From education to employment

Preparation for end-point assessment

End-point assessment (EPA) is an independent assessment that takes place at the end of the apprenticeship training. This is to test that the apprentice is competent in their occupation.

All apprentices must complete an EPA. There are a variety of assessment methods to test apprentices’ competency.

Apprentices, like any student, should be aware of the nature and demands of the assessment they are working towards from the very start. All apprenticeships should start with the goal of achieving the best grade possible. It is important for apprentices to be familiar with what is needed to achieve those grades.

The apprentice panel survey 2020 found preparation for end-point-assessment had low proportions satisfied (32%) or very satisfied (11%). Also, 38% of respondents did not know who their end-point assessment organisation (EPAO) is. Apprentices nearing gateway should be aware of who their EPAO is and the EPAO is expected to engage with the apprentice to prepare them for EPA.

1. 10 ways to improve end point assessment preparation

  1. Ensure the apprentices understand the link between their training and their EPA
  2. Mock assessments and specimen portfolio examples should be readily available for apprentices
  3. Preparation should be discussed at every review meeting
  4. Appropriate study leave and support should be given for all assessments
  5. Set targets that are clearly linked to the requirements of the EPA
  6. Training providers should host sessions solely focused on EPA preparation throughout the apprenticeship
  7. Apprentices should know who their EPAO is (so that they can search for appropriate supporting materials) and be supported to familiarise themselves with the nature and requirements of the EPA
  8. Feedback on formative assignments should be actioned and followed up on, during review meetings with the training provider, employer and apprentice
  9. Employers and training providers should look to stretch and challenge the apprentices to go beyond their expectations
  10. Apprentice welfare and wellbeing should be a priority. Any reasonable adjustments that are required for an apprentice during the end-point assessment should be requested and put in place


2. Timeline for preparation

Start of the apprenticeship

Before the apprentice starts, providing them with an overview of what an apprenticeship is and how it is assessed can help with what is expected of them.

The end-point assessment plan should be given to the apprentice during the induction to their apprenticeship. The Institute is currently in the process of creating clear and simple summaries of assessment plans for apprentices.

The employer should have an overall understanding of the apprentice’s training – requirements and should try to match on-the-job training to their end-point assessment requirements.

Everyone involved should be equally familiar with the grading criteria and offer feedback and support.

During the apprenticeship

Preparation for end-point assessment should be discussed at progress meetings with the training provider, employer and apprentice. This is to check progress of specific assessment criteria and agree to a strategy to address areas for improvement.

The employer should be aware that 20% off-the-job training is a minimum and that if extra study leave is required, it should be supported.

Training plans should include regular opportunities for apprentices to practise requirements of their end-point assessments that are linked to the knowledge, skills and behaviours.

The employer and training provider need to work together and address areas where the apprentice needs to make more progress towards the requirements of their EPA.

Gateway and start of the end-point assessment

What is gateway?

Gateway sits between the end of training and the beginning of the assessment period when the EPA will take place.

At gateway, the employer and training provider will review their apprentice’s knowledge, skills and behaviours to see if they are ready to take their EPA.

The gateway review takes place near the end of an apprenticeship to make sure the apprentice has completed the mandatory aspects of the apprenticeship and is ready to take their assessment.

Apprentices must meet the gateway requirements set out in the assessment plan before taking their EPA.

3. For apprentices

During your apprenticeship, you will be assessed to make sure you’re achieving the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for your apprenticeship.

Your end-point assessment or EPA is carried out by an independent organisation known as an end-point assessment organisation (EPAO).

If you are unsure about your EPA, speak to your training provider.

How to prepare and what to expect

Five top tips:

  1. Refer to the grading criteria, like a checklist, to ensure the requirements are met
  2. Manage your time so you are fully prepared for your EPA
  3. Clearly communicate to the employer, training provider or mentor any concerns or support you need
  4. Keep all work such as the e-portfolio safe and up to date
  5. Practice makes perfect

Assessment methods

There are lots of different types of assessment methods.

You can find the assessment plan for your apprenticeship on our website. This tells you which assessment method is used in your apprenticeship.

For each assessment method, an assessor might ask you questions. This is to make sure you show the assessor all the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for your occupation.

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