Initial assumptions about initial assessments

25th June 2020

Being offered the opportunity of an apprenticeship was something that I was extremely grateful for. I used to believe these types of programmes were only ever offered to school leavers, but quickly put this myth behind me once I find out what it meant for me and my (mid) career development. Being given the opportunity to learn while I earned, was a win win so I was excited about my new challenge!

Before starting my programme, I was taken through the apprenticeship journey and the extent of what I was expected to complete in order to achieve my qualification, but this was outweighed by the thrill of hearing about the content and what was involved. Although excited to start the programme, it was explained to me that I needed to complete my English and maths initial assessments before my learning journey could begin. I remember those words ‘initial assessments’ absolutely filling me with dread and before the enrolment team could explain further, I’d immediately assumed these assessments were an exam and was already panicking! In my mind I was back at school and envisaged sitting in a silent hall, taking a test on my English and maths knowledge. Aged 35, I had not sat an exam in years, so you can only imagine the thoughts running through my mind. On learning of my concerns, my enrolment officer was quick to allay them, reassuring me that my initial assumptions were incorrect. She went on to explain the purpose of these assessments, describing how they are measures to ensure I was enrolled onto a programme that was appropriate and would also allow my tutor and myself to plan achievable learning goals. To hear that the assessments would serve only to help tailor the learning I was about to experience immediately changed my thinking, and it’s that critical switch in how I was feeling that’s prompted me to share it, just in case in can prevent others from going through similar thoughts.

Being told how these assessments were an integral part in my learning journey and now understanding how ultimately, they established the ‘starting point’ of my apprenticeship, makes me want to reassure others by sharing some of the experiences I faced when completing them.

Firstly, initial assessments (IAs) through InterLearn are completed using a system known as BKSB. This is an online system, which is great as your initial assessments can be completed remotely in the comfort of your own home or in the workplace. Login details are sent to your email address (sometimes going straight to the junk folder – beware!), and the simple instructions allow the login process to be quick and straight forward!

Secondly, your IAs do not have to take hours! Your assessment is based on your prior learning experience, so you can answer the questions as quickly or as slowly as you like. I remember taking the time to double check all the answers I submitted, and each assessment still only took me approximately 30 minutes.

Thirdly, this is not a test. The purpose of an IA is to answer the questions to the best of your ability, your results will show your strengths and any areas of development. For me, it was a great opportunity to discover something new about myself. I was surprised to learn about some of my strengths I hadn’t recognised before, for example, but it gave me the motivation to improve the areas where I had scored lower.

Lastly, enjoy it! It seems crazy that I was so keen to start my learning journey but was willing to jeopardise it through fear of completing my initial assessments. I was lucky enough to have a them explained well enough by my enrolment officer to appreciate the benefit of them, which in turn helped me to view them as the start line to my learning journey. Having a positive mindset allowed me to make the most of this experience and this helped tremendously throughout my apprenticeship!  Hopefully you’ll have a great enrolment team to guide you through too (you should do if they’re from InterLearn!), but now you’ve read my experience, you won’t have the fears in the first place – will you? (but if you do, you know you can always drop me an email; I’m here to support)


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