End-point assessment: frequently asked questions
End-point assessment (EPA) was introduced as part of the new apprenticeship standards. It's been around for a while, but some providers and employers are only just starting to put apprentices forward for their EPA. So to help, we've gathered answers to the 10 most frequently asked questions about end-point assessment.
1. What is end-point assessment?
All apprentices on the new apprenticeship standards have to complete an end-point assessment at the end of their course. When the apprentice has completed their on-programme learning, they'll be put forward for the EPA – an independent assessment to test whether they've met the KSBs in the standard. Each apprentice receives a grade.
2. What assessment methods are used?
The EPA is outlined in the assessment plan for each standard. The assessment plan must explain what's being assessed and what assessment methods should be used – such as tests, examinations, professional discussions, workplace observations, assignments or a portfolio of work.
3. What is the apprenticeship gateway?
When the apprentice has completed their on-programme learning, the apprentice, employer and provider need to agree that the apprentice is ready to take the EPA. The gateway is the period of time between this agreement being made and the apprentice taking their EPA. Depending on the assessment methods and EPAO availability, the gateway can be between a week or even a few months long – so it needs to be carefully planned for.
4. How much does the EPA cost?
The cost will vary slightly depending on the assessment methods, but the EPA should cost between 10-20% of the overall cost of the apprenticeship delivery.
Non-levy paying employers pay one third of the EPA costs and the ESFA pays the remaining two thirds. Levy-paying employers use their levy contributions to pay for the EPA.
5. Can a training provider use their own assessors to carry out the EPA?
No. The EPA must be carried out by an independent end-point assessor to make sure that the grading decision is fair and impartial.
6. How are end-point assessments quality assured?
Each apprenticeship standard has a dedicated EQA (external quality assurer) that monitors the quality and consistency of each end-point assessment organisation (EPAO) delivering EPAs for that standard. Within each EPAO, they’ll also have internal quality assurance (IQA) to make sure the assessments they deliver are standardised and marked properly.
7. What is the minimum time on programme before an apprentice can take the EPA?
All apprentices must complete a minimum of 12 months’ on-programme learning, unless it says otherwise in the apprenticeship standard. This is different from the old frameworks where apprentices could complete their course in much less time.
8. How are apprentices graded?
Apprentices will achieve a pass, merit or distinction – which is a great way to motivate learners to take their learning to the next level.
9. When do apprentices find out if they've passed their EPA?
This will depend on the EPAO, but when the end-point assessment has been marked and moderated, the results will be sent to the training provider. The training provider will then need to share the results with the apprentice and their employer.
10. What happens if the apprentice fails the EPA?
The gateway is a crucial part of the apprenticeship journey – but it's often overlooked. The gateway gives apprentices the chance to reflect on their learning, practice their assessment methods and compile their portfolios. Without preparing properly, apprentices run the risk of failing their EPA, meaning employers will have to foot the bill for retakes.
The gateway is really important – that's why we've created a handy checklist to help you plan for a successful gateway and prepare your apprentices for EPA.