T Levels autumn assessment series – what you need to know | NCFE

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T Levels autumn assessment series – what you need to know

As your provider has students registered for either the core exams or Employer Set Project (ESP) in the autumn assessment series, we wanted to share some useful reminders with you to help ensure these assessments go smoothly. 

As a reminder, we’ve changed how students can take the core exam and ESP in their first attempt, therefore you may have students sitting or resitting one or both subcomponents. The booking cut-off for all assessments has now passed and any bookings made now will be subject to late booking fees. Please see below for more information on reasonable adjustments and special considerations for all assessments, and guidance specific to the ESP and core exams. 

We want to remind you that Wednesday 22 November was the deadline for Employer Set Project (ESP) digital evidence upload for the autumn series T Levels in Digital Business Services, Digital Support Services, Health and Healthcare Science. The upload deadline for Science and Education and Early Years is Wednesday 29 November. Please view the information under 'ESP key reminders - post-assessment - when to upload' for information on how you can check your evidence has been uploaded. 

Reasonable adjustments should be put in place before the assessment takes place to reduce the effect of a disability or difficulty that places students at a substantial disadvantage during an assessment. They should be declared at the point of registration but can be added to the Portal up to the date of the assessment. 

Special considerations are intended to support students who face an unexpected disadvantage at the time of an assessment for reasons outside of their control. Requests can be applied for after an assessment, but the deadline is five working days following the date of the assessment or the last day of a window.  

Employer Set Project (ESP) key reminders 

  • You can access assessment material digitally via the NCFE Portal. This will be available three working days prior to the assessment, unless otherwise specified in the Key Dates Schedule. These materials will include advanced assessment materials where available, and provider guides including checklists to support you with evidence upload. 
  • Please ensure you check the Key Dates Schedule and provider guides for requirements and completion deadlines, as some pathways have specified dates and times for tasks within the window. 
  • You should test recording equipment prior to assessments to ensure there are no issues on the day. You should also have back-up systems and processes in place to ensure recordings are carried out, saved and stored securely. Please contact us immediately on 0191 239 8000 if you encounter any issues. 

Below we’ve set out the steps you can take, and guidance to follow, to ensure this process is as smooth and seamless as possible for you and your colleagues.

Where to upload evidence
  • The location for evidence upload is within the NCFE Portal. To upload evidence, please navigate to the Upload Learner Submissions option from the Bookings menu. This will open a screen allowing you to search for students by assessment, batch, name, ULN, or a number of other options.
  • You’ll only be able to upload evidence for students with a booking. If a student has no booking, please contact our Customer Support team. Do not attempt to upload their evidence against a different student.
How to upload
  • Once an assessment is selected, the menu can be expanded to show all students booked onto that assessment in your centre.
  • Select the upload button on the far right of a student record and this will open the option for uploading, or deleting, files for this student.
  • Select the view submission button to review what has been uploaded.
  • Files can be uploaded one by one, or up to 10 at a time, for each individual student. We strongly advise that files are no larger than 1GB. Larger files will take longer to upload. The maximum individual file size is 2GB, and you will receive an error message for files larger than 2GB. Our upload guidance document shows how to manage file sizes. Unless otherwise stated within the assessment requirements, there is rarely a need for assessment activities such as professional discussions, presentations, or roleplays to be recorded in 4k or equivalent quality.  Lower quality options, such as 720p, are sufficient to capture the key requirements of these assessment activities and allow students to be assessed accurately and consistently without having a significant file size attached to them. 
  • Our Qualification Specific Instructions for Delivery (QSID) document and our upload guidance document show the acceptable file types. Incompatible file types will generate an error message at the point of upload.
  • Once all files are uploaded for a student, the files must be submitted to us. This is done by clicking the submit for marking button and confirming the declaration.
When to upload
  • You have three working days from the final day of an ESP window to complete the upload process for all your students. After this date, the Portal will lock, and uploads can only be made by exception.
  • Wednesday 22 November was the deadline for Employer Set Project (ESP) digital evidence upload for the autumn series T Levels in Digital Business Services, Digital Support Services, Health and Healthcare Science. The upload deadline for Science and Education and Early Years is Wednesday 29 November, but the below reminder also applies.
  • If you had students booked onto these assessments for the autumn series, your evidence should have now been uploaded via our Portal. We’d like to make sure that, before any checks NCFE carries out, you’ve taken all necessary steps to ensure that evidence uploaded is complete, and all files have been shared. Therefore, if you have not done so already, there is still time to log into the Portal and review all files uploaded. To do this, you’ll need to log into the Portal, navigate to the ‘Upload Learner Submissions’ tab, navigate to the relevant students, and click ‘view submissions’. You can’t add or amend files after the deadline, but please contact us using the details below if you identify any missing or incorrect files.
  • If your students were booked onto the ESP this series but did not complete it, please ensure you’ve notified us by submitting a completed and signed invigilator’s register, also uploaded via the Portal.  
What to upload
  • Evidence requirements are outlined in the assessment brief for students, and the checklists available alongside them.
  • Students’ evidence must be clearly labelled following the prescribed naming conventions within the assessment brief, or the Qualification Specific Instructions for Delivery (QSID) document.
  • Alongside student evidence, each student must also submit a signed and dated declaration (External Assessment Cover Sheet).
  • At batch level, a completed and signed invigilator’s register must also be uploaded.
Upload checks
  • After upload but before submission to NCFE, we strongly recommend that you check that all files intended to be uploaded are present for each student. This can be done by clicking the view submission button, and this is an opportunity to remove or amend files prior to submission.
  • We’ve made improvements to the Portal to support you through the upload process. This includes:
    • a new progress bar for uploads to show the percentage of evidence uploaded
    • confirmation once a file has been successfully uploaded
    • an error message to show if a file has failed to upload.

This will help give further reassurance that files have been successfully uploaded, or flag issues to retry.


  • We’ve reviewed our Portal capacity and upload speeds to make uploading as efficient as possible for you, but upload speeds can still be influenced by file size and your own local internet speed. Please be patient when larger files are taking longer to upload, and retry if they fail. The smaller the file, the faster the upload, so we always encourage you to avoid creating unnecessarily large files.
  • Evidence must be uploaded three working days after the closure of the assessment window. This has been extended from two days in summer 2023. We’ve made this change to give you more time as we understand some providers found it challenging last year to upload all the evidence before the deadline.
  • We’ll check the evidence after it has been uploaded, and if necessary, we’ll let you know if there is any missing or corrupt evidence or if there are any other problems with the evidence you have uploaded. We’ll apply strict timescales to our review and response, minimising any risk to students’ results.

Core exams key reminders

As a reminder, students must complete both core papers A and B in the same series for all attempts, with a core exam sub-component result based on the combined outcomes within a series. They can’t split their attempts on each paper across different series, or resit just one of the two core exam papers.  

  • You’ll receive papers from three working days prior to each assessment. 
  • Please return papers using the Yellow Label service. Papers must be returned after each assessment, and you should not, for example, retain paper A papers to return alongside paper B papers.  
  • There is no need to return unused assessment papers. 
Before the assessment
  • All online assessments take place in the Surpass software called SecureClient. This should be installed on all machines being used during this assessment series.  
  • This software must be opened at least one day before the first assessment to ensure any recent software updates are automatically downloaded. This will avoid delays for students on the morning of the first assessment. 
  • Additional time, relating to a student’s assessed Reasonable Adjustment (of which NCFE must have been notified), is not automatically added to the student’s online assessments. You must add this time before the assessment starts. This can be done when the assessment is in the invigilate screen. More information can be found on page 70 of our T Level Portal and Online Assessment User Guide
  • Invigilators must: 
  • be prepared for sharing keycodes with students 
  • understand the conditions under which the assessment must be completed 
  • understand the flexibility of start times (up to 30 minutes prior to, or later than, the published start time of the assessment). The assessment window will show in the system as being available from 08:00 to 16:00, but this is NOT the window to start the assessment. The start date and time can be found in the Key Dates Schedule, which must be followed unless prior approval is requested and confirmed by NCFE. 
  • know what to do if students arrive late (more information can be found in section 21 of the NCFE Regulations for the Conduct of External Assessment
  • understand the monitoring icons and what they mean (more information can be found on page 69 of the T Level Portal and Online Assessment User Guide). 
After the assessment
  • Students can finish the assessment themselves by completing and closing the assessment, or the assessment will automatically finish once the allocated time has elapsed.  
  • Once completed, assessments must be uploaded to NCFE. Please note that this happens automatically for assessments completed live. Offline assessments must be uploaded immediately after the assessment by connecting the computer used for the assessment to the internet and opening the SecureClient software. Successful upload can be confirmed in the invigilation screen which will show a green tick to show this has been uploaded
  • Assessments not started due to the student not attending will be automatically voided and their booking status marked as ‘Did Not Attend’ in the NCFE Portal.  
Responding to issues during the assessment

We have no reason to believe that there will be any issues for online assessments during the autumn series. However, you should be aware and prepared with the following key points ahead of any assessments starting. 

Loss of internet 

  • If a student’s computer loses internet access during the assessment, the assessment may be affected – if this happens, the internet connection will need to be restored and the keycode re-entered into the same device for the student to continue the assessment. 
  • You’ll need to ensure that the internet is reconnected to allow the completed assessment to be uploaded to NCFE once the student has finished. 
  • if you feel your internet connection may not be reliable, we'd highly recommend downloading the assessment beforehand to be sat offline (at the same published date and time, and under the same required conditions). 

Computer crash 

  • If a computer crashes during an assessment, the assessment will pause with time stopped at the point of the crash, and you’ll be able to restart when the computer restarts. Students can restart from the point prior to the crash, with no loss of time. If this happens, students should remain under invigilated conditions, and you should minimise the disruption to other students. 

Pausing assessments 

  • If needed, an invigilator can pause a live assessment in the invigilate screen to minimise the impact of, or investigate, any minor disruption. If this occurs, students must remain under invigilated conditions, and invigilators must ensure students are not talking, or accessing any revision materials or notes during this pause.  
  • Pausing and restarting also pauses and restarts the assessment time, ensuring students can still access the whole time available for the assessment. 

Significant disruption 

  • If there’s a significant incident with the online assessment platform which impacts a student’s ability to complete an online assessment, you must contact us immediately on 0191 240 8862. If you can, you may wish to pause the assessment during this time.  
  • To give students the best possible opportunity to complete an assessment, you should wait on further instructions from us, keeping students under exam conditions unless instructed otherwise. 
  • On the day of an assessment, a PDF of the assessment paper will be available within the NCFE Portal which, only if instructed by NCFE, can be used in place of an online assessment in the case of significant disruption. Please note that this must not be accessed or shared with students unless instructed by us, or in exceptional circumstances where this is the only reasonable option to allow a student to complete the assessment. If the PDF version is needed, we’ll provide instruction on when and how to provide this to students, aiming to share information as swiftly as possible to minimise delays and disruption. If you access this assessment paper unnecessarily, you may be investigated for potential malpractice.  
Use of AI prohibited in T Level online assessments

We wanted to provide a reminder of the policies and procedures around the use of tools, particularly ones that use Artificial Intelligence (AI), that could provide students with an unfair advantage, resulting in investigation, sanctions, and the possible disqualification of students from external assessments.

Suspected malpractice policies and procedures

We’re aware of how prevalent the use of AI has become in everyday life and over the last few weeks in particular, we've seen an increase in AI being used within assessments, which has resulted in student disqualification. The use of external aids, particularly in relation to spelling, punctuation and grammar, for example, dictionary, spelling and grammar checking software, or other cloud-based or AI tools, is not permitted in any external online assessments. This is in line with JCQ Suspected Malpractice Policies and Procedures.

Your responsibilities before the assessments

For students sitting online assessments, it’s the responsibility of the provider to ensure that all external aids are disabled prior to the assessment taking place, and that your invigilators are aware to look out for these tools being used. If you’re not able to remove external aids on computers which are to be used for an online assessment, you must notify NCFE immediately by email at [email protected].

Access the step-by-step instructions

What if an invigilator identifies a student using an external aid during an assessment?

In this situation, follow the below instructions:

  • Report the incident to the designated person immediately.
  • Pause the assessment in Surpass and then remove/block the unauthorised software. If necessary, the invigilator should summon assistance.
  • Record what happened on the invigilation register.
  • The invigilator or designated person has the right to stop the external assessment immediately. This decision must only be made in exceptional circumstances where malpractice is irrefutable. Once stopped, no allowance can be given retrospectively if the decision is deemed invalid.
  • The Head of Centre has a duty to report all potential malpractice identified to NCFE using the malpractice notification form NCFE Learner malpractice form.

What actions will NCFE take if malpractice is suspected?

The use of these aids is prohibited for all our online assessments. NCFE will monitor this through unannounced Assessment Audit Visits, and reviews of assessment data within our online assessment platform.

NCFE would then decide to investigate further to determine if malpractice has taken place. This may lead to penalties/sanctions being applied if malpractice is proven. Therefore, we’d appreciate your support in preventing malpractice and negating the need for this action.

We’d like to remind you that there is a 30-minute flexible window on the start time (as stated in the Key Dates Schedule) with no requirement to notify NCFE. You can submit an assessment variation request for our approval if the 30-minute flexibility is insufficient. 

Further support 

If you need any further support in relation to the autumn assessment, please get in touch with us any time via email at [email protected]