the first 4 elements of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus:

  • Element 1: Why we should manage workplace health and safety
  • Element 2: How health and safety management systems work and what they look like
  • Element 3: Managing risk - understanding people and processes
  • Element 4: Health and safety monitoring and measuring

When do I sit the NEBOSH General Certificate Open Book Exam?

NEBOSH Certificate open book exam dates are held throughout the year. If you're taking a NEBOSH General Certificate online course, then you’ll need to register with your chosen provider at least 4 weeks before you want to sit your exam. If you're taking a NEBOSH General Certificate virtual or classroom course, you'll automatically be registered against the exam dates that match your course schedule. 

NEBOSH will email you login details 3-5 days before your exam date. You should take this time to look around the portal and flag up any challenges. The portal allows you to change the font size and colour of text to help with accessibility.  

Your NG1/IG1 exam paper and answer sheet will be available at 9am UK-time. At this point, you should download both files and save them to your computer.

You’ll have 24 hours to complete and submit your answers, but it should only take you 3-4 hours. ​We recommend you choose an environment with lots of light, fresh air, and a well set-up work station. You don’t have to complete the exam all in one go. Take your time and review your resources as you work through the paper.

Read our guide on Online Learning and find out how you can stay on track with your learning with Astutis's TrackSmartTM . 

What to expect from the NEBOSH General Certificate Open Book Exam

The NEBOSH Certificate NG1/IG1 exam paper will open with real workplace scenario. It’ll describe a developing situation, such as an incident or safety intervention. You may be asked to imagine that you hold a specific role within the described organisation, like a Safety Manager.

You’ll be asked to answer a series of questions/tasks which relate back to elements 1-4 of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus. For example:

Task 1: Discussing moral reasons for managing health and safety

You have been asked to chair the health and safety committee meeting. Before the meeting, you decide that you will open the meeting by reminding everyone of moral expectations of health and safety. Prepare notes of the moral arguments you will use at the meeting. (10 marks)

Note: You should support your answer, where applicable, using relevant information from the scenario.

Remember, the aim of the exam is to test your ability to apply your learning to the workplace. So your answers should be relevant to the given situation and, when appropriate, reference evidence from it directly. You can refer to your course materials and digital resources to help support your answer. However, be careful not to copy and paste information directly or you'll be scrutinised for plagerism. 

The overall paper is worth a total of 100 marks. The maximum marks available for each task will be specified to help you manage your time and give you an idea of how much information to include. Your answer should be no more than 10% higher than the word count. But remember if it's too low, it'll be harder for you to achieve full marks. 

How to submit your NEBOSH General Certificate Open Book Exam

When you’re finished, save your answer sheet with the file name format: last name, first name, NEBOSH student number, Learning provider name. Head to the page on the portal where you downloaded your exam paper and click ‘add submission’. Then simply upload your files and click save - that's it!

NEBOSH General Certificate Open Book Exam pass rates

You have to achieve at least 45% to pass your NEBOSH General Certificate OBE. Remember, you still need to pass your NG2/IG2 practical risk assessment to achieve your full qualification. However, your overall mark (Pass, Merit, Distinction) will be based upon your score in the open book exam.

NEBOSH General Certificate Open Book Exam results

NEBOSH will email you your results within 50 working days of your open book exam date. Your hard copy certificate will be sent out shortly after you receive your results and will display your final qualification grade: Pass, Credit or Distinction.

NEBOSH General Certificate Practical Risk Assessment

NEBOSH General Certificate practical submission dates are throughout the year. As with the open book exam, you’ll need to register for your exam 4 weeks before your chosen date unless you are taking a classroom or virtual course.

The aim of this assessment is to test your skills in action. You need to show that you can confidently identify hazards and take appropriate action to keep your workplace safe.

Take a look at our guide to completing your NEBOSH General Certificate Unit NG2/IG2 risk assessment for more information. 

Watch our video below to discover the most frequently asked questions regarding the Open Book Exam and discover how you could gain the most marks!


Our expert advisors are happy to help answer any of your questions. Learn more about our NEBOSH General Certificate and get in touch today!

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