A Beginner’s Guide to Taking the NEBOSH Course Exams

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Getting to grips with the NEBOSH exams is just as much about mindset as it is about the topics you’re being tested on. Furthermore, there is a difference between danger and fear.

Danger is real; however, fear is the story you tell yourself that can paralyse you from taking action or push you towards the incorrect course of action. Therefore, try to focus on the real challenges of the exam, rather than the fear of getting it wrong.

Exam success is not random. There will undoubtedly be candidates that pass as well as those that don’t (for all kinds of reasons). If the student is well prepared, understands the topic and has practised answering exam questions, they are much more likely to succeed.

Let’s get a few myths out the way, to begin with. Kindly note, NEBOSH is not trying to catch you out – the examiners are actively looking to give marks.

NEBOSH does not:

  • Mark just by looking for keywords.
  • Have a quota system – Instead, if you reach the pass standard, then we consider that you have passed, that’s it.
  • Expect you to rely on memory mainly – Mostly people do remember things to some extent, and that’s a good thing. However, ours are not memory tests.

7 Common NEBOSH Exam Myths You Could Encounter

Myth #1: Each country has their own versions of the NEBOSH exams.

Despite where you take your NEBOSH exam – either IGC1, GC2 OR GC3 – the format will be the same at all NEBOSH test centres around the world.

Myth #2: If you don’t pass the NEBOSH exam, you have to wait a year before you can retake it.

Students can retake the NEBOSH exam as many times as they need to achieve a passing score without any waiting period whatsoever. All they need to do is register again for the exam and find out the available exam dates.

However, candidates must prepare so that they can do well the first time since there is an exam fee each time they retake the NEBOSH exam.

Myth #3: The only section I need to get a high score on is the practical section.

This is far from the truth. Students should attempt to get the best score possible in both sections, i.e. practical as well as theory. Students need to achieve a specific score in each section, which is used to determine their overall score.

Myth #4: Using NEBOSH preparation materials is not needed.

While students can prepare for the exam themselves using a wide range of methods, many people who have passed the NEBOSH exam on their first attempt have used NEBOSH prep materials and even attended prep courses at their local NEBOSH Test Centres.

Myth #5: It is necessary to use ‘NEBOSH speak’ 

Although a very common NEBOSH exam myth, it is not true. Alternatively, NEBOSH uses health and safety language and language that is commonly used in all exams, to help make the questions as clear as possible.

Myth #6: It is necessary to have some knowledge about health and safety before giving the NEBOSH IGC exam.

The NEBOSH International General Certificate is an ideal starting point to begin a career in health and safety management or to formalise previous training. Notably, the NEBOSH IGC does not require any prior health and safety knowledge. 

So, it is an excellent start for those looking to progress to a NEBOSH International Diploma. The NEBOSH IDip is a Level 6 qualification, equivalent to a full honours degree.

Myth #7: You do not have to finish each NEBOSH section entirely as long as you are providing quality answers to pass.

The quality of the answers is just as important as making sure you can complete each NEBOSH section in the time allowed. Make sure you prepare well for the NEBOSH exam so that you can finish each section while providing quality answers.

By debunking the above myths, you are free to focus on what really matters – preparing for your NEBOSH exam and getting the passing score you require. 

Techniques for NEBOSH course exams – The International General Certificate in occupational safety and health (IGC1 & GC2)

Students who take the NEBOSH course exams i.e. the NEBOSH practical assessment and written exams find it difficult because they do not fully understand the question often asked.

Instead of answering the question in front of them, they answer the question that they THINK is in front of them. There can be a big difference.

Below is an alternate approach that might help with understanding the question for the NEBOSH exams:


Slow yourself down and read the whole matter. Read it carefully. Always read all parts of the questions, i.e. not just the first half, but the entire question.

There can often be useful clues and memory triggers in the second half of the question.


If a question has 10 or 20 marks allocated, then there must be at least 10 or 20 pieces of information that the examiner expects to see from you to get those marks. Should the question be divided into several parts and the scores available are indicated in brackets.

This is very useful since it shows how much information you should provide. It also helps the student understand how much writing is required and how long he/she should spend on each part of their answer.


The keywords are those words in the question which are essential to understanding the meaning of the question. So, for example, if the question was “Define the meaning of the term Safety Culture”, you could say that the keywords are:

Identify: to give reference to an item, which could be its name or title. Normally a word or two.

Give: to provide a short factual answer. Normally a sentence.

Outline: give the critical features of or different parts of. You need to give a brief description of something or a brief explanation of reasons why.

Describe: give a detailed description of what the thing is, what it looks like, how it works, etc. Here, a lot of depth is necessary.

Explain: provide a detailed explanation – reasons why, reasons for, how it works, etc.

Note that these are the same words that are used in the NEBOSH IGC exams, but they are used in a Diploma exam also. Consequently, they do not indicate that the same level of answer is required. A certificate is a NEBOSH qualification level 3. The diploma is at level 6.


Just to ensure that you understand its meaning.

NEBOSH International General Certificate in Occupational Safety and Health (Practical Assessment) – GC3

The NEBOSH Practical Assessment has to be performed at your workplace. The NEBOSH Practical Assessment focuses on two crucial aspects;

1. Carrying out a detailed inspection of your workplace.

2. Writing a report to your management convincing them of your finding and to persuade them to take immediate action.

The inspection and the management report can either be written by hand or word processed. No time limit is set.

However, the NEBOSH guidelines suggest that the whole exercises should be completed within two hours and the management report should be around 700-1000 words in length. NEBOSH provides a standard observation sheet to record the inspection.

In the same way, the management report has to be written as per the usual headings set out by NEBOSH. Though it may sound obvious, it is essential the student reads to the entire guidance document, so they fully understand the requirements right from the beginning.

Reading the marking matrix in the guidance document is necessary to enable the student to understand with the NEBOSH marker is looking for, to give high marks.

Thinking of Becoming an Internationally Recognised Health & Safety Officer?

Corporate Safety Solutions Pvt Ltd has been delivering NEBOSH & IOSH accredited centre since 2009. CSS is one of the first companies to be approved as a centre by NEBOSH & IOSH in India.

Studying IOSH & NEBOSH safety course plays a critical role in the life of a Health & Safety officer.

The NEBOSH International General Certificate (NEBOSH IGC) is an intermediate course with talks about the essential elements of Health & Safety. This NEBOSH qualification is often referred to as a gold standard marked as a quality standard by most employers in the field of health & safety.

CSS is well known for its quality and standard. The NEBOSH training courses offered by Corporate Safety Solutions include the NEBOSH International General Certificate (NEBOSH IGC), the NEBOSH International Diploma (NEBOSH IDip), NEBOSH International Oil & Gas certificate (NEBOSH IOGC).


For more information on training, visit our website: cssglobal.org

Also, read our other articles here.

A beginners guide to taking the NEBOSH course exams
Article Name
A beginners guide to taking the NEBOSH course exams
Techniques for NEBOSH course exams – The International General Certificate in occupational safety and health (IGC1 & GC2)
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Corporate Safety Solutions Pvt Ltd
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