The assessment cycle is a systemic course of events which can be applied to both academic and vocational activities. The cycle typically continues until all aspects of the criteria / qualification have been achieved by the learner.

Standardisation is an important part of the cycle to maintain fairness and accuracy. Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) can also have a role as part of the overall quality assurance process.

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The cycle can be broken down into five key areas which are shown below:

Initial Assessment

The initial assessment can identify prior knowledge / experience within the subject area. The information can be gathered through application forms, interviews and informal discussions. The assessor may not always gather this information, but could be responsible for selecting appropriate assessment methods, and helping the learner with any difficulties they have.

Assessment Planning

The appropriate assessment method will need to be selected, taking into consideration both the subject area and the learner. Prior initial assessments will need to be taken into consideration, which may involve other colleagues or external help. Finally time scales and target dates to completion could be agreed.

Assessment Activity

Different assessment activities can be applied to the various different environments. Vocational subject areas could include tests, coursework and presentations. Whereas workplace environments may require observations and practical activities, which can be measured against a set criteria. Generally activities can be split by formative and summative:

  • Formative - Informal (ongoing) like a discussion at the end of the module or a class.
  • Summative - usually formal like a test which can be counted as an achievement of something. For example an A grade in GCSE maths.

Assessment Decision and Feedback

Making a judgement on the vocational work such as a grading or level of skill in a practical task. Constructive feedback can then take place on the event with suggestions of improvement for the future.

Review of progress

Periodic reviews should take place to discuss overall progress and achievements. This is also a good opportunity to raise and hopefully resolve any other issues. Accurate records should be kept ready for the assessment cycle to start over again.