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Advice for Students

News Journalism: NCTJ Public Affairs

17 August 2022

At the beginning of the year you will be told to buy the McNaes Public affairs text book – this is your bible for this exam.

Unlike the other pathways, News Journalist students also have to complete NCTJ exams which work alongside the uni exams. As a result you have A LOT more. So definitely start revising early.

Public affairs is hard because it requires a fair amount of knowledge about lots of topics, but from what I observed doing mocks, they seem to always be similar questions.

My tips for revising are:

1: Make a table of all the essential topics and each part of the topic. Tick each one off when you’ve made notes and revised it. This means you are less likely to be caught out in the exam. It also helps you keep on top of what can otherwise be overwhelming revision.

2: Don’t try and memorise everything, there is a lot of history in this book which is not necessary. For topics like planning permission just memorise the process rather than every aspect of the topic. I say this mainly due to time limits on revising, getting the processes memorised are more important but you do get bonus points for other relevant information.

3: Memorise case studies – it is enough to just reference a case, but you have to make sure it is relevant. This will give you bonus points which could be the difference between an entire grade.

4: Do mocks – this is one of the most important parts as the questions seemed to be so similar for all the mocks and exams we did. Go back over the answers of the mocks and learn what information they require for each type of question, sometimes it is not what you think.

5: When memorising try different methods- if you are a visual learner like me, I found it helpful to make loads of posters on each topic, colour coded. This helped me when in the exam because I could visualise where on the page the topic was and sometimes that was the trigger my brain needed. However, it wasn’t enough to memorise, so I then used the cover method to learn long answers and whole topics. This method is simply writing out on A4 paper everything you need to know but in a summarised form. Then on another sheet try and write everything out again, at the bottom have a line separating a section for the notes of things you missed. Come back to it and try and get everything from the missed box into the main passage. I found this method was the most helpful for me.

6: Use the Programme of Study which can be found on your NCTJ profile. This is really in-depth and you won’t have to know everything but it does cut through some of the unnecessary parts of the book.

7: In terms of really important topics to cover

  • Types of schools and what differs between them
  • Duties of County councils, District councils, Combined authorities etc.
  • Role of government figures (good to add examples)
  • How the House of Commons differs to House of Lords
  • Social care (child and adult)
  • Process of a Bill
  • Process of Planning permission

There are loads more, which you will probably be given before revision, but if you want a Quizlet set to start you off find a whole series here.