ILM Assessment Guidance

Need help perfecting the assessment process? Here’s how we assess ILM qualifications – and what you need to do to assure a smooth assessment.

Download our guide to assessing VRQ units

Our assessment approach

At ILM we have two approaches to assessment: criterion assessment, where every requirement (or criterion) of a learning outcome with a score above 50% is a pass, and the original means-based method, whereby a candidate’s average score of 50% and above over all criterion achieves a pass result.

Assessment instruments

Assessment instruments are a huge help throughout a candidate’s journey towards their qualification, as tasks from presentations to discussions allow candidates to practically apply and reflect on their learning. Assessment instruments involve the learner completing a relevant work-based task that allows them to practically apply and reflect on their learning. While ILM provides assessment instruments, centres can create their own instruments or adapt an existing ILM task, where they can contextualise it to an organisation and/or tailor it to particular learners. Once a learner has gained approval from their ILM Quality Manager they can complete the "Change to ILM assessment instrument" form to proceed. Examples of assessment tasks include:

  • case studies
  • observation, direct or indirect (i.e. recorded)
  • presentations
  • discussion
  • projects
  • reflective logs or diaries
  • work-based assignments

Preparing for assessment

Assessment has many facets, so preparation and thorough briefing for all parties involved in this journey will help streamline the process and produce the bests results, more quickly. A good understanding of all requirements, tasks and criteria relevant to the units involved will help deliverers, facilitators and tutors achieve each learning outcome ready for assessment.

Centre preparation

As a necessary part of their role, understanding assessment instrument criteria and their task requirements will help deliverers, tutors, assessors and centre staff members provide clear and consistent guidance to learners throughout the learning and assessment process. By briefing learners on the meaning and significance of all assessment criteria for all the units they are required to pass, centres minimise the risk of referrals. Examining work regularly by the centre prior to being submitted eliminates the chances of leaners handing in their assignments "cold" and with any errors.

Suitability for assessment

Presentation and literacy

As the decision to pass or refer a learner must be based on the assessment criteria alone, if you are at all concerned with the standard of literacy or presentation skills, don’t worry – these factors are (with very rare exceptions) never grounds for referral.

Word count

As you begin assessment you will notice all assignments have a recommended word count. As a rule the word count should be regarded as a guide to the minimum length of assignment expected to achieve a pass mark, not a maximum word count. To achieve a mark above 50% (in cases of numerical marking) a longer submission may be required.

Deadlines and resubmissions

For assessment to take place learners will need to submit their work, but failure to meet another deadline in itself is not grounds for referral. Punctuality is not a unit criteria and as marking is only done against the criteria, late submissions will not incur penalties from ILM.

Marking and feedback

ILM assessment results in one of only two outcomes, pass or referral. To assist learners and their support team get the most out of each assessment, we recommend the addition of helpful, constructive feedback with each final mark. Although it’s no longer necessary for assessment to include a numerical mark, we find it also helps with the feedback process.


There is no grading for ILM awards (a pass with "distinction” for example) so the only assessment result is either "pass" (for marks of 50% or over) or "referral" (for outcomes under 50%). Our mark sheets can help centres easily map between outcomes, criteria and learner performance.

Assessment verbs

The keys to effective assessment are “Assessment verbs”. These are used by assignment tasks and may require the learner to, for example, "list", "identify" or "explain" something. The assessor can then make a qualitative judgement based on the relevant verb. Although knowing when someone has "listed" an item is relatively easy, verbs such as “discussion”, for example, can complicate things. To help you with this, we provide a glossary of common assessment verbs that gives example answers and useful sufficiency indicators for each one.

Download the assessment verbs glossary

Providing examples

Some tasks may ask the learner to provide an example, or examples, to illustrate a point or understanding and to support their thinking. Assessors should judge the most relevant example(s) to the criterion and only mark those.

The appeal process

We all want the best for each candidate, so when assignment marks are queried we believe in the right to appeal. Having appeals procedures in place for every centre helps everyone resolve any concerns quickly and simply. In the event of an appeal the assignment is reassessed by the centre, although the outcome can be referred to ILM and an appeals panel. If the ILM Assessment service has been used, there is a similar right of appeal.