Non-exam Assessment, A guide for Parents

This page gives guardians a full overview of the process of Writing, Authenticating and Marking Non-exam Assessments, as well as covering the special arrangements required to enter for examinations in these subjects.

Non Exam Assessment: A Guide for Parents

What is Non Exam Assessment?

Non Exam Assessment or NEA has replaced what used to be known as “Coursework”. In essence they are pretty much the same thing, in other words,  research – or project-based work – that counts towards a student’s final grade. It is considered to be an excellent way for students to demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have gained throughout a course and their ability to conduct independent research and write up their own project. Completing the NEA will help a student gain valuable life and work skills and for our students it is done at home. Students are encouraged to use research resources such as textbooks, journals, TV, radio and the internet and importantly to learn how to attribute and reference them.

Which subjects have NEA?

Currently the subjects which we offer with part assessment by NEA are;

GCSE; English (AQA), this NEA is not written work, it is an oral test

A LEVEL; English Language, English Literature and History (all AQA)

Entry for these subjects has to be made through Oxford Open Learning where you will be entered as an internal candidate by our Examination Officer, Jenny Booth ( tel; 01865 798022) or through Tutors and Exams if there is a centre near you.

How is the exam entry made?

At the same time as you make your exam entry with us (by the end of January at the latest), you will also need to find another centre in your own locality which will be willing to be your “host centre” for the written part of the exam. You do this by following the same instructions we give for finding any exam centre but obviously you will need to explain that OOL will make your actual exam entry and that your local centre will only need to “host” your written exam using the transfer of entry system.

This means that OOL/OHS will be responsible for; making your examination entry, helping you to transfer your entry to the host centre, dealing with supervising, authenticating and marking your NEA, helping with enquiries about results and providing your results slip and certificates. All payment for this will be made to us.

The “host centre” which you will need to find and contact as early as possible will have to be prepared to accept your transfer of entry and allow you to sit the written exams with them. The fee that you will have to pay to the host centre should therefore only be for their administration time and invigilation of the written papers.

If you choose to sit with Tutors and Exams and they are an especially good option if you have SEN requirements, then the process is different. You will make your entry directly with them and no hosting or transfer will be needed. Your Oxford tutor will still mark your coursework.


What rules do students have to follow?

The NEA must be a student’s own original work, and they will have to sign a declaration to their examination board stating that this is the case. Tutors also have to sign the declaration to confirm that the work is the student’s own. This is called “authenticating” the work. Rules regarding submission are the same as for Coursework and are shown on the back of the enrolment form which students/guardians have to sign before starting our courses.

You must always be aware that the NEA is meant to show the student’s own ability to complete a project using their initiative and resources. This means that other people should not have a direct input and the more help the student has from their tutor, the stricter the tutor will have to be when marking the work. In other words there will be a fine balance between the amount of help given and the amount of marks which have to be forfeited because of this help. You should discuss this carefully and in detail with the tutor to make sure it is fully understood. You should also download and read the JCQ document; “Information for Candidates – non-examination assessments“.

Rules for Authentication of your NEA

If your subject has a written NEA assessment then there are strict rules that you and we must abide by to satisfy the Awarding Body and JCQ.

If you do not follow these rules then your tutor will not be able to authenticate and mark your coursework/NEA.

1, You must have regular contact with your tutor by telephone/Skype and email throughout your study time. (If you do not speak to your tutor until you try to submit your NEA, the tutor will be unable to accept it.)

2, You must complete at least 4 Tutor Marked Assignments, a plan and a draft before your tutor can consider authenticating your NEA. Submitting all of your TMAs together just before, or at the same time as your NEA will not be acceptable. (Please be aware that 4 TMAs is the minimum for authenticating your work, it is certainly not enough to secure a good exam grade as there will be 19 or 20 TMAs in total. )

3, Your tutor should supervise the planning of your NEA and see a draft essay which will be checked for plagiarism.

4, Your NEA and the correctly signed form(s) must be with your tutor by the OOL deadline. This is the 15th March and it is not negotiable for any reason. ( Do not assume that you can work to AQA’s deadline, this will be too late.)

5, When you have submitted your NEA you must be able to answer in depth questions about your ideas, your sources and how you came to your conclusions. This should be a telephone or Skype interview and not email. We have to be assured that the work was produced by you and not plagiarised or written by someone else. ( We and AQA have various methods of checking for plagiarism and they are used rigorously.)

6, Your tutor may refuse to authenticate your NEA if you do not follow any of these rules. In this case your work will be returned to you and AQA will be informed. We may refuse to provide any further tuition.

7, We will inform you when we have received your NEA and also of the mark you have been awarded.

8, If you have a problem with the mark that you receive, you will be able to question the assessment process before exam board moderation but you may not question the mark awarded. This is covered in Oxford Open Learning’s Internal Appeals Procedure.

9, The AQA moderating process may lead to changes in your mark but this is beyond the control of OOL.

How can I support my child?

You can encourage your child to plan their project in good time, talk to their tutor in detail, use a variety of sources which must be properly referenced, hand work in on time, and stick to the rules especially those regarding plagiarism. Together with providing a quiet place to study, this will help them to achieve their best. If your child often completes work at the last minute you could discuss with them how and when they plan to do their coursework. Encourage them to think about the project as early as possible so that the tutor has time to comment on their plan and draft and if things have gone wrong they can still be altered. This is especially important for distance learners as the deadlines are early and rules are strict.

How much can the tutors, or I, help?

Tutors can provide guidance on suitable titles/topics and what should be included in coursework projects and the planning. They can also explain what the Assessment Objectives are and what the exam board will be looking for when the project is being marked. However, the teacher cannot tell students exactly how to do the work or specifically what corrections to make – the point of coursework is for your son or daughter to work independently. You can encourage your child to do well and you and the tutor can provide them with guidance and access to resource materials. You must not put pen to paper – you must not write the coursework. You can discuss the project with them but you must not give direct advice on what they should, or should not write and nor can the tutor.

If your child is not sure how to complete their coursework then encourage them to speak to their tutor to get help. Planning and a “tight” plan are key. You and the tutor can suggest particular books that they might read, or discuss how to search the internet for relevant information. You should also encourage your child to express themselves clearly and most importantly to keep the AOs (Assessment Objectives) in mind. Accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar are also very important. However, always bear in mind that the more help the tutor gives, the more strictly they will have to mark the final submission.

Please also bear in mind that if the tutor believes that the work submitted is of a higher standard than they would expect they will have to question the student very closely to establish that someone else did not provide substantial help.

Are students allowed to quote from books or the internet?

Students can refer to research, quotations or evidence, but they must list and reference their sources. The sources could be anything – for example, books, internet sites, or television programmes.

Students must not plagiarise, copy, purchase essays, or collude with anyone else. This is considered to be cheating and could lead to your son or daughter being disqualified. There are now very sophisticated internet sites which we and the exam boards use to check work for plagiarism.

Encourage your child to use their own words as much as possible. If they do want to quote or refer to others’ work, tell them to use quotation marks and provide appropriate references. If your child is unsure on how to reference different sources then their tutor should be able to provide examples of good and bad referencing. By referencing their sources correctly your child will avoid being accused of cheating.

Who marks the NEA?

The NEA will be marked by your OHS tutor, checked by the Head of Department and then possibly checked again by AQA. If you have a problem with the marking of the NEA you must follow the “Internal Appeals Procedure” shown in our policy document.

How is cheating detected?

Our tutors have to authenticate the work produced. In other words they have to say that to the best of their knowledge it was produced by the student concerned. To do this the tutor and student have to follow strict guide lines, including the tutor having seen at least 4 Tutor Marked Assignments, a plan and a draft submission of the project. Tutors become familiar with their students’ work as well as books on specific subjects and they will be able to tell if the student did not do the work, or if the work was copied from another source.  Exam boards and OHS also routinely use plagiarism software to carry out checks on coursework/NEAs.

Encourage your child to complete their work honestly and follow the rules. By taking the time and choosing a topic that interests them, your child will learn to study independently, research different areas and present different types of projects. These skills will all be valuable when they go to university or enter the world of work.

What happens if a student breaks the rules?

There are a number of things that could happen. The relevant exam board decides which action is appropriate, but the student may not receive a mark for the work, may be disqualified from the whole qualification or part of it, or be barred from entering a qualification with a particular exam board for a period of time.



Please go to the “NEA Guidelines” section, in the Student Information part of for more information on this topic.

Coursework and NEAs  take time and effort, and because it is a substantial part of your child’s final grade it is important that they do as well as they can. You can help by providing a quiet place to work, encouraging them to do their best, begin early and hand their work in on time. Please remember however that because you have chosen distance learning, there are strict rules that our tutors must adhere to which may seem harsher than those followed in everyday contact in school.