Jargon is the term for specialized or technical language that is only understood by those who are members of a group or who perform a specific trade. An acronym is a word, name or set of letters created as an abbreviation of a longer phrase or sentence. The education and exams sector is full of acronyms and jargon so lets try and open up this world which has such an important role to play in learners lives and those who support them.


Notes for users:

1. You can click on the icon on the left of the pdf to pick up each page for easier navigation.

2. This glossary includes a number of historic references (marked * ) because new users may come across various terms, documents and organisations which are no longer active, but may still affect existing activity within their Centre.

3. This glossary is not just designed around exams delivery, but tries to include any term, reference or organisation that may have an impact on the role of exams office staff when undertaking their duties.

4. If you think there is something that needs adding or changing please email the EOA office at [email protected] – title - ‘update glossary 19/20'


The second half of a modular A-level level qualification. All AS and A2 units that had been entered, were claimed under the relevant subject award code. Modular A levels have now been replaced by the new linear qualifications

The JCQ A2C migration application has replaced the old EDI entry system, allowing Centres to transmit entry and results data to and from awarding organisations without using a third-party carrier.

If a student does not attend an exam they will be recorded as absent and a mark of zero will be reported for that exam.

Awdurdod Cymwysterau Cwricwlwm ac Asesu Cymru – the Qualifications Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales for all external qualifications.

Access arrangements and Special Consideration
Formerly known as ‘special arrangements’. Pre-examination arrangements, such as the use of prompters or Braille papers, primarily based on history of need and provision, for which an application to an awarding organisation may be necessary. An access arrangement is a pre-examination adjustment that is put in place before an assessment. It allows candidates with special education needs, disabilities or temporary injuries to access the assessment and show what they can do.

Access to scripts (ATS)
A post-results service which provides Centres with access to marked scripts.

The process by which the regulatory authorities confirm that a qualification and associated specification conform to the relevant accreditation criteria.

The entry code for the Advanced International Certificate of Education Diploma.

Administrative zone
Aterm most frequently used by CAIE. An administrative zone is a part of the world where the clocks read similar times. Using key times and administrative zones together helps ensure countries in similar time zones have their candidates under exam or supervised conditions at the same time to maintain the security of question paper content. Administrative zone and key times can be checked here: www.cie.org.uk/keytime

Adjustments for candidates with disabilities and learning difficulties: Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments. Published by JCQ each September and distributed to Centres in Autumn. Describes inter-board policies regarding access arrangements and special considerations. For use with GCE, GCSE, vocational awards, entry level certificates and key skills. Contains all the regulations and processes relating to making pre-examination adjustments for candidates in compliance with the Equality Act 2010. Sometimes known as the Terracotta Book (dfrom the colour of its cover

Advanced Level (A-level)
Also known as a GCE. A-levels are normally taken as a two-year course, often progressing from GCSE or its equivalent. They are usually taken by 16-19 year olds.

Advanced Subsidiary (AS)
A stand-alone qualification, valued as half a full A-level, usually taken in the first year of an A-level course for the modular specification.

Advanced Extension Award. Aimed at able candidates in year 13 and available in a limited range of academic subjects. Offers opportunities for candidates to demonstrate a greater depth of understanding than that required at GCE A level, using skills of critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis. Designed to enable differentiation between the most able candidates. Introduced in 2002. Now replaced for most subjects by the provision of A* for A level

Aegrotat Award
Also known as a Part Absence Award. If a candidate misses an examination for a component, for an acceptable reason e.g. illness, and there is sufficient evidence of the candidate’s ability, a score will be allocated to the component that has been missed and an appropriate overall grade will be awarded for the subject

Administrative Examination Officer. An Examination Officer who is not a member of the teaching staff at the Centre.

Aggregation (See also ‘Certification’ and ‘Cashing-in’)
The process whereby performances achieved on individual units are combined to give a grade for an award, qualification or certification for modular specifications.

Aggregation code (See also Cash-in code and Certification entry)
A four-character code that needs to be submitted by a Centre to an awarding organisation to indicate that the marks for the separate elements of an assessment scheme should be combined to form a grade for an award, a qualification or certificate.

ALS manager
Additional Learning Support Manager in a college or FE institution. A designated teacher responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Centre’s special educational needs (SEN) policy. A candidate is counted to be in receipt of ALS where direct support is provided over and above that which is normally provided in a standard learning programme, helping to achieve the learning goal. (See Access arrangements and Special consideration.)

Amendment file
A file of amendments to an original entry file, sent to the awarding organisation via A2C, to correct errors in candidate details or to change entry information.

See Scribe.

Analyse School Performance (replacing RAISEonline)
Analyse school performance is a new service, still under development, that gives access to detailed performance data that was previously available on RAISEonline. Access to the new service is via the Department for Education’s Secure Access portal, which allows the same login details for a number of different education data websites to be used. For access, please contact the Secure Access Approver at your establishment for advice. For more information and to log in, visit the Secure Access website.

Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic Admissions Assessment administered by Cambridge Assessment for applicants to read these subjects at Cambridge University.

The process available to Centres or private candidates who remain dissatisfied after the outcome of a Review of Results (formerly known as an Enquiry about Results). The process consists of two stages. Stage 1 is a review of the case by a senior member of the awarding organisation’s staff who has had no previous involvement with the case. Stage 2 involves the case being presented to the appeals panel convened by the awarding organisation. The stage 2 appeal procedure is available to Centres or private candidates who remain dissatisfied after the outcome of a Stage 2 appeal to the awarding organisation. (See EAR and RoR.)

Applied General Qualification
Applied General qualifications – level 3 qualifications for post-16 students who wish to continue their education through applied learning, leading to employment and/or further and higher education.

Approval (Centre)
A process by which a Centre wishing to offer particular qualifications is confirmed as being able to maintain the required quality and consistency of assessment and comply with other expectations of the awarding organisation.

The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance. An awarding organisation (AO).

*AQA Regional Support Team
This regionally based AQA team was disbanded in 2015 and used to provide support and guidance through Centre visits and Exams Officers’ network group meetings.

The process by which evidence of candidate attainment is evaluated against assessment criteria, including mark schemes, to provide the evidence for an award.

Assessment leader (Also known as a ‘subject officer’)
A member of staff of an awarding organisation who is responsible for the administration of one or more specifications.

An individual responsible for the initial judgement of candidate performance against defined standards expressed as assessment criteria or mark schemes.

Assistive Technology
Assistive technology is an umbrella term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities while also including the process used in selecting, locating, and using them.

*ATL (see the National Education Union)
Association of Teachers and Lecturers.is the union for education professionals across the UK. Active in the maintained, independent and post-16 sectors. It seeks to use its members' experiences to influence education policy, and works with government and employers to defend pay, conditions and career development. From early years to HE, teachers to support staff, lecturers to leaders, and to support and represent members throughout their career. The ATL has joined with the National Union of Teachers (NUT) to form the National Education Union (NEU). The EOA is an affiliate member of the ATL/NEU which offers discount rates for full time members.

ATS (Access to Scripts)
A process whereby scripts can be seen by candidates and/or teaching staff, either as photocopies or originals, after they have been marked. Available via the post-results service.

Attendance Register
List of candidates sent to awarding organisations (AO) for written or objective test papers to record whether candidates took the examination or were absent. AOs provide attendance registers that show the entries received from the Centre but these may need amending as a result of late changes. CMIS-produced attendance registers should reflect the up-to-date entries.

Confirmation that work has been produced solely by the candidate on whose behalf it is being submitted. Authentication is a mandatory requirement for controlled assignments, coursework/portfolio submissions. An authentication form is provided by awarding organisations for declaring this and should accompany coursework sent to moderators when required by AO rules.

The person confirming a student’s-controlled assessment/coursework is their own work.

The qualification received by a student who achieves the minimum grade requirement.

The process by which an awarding organisation uses evidence from assessment to determine the award that each candidate's performance merits.

Awarding Organisation or Awarding Body
An organisation accredited by a regulatory authority to develop qualifications, set examinations and award certificates, subject to criteria laid down by the regulator. Formerly these were often referred to Examination Boards.


Definitive examination data from Awarding Organisations via A2C, which Centres need to process entries and results. Designed to be electronically imported into a Centre’s administration software. Includes the specification codes, entry codes, timetables and fees. Basedata is series specific and needs to be refreshed for each new examination series. (see Blue Book for General Regulation)

BioMedical Admissions Test. A university admissions test used as an additional means of assessing an applicant’s potential for studying medical and veterinary courses. It tests scientific aptitude and is administered by Cambridge Assessment on behalf of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, University College London, Bristol and the Royal Veterinary College. BMAT is taken in early November.

Broadsheet of results
A summary of all the candidates’ results at a Centre for an examination series, formerly sent by post to arrive on a predetermined date but now more usually supplied electronically..

The Business and Technology Education Council. A brand used mainly for vocational/technical qualifications which are branded by Edexcel, which has been taken over by Pearson Publishing.


CAIE (was known as CIE)
Cambridge Assessment International Exams which is the international arm of Cambridge Assessment with OCR being its domestic arm. However, CAIE is not a member of the JCQ group and therefore not all its practices and procedures comply with the JCQ guidelines. CIEA exam timetables have been set up to meet their international market and not just the domestic UK market so exam officers, parents and students need to be aware of these differences when entering the exam process.

A person who has been entered for an assessment.

Candidate record form/sheet
The form that records the coursework for a candidate and that accompanies the coursework when it is sent to a moderator. The authentication form is also sent at the same time when required.

Candidate Statement of Entry
A printed statement for each individual candidate showing Centre information, candidate number and/or UCI and ULN, name, gender, date of birth, subject entries and the session of the written papers for an examination series. Should be checked by the candidate.

Candidate Statement of Provisional Results (CSPR)
A printed statement of results for each individual candidate sent to Centres on a prepublished date. Now usually only available in electronic form which Centres can choose to print

Candidate Results Service (CAIE Direct)
A service that gives candidates access to their results directly via a secure website. Centres can control which of their candidates have access to the site and what they can view through the ‘Administer Exams’ page on CAIE Direct.

Carried forward marks
A result or mark awarded for an internally assessed component in one examination series and carried forward to another series to be used for certification when the corresponding option code is entered.

*Cash-in code (See also ‘Aggregation code’ or ‘Certification entry’).
A code for cashing-in - ie. turning a set of individual results into an award, grade or certificate.

The term used to describe the process by which candidates claim the overall grade for a subject which is made up of the results of units or modules, which aggregate to a recognised qualification (e.g. AS or A level).


Cyd-Bwyllgor Addysg Cymru/Welsh Joint Education Committee.
An awarding organisation, regulated by ACCAC in Wales, QCA in England and CCEA in Northern Ireland.

CCEA (CCEA do not operate across most of England, but may do in selective centres)
Also written as NICCEA. The Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum Examinations and Assessment. The regulatory authority for Northern Ireland for external qualifications offered to candidates up to the age of 19 in full-time education. Also conducts and moderate’s examinations and assessment. An awarding organisation which no longer offers specifications for Centres in the England.

School, college, establishment or institution (PRU, prison, hospital, MOD field station) approved and registered by an awarding organisation for the entry of candidates to its assessments and for the conduct of those assessments.

Centre number
The five-digit number allocated to all approved Centres by the National Centre Number register (NCN register). Forms the first five characters of a unique candidate identifier (UCI).

The official document issued by an awarding organisation to confirm the achievement of results in an examination series. A certificate is unique and remains the property of the AO and is often protected by security features to guard against fraud.

Certification (See also ‘Aggregation’ and ‘Cashing-in)’.
The process whereby performances achieved on individual units or modules are combined to give a GCE, GCSE, or Entry Level Certificate grade for modular specification.

Certification code
Four-character code that signals to an awarding organisation that a candidate wishes to claim an award or certificate at the end of a modular or unitised assessment scheme.

Certification entry (See also ‘Cash-in Code’ or ‘Aggregation Code’)
An entry code that instructs an awarding organisation to aggregate units (modules) and award a grade and a certificate for a qualification.

Certifying statement
An official document issued by an Awarding Organisation or exam body to show the grades achieved by a candidate in a particular series. It can be sent it to educational institutions or prospective employers at the request of a candidate.

Chartered College of Teaching (CCoT) - new representative body for the teaching community 

City & Guilds
The City and Guilds of London Institute, an awarding organisation offering vocational qualifications for workplace skills.

Computer Literacy and Information Technology. An introductory-level course for those with little or no computer experience. Covers all the basics, such as using a computer, word processing, spreadsheets.

Clash-resolved timetable
Term used by some awarding organisations for an examinations timetable after it has been adjusted for individual candidates who have more than one examination in a session. (See Timetable clash.)

Computerised management information system. Now more frequently written as MIS. A Centre’s computer system that is used to manage candidate information, entries and timetables, for example SIMS, Phoenix Gold.

*Code of practice
Document issued by the regulatory authorities that determines the policy and procedures of an awarding organisation. The awarding organisations are regulated by its criteria which is overseen by OfQual.

A group of students working together through the same academic curriculum

An assessable part of a specification that is not certificated as a separate entity, for example a unit may comprise two separately assessed components such as a written paper and a practical.

Contingency Plans
Although there is no strict definition of ‘disaster’, but it can be viewed as any event that happens with or without warning, which may cause damage to property but which results in severe disruption to the Centre. The contingency plan is simply a tool to help to manage when a disaster has occurred. It should contain information needed and list procedures and actions to ensure the Centre is able to return to back working to full capacity (if necessary, for example in case of a flood or fire, in a different location). It should be generic enough to cover all situations and simple enough to be easy to use and update.

*Controlled assessment
Controlled assessment is similar to coursework as it gives candidates an opportunity to show what they know about a certain topic/area of the subject. It differs, however, in its controls which determine how and where the assessments are completed and what resources can be used.

Tasks undertaken by candidates according to the requirements of a prescribed component of a qualification specification. Normally marked by the candidate’s own teacher according to the awarding organisations’ criteria. This mark is then moderated within the Centre and then moderated by the awarding organisations.

*Coursework/Portfolio internal standardisation meeting
A meeting to ensure that teachers within a Centre or group of Centres apply the same standards in assessing their candidates’ work. If a coursework/portfolio internal standardisation meeting is arranged by an awarding organisation, attendance by at least one teacher from a Centre may be a mandatory requirement. Usually known as moderation.


Data Manager                                                                                                                                       Data managers create database systems that meet an organization's or research team's needs for the data they plan on or have already gathered. The job tasks these managers perform are similar to those commonly conducted by database administrators in big institutions and often work closely with exams officers.

DBS certificate
The document issued following an application to the DBS for a criminal record check which contains the personal information provided by the applicant and the result of the checks undertaken against the relevant data sources.

*Declined grade/certification (option not currently available)
A candidate could reject certification in order to retake individual externally-assessed units, which may improve the overall score for that qualification. Sometimes referred to as ‘declined award’.

Default series
All basedata information related to an exam period. For example, 6G will indicate GCSE entries for the summer examination series. The default setting for the computerised administration system for the series must correspond to this code.

Department for Education. Was DCSF (Department for Children, Schools and Families). Prior to this it was DfES (The Department for Education and Skills). It is the government department responsible for education and lifelong learning in England.

Disaster recovery planning
More usually known as a Contingency Plan

Double Award
A subject where the content and assessment is the equivalent of having taken two subjects at that level. The result for the subject will usually show an identical pair of grades.

Drop-down refunds
A refund to those Centres who have had learners move to, and complete, a smaller BTEC qualification of the same subject and level. The refund due is calculated as the difference between the cost of the larger and smaller qualification, minus an administration fee.

Dual award
A subject where the content and assessment is the equivalent of having taken two subjects at that level. The result for the subject will show two grades which may, or may not, be identical.


E-assessment (also see online assessments)
Electronic assessment, also known as e-assessment, online assessment, computer assisted/mediated assessment and computer-based assessment, is the use of information technology in various forms of assessment such as educational assessment, health assessment, psychiatric assessment, and psychological assessment.

*EAB (gone)
The Examinations Appeals Board no longer exists, and its main function outlined here has been taken over by the Examinations Procedures Review Service, run by OfQual. This independent body was set up in 1999. The EAB is the final stage of the enquiries and appeals process, the earlier stages being carried out by the awarding organisations responsible for the assessment in question. An appeal to the EAB must be made in writing by the Head of Centre.

Now known as Review of Results (RoR). Enquiries about results. First stage of the enquiries and appeals process that allows for clerical checks, re-marks and re-moderations. Available via the post-results services governed by JCQ regulations.

The English Baccalaureate is a school performance measure. For more information see: http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/performance/secondary_11/s4.html

European Computer Driving Licence. An internationally recognised benchmark qualification that demonstrates competence in computer skills.

The EOA Centre Support Service will provide 1:1 support for Exam Officers and their Centres through local visits to Centres as well as by phone and email. The national ECSS is an independent, objective and impartial service run by experts in the field of examination management. These experts are knowledgeable and very experienced in the world of examinations. They are able to provide support, training and advice to all examination Centres throughout the county.

Edexcel (this is the awarding body which operates under the Pearson brand)
An awarding organisation incorporating BTEC and London Examinations.

Electronic data interchange. The file format used when allowing Centres to transmit entry and results data to and from awarding organisations via A2C.

*EDI carrier (replaced by A2C system)
A company that provided the EDI service, for example Research Machines’ Securenet.

*EDSU (disbanded 2010)
Exam Delivery Support Unit. This replaced QCDA and was managed through the National College for Teachers and Leaders (NCTL). ESDU provided key services to the exam community such as their induction programme for new exam office staff and the yellow label service.

The division of the awarding organisation WJEC which administers and provides most of the General Qualifications.


Entry level certificate. Formerly known as the ‘Certificate of Achievement’. An award designed for those candidates who are not yet ready for GCSE and other NQF level qualifications. There are three stages of achievement, broadly in line with national curriculum levels 1-3.

A candidate is eligible for a subject grade if they have completed the required number and combination of units, the details of which can be found in the Information Manuals and Administrative Guides for awarding organisations.

Exams Manager                                                                                                                                     This person may have a number of exams officer staff under them in a bigger institution such as an academy trust or college

A term used by some awarding organisations to mean the use of a unit result in aggregation. An encashed or aggregated unit score may contribute towards a higher-level award. For example, an AS award’s encashed units contribute to an A level award.

Enhanced award (see also Aegrotat and Part Absence)
A term used by some awarding organisations to mean an adjustment made to the terminal grade where a timetabled component was missed through acceptable absence in a terminal series and where the minimum requirements have been met. An application for an enhanced award must be accompanied by appropriate medical evidence that the candidate was unfit to take the paper. (See Special consideration.)

Enhanced DBS check (see DBS check)
Also referred to as an enhanced disclosure. These are for posts that involve a far greater degree of contact with vulnerable groups including children. In general, the type of work will involve regularly caring for, supervising, training or being in sole charge of such people. Examples include a Teacher, Scout or Guide leader

*Enquiry About Results (EAR)
Now known as a Review of Results. A process by which an awarding organisation may be asked to check one or more steps leading to an awarding decision.

The official notification, via a registered Centre, of the units/subjects in which a student wishes to be examined, in a particular series. Each entry has a code which must be used by the school/college when contacting the Awarding Organisation.

Entry code
Usually a four-character code used to make entries for examinations. May have additional characters to identify a particular option or type of assessment. May be numeric or alphanumeric.

Entry deadlines
Dates by which entries must be made for examination series. Later entries will usually be accepted, but only at an extra charge.

Entry files
Electronic files containing exam entries to be sent by A2C. Produced using CMIS and sent by secure transfer system.

Entry information
General information about entry for an examination series.

Entry validation
Process by which an awarding organisation checks the entry data submitted by Centres for an examination series. A way of identifying and resolving errors by reporting any invalid entries back to Centres.

Examination Officer. The individual responsible for the day-to-day management and administration of a Centre’s examination office for GQs and VQs.

EOA international (rebranded in 2019) continues the work of the original EOA created in 1999.
Examination Officers’ Association. The only professional association (created in 2005) of its kind in the world for all personnel who operate examinations in Centres in the UK and abroad. The EOA was formed as an independent, not for profit, charitable organisation whose role is to support the professional development of exam office personnel and lobby for more tranparency across the education and exam sector.

Erratum / Clarification Notice
A notice sent to Centres when a mistake on a question paper has been identified, prior to the examination being sat. The notice is for reading out to the candidates concerned informing them of the action they are to take. The Erratum/Clarification Notice is either attached to the bags of question papers or dispatched to Centres separately.

Estimated entries
Early estimates of entries required by awarding organisations to help them plan ahead, for example in examiner recruitment and numbers of examination papers needed.

Estimated grades (its use and application varies across the AO community)
Grades that a Centre suggests are the expected level of achievement for candidates in their subjects. Used as an aid by awarding organisations when dealing with problems when reviewing grades. Also known as ‘forecast grades’.

Examination cycle
The flow of interconnected examination processes, which begins with collating and gathering information from candidates and academic staff, matching this with data from awarding organisations, making and amending entries, candidates taking the relevant assessment components associated with their course, the awarding process, the issue of results, enquiries about results and appeals.

The Examinations Procedures Review Service was a part of OfQual which dealt with appeals on marks and grades after all other avenues have been explored through the EAR system.

Examination Oracle (for all examination centres with specific use by exams officers)
Exams management tool for the whole centre provided by the EOA to help centres manage their exam system and share expertise and workload

Examination series (always check your Centre’s needs)
The period in which examinations are taken eg:
January – WJEC qualifications / Pearson Edexcel iGCSE
March – some Science components
May/June – all GCSE and GCE AS/A2
November for English and Maths GCSE and most CAIE examinations

Examination session
The period – morning or afternoon – in which an examination takes place. Each session is usually of not more than three hours’ duration.

Examination Office
May refer to an actual office run by a team of exams staff or to an individual.

Examination SEND Service
This is a support service for the exam officers by the EOA.

External assessment
Tasks set or defined by the awarding organisation, taken under specified conditions (which must include details of supervision and duration) and assessed by the awarding organisation.

External Candidate (See also private candidate)
Someone who is not registered as an internal candidate in a given centre because of personal circumstances, eg, behavioural, SEND or is Home Schooled and/or tutored privately (this is often the case for mature candidates who wish to take a qualification later in life to facilitate a career change or progression

Externally Moderated Coursework
Coursework which has been marked by a teacher at the Centre attended by the candidate. The quality of the marking is checked by an external marker called a Moderator.

External Candidate Service
This service has been set up by the iEOA to bridge the gap between centres offering access to take exams in their centre to external candidates.

Extra time candidates
Candidates who have been awarded extra time for examinations based on evidence of their specific learning difficulties. Centres may, provided they have the requisite evidence of need, award up to 25% extra and register this on the Online AAO system time. The evidence must be to hand when visited by a JCQ inspector. Applications for more than 25% extra time must be made in advance to the awarding organisations. (See Access arrangements.)


Federation of Awarding Organisations with over 120 members, mainly in vocational/technical sector.

The charge for each entry. Additional fees are applied to late entries.

Final Timetable
Timetable for examinations issued by an awarding organisation after all amendments have been agreed.

Forecast Grade
See Estimated grades.

Free Standing Mathematics qualifications

Functional Skills
Practical skills in English, ICT and Maths, Functional Skills which show students how to apply subjects to everyday situations.



GCE (A levels)
The General Certificate of Education. This qualification is aimed at post-16 candidates but there are no age restrictions on entry.

General Certificates of Secondary Education are the main school-leaving qualification in England. They are available in a range of subjects and can be studied alongside other qualifications. They are generally sat by 15- to 18-year-olds in schools and colleges but are open to anyone who wants to gain a qualification.

GCSE in Applied subjects
Eight vocationally orientated subjects available since 2002. They are GCSE double awards (ie. twice the size of a single academic GCSE) and were introduced to replace part 1 GNVQ qualifications.

General qualifications (GQs)
Covered by the General Regulation for Approved Centres (known as the Blue book) Broadly, these are GCE and GCSE qualificatuions.

See Guided Learning Hours.

GMB (non teaching union which offers membership to exams officers and other support staff)                          GMB is the trade union for everyone. We have over 620,000 members who work in public services, for private companies, in full and part-time jobs. 

General National Vocational Qualification. Designed for candidates aged 14–16 and post-16 candidates, to provide a broad foundation for training, leading to employment and further and higher education. Replaced by Applied GCSEs and other qualifications.

Good practice
Good practice is something that is considered to be the appropriate target to which all Centres should aspire.

A point on a scale of performance used to record achievement within a qualification (for example, grade A* indicates the highest GCSE achievement on a scale running from A* to G). A new grading system has been introduced in which candidates are awarded a grade from 1 to 9, with 9 being the highest.

Guided Learning Hours
The average amount of contact time that a Centre would typically need to commit to ensure the achievement of a qualification. These are agreed by the awarding organisations in consultation with the regulator and are used, for example by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), in part to allocate funding.


History Aptitude Test. Oxford University admissions test for selection of candidates for all degree courses involving history. Taken in early November. See Admissions Testing Service. Tests for other subjects include:

Classics Admissions Test (CAT)
English Literature Admissions Tests (ELAT)
Geography Admissions Test (GAT)
National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT)
Mathematics Aptitude Test (MAT)
Modern Languages Admissions Test (MLAT)
Oriental Language Test (OLAT)
Physics Aptitude Test (PAT)
Sixth Term Examination Paper (STEP) taken in June
Thinking Skills (TSA)
Some of the above are exclusive to Oxford University, others are used by, inter alia, Cambridge University and are administered by a section of Cambridge Assessmant while LNAT is run by a consortium of universities and administered by Pearson

Head of Centre (HoC)
The Head of Centre is the most senior member of an education/ training organisation, usually the headteacher or principal of a school/college. The Head of Centre is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the administration and conduct of awarding organisation examinations, though in practice this responsibility is delegated to the Examination Officer.

Head of Department (HoD) or Head of Faculty or Head of Subject (HoS)
The usual point of contact between Examination Officers and a particular subject Department/Faculty. A member of that department/faculty may be in charge of a particular qualification type, such as GCE, GCSE. and vocational/technical qualifications. The precise title varies from school to school.

Head of Year (HoY)
Head of year (Pastoral Managers, Year Coordinator, Head of House) These managers (their title will vary from school to school depending on the way in which the school is structured) are responsible for the social welfare of the pupils within their year group or house. They will manage their team of form tutors who deal with pupil attendance and welfare.


ICE booklet (JCQ)
See Instructions for Conducting Examinations. (usually yellow in colour)

Information and Communication Technology.

iEOA (now the EOA international)
The EOA was temporarily renamed the International Examination Officers’ Association in September 2017 to continue the work of the original EOA created in 1999 supporting centres, teaching staff and student outcomes.

Independent assessment
Assessment carried out in a manner that is demonstrably independent of any individual who might have a vested interest in the outcome.

The process by which new staff are provided with training, made welcome in the Centre, introduced to colleagues and helped to start their new job in a committed and productive frame of mind.

The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) offers a broad curriculum that develops students’ skills, thinking and knowledge. The iGCSE is widely recognised by higher education institutions and employers around the world. As an academic qualification it is equivalent, grade for grade, to GCSE. iGCSEs offer progression to A Level, BTEC vocational courses, and other similar qualifications that are recognised internationally and by the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

In Service Education and Training. The education and training activities engaged in by Centre employees following their induction and intended mainly or exclusively to improve their professional knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

Instructions for Conducting Examinations (ICE)
Instructions drawn up by the JCQ in order to rationalise procedures for the conduct of examinations in examination Centres. Reissued in September every year, the most up-to-date version should be in use (often referred to as the Yellow Book).

OCR’s secure extranet, which allows Centres to make entries, view results and apply for post-results services.

Internal Appeals Process or Procedure
The JCQ require all Centres to have an appeals policy to show their JCQ inspectors.

Internal assessment
A form of assessment that does not meet the definition of external assessment for a general or vocationally related qualification or the definition of independent assessment for an occupational qualification.

Internally Assessed Coursework
Coursework which is assessed by a teacher at the Centre attended by the candidate submitting the material

Internal Assessment Mark Sheet (MS1) this is being replaced by online form and procedures.
Form used to record and submit coursework marks to an awarding organisation.

Internal standardisation
Process carried out by teachers in relation to internally-assessed work to ensure that all candidates are judged against the same standards, across different assessors and teaching groups. A mandatory requirement. (See Coursework/Portfolio internal standardisation meeting.)

A privately maintained computer network that can be accessed only by authorised persons, especially members or employees of the organisation that owns it.

A suitably qualified person appointed usually by the exams officer through a centres HR system who is responsible for the conduct of particular examination sessions. Invigilators have to work closely with and often report to the Examination Manager/Officer.


The Joint Council for Qualifications which includes AQA, CCEA, City & Guilds, Pearson/Edexcel, OCR, NCFE, SQA and WJEC. A forum of examining boards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, working to create common standards, regulations and guidance on exams delivery and provide the GQ results service in August.


*Key skills (no longer available)
A suite of six national qualifications: Application of Number, Communication, Information and Communication Technology, Working with Others, Improving Own Learning and Performance and Problem Solving at levels 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

Key stages
The national curriculum is organised on the basis of five key stages. The key stages apply to pupils in the following age ranges: foundation stage: under-5s; stage 1: 5-7; stage 2: 7-11; stage 3: 11-14; and stage 4: 14-16.

Key Time (for CAIE)
A time, defined by the location and country of a Centre, stipulated by Cambridge, when all candidates taking timetabled exams must either be in an exam or under Full Centre Supervision. The Key Time will always be expressed as GMT/UTC.


Late award
An application for a A-level or new GCSE subject award made up to four weeks after results publication..

Late entry fees
Each exam series has an entry deadline and high late fee date. Awarding organisations will charge late entry fees if entries are made after the deadline, and late or high late fees if units are added or if there is a change of unit option.

LEA (now known LAs or Local Authorities)
Local Education Authority has been replaced with the term LA, Local Authority

LEA (now LA) ICT support
Some LAs still provide ICT support. The strategy is focused on an audit of need and is appropriately focused on raising attainment in ICT capability and in the use of ICT in the curriculum. The strategy is also linked with the use of ICT for management and administration.

LEA (now LA) re-modelling adviser
In every LEA there is a remodelling adviser who coordinates remodelling training for schools and who is the key contact for schools seeking guidance on any element of the agenda.

Live exam periods

Qualifications accredited by QCA are assigned recognised levels from 1–8 based on the levels of the national qualifications framework (NQF) (eg. an A level is accredited at level 3 on the NQF). All qualifications assigned the same level are broadly comparable with each other (Visit www.gov.uk/what-different-qualification-levels-mean for more information)

Level 1 and Level 2 Certificate Qualifications
These are designed to provide the skills, knowledge and understanding to prepare students for working life. Level 1 is equivalent to GCSE grades D-G and Level 2 is equivalent to GCSE grades A*-C.

Line manager
A member of the senior leadership team who acts as liaison between it and the Examination Officer in the smooth running of the exams office.

Linear examination
An examination in which all examination components are taken in one examination series. This approach has replaced a modular model used to deliver general qualifications.

Law National Admissions Test. A uniform test to be taken by all candidates applying to do law at eight English universities. Designed to provide an assessment of a candidate’s potential for law degree courses. Taken in early November. Participating universities: Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, East Anglia, Nottingham, Oxford and University College London.

LSC (now ‘Skills Funding Agency’)
Learning and Skills Council. Responsible for funding and planning education and training for over-16-year-olds in England.


Malpractice (definition - a deliberate act to cheat)
The infringement by candidates, administrators or teachers of the regulations governing the conduct of external examinations. Must be reported to an awarding organisation and may lead to a candidate being disqualified from one or more examinations and/or to a Centre being de-registered.

Maladministration (an administrative mistake which could lead to a more serious malpractice scenario)
An action by a Centre or its staff that breaks regulations and potentially threatens the integrity of examinations or disadvantage candidates.

The total score or individual points given by an examiner.


MIR (missing and incomplete results)
A post-results service which allows Centres to query missing results, partial absence and cases where no results have been received.

Management information systems. MIS is a formalised computer information system that can integrate data from various sources to provide the information necessary for decision-making at management level.


External moderation is the process by which internal assessment is monitored by an awarding organisation to ensure that it is reliable, fair and consistent with required standards. Usually done by sampling a Centre’s coursework/portfolios across the range of candidates and teaching staff. May lead to an adjustment to a Centre’s coursework/portfolio marks (see also internal standardization). Centres are required to have a similar process in place that is undertaken before marks are submitted. This is known as internal standardisation or internal moderation.

An examiner who checks a sample of a Centre’s coursework in a particular subject. This is to ensure that the marks awarded by the Centre conform to the standards set by an awarding organisation. A Moderator may upgrade or downgrade the marks awarded by the Centre.

A self-contained unit of teaching in a modular specification that is assessed and reported to candidates.

*Module bank (not in current use)
A database of module results achieved by candidates over a number of previous examination series.

*Modular examination (have been replaced by linear exams)
GCE, GCSE, or key skills scheme of assessment components could be taken over more than one examination series (as opposed to a linear examination.

*Module code
Code that identifies part of a specification entry.


*NAA (2004 – 2008)
The National Assessment Agency. Tasked with developing and delivering high-quality national curriculum tests and supervising the delivery and modernisation of general examinations. Replaced by QCDA in 2008.

*NAA Field Support Officers or Centre Support Officers
Regionally based teams that provided on-the-spot support and advice to Exams Officers and Centres and acted as the promotional service for the government Diploma Programme.

NASUWT (teaching union)
National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers. Union representing teachers and headteachers throughout the UK.

National Agreement on Raising Standards and Tackling Workload
Targets a progressive reduction in teachers’ overall hours by removing administrative and clerical tasks, like those of the exams office, from their routine. Signed by the Government, employers and school workforce unions.

National Education Union (NEU)
In 2017 the ATL joined with the National Union of Teachers to form the NEU with the first joint conference to be held in 2019. This is the biggest teaching union in the country to which the EOA is affiliated.

National Occupational Standards
Standards of occupational competence developed by a standards-setting body and approved by the regulatory authorities.

Non Examined Assessment or Non External Assessment – replacing coursework or controlled assessment format.

The National College of School Leadership. Provides career-long learning and development opportunities for England’s existing and aspiring school leaders.

Notices to Centres
Issued by JCQ to inform Centres of key information regarding dates and procedures common to all the awarding organisations. Issued in September. These may also be issued by awarding organisations..

NQF (now Qualifications and Credit Framework)
National Qualifications Framework. The framework for qualifications available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Designed to organise and ensure the quality of general, vocational and occupational qualifications. From September 2004, a nine-level framework including entry level.

NUT (see NEU)
The National Union of Teachers was founded as the National Union of Elementary Teachers (NUET) for all teachers in England and Wales in June 1870, the year that Forster’s Education Act set up elected local school boards to build elementary schools. In 1888 it became the National Union of Teachers. From 400 members when it was founded, the NUT grew rapidly. Between 1895 and 1910 it doubled in size to become a substantial union with 68,000 members in 516 local associations.

National Vocational Qualification. Qualifications that reflect the skills, knowledge and understanding an individual possesses in relation to a specific area of work.


Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations. An awarding organisation which is part of Cambridge Assessment

OCR Regional Support Team
OCR have regionally based teams to provide support and guidance The Exams Office. OCR send representatives to independent Exams Officers network meetings.

OCR Repository
A secure website, accessed via Interchange, which allows Centres to upload candidate work for marking or moderation.

The Office for Standards in Education. Headed by the Office of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools in England.


Online assessment
In its broadest sense, e-assessment is the use of information technology for any assessment-related activity. This definition embraces a wide range of student activity stretching from the use of a word processors to on-screen testing. Due to its obvious similarity to e-learning, the term e-assessment is becoming widely used as a generic term to describe the use of computers within the assessment process. Specific types of e-assessment include computerised adaptive testing and computerised classification testing. An e-testing system designed to focus on lower level associations comprises two components: (1) an assessment engine; and (2) an item bank. An assessment engine comprises the hardware and software required to create and deliver a test. Most e-testing engines run on standard hardware so the key characteristic is the software's functionality. There is a wide range of software packages. The software does not include the questions themselves; these are provided by an item bank.

Onscreen assessment
Onscreen exams can be held anywhere where there is an internet connection, providing they are run according to the conditions specified by the procedures document for the awarding organisation being used. Centres need to ensure that the latest version of the awarding organisation software is installed on all computers that will be used by learners.

When making entries, there may be several options which a candidate can choose. The option can represent a choice between papers, a choice between tiers or a choice between methods of moderation.

Option code
The code given to specify available combinations of components within each syllabus and administrative zone.


Part Absence Award
See Aegrotat Award

Pastoral Manager
See Head of Year (HoY)


Pearson is a commercial company which absorbed Edexcel and is therefore now one of the Awarding Bodies.

Performance Tables (league tables)
Statistics about school and college performance, including test results, teacher assessments, Ofsted reports and financial information for academies. These can be used to compare schools in a particular area.

Personal Learning Record Service
This is a Skills Funding Agency (SFA) initiative designed to help learners access their academic and vocational achievement data so that data can be more effectively shared between learners, education providers, training providers and employers. All learners over the age of 16 can log onto a secure website to access their PLR, assuming they have a ULN. The PLR is populated with data direct from awarding organisations.

Pirate entries (see also Late entries)
These occur when candidates, who for some reason have not been entered, sit the examination and their papers appear in the examiners' envelopes for marking.

Formerly the Annual School Census (ASC). The DfES’s largest and most complex data collection exercise. The PLASC differs from the ASC in that the information is provided as an individual candidate record, including the candidate’s name, unique pupil number (UPN), key stage and examination results. Introduced in January 2002 and a statutory requirement under section 537A of the Education Act 1996. PLASC provides essential information to the DfES regarding national policy implementation and the monitoring of standards.

A portfolio is a collection of internally assessed work that a candidate completes. A unit portfolio refers to the work required to satisfy the assessment requirements for an individual unit. A full portfolio includes all the internally assessed work required to complete the qualification. (See Coursework and Internal standardisation.)

Post-results services
Services provided by awarding organisations following JCQ requirements for enquiring about results (clerical checks, re-marks and re-moderations), access to scripts, etc.

Preliminary material
Sometimes referred to as pre-release material, these are documents released to students before their exam e.g. case study material and guidance notes for projects/assignments.

*Procedures and Rules (Entry, Aggregation and Certification)
A JCQ publication that sets out the rules and principal administrative requirements for GCE, GCSE and vocational qualifications introduced from September 2000.

A responsible adult who may sit beside the candidate in order to keep his or her attention on the task in hand. (See Access arrangements and Special consideration.)

Provisional timetable
Timetable issued by an awarding organisation to inform Centres and candidates of likely examination dates. Usually issued at least 12 months in advance of the series and designed to enable Centres to plan and comment on any problems that may arise from it.

Private candidates (or external candidates)
A private candidate (as opposed to an internal candidate registered within the centre) in the UK examination system is a person who enters an examination but is not enrolled as a learner at the Centre (school or college) where he or she sits the exam. Private candidates or external candidates may be independent adult learners and/or Home Educated students. The term ‘private’ must not be interpreted solely as someone who has extensive funding backup and has chosen to opt out of mainstream educational establishments.


The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. Established in 1997 to provide an integrated quality assurance service for UK higher education.

Qualification Accreditation Number –the qualification approval number issued by the relevant regulatory authority (QCA, ACCAC, CCEA).

*QCA (split in 2008 into OfQual and QCDA)
The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. A non-departmental public body, sponsored by DfES. Maintains and develops the national curriculum and associated assessments, tests and examinations, and accredits and maintains qualifications in colleges and at work.

Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency was formed from the old NAA in 2008 and closed in 2010 to become the Exams Development Support Unit (EDSU)

A certificate of achievement or competence specifying the awarding organisation, qualification type and title.

Qualifications and Credit Framework
Qualifications that use the QCF rules are made up of units. This provides flexible ways to get a qualification. Each unit has a credit value which tells how many credits are awarded when a unit is completed. The credit value also gives an indication of how long it will normally take a candidate to prepare for a unit or qualification. One credit will usually take 10 hours of learning. Units build up to qualifications. There are three different types of qualification in the QCF: Award, Certificate and Diploma. An Award require 1 to 12 credits; for a Certificate it will need 13 – 36 credits and for a Diploma it will need at least 37 credits. Units and qualifications are each given a level according to their difficulty, from entry level to level 8. The title of a qualification will tell its size and level.

Qualification category
A group of qualifications with broadly similar purposes, for example vocational qualifications, academic qualifications.

Qualification type
A group of qualifications with distinctive structural characteristics, for example GCE, GCSE.


A responsible adult who reads the questions to the candidate. (See Access arrangements and Special consideration.)

Registration (Centre)
A process by which a Centre wishing to offer particular qualifications is recorded as having committed itself to maintain the required quality of consistency of assessment and comply with other expectations of the awarding organisation. This is held by OCR who manage the Awarding Organisations NCN data base.

*Raise online (closed 31/07/2017 and is being replaced by Analyse School Performance)
RAISEonline is an acronym for Reporting and Analysis for Improvement through School Self-Evaluation and can be accessed online at www.raiseonline.org. It is an interactive tool produced by Ofsted and the Department for Education to provide interactive analysis of school and pupil performance data. It aims to provide a common set of analyses for schools, local authorities and inspectors.

The formal process that is operated whereby organisations which wish to offer regulated qualifications can demonstrate they meet the Recognition Criteria. It is a robust gateway into the regulated marketplace. Only applicants who meet the criteria in full will be recognised.

Regulatory authority
An organisation that works with others to maintain and develop criteria for awarding organisations and their qualifications and defines an accreditation process for awarding organisations to follow. (See QCA, ACCAC and CCEA.)

Regulated qualification − a qualification is said to be regulated after it has been accredited. An accredited qualification is one that has met the relevant criteria as set by the regulators of qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. On accreditation, a qualification will be issued with a Qualification Accreditation Number, and specific dates set for the period for which the qualification will be accredited.

A term often used to describe a Service 2 RoR (formerly EAR during which a candidate’s script is clerically checked and then has the marking of it reviewed by a senior examiner. Marks may stay the same, go up or go down.

Post Results Service 3 during which a Centre’s coursework submission is re-moderated. Re-moderated marks may stay the same, go up or go down. Candidates’ subject grades may only be confirmed or raised but a lowered mark may be taken forward for future certification.

Result files
Electronic files that contain examination results, sent by awarding organisations to Centres to enable results to be imported into CMIS for processing and analysis.

The Royal Society of Arts. The separate examination board (RSA EB, established 1987) merged with other examination boards to form OCR in 1997.


Scheme of assessment
The set of examination components –including terminal examinations and coursework –through which candidates’ achievement in relation to a particular qualification are determined.

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework. Equivalent to the NQF in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scribe (See also ‘amanuensis’).
A person who writes down what the candidate dictates when the candidate is unable to write. Permission is required from an awarding organisation in advance, though it can be given at short notice for unexpected occurrences. (See Access arrangements and Special consideration.)

Once a question paper or answer book has been completed by a candidate, it is referred to as a script.

Series (See also examination series)
A group of examinations in the same range, for example GCE, GCSE, with a common closing date for entries. The series is defined with a series year, code and name.

SEN or SEND candidates
Special Educational Needs candidates as defined in the Education Act 1996. Candidates who have a record of specific learning difficulties and whose learning is assisted by a special educational needs department. Such candidates may need access arrangements and/or special consideration. The D is used when the term is intended to cover candidates with a disability other than a specific learning difficulty.

Special Educational Needs Coordinator. A designated teacher responsible for the day-to-day operation of the school’s special educational needs (SEN) policy. SENCOs manage the learning provision of pupils and candidates with SEN, or those who need the assistance of a special educational needs department. The D is used when the coordinator is also responsible for pupils with a disability other than a specific learning difficulty. (See Access arrangements and Special consideration.)

Senior Leadership Team(SLT)
Members of the senior leadership team. In some Centres this group is known as the Senior Management Team.

Senior Management Team
See Senior Leadership Team.

A period in a day in which an examination may take place, i.e. am or pm. Each session is usually of not more than three hours’ duration.

Shelf life
The length of time for which a unit or qualification is accredited. Unless informed to the contrary, current specifications have indefinite shelf lives but a specification may be phased out in the future and notice will be given of the final series when examinations for that subject will be set.

Skills Funding Agency

See Senior leadership team.

Senior management team. See Senior Leadership Team

Special consideration
Consideration given to candidates who have experienced difficulties close to or during examinations. Applications for special consideration must be made to the relevant awarding organisation within seven days of the last paper in a subject being taken.

Special Requirements
Some candidates have special requirements which have to be met by awarding organisations. By meeting these special requirements candidates are able to access examinations without being given an unfair advantage or being at a disadvantage. Special Requirements are normally made known to awarding organisations before an examination series is underway. Examples of special requirements include enlarged (modified) question papers, or candidates being given access to word processors rather than having to write answers manually. See also Access Arrangements.

The complete description – including optional and mandatory aspects – of the content, assessment arrangements and performance requirements for a qualification. A subject specification forms the basis of a course leading to an award or certificate. Formerly known as a ‘syllabus’.

Specification code
A four-digit code that identifies a specification.

Scottish Qualifications Authority. The national body in Scotland responsible for the development, accreditation, assessment and certification of qualifications other than degrees. Formed 1 April 1997.

Staged assessment
Assessment arrangements that test candidates’ understanding of the connections between the different elements of a subject.

Standards review
An investigation and report on the consistency of standards of awards across awarding organisations or over time in a particular subject or sector.

Standards-setting body
An organisation – usually a national training organisation – recognised by the regulatory authorities as responsible for formulating standards of competence for an employment sector and keeping them under review.

A process by which awarding organisations ensure that assessment criteria is applied consistently by teachers, examiners and moderators.

Statement of Entry
A document showing school/college and student information, the qualifications entered and exam details.

Statement of Results
A statement of provisional results provided to students on results publication day.


Subject award
The overall grade for a subject.

Subject Officer (also known as an ‘assessment leader’).
A member of staff of an awarding organisation who is responsible for the administration of one or more specifications. The first point of contact when enquiring about a specific subject qualification.

Succession planning
A process by which one or more successors are identified for key posts and career moves and/or development activities are planned for these successors. Successors may be fairly ready to do the job (short-term successors) or seen as having longer-term potential (long-term successors).

Support Staff
Centre staff who are not teachers. However, within the teaching community literature support staff actually mean teaching support staff often have no reference to other support staff such as exams officers.

See Specification.

Synoptic assessment
A form of assessment that tests candidates’ understanding of the connections between the different elements of a subject. Advanced level award specifications include a mandatory synoptic assessment.


Teaching Exams Officer (TEO)
An Exams Officer who is a member of the teaching staff at the Centre.

Technical Awards (Key stage 4)
Technical Awards are broad, high-quality level 1 and level 2 qualifications in non-English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects that equip students with applied knowledge and associated practical skills not usually acquired through general education. Technical Awards may focus on applied study of an industry sector or occupational group, or the acquisition of practical or technical skills. These qualifications will fulfil entry requirements for both academic and vocational study post-16, alongside GCSEs

Technical Certificates and Tech Levels
Technical Certificates and Tech Levels – level 2 and 3 qualifications that equip post-16 students with the knowledge and skills they need for skilled employment or for further technical study.

Terminal examination
An examination component taken by a candidate on completion of a course that is set and marked externally.

Terminal series
The series in which certification is requested.

Tier (GCSE)
A level of entry at GCSE that offers a restricted range of grades. Adjacent tiers for a given specification have overlapping grades. Where a specification has tiers there are normally two, one that assesses grades 9 to 4 or A* to D (higher tier) and one that assesses grades 1 to 5 or C to G (foundation).

Time management
A self-management programme that targets results rather than just being busy. Embraces the ability to plan, delegate, organise, direct and control.

Timetable clash
Term used to describe timetabling two or more examinations in different subjects in the same session. Can often be resolved without reference to the awarding organisation but an application may be required. (See JCQ Instructions for conducting examinations.)

Timetable deviation
Arrangements proposed by the Head of Centre to resolve any timetable clashes.

The field of study or occupational area associated with a qualification.

Top-Up fees
A top-up fee is charged when a learner who has completed a qualification and received a certificate wants to extend this to a larger qualification from the same specification

A transcript is a copy of a candidate’s script made after the examination has taken place and without the participation of the candidate. Used where a candidate’s handwriting is illegible or so difficult to read that it would be beneficial for an examiner to refer to a transcript of the candidate’s work for clarification.

Transfer of credit                                                                                                                                   GCE AS candidates who move to another Centre or who, for other reasons, have to change their programme of study part way through a modular GCE A-level course may be eligible to transfer a GCE AS award between specifications and/or awarding organisations. The specifications must have the same subject titles, under arrangements agreed between the regulators and the Joint Council for Qualifications.

TSA (only Oxford University)
Thinking skills assessment. A test developed by UCLES (Administered by Assessment Testing Service) as a means of providing additional information on which to base admission decisions.. Cambridge have their own internal TSA.


University and Colleges Admissions Service for candidates applying to UK universities.

UCLES (now Cambridge Assessment)
University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate. A department of the University of Cambridge. The UCLES group comprises three business units, each with a distinct product range and group of customers: Cambridge ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), CAIE (Cambridge International Examinations) and OCR.

Unique candidate identifier. Unique number allocated to a candidate by a Centre that must be supplied when entering for units or certification. A 13-character identifier which can be generated by the CMIS and usually consists of the Centre number, a year reference number, the candidate number and an alphabetical check digit, for example 251380019999G. UCIs are essential for processing candidates’ entries if they have transferred from another Centre where they have already taken examinations.

Unique Learner Number has been created to replace all other methods of tracking learners in the system and is being adopted by all Centres from 2014. See Personal Learning Record.

Uniform Mark Scale. A scale that converts raw modular examination marks into a common (uniform) scale to use in the modular or unitised assessment system. An inter-board agreed scale.

The classification for those who do not achieve the minimum grade requirement.

*Uniform Mark Scale

UNISON (non teaching union which promotes exams officers as admin staff only)
Union for support staff working in schools, sixth form and further education colleges.

The smallest part of a qualification for which results can be issued. A unit may comprise separately assessed components.

Unit code
Usually a four-character code identifying a unit entry. Also known as ‘entry code’ or ‘module code’.

*Unitised examination (not currently in use)
A specification that is in separately assessed self-contained units that may be taken over several examination series – the same as a modular examination.

UNITE (non teaching union offer membership to exams office and other support staff)                                   Unite's vision is of a prosperous society in which employers and employees work together to build successful businesses and safe, healthy working environments. All those who contribute to our success receive the rewards, respect and recognition they deserve. 

Unique Pupil Number. A unique 13-character identifier allocated to each candidate in England on first entry to school. Introduced to maintained schools in 1999/2000 to facilitate the tracking of candidates’ progress through the school system. A UPN consists of a check letter, the LEA code, the DfES number of the school, the academic year when the UPN is allocated, and a serial number allocated by the school, for example Q855 6012 9999. Generated by CMIS. Note: this is not the same as a UCI.


A measure of the progress that schools and colleges help individual candidates make between different stages of education, for example between key stage 3 and key stage 4.

*VCE (term not in current use)
Vocational Certificate of Education. Vocational 3- or 6-unit A levels (equivalent to GCE AS and A2) or 12-unit A levels (equivalent to two GCEs), designed for post-16 candidates to provide a foundation for training leading to employment or further and higher education. These were revised with an AS/A2 structure for first teaching in September 2005 and were renamed GCEs in Applied Subjects.

Vocational and technical qualifications (V/TQs)
Some vocational qualifications involve a single day′s training and others may take two years full time study to achieve. In every case, the qualification will set out the requirements for the number of guided learning hours. When this has been done to the required standard the awarding organisation will issue a qualification certificate. High numbers of vocationally related qualifications and National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) continue to expire. These qualifications have been available for some time and are now approaching their expiry dates.

Verification of results
A service offered by Cambridge if a candidate or another institution, such as an employer or university, wants to verify results issued by Cambridge.

VOICE (teaching Union that accepts exams officers)
Voice is the union for education professionals, and they speak up for everyone, from teachers, lecturers, nursery nurses and nannies, to head teachers and school support staff, including teaching assistants, technicians and administrators and students.


Was a Workforce Agreement Monitoring Group. A unique partnership of ten organisations representing employers, the Government and school workforce unions as Signatories of the National Agreement signed on 15 January 2003. Much of this activity has been unpicked with the creation of academies and the decline in Local Authority influence.

The contribution that an examination component or other defined part of a scheme of assessment makes to the overall assessment.

Welsh Joint Education Committee/Cyd-Bwyllgor Addysg Cymru. An awarding organisation regulated by ACCAC in Wales, QCA in England and CCEA in Northern Ireland. All administration documents and examination papers issued by WJEC are available in English and Welsh.

The cancellation of an entry made as an amendment to entry via as school/college.


The mark for those absent from a particular exam. The UMS mark for ‘X’ is zero.