Terminal rule FAQs
What is the terminal rule?
For all Level 1/Level 2 Technical Award qualifications offered to 14 to 16-year-olds, such as Cambridge Nationals, there is a requirement to take the exam as terminal assessment, more commonly known as the ‘Terminal Rule’.
- The examined unit must be taken in the student's final assessment series (when the student is finishing the qualification)
- The non-examined assessment (NEA) units can be taken in any series but must be submitted in a series before the exam is taken, or in the same series as the exam is taken.
Where can I find examples of how the terminal rule works?
We have produced a terminal rule guide with examples of how the terminal rule works for Cambridge Nationals.
If your scenario is not included in our guide and you would like some advice, please contact us.
Does June of Year 11 have to be the final series?
No, if students are ready to complete in an earlier series, eg January of Year 11, you can meet the terminal rule in that series.
To do this, both non-examined assessment (NEA) units must be submitted either before or in the same series as the exam is taken.
What if a student takes the exam before their final assessment series?
If a student takes the exam before their final assessment series this is considered as a ‘practice’ attempt and will not contribute to their final qualification grade. We will still accept the entry and mark the exam. However, it’s important the student understands it will only count as a ‘practice’ attempt.
The student must take the exam again in their final assessment series and that exam result will be used towards the student’s final qualification grade, even if this is lower than the previous result.
How do we let OCR know it is the student’s final assessment series?
Your exams officer must make a certification entry (sometimes referred to as ‘cashing-in’) in the student’s final assessment series, which is when the terminal rule must be met.
The certification entry acts as a term-time checkpoint and lets OCR know the student needs an overall qualification result in that series to be able to progress.
What is a ‘term-time checkpoint’?
Ofqual confirmed in October 2023 the measures they have asked awarding bodies, schools and colleges to implement in order to ensure the timely delivery of results for students taking vocational qualifications.
These include a term-time checkpoint for schools and colleges to confirm which students need a result in August to progress to higher or further education and issuing results with enough time for exams officers to check and prepare them for final release to students.
For Cambridge Nationals, by making certification entries, you are letting us know students are ready to complete their qualification. This forms the term-time checkpoint. There will be no change to the current, published, administrative entry arrangements for Cambridge Nationals.
Exam resits and the terminal rule
If students take the exam more than once, does the best result count?
No, the result achieved in the exam taken in their final assessment series will be used towards the qualification grade, even if the result is lower than a previous attempt.
The ‘best result of the last two attempts’ does not apply for these qualifications.
Can students take the exam before the end of Year 11 and have the option to resit?
If you enter students for the exam in a series before the end of Year 11 and both of their NEA units are completed by or in this series, the student will have met the terminal rule.
You can wait until the results are published for the series for the student to decide if they want to keep that result and request post-results certification (late certification) or, take the exam again and certificate in a later series.
If they decide to take the exam again and certificate in a later series, the terminal assessment requirement means the latest exam result will be used towards the student’s final grade, even if this is lower than the previous result. An example of this scenario can be found on page 4 of our terminal rule guide.
NEA resubmissions and the terminal rule
Can students resubmit non-examined assessment (NEA) units after they have taken the exam?
Resubmitting an NEA unit in a series after the exam has already been taken would change the final assessment series for that student and the exam must be taken again. The exam result from the final series will be used towards the student’s final grade, even if this is lower than the previous result.
If a student resubmits a non-examined assessment (NEA) unit, which grade is used towards their qualification?
For NEA units, the best result from any permitted multiple attempts is used towards the final grade. An example of this scenario can be found on page 5 of our terminal rule guide.