How To Prepare For Your NEBOSH General Certificate E-learning Course

Nebosh By Matthew Coombes

The NEBOSH General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety is a health and safety qualification for managers and those with health and safety responsibilities in the workplace. Completing the General Certificate is an ideal first step to take if you’re looking for a successful career in health and safety because the course focuses on UK legislation, common hazards and controlling risks, and best practice for management of health and safety at work.

E-learning is a great way to undertake the general certificate qualification for those that have the motivation to undertake self-directed study, and that would benefit from the flexibility of an online course. The course now also benefits from an Open Book Examination which is taken online.

So how can you prepare to undertake a NEBOSH General Certificate course online?

Make sure that the course is right for you:

The most important thing to consider is whether the course is right for you. We have multiple learning options available, so before you do anything contact one of our NEBOSH advisors. Our team are always happy to help and they will be able to provide you with advice on whether the course is suitable for your needs, and which delivery method would suit you best.

Get yourself set up:

I have always found that when I’m undertaking a new project, I need a new notebook. You can make notes using the handy system built into OTTIS, the e-learning platform, but personally I find it helps to also write my notes on paper. It helps me to keep organised and compartmentalises the information into different areas, I also find that I remember things more easily if I’ve written them down. It’s also especially helpful to have a notebook to refer to during your exam and after you have completed your course in case you need a refresher on any of the key points that you have learned.
Another thing to consider is having a suitable environment for learning. This will be different for different people, as you may be taking the course at home, at work or in whatever spare time you can find. You can access your course materials from anywhere with internet, so if home is too busy/noisy, you can take your course with you somewhere quieter like a café or library.

Set yourself goals:

Use the SMART system to set yourself goals throughout your course. The course is broken up into units, so you can set yourself the goal of completing a unit in a set amount of time.
The open book examinations are held regularly throughout the year on fixed dates, this can give you a great goalpost to aim for. If you decide that you would like to sit the December exam, then you know that you will need to have completed your course by December.

Keep working on it:

The beauty of NEBOSH online is that they’re available on demand, so if you have a spare 10 minutes in the morning you can just log in and start learning. All of this time gradually adds up and before you know it you’ve completed whole units of the course in bite-sized pieces.

Apply what you’re learning:

As you’re working through the course, make sure to try and apply what you’re learning to your workplace or even your home life. The General Certificate course covers the legal requirements for managing health and safety at work, which means that you can look at areas in your workplace that may need improvements throughout your course.

The 6 elements of the NG2 unit are specifically designed to increase your knowledge of common hazards and controls that can be put into place to manage risks. The knowledge in these units can be applied to the workplace straight away.

Get ready for your assessments:

The NEBOSH General Certificate is assessed with an online open book examination, and a practical risk assessment of your workplace. The course contains exam style questions throughout, but it’s a good idea to understand what the end goal is, not just to learn important health and safety knowledge and skills, but to also be able to back it up with your NEBOSH certificate.

The OBE allows you to refer to your notes, do research online (for example checking legislation or referring to the HSE website) and use any relevant text books. The exam is completed over a 24-hour period, which gives you time to properly plan your answers to each of the questions. NEBOSH suggest that the examination should take 5 hours, however from personal experience of the exam, and reading comments from other learners, it can take upwards of 8 hours. As such, you should ideally take time off to complete your exam.

The risk assessment requires you to undertake a risk assessment of your workplace. If you don’t currently have a workplace, you can conduct your risk assessment based on another workplace with permission, some public services such as libraries are often happy to accommodate this.


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