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How to answer NEBOSH Scenario Based Assessments

30th June 2023

Unsure how to tackle scenario-based NEBOSH assessments in your NEBOSH course? In this post we’ll breakdown the new assessment guidance, so you know how to answer the exam questions effectively.

What are Scenario Based Assessments?

The Open Book Examination (OBE) consists of questions delivered in the format of Scenario Based Assessments (SBA’s). There is a guidance document, produced by NEBOSH, regarding the SBA’s which can be found at this link.

SBAs (Scenario Based Assessments) are the format in which questions are delivered in NEBOSH Open Book Exams. They are designed to emulate the work environment, requiring you to use the knowledge you’ve acquired throughout the course and apply it to a situation, meaning you’ll need a strong understanding of the course material to complete them effectively.

Each SBA consists of two distinct parts; the first is a scenario which describes a situation or event, the second is a set of questions which use the context of the scenario and ask you to apply your health and safety knowledge. We’ll now breakdown each section of the SBA and discuss how to answer the questions effectively. You can read the full published guidance here.

The scenario is the first part of the SBA and is often based on a public health and safety incident or the exam writer’s own experience, making it a situation that you could possibly face in the workplace. These scenarios can take place in various settings; call centres, warehouses and supermarkets have all been used in previous exams. Each scenario will provide all the context you need, so don’t worry if you’re unfamiliar with the setting. All you’ll need to do is apply the knowledge you’ve learned throughout the course and infer things from the scenario.

The second part of SBAs are the questions. Each question is worth a specific number of marks and will need to be answered a certain way based upon the question wording. If the question uses “comment on”, “justify” or “to what extent”, then you will need to use evidence and information from the scenario to argue a specific point. If a question asks you to “comment on how well” something is done in the scenario, the exam marker is expecting you to discuss both arguments for and against, demonstrating a complete understanding of the scenario and the course knowledge, then drawing conclusions about it.

How should you answer SBA questions?

NEBOSH recommends using the ‘P.E.E Principal,’ a structure you may already be familiar with. This structure can be easily compared to the KUS technique (Knowledge, Understanding and Scenario) often recommended by Phoenix’s Study Support team, as you can see below.

P.E.E stands for ‘Point, Evidence, Explanation’:

  • Point/Knowledge: A statement based on information presented in the scenario, or information you’ve learned from the course that directly answers the question.

  • Evidence/Scenario: A quote/section from the scenario which evidences your point.

  • Explanation/Understanding: Why your evidence supports your point.

In the format of an actual question, a simple version of the structure could look like this:


“Task 1: Justifying health and safety improvements - What financial arguments could you use to justify your proposed recommendations to segregate FLTs and the workers?”


“There have been many injuries recorded over the years. Most recently, a repeat of a more serious collision occurred involving a young FLT driver. The brakes were applied too late, as the driver was distracted by their mobile phone, the FLT skidded on an oil spillage and knocked goods over onto a passing worker.”


  • Point/Knowledge: Compensation claims can be avoided by reducing accidents through the segregation of FLTs and workers.

  • Evidence/Scenario: When in the same area, FLTs can lead to accidents which can injure workers, putting them at serious risk, as shown in the case study where goods fell on to a passing worker.

  • Explanation/Understanding: However, when segregated products would no longer put workers at risk, even if accidents occurred, as they would not be in the same area. This would result in no injury compensation needing to be provided.

Some questions may not require the full P.E.E structure, and you will be able to tell this based on the amount of detail you need to answer the question effectively. For example, if it doesn’t require you to explain your answer or draw any conclusions.

Another frequent question students ask is how much they need to write for each question. This will depend on how many marks each question is worth. If a question is worth 6 marks, the exam marker will look for 6 unique points in your answer, which can be any points you make, evidence you pick out or evidence you provide. Keep in mind that repeating the same information will not get you any marks, so don’t waste time doing so.

So, remember, when answering Scenario Based Assessments:

  • Read the scenario and question carefully before writing any answers.

  • Pay attention to the number of marks each question is worth. Write as much as you need to for all the marks and don’t repeat the same information.

  • Use the P.E.E structure to explain and evidence your points, helping you score marks for questions which ask you to provide explanations or draw conclusions.

If you're feeling more confident in your exam skills and ready to take your NEBOSH exam, you can book here.

Any questions? Contact us and speak to a member of the team.

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