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 for full-time apprentices, an average of 6 hours per week off-the-job training is a minimum. 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.

4. Quality assurance of end-point assessment

Ofqual is the qualifications, examinations and assessments regulator in England. Ofqual maintains standards and confidence in end-point assessments (EPAs) in England and sets the rules that end-point assessment organisations (EPAOs) and awarding organisations must follow.

Ofqual is responsible for making sure that:

  • regulated EPAs reliably indicate the knowledge, skills and understanding apprentices have demonstrated
  • assessments show what an apprentice has achieved
  • apprentices and employers have confidence in the assessments that Ofqual regulates
  • EPAs are delivered in accordance with the requirements of each apprenticeship’s assessment plan

The Office for Students (OfS) quality assures integrated degree apprenticeship end-point assessments and Ofqual regulates most other apprenticeship EPAs.

The OfS is responsible for making sure that:

  • assessments are reliable and effective and show that an apprentice has achieved occupational competence and achieved the knowledge, skills and behaviours required
  • EPAs are delivered in a fair, consistent and robust way across different apprenticeship standards


Reasonable adjustments

Reasonable adjustments are changes made to an assessment, or to the way an assessment is carried out, to make sure that disabled apprentices, including apprentices with a learning disability, can show what they know and can do. Reasonable adjustments are sometimes called access arrangements. Some of the most common adjustments are:

  • changes to exam papers, for example, large print or braille
  • help with specific tasks, for example, another person might read questions to you or they might write your dictated answers
  • extra time to complete assessments

Ask your EPAO for more information about reasonable adjustments and whether they apply to you. 

Special consideration

Ask your EPAO whether you might qualify for special consideration if:

  • you temporarily experience an illness or injury at the time of your EPA, or
  • something that you could not prevent happens during or immediately before a scheduled EPA that affects your ability to take it, or
  • something that you could not prevent happens during or immediately before an EPA that could affect your performance.

Your training provider or college can ask the EPAO to take account of such an event.

Special consideration is only for things that happen immediately before or during an EPA that affect your ability to take that assessment, or could affect how you perform – for example, an injury or illness, or the recent death or serious illness of a close family member. You will not be able to apply for special consideration because your apprenticeship was disrupted, either by the pandemic or for any other reason.

The EPAO will decide whether an adjustment should be made to the way you take the assessment or are assessed, or whether you should be given a small number of extra marks — or if you should take your EPA at a later date.

EPA timetable

The EPAO will give you your EPA timetable, and you should check this carefully. If you miss an assessment because you didn’t know the date or time, you won’t get any marks for it.

If you think there are mistakes in your timetable, ask your EPAO, training provider or college to check. You should also check with them if you are not sure about the timing of any assessments.

Getting your results

The date you receive your results will depend on the EPA you are studying, when you started it, and how it is assessed.

The EPAO is responsible for requesting your certificate if you are successful in your EPA.

If you are not successful in any part of your EPA, the EPAO can arrange for a resit or a retake. A resit involves resitting one or more components of your EPA. A retake involves completing further training before doing your EPA again. This will depend on the requirements of the assessment plan.

How to complain

In the first instance, you should ask the EPAO if you have any questions about the EPA you are taking, about preparing for your EPA, or if you have concerns about your results.

If you wish to complain to Ofqual about an EPAO, for example, because you think it hasn’t followed our rules or its own published policies and procedure, or because you are not satisfied with their response to your concerns, see our complaints procedure. We would usually expect you to have complained to the EPAO before coming to us, to give them an opportunity to resolve your complaint.

Any general enquiries other than complaints can be directed to Ofqual Public Enquiries: public.enquiries@ofqual.gov.uk

Public enquiry phone line: 0300 303 3344.

The phone line is normally open from 09:00 to 17:00 on weekdays.

If you wish to complain to the OfS about a provider that is delivering EPA, the OfS has its own process for complaints.

The OfS would expect you to have complained to the provider before coming to them, to give the provider the opportunity to resolve the complaint.

Any general enquiries, other than complaints, can be directed to regulation@officeforstudents.org.uk or call 0117 931 7305.