What is NEBOSH Open Book Examination and How to Pass It

Since its conception in 1979, the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) has been one of the pivotal contributors to the health and safety department. Amongst the plethora of certifications that can help enhance your credibility as an employee, NEBOSH is one of the most significant ones, and it is attained upon passing the NEBOSH Online Open Book Exam.

In this blog, we shall learn about the NEBOSH Exam (Open Book Examination), its structure, question patterns, and tips to qualify for the exam.

The importance of safety in the workplace is often overlooked. According to the Health and Safety Executive, about 1.8 million people in the UK have been on the receiving end of work-related diseases within the years 2021-22. In this blog, we shall learn about the NEBOSH Open Book Exam including, its structure, question patterns, and tips to qualify for the exam. 

Table of Contents

1) What is a NEBOSH Open Book Exam? 

2) NEBOSH IGC Open Book Exam dates  

3) NEBOSH Open Book Exam pattern and result process 

4) Sample NEBOSH question paper    

5) NEBOSH Open Book Exam duration 

6) A guide to attempting the NEBOSH Exam 

7) How to pass NEBOSH Open Book Exam? 

8) Do's and don’ts of NEBOSH OBE 

9) Conclusion 

What is a NEBOSH Open Book Exam? 

The NEBOSH Open Book Exam (OBE) is the result of NEBOSH welcoming OBEs as a new format of assessment for its International General Certificate (IGC). It can be taken from the comfort of your home with a digital medium like Personal Computers (PCs), laptops, etc.  

Candidates are supposed to keep their study material open during the exam, and refer to it for finding the answers. They can access the material physically or online to answer the real-time scenario questions within the specified timeframe.  

With that being said, you need to refrain from copying and pasting answers. A clear resemblance of your answers to the content of your resources can get you disqualified. The examination provides candidates with a realistic scenario, based on which candidates will have to complete a series of tasks. Each task will contain one or more questions. 

NEBOSH Courses

NEBOSH IGC Open Book Exam dates 

NEBOSH holds IGC exams every month, allowing candidates to have the whole year to take their attempts at passing these exams. HereThe following table will provide you with the examination and registration dates for IGC exams for each monthof 2023. 

Course Date of examination Date of registration 


Date of Examination 

Date of Registration 


18th Jan, 2023 

18th Dec, 2022 


08th Feb, 2023 

18th Jan, 2023 


08th Mar, 2023 

15th  Feb, 2023 


05th Apr, 2023 

15th  Mar, 2023 


03rd May, 2023 

15th Apr, 2023 


07th Jun, 2023 

15th May, 2023 


05th Jul,2023 

15th June, 2023 


09th Aug, 2023 

15th July, 2023 


06th Sep, 2023 

15th Aug, 2023 


04th Oct, 2023 

15th Sep, 2023 


08th Nov, 2023 

15th Oct, 2023 


06th Dec, 2023 

15th Nov, 2023 


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NEBOSH Open Book Exam pattern and result process 

NEBOSH has done away with the traditional invigilated exam pattern and how it conducts an open book exam. The exam is 24 hours long, and you are presented with a realistic scenario for completing a set of tasks. This format of examination applies to all certificates and diplomas. 

During the examination, you will have access to all resources you might need, but you need to present answers with respect to the given scenario. There is no "perfect" answer in this case. You need to apply your experience and your fundamentals as learned from the course. The results take some time to be generated, but only to make sure that candidates get the most authentic results for their effort. 

Sample NEBOSH question paper   

The given tasks or questions, based on the scenarios provided by NEBOSH,carries 10 to 15 marks. This section of the blog will provide you with a sample NEBOSH question paper. 

Scenario 1   

You are a Health and Safety Manager working for a construction company called BuildSafe Contractors. The company specialises in residential and commercial building projects, and has recently started working on a high-rise construction project in a busy city centre. As the Health and Safety Manager, you are responsible for making sure that all construction activities are conducted safely and comply with any relevant regulations and best practices. 

There are some key concerns raised by project stakeholders, workers, and local authorities concerning working at a height, electrical safety, site access and more. 

The construction project involves significant work at height, including installing façade elements, window glazing, and exterior painting. Recently, a new young worker at the construction site injured himself by falling from a short height while working on a ladder. Although the worker didn't sustain any major injury, the incident wasn't looked into and was not taken seriously by the site supervisor or upper management. 

The construction site requires extensive excavations for the foundation and underground services. The project also involves installing electrical systems, wiring, and lighting fixtures. Additionally, adequate grounding, circuit protection, and lockout/tagout measures should be in place to prevent electrical accidents. 

The construction site may use hazardous substances such as adhesives, solvents, paints, and concrete additives. There is a need to implement proper storage, handling, and disposal procedures for these substances. Adequate ventilation, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and worker training are essential to minimise the risks associated with hazardous substances.

Due to the site's location in a busy city centre, there are challenges related to site access. Pedestrian safety, Traffic Management, and coordination with local authorities are crucial to ensure the safe movement of workers, visitors, and construction vehicles in and around the site. 

Task 1: Basics of Health and Safety 

You need to identify and assess the potential Health and Safety hazards associated with the project and then develop a plan to control these hazards to ensure a safe working environment. 

Task 2: Culture of safety in the workplace 

Based on the scenario only, comment on the Health and Safety culture on site. 

Task 3: Working from a height 

When questioned, a young worker said that they knew the ladder was unsafe for the roof guttering removal task because they had recently completed their height safety training. What safety considerations should the worker have made regarding the suitability of the ladder for the job? Do you think workers need more safety training? 

Task 4: Electrical work 

What are some of the hazards while carrying out electrical work? According to the nature of work, mention some hazards and existing controls in place. Based on the associated risk, mention what additional controls you would have in place. 

Task 5: Perform a comprehensive risk assessment 

a) Analyse each phase of the construction project and identify potential hazards and risks 

b) Identify and assess the potential risks and then prioritise them based on their likelihood of occurrence and the potential impact of their occurrence 

c) Consider the control hierarchy to develop appropriate measures for each identified risk 

Note: Remember to provide detailed explanations and justifications for your proposed control measures, referring to relevant legislation, standards, and best practices. Ensure that your recommendations are practical, feasible, and specific to the scenario presented. 

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Scenario 2   

You are a Health and Safety Officer working for a large pharmaceutical company. The company specialises in the production of prescription medications and operates several manufacturing facilities across different locations. Recently there have been concerns regarding the potential risks of implementing a new chemical process within one of the manufacturing plants.  

Your task is to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment of the new chemical process and develop effective control measures for the safety of employees working with the chemicals. The process involves handling and mixing highly reactive substances used in synthesising a critical drug compound. The manufacturing plant has a dedicated area for this process, including specialised equipment and ventilation systems. 

The main concerns raised by employees and management include the following: 

a) Chemical hazards: The new chemical process involves working with highly reactive substances that pose risks such as fire hazards, explosion hazards, and toxic gas release hazards. The employees involved in the process must be protected from exposure to these hazards. 

b) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Employees have expressed concerns about the adequacy of PPE provided for working with the chemicals. They feel the current PPE may need to provide more protection against the identified hazards. 

c) Emergency response: If there is an accident regarding the chemical spill, release, or fire, there is a need for clear emergency response procedures, including evacuation plans, alarm systems, and spill containment measures. Workers must be trained on how to respond effectively to emergencies and the location of emergency equipment. 

d) Training and competence: Some employees have recently been assigned to the new chemical process and require training on the specific hazards, safe handling procedures, and emergency response protocols. Ensuring that all employees involved in the process are trained properly and are competent to perform their tasks safely is essential. 

e) Process containment: The process involves using containment systems to isolate the chemical process from the environment. The effectiveness of these containment systems needs to be assessed, and any necessary improvements or modifications should be implemented. 

As a Health and Safety Officer, you must conduct a detailed risk assessment of the new chemical process and develop a comprehensive Health and Safety plan to address the identified concerns. You should consider relevant legislation, industry guidelines, and best practices while developing your recommendations. 

Task 1: Chemical process assessment 

a) Conduct a thorough assessment of the new chemical process, including the substances used, their properties, and potential hazards 

b) Identify potential risks such as fire, explosion, toxic gas release, and chemical reactions 

c) Evaluate the adequacy of current control measures and determine areas for improvement 

Task 2: Process containment evaluation 

The separate process containment zone is being used to isolate the new chemical process. Assess the effectiveness of the current containment systems for preventing the release of hazardous substances and identify any areas for improvement. 

Task 3: Emergency response planning 

a) Develop comprehensive emergency response procedures for potential incidents related to the new chemical process 

b) Outline evacuation plans, assembly points, and communication protocols 

c) Ensure the availability and proper placement of emergency equipment like fire extinguishers, spill kits, and emergency showers 

Task 4: Safety of people in the event of a fire 

Based on the scenario, what control measures could help evacuate workers in a fire? 

Task 5: Risk assessment 

a) Perform a comprehensive NEBOSH risk assessment of the new chemical process, considering all potential hazards and associated consequences

b) Assess the likelihood and severity of each identified risk to prioritise control measures 

c) Apply the hierarchy of controls to develop appropriate control strategies for each risk 

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NEBOSH Open Book Exam Duration

The exam duration is set to provide candidates with ample time to navigate through the assessment effectively. It allows for careful analysis, thoughtful responses, and the opportunity to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter.

The allocated duration for the NEBOSH Open Book Exam is 24 hours. Candidates are given this time to read and interpret the provided resources, analyse the given scenario, and construct their responses. The extended timeframe offers flexibility and allows individuals to manage their time effectively, accommodating various personal and professional commitments.

A Guide to attempting the NEBOSH Exam

There are various factors to consider while attempting an exam. For instance, the first requirement when taking the NEBOSH exam is to find the perfect location. Since it can be taken from any comfortable area like your home, office, etc, it is essential to ensure that the atmosphere remains undisturbed until the end of the test.

While preparing for the NEBOSH Open Book Examination, other details ranging from registration to the type of questions must be considered. Let’s look at all the aspects of the NEBOSH test to better understand it:

Registration process

The first step to taking the NEBOSH test is to apply for it. The registration process begins with obtaining the exam dates. Here is a step-by-step guide to completing the registration process for the test:

a) Search for the exam dates as they are released by NEBOSH six weeks prior to the actual test

b) Obtain the booking form from the NEBOSH exams page

c) You will receive your login credentials via email about 2-3 days before the exam

d) Try logging in and scroll through the platform to get a hang of it

e) Download the Moodle application using the login credentials 

f) Open the platform and take the exam on the scheduled date

Topics and types of questions asked in NEBOSH Exam

questions in NEBOSH exam


Familiarising yourself with the type of questions and topics that can appear in the test is a good way to start preparing for it. The NEBOSH examination provides one scenario and follows it up with ten questions sourced from the 1 – 4 syllabus elements. The types of questions can be based on the following topics:

a) Element one: This covers the basics of managing workplace health and safety in terms of compliance. Questions based on the costs of accidents, acts of parliament, methods to manage contractors, etc., can be asked.

b) Element two: Element two covers topics about how health and safety management systems work and what they look like. This includes questions on setting objectives using Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable, and Timely (SMART) principles, identifying business requirements, and more.

c) Element three: Risk management and understanding people and processes are the areas covered in this element. This also includes the steps to be taken to ensure a safe work culture and assessing the factors that can affect it. You can expect questions on the methods of risk identification and its evaluation as well.

d) Element four: The main topics of concern here are health and safety measuring and monitoring. You might receive exam questions based on active and reactive monitoring and steps to audit health and safety management systems.

Most of the time, the scenario will be a hypothetical situation that takes place at work. Ample background information will be provided based on your role to play. The objective is to use the prompts given to fuel your character and state how you would respond to the situation through your answers. The explanation of the scenario might be lengthy, but the questions will be short.

The Closing Interview

Once you have completed the scenarios and questions based on them, the next step is to clear a closing interview. These interviews are scheduled by NEBOSH to ensure the legitimacy of the candidate and to check if the answers were submitted by the candidates themselves. The closing interview will be carried out within 2-3 weeks of completing the NEBOSH open Book Exam test and lasts for about 15 minutes.

To ensure that the interviews are conducted smoothly, there are specific instructions that need to be followed. For instance, one of the rules for a closing interview is to take the interview alone, with nobody else in the room. 

After verifying your identity to the interviewer, you will be asked to prove that you are alone and that you do not have access to any of your study materials. The interviewer will ask questions about your answers in the examination and the process you followed to reach that point. 

You are expected to answer all their questions, as the interview helps the officials recognise whether you are the person who attempted the exam. It also provides a window to determine whether a candidate has cheated on their paper.


The final step is to collect the results of the examination. The NEBOSH test results will be emailed to you about 50 days after the completion of the test. Upon passing the test, you will receive a passing certificate within a period of 20 working days after the result day.

Please note that if you do not receive your results or certificate within the expected timeframe, you should contact NEBOSH directly to inquire about the delay. In some cases, there may be issues with delivery or processing that need to be resolved.

Additionally, if you do not pass the examination, you will receive a feedback report that outlines your performance in each element of the exam. Receiving this feedback report can prove beneficial to you as it can assist in pinpointing areas where you need to enhance and polish your knowledge before attempting the exam again.

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How to Pass NEBOSH Open Book Exam?

Tips to pass the NEBOSH examination


Although the NEBOSH test is conducted in an OBE format, it is always recommended to prepare properly before attempting the exam. Candidates must have a basic understanding of the textbook’s structure to utilise it efficiently. 

You are free to mark or highlight portions of difficulty in your resources to identify certain sections easier. The aim is to have everything in place to save time. Therefore, apart from memorisation skills, you will also need good Time Management to have a smooth examination period.  If you are wondering how to pass the NEBOSH Exam, the following pointers can assist you: 

Time Management

As mentioned above, time management is one of the most important skills to have for passing the NEBOSH OBE. Your paper will consist of scenarios followed by questions related to them. Identify the questions that carry more weightage and attempt them initially. 

Once you are done with the important questions, move on to the relatively easier ones. However, make sure you have enough time left for answering all the questions and not just the ones you have marked important.

Understand the question before answering

It is always recommended to skim through the entire paper once before beginning to answer. Understand the given scenarios and highlight the areas that seem important to you. This way, you can focus on the keywords while formulating your answer. 

Another important factor to consider is the terminology used in the questions. Words like ‘outline’ and ‘explain’ may seem similar, but the answers to questions that begin with these words will have different word weightage. Here are some practices to follow that can help you provide effective answers:

a) Since the word count for the entire NEBOSH paper is 3,000 words with a 10% allowance, it is essential to distribute the word count efficiently. Therefore, it is recommended to save your word count for lengthy questions that are worth high marks. 

b) Make use of the previously highlighted keywords to give meaningful answers.

c) Plan your answers in detail and refrain from adding the scenario to your answer verbatim.

d) Avoid plagiarism of any kind and stick to providing answers in your own words. 

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Use Good Resources

The resources that you use for the NEBOSH test can extend beyond your basic study materials. Apart from your textbooks, you are also free to use the internet. Information from the internet can be accessed in the form of journals or textbooks  relevant to your course, as long as you can produce plagiarism-free answers. Although you are free to use the internet, you will not be allowed to speak to any of your classmates or trainers. 

Do's & dont's of NEBOSH OBE

In order to ensure a smooth and successful experience during this exam, it is essential to follow certain guidelines. Here are the key do's and don'ts to keep in mind:


Here are some things you can do during the NEBOSH OBE examination: 

a) Read the instructions and questions carefully to fully understand the requirements

b)  Allocate sufficient time for planning, researching, and structuring your responses

c) Use credible and relevant sources to support your answers

d) Proofread and edit your responses before submitting to ensure clarity and accuracy

e) Manage your time effectively by prioritising questions and adhering to the duration


Here are some things you should avoid during the NEBOSH OBE examination: 

a) Don't copy content directly from external sources without properly citing them

b) Don't exceed the allocated 24-hour duration for the exam

c) Don't rely solely on a single resource; explore a range of reference materials

Don't overlook the importance of organisation and structure in your responses


The NEBOSH Open Book Examinations is the newly approved format of assessment for the International General Certificate. We hope this blog has helped you learn more about the NEBOSH Exam requirements, its structure, necessary procedures to follow, and provided useful tips to pass the test.

Acquire the knowledge and skills to identify and manage occupational hazards with our  NEBOSH National General Certificate In Occupational Health And Safety course now!

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