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Unique exam practice tool aiming to increase first-time pass rates in Functional Skills

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A digital practice paper that helps learners to better prepare for their Functional Skills exam is being further developed thanks to a unique educational fund.

The innovative solution, being created by Runway Training, improves the accessibility of practice content and offers tailored feedback and revision guidance.

With support from the educational charity NCFE’s Assessment Innovation Fund, the project is now aiming to prove that the system can increase first-time pass rates, as well as analyse aspects such as learner confidence and capture feedback from practitioners.

Vicki Dobney, Teacher and Project Manager at Runway Training, said:

“Developing our Online Practice Paper Solution has been invaluable to our learners and tutors alike. It enables our learners to get real experience of remote exams and significantly reduce exam anxiety, whilst raising first-time pass rates.

“Our tutors benefit from the knowledge that their practice paper results are accurate, sent back within 48 hours and that the feedback and marking is of a quality they can trust and rely on. This enables them to dedicate more of their time on improving delivery and reduces the toll that excessive paper marking can take.”

Runway Training has often encountered learners being entered into their final Functional Skills exam with insufficient practice and knowledge gaps. To tackle this problem, it developed a solution that supports its learners to be fully prepared to pass first-time.

The specialist provider has spent four years designing, developing, testing and using its own digital practice paper solution – and is thought to be the only system of its kind that enables learners to complete a Functional Skills practice paper at Level 1 or 2 from different awarding organisations.

Digital exam papers are sent via email and open in a web browser which is fully editable and records learners’ responses. This ensures the practice papers are accessible, and the learner doesn’t need to download any software, which can often present as a barrier.

The online practice paper has key features, including a countdown timer, progress bar, calculator, and graph functionality. These features allow the learner to experience the exam interface while also being able to submit their answers.

Once the paper is submitted, a bank of impartial markers reviews the paper and provides detailed, individualised feedback on each question. The practice paper is then returned to the learner within 48 hours along with links to revision resources in areas where the learner has room for improvement.

Jessica Blakey, Head of Innovation and Investments at NCFE said:

“Our Assessment Innovation Fund is in place to help organisations like Runway Training explore new approaches to assessment and innovative uses of technology. Their submission went through a thorough process and was scored highly by our expert panel which resulted in them successfully receiving the funding. We are delighted with the results of their pilot, as it bridges such a gap in the world of functional skills and will hopefully support more learners to successful outcomes.”

To support the project, Runway Training is looking for educational providers with Functional Skills learners preparing for their final exams to take part in the pilot for free.

With on-hand support from project manager Vicki Dobney and her team, they can guide you through the user-friendly system where Functional Skills practice papers from NCFE, City and Guilds and Edexcel can be sent to learners instantly via email.

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