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Advertorial: getting candidates to pass the NIE exam first time

More than 1,400 Met officers have gone through an innovative new programme since it started last year.

Advertorial: getting candidates to pass the NIE exam first time

Date - 5th January 2023
By - Police Oracle

Getting officers who have busy day jobs to pass professional exams is a challenge for most forces.

It is even harder for the National Investigators Exam (NIE) because there may not be the same  financial incentive and personal motivation attached to achieving success as there is in the sergeants and inspectors promotion examinations.

Now Red Snapper Learning (RSL) has created a programme that bridges that gap.

A total 1,470 Met officers have gone through the RSL programme since it started last year and across the three exams that have been held the pass rate for candidates has been increased by 18 per cent to a total of 63 per cent across the force.

RSL were contacted by the Met originally who were going out to tender among all the big players in the police exams and studying material support market.  

“When we sat down and thought about what sort of package we would put together I remembered when I was a detective and sat the NIE exam,” says RSL’s Kylie Wilson. “There were different types of candidates  - those who were always going to pass it. We had one candidate whose father was a chief inspector and they studied hard and ended up getting 98 per cent. Then there was the bracket that I sat in  - those with a busy day job, who really want to pass the exam but were easily waylaid.

“There were also people with neuro diverse needs or those who hadn’t studied for a very long time and needed that extra bit of support.”

What RSL put together for the Met was a three-tiered programme. This included a subscription to Police Revision an online learning product that supports candidates taking the NIE, sergeants and inspectors exams.

Police Revision also provides a ‘crammer’ element as part of this service but RSL stresses to candidates that just relying on cramming will not result in a pass. There is no short cut to proper study.

Candidates are also provided with access to webinar events and classroom sessions to help them with their study programme.

The webinars are hosted so questions can be asked and answered in the chat function and once the hosted events, which are held to work around shifts, are completed the recorded webinar is launched so candidates can review if they want to come back to specific subject matter explanations.

Each candidate taking the NIE gets access to five webinars over the course of the study programme which cover the key subject areas.

The classroom events are smaller and more personal but are open to all candidates. The study programme includes three mock exams to give candidates an idea of where they sit in terms of achieving a pass.

“What we have found is that the scores on the mocks are indicative within 2 to 3 per cent of the final mark candidates get in the exam,” says Kylie Wilson. “It is a really good gauge of whether they are ready to take the exam or not.”

They have also limited the amount of times candidates sit the exam unsuccessfully because some officers had sat the exam six or seven times.

Candidates now have to demonstrate to their line managers that they have engaged with the programme and put in the effort to study. This should reduce the number of officers who are holding detective roles without the necessary qualifications.

Due to Covid the Met used an online induction presentation for candidates which they were mandated to view but which had poor take up.  

With the RSL programme recently face to face inductions have been brought back. The first inductions took place in November for candidates who will be siting the NIE exam in March. “Those first inductions were really well received,” says Kylie Wilson. “It included some mock questions to explain what the different elements of the exam looked like. When we launched this and sent out emails we had a much better response and engagement.”

The last part of the RSL service involves mentoring of candidates who need extra support to pass. This is taken up by roughly 20 per cent of the candidate cohort and is aimed at those with neuro-diverse needs or candidates who hadn’t studied for many years. Candidates receive four individual hour long face to face sessions during the course of the programme with a dedicated mentor.

According to RSL there has been a significant increase In passes within this cohort many of who have been unsuccessful on previous attempts. The mentors are all ex-Met detectives so understand the nuances and culture that the candidates operate in such a large force.

Kylie Wilson says that it is vital to convince candidates during the induction that “this is a process that works.” She adds: “We have personal experience of what it takes to pass the exam and if they follow our programme they can get this done and dusted.”

“Nobody else does what we do in terms of taking a holistic approach and providing 360 degree feedback.”

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