What are the NEBOSH Certificate exams?

7 minute read | 04 September 2019 17:32:37 BST

NEBOSH Certificate exams

NEBOSH have recently announced the launch of a new online open book exam. This information is therefore no longer applicable. You can find out more about by reading the new learner guide.

NEBOSH updated its most popular health and safety qualification the NEBOSH General Certificate in Occupational Health & Safety on 4 September 2019. One big change is the assessment framework. It is a positive change because the number of assessments/exams has been reduced and it is a bigger practical element using management models.

The first thing to note is not to worry about the exam and assessment. You will have plenty of help and guidance throughout your course. A good course provider will also offer plenty of practice of exam and assignment questions with feedback so you know what to expect.

This updated NEBOSH General Certificate is for anyone who would like to take a widely recognised health and safety management qualification. It develops essential management skills relevant to any role with responsibilities and will boost their career.

What exams are there?

The updated NEBOSH Certificate (2018 specification) has 2 assessments:

  1. National/International General 1 - N/IG1 - 2-hour exam held in an invigilated exam centre. It makes up 50% of the total mark.
  2. Practical risk assessment – N/IG2 – approximately 3-hour assignment in your workplace. It makes up 50% of the total mark.

NEBOSH Certificate Unit 1 (N/IG1) exam

This N/IG1 assessment is the only timed and invigilated written exam for this updated NEBOSH Certificate. It is based on the first part of the syllabus – the first 4 elements. It covers why and how to manage health and safety including risk management and monitoring performance.

The exam consists of one 20-mark question and ten 8-mark questions that is handwritten and you must complete in 2 hours.

NEBOSH uses plain English in the exam and they have dropped the use of the NEBOSH command words, which were used as action words in the 2014 specification any reference to Command words no longer exists.

NEBOSH Certificate Unit 2 (N/IG2) Risk Assessment Practical

This risk assessment is where you will practically apply what you have learnt from the whole course so all 11 elements. It can be handwritten or completed electronically. You carry it out ideally at your place of work and 3 hours is the suggested completion time but it can be less or more.

The assessment is broken down into 4 parts that you must work through:

  1. Description of the organisation and methodology used
  2. Risk assessment of different hazards from at least 5 different hazard categories
  3. Prioritise 3 actions of the highest importance
  4. Review, communicate and check

Read our guide on how to complete the N/IG2 Risk Assessment.

What about the NEBOSH Certificate Unit 1 exam day?

So, the first Unit N/IG1 is a 2-hour written exam that takes place in a NEBOSH approved exam centre that is invigilated. Once you have registered for this exam your course provider will give you all the details of where the exam is taking place and the start time.

Make sure you know exactly where the exam location is. Find out about parking in advance and most importantly give yourself plenty of time for the journey and arrival.

You will be sitting in exam conditions with an invigilator. You must have photographic ID (passport or driving licence) which the exam invigilator will check against your candidate number and then give you your answer book.

Your answer book has lined paper with a square in the top of each corner where you write the number of the question you are answering. You won’t need to fill anything in on the front; it will already be pre-printed with your name and candidate number.

The invigilator will then hand out the exam question papers, and let you know that the exam has started; you will have exactly 2 hours to complete all the questions. The invigilator will also tell you the exam finish time,

Use time effectively so you track your progress  through the exam questions

usually by writing the exam finish time on a board or flip chart. There will be a clock in the room and the invigilator will give you reminders at key times to help keep you on track; for example after 1 hour and when you have only 30 minutes left, the invigilator will let you know.

Keeping on track with time is very important. You must answer all the questions so plan the time you allocate to each question and try to stick to it.

Check out our guide on how to successfully manage your exam day.

NEBOSH Certificate pass marks

You need to get 45 marks or above to pass N/IG1 and in Unit N/IG2. However, on the Unit N/IG2 Risk Assessment, which is broken down into 4 parts, you must achieve a pass on each of the 4 parts in order to pass this Unit. If you do not achieve a pass on one of the 4 elements of Unit N/IG2 you will fail this Unit.

For a qualification grading of the NEBOSH Certificate, this is based only on the result from Unit N/IG1. The grading is:

  • Distinction: 75+
  • Credit: 65-74
  • Pass: 45-64
  • Refer (Fail): 0-44

Learners will have 5 years to complete the NEBOSH Certificate. The five years starts from the date they have passed the first Unit. Units that have been successfully completed more than 5 years will NOT count towards the qualification and will need to be retaken.


NEBOSH will email you your results within 10-12 weeks of taking your exam and/or submitting your Risk Assessment. They will use the email address that you put on your booking form when you bought the course, so check it’s correct. If you have not received, your results in that time then contact your course provider and they’ll be able to help.

Your hard copy certificate will be sent out 40 working days after you have successfully completed both Units. You will only receive one Certificate for the whole qualification. The certificate will show your final qualification grade: pass, credit or distinction.

If you are interested in starting the NEBOSH Certificate click to download our course information pack:

Download your free NEBOSH General Certificate Info Pack

If you have already started your NEBOSH General Certificate and you would like information on preparing for the exams visit:

Guidance on the NEBOSH Certificate exam day Part 1

Tags: NEBOSH courses, NEBOSH General Certificate

Jason Mordecai

Jason is Exams Co-ordinator at Astutis.