Mock Assessments & Knowledge Tests in EPAs
Mock assessments are one of the best ways to prepare an apprentice for their End-Point Assessment (EPA). Both EPAOs and the Independent End-Point Assessor themselves want to do everything they can to ensure the apprentice passes their EPA. That is why mock assessments are provided wherever possible.
A mock assessment is a simulation of the real thing and are therefore a great preparation tool. It allows the apprentice to run through their EPA without the stresses and pressures of feeling that they are being examined. It also allows the apprentice to understand the process and structure of the EPA. This way, they know what to expect with the real thing. A mock assessment can be the difference between a pass and a fail as it helps to prepare the apprentice.
Why Carry Out Mock Assessments?
As we have just touched on, there are two core reasons why it is a good idea to carry out a mock assessment before an EPA; preparation and acclimation. Preparation is all about giving the apprentice a better understanding of the following:
- The format of their assessment
- The type and style of questions that will be asked
- Experiencing actually taking the test
- An idea of timings for each section within the EPA
Acclimation refers to allowing the apprentice to get used to the test conditions. Some people find exams and observations extremely stressful in comparison with written assessments. This means that on the day nerves can play a big role and cause the apprentice to panic. Unfortunately, they might not answer the questions to the best of their ability. By taking the time to ensure an apprentice is properly prepared for their EPA, they should be more relaxed and their nerves will have less of an impact when it comes to answering questions. This means they will be able to demonstrate their Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours (KSBs) in the best possible way.
When To Do Mock Assessments
Timing is key with mock assessments. Too early and the apprentice will forget the process by the time the EPA comes around. Too late (i.e. too close to the actual EPA) and it could actually add more stress if the apprentice struggles with the mock assessment. In an ideal world, the mock assessment should occur before the Gateway. This is because when the apprentice gets to the EPA stage itself, there is a lot to be done; they don’t need the additional pressure of a mock assessment at that stage.
Types of Mock Assessment
There are two main types of mock assessments: knowledge tests and professional discussions. Let’s have a look into both of these so that you can work out which would be the best for your apprentice.
As part of the responsibilities of an EPAO, they are required to store a bank of test questions for any apprentice that undergoes a knowledge test as one of their EPA assessment methods. This means that when it comes to mock assessments, there are lots of questions readily available to practice with.
Knowledge tests are usually a series of multiple-choice questions with four possible answers to choose from. They tend to be based around hypothetical situations that an apprentice may encounter within their role. Whilst these questions don’t allow the apprentice to fully demonstrate their KSBs, they do allow the knowledge aspect to be assessed. The knowledge test is usually used alongside other methods of assessment within the EPA itself, in order to get a bigger picture of the apprentice’s understanding.
Questions within the mock knowledge test will be written at the same level of difficulty as the real EPA. This gives the apprentice a true guide of what to expect during the EPA. It is important to know that questions created for mock knowledge tests are not used in any EPA activity. It is more just to give the apprentice some experience of the type of questions they may be asked.
We have already explored the difference between interviews and professional discussions in EPAs but let’s have a quick recap. A professional discussion is a structured discussion between the apprentice and an End-Point Assessor. A series of questions are prepared in advance in order to assess whether or not the apprentice meets the KSBs set out in the assessment plan for their apprenticeship. Once the question part is completed, there is often a more open-ended, less formal discussion where the apprentice is given the opportunity to elaborate on their answers in more detail.
There are usually three resources that End-Point Assessors can request from their EPAO to help with the mock professional discussion: a mock agenda, a mock feedback record and a series of mock base questions. The idea of the mock assessment is to give the apprentice an idea of the format of the professional discussion. It also gives them the chance to think about the answers they should provide for the real assessment, to show the End-Point Assessor any areas that may need improvement before the final EPA.
Performing Well In The EPA
In general, the EPA is a very stressful experience for apprentices. So, the more they can be exposed to mock assessments, the better. The professional discussion is often the most daunting of all the assessment methods; so if there isn’t time to run through both then focus on that one. The two examples we have provided are just a selection. But, training providers are able to create mock assessments for almost any component of the EPA, so it is worth having a chat with them.
We hope you have found this blog useful. If you have any further questions on any part of the EPA or would like more advice on mock assessments please give us a call on 01205 805155.
Steve is a Chartered Manager and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.
He provides Educational Consultancy to the 19+ sector as well as being an Assessor, IQA, EPA and Digital Marketing Professional. When not doing any of these he finds time, every now and then, to write blogs and articles.