Functional Skills external assessment update – 6 February 2020

Due to the changes of Functional Skills qualifications and the processes around them in line with the reform, we will be keeping you updated on any changes that you need to know about on this page. The most recent updates will appear at the top of the page. 


Functional Skills Results

We’re pleased to announce that most Functional Skills online assessment results will now be issued within 6 working days* from the assessment being uploaded for all papers that have gone through our awarding process!

*In line with the reformed qualifications, new papers are still to be released. Please note we are unable to advise if the learner has been allocated a new paper in advance. Should they not receive their results 6 working days after the assessment is uploaded then they will receive their results on 20th March. Following the completion of the awarding process on 20th March all results will revert to 6 working days.

With NCFE you don’t only benefit from market leading turnaround times, each learner also receives a free feedback report from the online assessment system which identifies how they have performed for each subject content statement. We also offer a free resit for those who didn’t achieve first time!

If you don’t currently offer NCFE’s Functional Skills qualifications but would like to find out more, please email [email protected]


Paper based external assessment

Please refer to the External Assessment Timetable for booking cut off dates. If you wish to make any bookings after the advertised dates you will need to contact Customer Support with full details of your learners and bookings can only be accepted 5 working days prior to the window.


Results for December window will be issued 31/01/2020

Please refer to the Assessment Windows Timetable for further paper based assessment windows.

Single sittings for paper based windows


When booking any paper based external assessments for our reformed Functional Skills qualifications, each centre must determine a single set date and time within an assessment window for each component and subject level. All learners entered in the assessment window at a centre must complete at the same date and time.

This regulation applies to all centres regardless of whether they use a number of different assessment locations or satellite centres when administering paper based assessments.

For example, in the first assessment window running from 9-13 December 2019, a centre may choose to schedule all level 1 maths assessments to take place at 10am on 10 December 2019. They may then schedule all level 2 maths assessments to take place at 1pm on 11 December 2019. In these cases, the centre will be unable to schedule other level 1 and level 2 Maths paper based assessments at different dates/times in the same chosen assessment window.

Fast track fees

Due to the short windows available to book paper based assessments, all bookings that would normally incur a fast track fee automatically from our system for paper based assessment windows will be waived. We will credit any charges made against your account for fast track fees.

Online external assessment

Important dates:

  • Online assessments went live on Monday 7 October.

Online Results

During the initial stage of our Functional Skills Reform assessments we’ll be staggering the release of the online assessment results to allow for a period of awarding and to ensure the appropriate quality controls are applied.

Once this process is complete we’ll then be able to offer our online results at a guaranteed 6 working day turnaround. Please refer to the below table for an understanding of when you can expect your learners’ results:


Functional Skills Online Assessment

Date completed assessment is uploaded

Results Release

07/10/2019 - 01/11/019


02/11/2019 - 29/11/2019


30/11/2019 - 03/01/2020


04/01/2020 – 06/02/2020


* From February most results will be issued in:

6 working days


*subject to awarding.


Invigilation Requirements

All Functional Skills external assessments, whether online or paper based, must be completed under invigilated conditions, in accordance with the NCFE Regulations for the Conduct of External Assessment.

From July 2019, following an Ofqual review, all Awarding Organisations have adopted the rule that no tutor of a Functional Skills qualification can be involved in the administration of the assessment materials for level 1 and 2 exams in that subject, regardless of the level they teach (administration includes initial receipt, secure storage, movement, or preparation of confidential material for external assessments before, during, or after an external assessment).

In addition, a Functional Skills subject tutor must not be involved in the invigilation of that subject, even if they have not taught those learners. For example, a Functional Skills English tutor must not invigilate any Functional Skills English exam and a Functional Skills Maths tutor must not invigilate any Functional Skills Maths exam, regardless of the level they teach. Please note these changes apply to both legacy and reformed Functional Skills qualifications.

Ofqual published an update to the invigilation restrictions and exceptions in September 2019 detailing additional circumstances that are allowable on advance approval from the Awarding Organisation including:

  • restrictions within the centre on the grounds of security or safeguarding
  • instances where an assessment is conducted at a learner’s workplace and an assessment centre is not available locally
  • remote location of the learner’s workplace/assessment location
  • arrangements put into place to support a specific learner with special educational needs by way of an access arrangement or reasonable adjustment.

These changes have been reflected in the NCFE Regulations for the Conduct of External Assessment. 

If you believe there to be exceptional circumstances regarding the invigilation of Functional Skills assessments, please refer to our invigilation exception request page on QualHub.


Sample online external assessments

The level 1 and 2 Maths and English sample online assessments and a demonstration test that will allow learners to work with the functionality are now available to use. The demonstration test will also be published as a standalone package to support centres who may not already be approved for online assessment.

To access the sample papers you will need to book these through your Secure Assess administration screens.