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FAQs - ESOL Skills for Life exams from December 2017

Updated specifications apply for teaching in preparation for exams from December 2017.


Q. Why have Trinity ESOL Skills for Life (QCF) qualifications changed?

A. The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) has been replaced by the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). By December 2017, all regulated qualifications listed on the RQF must include details of on Guided Learning Hours (GLH) and Total Qualification Time (TQT) in their description (find out more here). Trinity has taken this opportunity to consult with stakeholders and make some revisions to exams from December 2017.


Q. When are Trinity ESOL Skills for Life qualifications changing?

A. Updated specifications are available online for first teaching from September 2017 and for exams from December 2017. 


Q. Have the Ofqual qualification numbers and titles changed?

A. No. The qualification numbers have not changed. (QCF) has been removed from the titles and details on guided learning hours (GLHs) and total qualification times (TQTs) have been added to the qualification information. Details are listed in exam specifications and on the reverse of this leaflet.


Q. Where can I find GLH and TQT information?

A. Details of guided learning hours (GLH) and the total qualification time (TQT) for each qualification can be found in the exam specifications and and on the reverse of this leaflet.

It should be noted that rates of learner progression vary depending on personal and educational circumstances. GLH and TQT hours are therefore intended as indicators of the relative size of a qualification rather than a prescriptive requirement. See Oqfual TQT criteria for details of how GLH and TQT are estimated.


Q. Will there be big changes for learners and teachers?

A. No. The exams are still based on the National Standards for Adult Literacy and the Adult ESOL Core Curriculum. The awards, units and learning outcomes are the same, and the exam format and exam task timings remain unchanged. See details of the changes below.


Q. What are the changes between the current Skills for Life (QCF) exam and the updated exams from December 2017?

A. Trinity has taken the opportunity to make revisions to the exam, based on feedback from candidates, tutors and centres and analysis of candidate performances, to enhance their user-friendliness and relevance for today’s learners. The main differences that apply to exams from December 2017 are:

a) The exam tasks that were previously set in a work context are no longer specifically work-based. All tasks are set in context familiar to learners in their education, training, work, or social roles in the UK.

b) Assessment of Speaking and Listening is more transparent, with more concise Assessment Criteria and amplifications.

c) Results are based on achieving the minimum pass mark. Candidates no longer have to achieve every assessment criterion in addition to scoring a minimum number of marks.

d) The wording of the alphabetical order questions in the Entry 2 and Entry 3 Reading exams has changed.

e) The genres and word lengths for some of the writing tasks have changed.

For more details:

Change to exam rules from 1 December 2017:

Candidates cannot bring mobile phones, laptops or other devices into the Speaking and Listening exam room to support Task 1.

Candidates must bring their photograph or picture (or presentation outline at Level 2) as a printout or paper copy. This is to comply with Trinity security regulations and to improve efficiency with a standardised approach.


Q. I’m preparing my learners for the current QCF exams. What do I have to do now?

A. Until 30 November 2017 candidates will take an exam based on the Trinity ESOL Skills for Life (QCF) specifications. For exams after 1 December 2017, teachers should prepare students according to the revised Trinity ESOL Skills for Life specifications which will be marked according to the revised marking scheme. If your learners are doing their exams before 1 December 2017, they will sit the existing (QCF) version of the exam. If they are sitting the exam on or after 1 December 2017, you need to ensure you are familiar with the revisions described above and prepare your learners accordingly.


Q. Have you changed the way exams are delivered?

A. There is no change to format and timings of the exams and there is no change to the way you book and run your Speaking and Listening exams. Reading and Writing exam sessions, however, will be available on 25 fixed dates per year from December 2017.


Q. Why change from offering on-demand Reading and Writing exams - and how will 25 fixed dates still give us the flexibility we need?

A. Many centres found that the on-demand system of 10 sessions a year was limiting them. Increasing the number of sessions and holding exams on set dates means that we can enhance security and improve efficiency. Trinity has decided on the dates in consultation with centres and based the schedule on predicted demand at the busiest times of the year - so there is a good range of dates for you to choose from. Sessions are in the morning, afternoon or evening, and you will be able to book as many dates as you need. See the schedule of dates


Q. How long does it take to get results and to receive certificates?

A. Centres are notified of results within 4 weeks and certificates are usually issued within 4-6 weeks. (Speaking and listening certificates are usually issued within 4 weeks. Reading, Writing and overarching ESOL Skills for Life certificates are usually issued within 6 weeks.)


Q. How soon can re-sits be booked?

A. Re-sits for the next available session can now be booked immediately after notification of results. For Reading and Writing exams this means sessions three weeks or more after the time of booking.


Q. How do you deal with special needs requests?

A. Trinity College London is committed to creating an inclusive environment where candidates with special needs are able to demonstrate their skills and feel welcomed. Policy information is available on our website and specific guidance and instructions are available in our Skills for Life Best Practice Guidebook. If you have any specific questions regarding special needs procedures for Trinity’s English Language examinations, please email: language-csn@trinitycollege.com.


Q. Are Trinity’s ESOL Skills for life qualifications recognised by employers, government and education institutions?

A. Trinity’s ESOL Skills for life qualifications are regulated by Ofqual, CCEA Regulation and Qualifications Wales. Trinity College London is an international exam board operating in over 60 countries worldwide. Trinity has been developing exams and assessing performance for over 140 years. Trinity English language qualifications are widely used by governments and institutions as robust and reliable evidence of English language proficiency. To demonstrate English language proficiency for UKVI purposes, find out about Trinity’s Secure English Language Tests (SELTs) and listed SELT course providers.


Q. Where can people take Trinity’s ESOL Skills for Life exams?

A. Students can prepare for and take Trinity’s ESOL Skills for Life exams in Trinity Registered Exam Centres. To apply to become a Trinity Registered Exam Centre, visit trinitycollege.com/register


Q. What makes Trinity different to other boards?

A. Trinity's approach focuses on supporting the development of communicative and transferable English language skills and on building learners’ confidence to use those skills in real life. The authentic nature of our topics and tasks makes exam preparation for our exams a motivating experience for students. Trinity offers the convenience and security that comes with external assessment by professional examiners, allowing teachers to focus on preparing learners instead of on testing administration.



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