What is Recognition of Prior Learning?

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is an assessment method that you may have come across as an Assessor. You may have even used in your own studying. Or, you may have never heard of it or used it before. That’s why we’re here to explain exactly what RPL is, and how you can use it within your work.


What is Recognition of Prior Learning?

As we said before, RPL is an assessment method. This method takes into account any ‘prior learning‘ your candidate has done, that could be used to tick off certain criteria in the qualification you are assessing. So as the Assessor, you would need to cross-reference the relevant previous work against the criteria you are looking for. Using this method can reduce the time required to complete the course; in some cases, significantly.

But basically, Recognition of Prior Learning is about your learner being able to demonstrate they have met some of the requirements of said course, through knowledge or skills they already have. Meaning that they don’t need to develop this knowledge or skills to pass some of the criteria. 

However, this differs from ‘Unit Exemption’…

What is Unit Exemption?

Unit Exemption is used when the candidate has previously passed a unit of work, that is the same as a unit in the prospective qualification. Sounds a bit confusing, but let us break it down.

As an example from our perspective, some of our learners have only completed 2/3 units of the Assessor qualification (AVRA/ACWE); but now would like to complete the full CAVA. So in these circumstances, we would enrol learners onto the CAVA, and use their AVRA or ACWE certificate and exempt them from the Units they’ve already covered. This way they would receive the CAVA certificate upon completion, as opposed to unit credits.

So what’s the difference between RPL and Unit Exemption?

With Recognition of Prior Learning, the candidate would need to write a reflective account for each assignment being used. The reflective account needs to be about what they learned within previous work that shows they’ve met the criteria. This then proves their understanding and how it relates to this qualification you are assessing them on. Assignments can only be used for RPL if they were recently completed; normally at a maximum of around 2/3 years ago.

There is a really simple difference between this and Unit Exemption; as with Unit Exemption, the candidate does not need to do any further work. And, it doesn’t matter how long ago the unit was completed; it only matters that the unit is still exactly the same.

If you would like further information on any other assessment methods, take a look at our post on what exactly assessment methods are.

2 thoughts on “What is Recognition of Prior Learning?

  • October 10, 2019 at 9:03 am

    I am a registered nurse with many years of experience in mentoring nurses up to band 6 level. I have a teaching and assessing qualification. How do I obtain a qualification to assess nvqs in caring

    • October 10, 2019 at 9:13 am

      Hi Louise,

      Your Assessor qualification allows you to assess in any area you are occupationally competent in. In order to assess in Caring, you would indeed need a qualification in that sector. Unfortunately, we at Brooks and Kirk do not offer any NVQs in Caring, so we would advise looking into the courses your local college offers.

      I hope this helps.

      Kind Regards
      Brooks and Kirk


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