How to prepare for your end point assessment
The EPA for the L7 Research Scientist standard comprises two parts:
This guide is designed to complement the information contained in the EPA plan for your apprenticeship standard and is not intended to replace conversations with your training provider, manager and EPAO. You can find your EPA plan by going to the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) website.
Check out our introduction to end-point assessments to get started.
The point of this part of the assessment is to demonstrate that you can discuss your research confidently and explain your results, and their implications, in detail. The professional discussion will enable you to demonstrate that you possess knowledge, skills and behaviours that might not be covered by other parts of your EPA.
Throughout your apprenticeship, you will have constructed a training and development portfolio that contains evidence to show you have developed the knowledge, skills and behaviours in the apprenticeship standard. This portfolio will help you in the professional discussion to answer the questions using real examples from your work. You will submit your portfolio to the EPAO at gateway. Your assessor will review your portfolio and use it to determine what questions to ask you during your professional discussion.
This part of your EPA could take place online, at work or at another suitable venue, such as a quiet room at your college, and it will take 60 minutes. An assessor from the EPAO will ‘interview’ you by asking you a minimum of eight questions. Because of the level of this apprenticeship, your answers will need to be in depth and detailed.
Check the assessment plan for your standard – it will tell you what knowledge, skills and behaviours you are being assessed on in this part of the EPA, and it will also tell you what the assessors will be looking for to grade you as pass, fail or distinction, so you will know what you need to do to achieve each grade.
The discussion will focus on things like the projects and training and development activities, and reviews, you have undertaken during your apprenticeship. You should be able to give detailed explanations of the objectives and deliverables associated with the activities that you undertook to evidence the knowledge, skills, and behaviours being assessed through the discussion. It will be helpful to have specific information about courses and activities in your portfolio so that you will be able to give the assessor specific details, such as course titles and training provider names. It will be important for you to be able to talk about the outcomes of the activities that you undertook and their impact on your work.
In the run-up to your EPA, you should familiarise yourself with what you have put into your portfolio and make sure it is easy to navigate. This will help you to quickly find the supporting evidence you are looking for and will save time, giving you longer to focus on answering the questions.
Check whether your training provider can get you mock materials and any forms from your EPAO that will help you to fully prepare.
To pass through gateway and on to EPA, you will have completed an independent work-based project. For your EPA, you must prepare a report on this project, present it and answer questions about it from an assessment panel.
Check the assessment plan for your standard – it will tell you what knowledge, skills and behaviours you are being assessed on in this part of the EPA, and it will also tell you what the assessors will be looking for to grade you as pass, fail or distinction. Materials supplied by the EPAO should help you to understand the differences and expectations between the grading criteria; you can ask for them and read through so you know exactly how to achieve the best grade.
In preparing the report, you should consider the specific parameters that it will need to fulfil, such as word count, deadline and particular sections that you should include. You should look at the EPA plan for your standard to understand exactly what you should be covering.
If your report is about a team project that you were involved in, you should focus on the specific contribution that you made to the project in the context of the wider project aims. The assessor will want to know about the work that you did and what impact it had.
When you have drafted your report, ask your supervisor or workplace mentor to look over it and suggest improvements. Make sure you allow plenty of time for this as your finalised report will need to be submitted to your EPAO two weeks before the agreed date for panel. This is to allow the assessor plenty of time to review your report and formulate questions about it.
Once you have completed your report, it will be a good time to start working on your presentation. Check the assessment plan for your standard to find out how long your presentation should be, what it should cover and how long the questioning afterwards will take.
You might want to prepare slides or other supporting resources, such as a video, to add texture to your presentation. If you are making slides, try to keep the amount of text on them to a minimum and try to make them eye catching. Photos and schematics from your work will make the slides interesting for the panel to look at while you are talking, without distracting them from listening to you.
Top Tip: ‘Don’t hide behind the scientific terminology or acronyms. Explain what you are discussing in basic terms to prove you understand all aspects of the work you did. The panel/assessor may ask you for more complex or in-depth information afterwards. This allows the panel/assessor to get a great feel for your overall knowledge of the subjects discussed.’
Simon Jukes, Director, EPAO for scientific apprenticeship standards
Practise delivering your presentation, both by yourself and to an audience. This will help you to make sure it is the right length (not over or under the specified time) and to build your confidence, which will help you be less nervous on the day.
If you are worried about forgetting what to say, write yourself detailed notes that you can refer to during your presentation. Make sure that, if you are printing these out, they are in a large enough font and well-spaced, so that you will be able to follow them easily and not lose your place.
After your presentation, the panel will ask you some questions about it, your project, and your report. The number of questions they ask will vary, depending on your standard, so check the assessment plan so you know what to expect.
Some of the questions will be about your technical knowledge and understanding of your work others will be ‘competency based’ questions. These types of questions are designed to understand whether you have developed the professional skills and behaviours required to be occupationally competent. They may start with things like ‘can you explain how you…’ or ‘can you give an example of a time that you have…’, and to answer these questions well, it is helpful to give a specific example from your own recent work.
With competency-based questions, it is helpful to answer in the ‘SHARE’ format. Each letter in the word ‘SHARE’ represents a different component of a good competency example. Using this model helps you to make sure that you cover all the key information that the assessors will want to see.
This is not a way of talking that most of us are used to, so practise! Look at the assessment plan for your standard and think about examples of the skills and behaviours that they will be looking for evidence of. If you are struggling to think of an example for each skill or behaviour that you might be asked about in this section, talk to your supervisor or colleagues, who may be able to make helpful suggestions. Your competence log from your apprenticeship will also be a good source of examples.