NEBOSH has a responsibility to our learners and to the wider community, to ensure that the standard of our qualifications is set appropriately and maintained over time. Our assessments are designed to measure whether a learner has met the requirements of a particular qualification. They are awarded on a pass / refer basis and are criterion-referenced. This means that everyone who takes an assessment and demonstrates that they meet the required standard are awarded a pass.
The pass mark for each individual assessment is the minimum number of marks that a learner must achieve in order to meet the qualification standard. Each assessment has its own pass mark. For some assessments, for example the General Certificate practical assessment, the pass mark is set and remains unchanged as the assessment is the same for all learners at all sittings. For other assessments, for example the General Certificate open book examination, a different assessment is set for each sitting and the pass mark is set through a formal process known as awarding.
Awarding is undertaken to ensure fairness to all learners and its overall aim is to ensure that standards are maintained over time. A provisional pass mark is set and is then confirmed or adjusted following a robust, evidence-based process involving a review of:
- statistics showing how each question and each assessment have performed;
- a review of learner scripts, including those that score within a range of marks above and below the proposed pass mark;
- feedback from Examiners; and
- standards from previous sittings.
This process ensures that the final pass mark is an accurate reflection of the standard of assessment and that all learners are treated fairly.
During awarding, the impacts of any unforeseen item performance issue, or slight differences between assessment versions are taken into account so that these can be considered in setting the pass mark. This ensures no disadvantage is caused to any learner. For these reasons, the pass mark may vary from one paper to another. Usually the pass marks will fall within a range of a few marks but in occasional circumstances, it may be necessary to set a pass mark outside the range.
As well as being fair to learners the awarding process also means our qualifications will continue to be valued by potential employers and other stakeholders.