The Society of Indexers

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Pass Requirements  
Time Limits Marking Process
Structure of Tests Moderation of marking
Practice for Tests  
Test Submissions  
Markers' Comments  
Resits, Re-marks and Appeals  
Pass Rates  

 Aptitude for indexing

The indexing process needs a particular mental approach, and may require quite different abilities and skills from those needed for students' previous subjects of study. Indexing demands meticulous attention to accuracy — in understanding textual content, in selecting and transcribing index terms to represent textual themes and sub-themes, in presenting individual characters (letters, numbers, etc.) and spaces, and in laying out entries.

It is not unusual for students who are highly accomplished in other disciplines to sometimes find that the learning process is quite challenging, and practice is needed to reach the required standard.

Pass requirements

You must achieve a pass in each Test Paper to gain Accredited status. The standard required to pass the Test Papers is high: 70% overall, with a pass in each part of the paper (4th edition only). This is deliberate and necessary. You will find that the Test Papers increase considerably in difficulty as you progress through the Course. The aim is to enable successful candidates to enter the commercial world and to practise competently. This is not a competitive examination, but a professional and vocational one and (unlike some academic examinations) it is not possible to scrape through with low marks. Not everyone has an aptitude for indexing and not everyone who undertakes the course succeeds in gaining the qualification. 

Pass Rates

4th edition of training course - all students from 2010. Figures up to and includingSeptember 2015
The table below shows the numbers and percentages achieving a pass on each test paper and moving on to the next module.
It is not uncommon to have to resit a test, particularly on the more advanced papers. Indexing a longer text involves careful analysis and the observation of a number of indexing principles, and to do this well takes practice.
The feedback on test papers, and the one-to-one tutorial available to students who fail a test on B-D, help to highlight where problems are occurring, and most students do better on their resit.  
Test Test A Test B Test C Test D
Number of students 146 100 81 53
Passes (including resits) 125 85 69 43
Percentage pass rate 86% 85% 85% 81%
A number of students have passed the course with straight passes i.e. without having to resit any papers

4th edition straight passes
Year 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015* Total for course
Number of students achieving accreditation on 4th ed 4** 6** 7** 5** 13* 35*
Number of students with straight passes 2 2 3 0   3 10
N.B. The numbers are small and not truly statistically significant
*   To end of November
** The 4th edition was launched in 2010, so these figures include students who started on the 3rd edition of the course and transferred to the 4th edition part-way through. They do not include students completing the whole course on the 3rd edition.

Time limits

Test Papers can only be taken one at a time and you must pass one paper before proceeding to the next. Each paper consists of two parts, 'Theory' and 'Practice' (4th edition only); the two parts must be taken together and you must reach pass level in each part. Papers A and B must be completed and returned within 21 days, Paper C within 28 days and Paper D within 35 days; these times may be extended for overseas candidates on request.  You should attempt Test Papers only when you feel adequately prepared and only after comments on previous tests have been received. Please note that once you have applied for Paper D you must submit by the required deadline or you may be disqualified from the course.

The final element of the Course, the Practical Indexing Assignment, is the submission of an index to a book or document , which must be completed and returned within two weeks of your application. The three online tutorials may be undertaken at any time after passing Paper A. For students enrolling on the course from 1 July 2012 onwards there is a time limit of four years for completion of the Course as a whole, with an optional extension to five years on payment of an extra fee of £50. For students who enrolled on the course before 1 July 2012 the time limit is five years. This may also be extended upon request, for the admin fee of £50.

Structure of tests (4th edition)

Each test has two parts, a theory section and an index section, and the allocation of marks for each section is indicated. The tests are marked using a grading system A–E, with A–C indicating levels of pass. The overall passmark is 70%, and candidates are required to pass both sections.

Practising for Tests

As well as the practice in indexing texts provided by the online tutorials, there are many exercises and quizzes on the training site. These mirror most of the questions in the tests, so working through these will be a good preparation for the actual assessments.

Test Submissions

The Course Administrator distributes Test Papers to candidates and markers, and co-ordinates the results. Candidates and markers are anonymous to each other. A moderation procedure ensures a consistent standard of marking. For more information about assessment procedures and standards click here.

Your answers must be sent as an email attachment (4th edition). However, existing students continuing on the 3rd edition of the course may send answers in the form of a typescript or a computer print-out, either by post or as an email attachment. Handwritten answers cannot be accepted.

Marking turn-around is about three weeks, but occasionally takes longer. Candidates are informed whether their answers have met the required standard. Exact marks are not divulged but you will receive a grade for each test (4th edition only). Papers are given additional scrutiny if necessary before final marks are confirmed.

Detailed information about the marking process and quality control through moderation can be found here

Markers' comments

All candidates (whether successful or unsuccessful) receive helpful written comments from markers via the Course Administrator. These comments may indicate areas where you need further study, and may suggest that you look again at particular sections in the course materials. Candidates with borderline passes on tests B - D may be advised to take the appropriate one-to-one tutorial available to them before proceeding to the next module. Details can be obtained from the SI Office.

Clarification of comments

If having done this there is still a comment which you do not understand you can ask the marker for clarification. Please send your query (maximum one A4 sheet in 12pt type, as an email attachment if possible) to the Course Administrator who will forward it to the marker. Clarification is provided to aid fuller understanding of indexing principles and thus improve your success in the course, but marking decisions cannot be challenged through this process. Candidates who are unhappy about an actual marking decision may request a re-mark.


A candidate who does not reach the required standard in Test Paper A may make one further attempt after an interval of one month from receipt of the result. For Test Papers B, C and D, two further attempts may be made, again after an interval of one month from receipt of the result. If only one part is below pass standard you may resit that part only (4th edition only).

Two one-to-one tutorials are available for students who have failed Tests B, C or D. Information is sent to candidates with their test result.

Re-marks and appeals

If you wish to challenge a fail result you may request a re-mark; there is a charge for this process. If the paper is a third-time fail and the re-mark confirms the fail result, you may appeal to the Training Course Committee. Please contact the Course Administrator for details of these processes.

The course may only be taken once by any individual student.

Online tutorials

The course includes three compulsory online tutorials which require the production of an index to a short text. The index is not assessed, but the process of indexing is discussed through a series of topics. Dates and further details are given here.

Practical indexing assignment

The final element of the Course is the submission of an index to a complete book or document of your choice. A member of our panel of experienced indexers will study it carefully, indicate areas for improvement and give constructive advice. There is no pass mark. For more information click here.

Email helpline

A student having a query about a topic in the Course Modules or anything else on the training website can get help from a Course Advisor via the email helpline. This service is only for students who are SI members.

Last updated: 22 August 2016 | Maintained by CPD Committee | Page ID: 141
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