From education to employment

Failed your end point assessment? Don’t panic!

Helen Shinner, 1st for EPA

Failing your end point assessment (EPA) is NOT the end of the road – it’s only a hurdle to get past. And if you’ve come this far, you’ve triumphed over many hurdles already in your apprenticeship.

As tough as it can be to see the word ‘Fail’, don’t be discouraged. Resits and retakes are common in EPA and they give you a second (or third) chance to pass your apprenticeship.

Imagine yourself a few months down the line, with that apprenticeship completion certificate in hand, celebrating everything you’ve achieved. That might be difficult to picture right now, but it’s all within your reach.

Here’s what you can do to prepare for a resit or retake.

1. Gather info

The first thing to do is find out exactly where you stand and what the next steps are. Do you wait for your training provider to get in touch, or do you take action? Are there timescales you need to work to? Is there a maximum grade you can achieve in a resit? Some apprenticeship standards cap resit grades at a Pass.

Your EPAO should share this information when they notify you of your fail grade.

2. Set a timeline for yourself to prepare and resit your EPA

Look at the timescale you’re given and make a plan, using these tips, to make sure you’re prepared. Many apprentices find that booking their resit gives them a date to work towards and motivates them to complete.

3. Review what went wrong

Your EPAO should give you feedback on your EPA performance, and often this includes detail on the assessment criteria (or knowledge, skills, and behaviours – KSBs) you didn’t quite meet.

Reflect on your EPA performance, and be honest with yourself. Are there areas you didn’t perform the best you could? What could you do differently next time around?

If your EPA involved producing a written report, review it alongside your EPAO’s feedback and identify exactly what was missing.

If your EPA involved an observation, look at the tasks you worked on during the observation – did they have the potential to meet the criteria you were being assessed against?

If your EPA involved a professional discussion or interview, were you prepared with examples to show off everything you have achieved? Assessment isn’t the time to be shy – assessors love to hear about how well you’ve done and the difference you’ve made for your team or employer.

Your apprenticeship coach or tutor will be in touch and it may be useful to chat with them about this and bounce ideas around.

4. Look at your EPAO’s guidance again

Now the initial pressure of assessment is out of the way, read through the guidance you’ve been given again. Is there anything you missed the first time? Pay particular attention to tips as these can hold the key to improving your grade.

Many apprentices find it useful to read through the assessment criteria/KSBs and prepare examples that show how they have met each one.

5. Practice showing off your skills and behaviours

The assessor isn’t looking for you to simply know the skills and behaviours from the standard and assessment plan, you must show how you applied these in your role. There are several ways you can do this, and you might find the following article useful:
6 Ways to Demonstrate Skills and Behaviours in End Point Assessment

6. Don’t panic going into your resit or retake

The assessor will not judge you and will not grade you any differently because it’s not your first attempt. In fact, they will be rooting for you to succeed – but they definitely won’t show it and will keep a poker face!

If you need to resit or retake your end point assessment, don’t worry. Plenty of others have been in your position. Prepare for your resit or retake and make the most of the resources available to you – including your coach and any guidance documents and videos you’re given. In six months, it’s most likely you’ll have passed your apprenticeship and your resit will be a distant memory.

Here’s some feedback from an apprentice who had to resit his EPA:

You may also find these articles useful:
EPA Examples and EPA Questions
6 Ways to Demonstrate Skills and Behaviours in End Point Assessment
How to answer questions in EPA interviews and professional discussions

Training providers may be interested in:
Preparing Apprentices for EPA: Interviews and Professional Discussions
How training providers can prepare their apprentices for EPA

Helen Shinner is Managing Director of 1st for EPA, an Ofqual-recognised End Point Assessment Organisation.

1st for EPA assesses apprenticeship standards including Digital Marketer, Marketing, PR & Communications, HR, Data, Business Administrator, and Junior Content Producer.

To find out more, visit

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