ILM Assessment Guidance

This page provides information on how ILM’s Vocationally Related Qualifications (VRQs) are assessed.

Our assessment approach to VRQs

Each ILM unit comprised learning outcomes and assessment criteria. ILM uses criterion assessment, where every assessment criterion of a learning outcome with a score above 50% is a pass. Candidates need to pass every assessment criterion to pass a unit.

Learning Outcomes

Each unit is divided into learning outcomes that describe what a learner should know, understand, and/or be able to do at the end of a programme. Learning outcomes are a regulated component of a unit and therefore may not be amended. 

Assessment Criteria

Each learning outcome is articulated by its assessment criteria, which are descriptions of what the learner is expected to do to demonstrate that that learning outcome has been achieved. Assessment criteria are pivotal to assessment and are the most commonly used component when marking.

Every unit in an ILM learner journey must be assessed, and the assessment must address every learning outcome and assessment criterion from those units.

In order to ‘pass’ a unit, the learner must satisfy every assessment criterion.

Every assessment criterion contains a verb that states specifically what the learner must do to satisfy the assessment criterion, and this verb is linked to the complexity and autonomy of the qualification level.

In order to meet an assessment criterion, it is crucial that the requirement of its verb is understood and addressed. For example, if the criterion required a learner to ‘describe’ something it would be insufficient to merely ‘identify’ it. The assessment criterion would not be satisfied and the unit would not be passed.

Assessment criteria are a regulated component of units and, as such, they must be used exactly as written by ILM. They must not be altered or omitted.

Further information can be found here:

Download our guide to assessing VRQ units

Assessment instruments

Assessment instruments involve the learner completing a relevant work-based task that allows them to apply and reflect on their learning.

ILM provides assessment instruments for all units in the form of assignments and their associated mark sheets, but Centres can create their own instruments or adapt an existing ILM task by contextualising it to an organisation and/or tailor it to specific learners.

Once a learner has gained approval from their ILM Quality and Compliance Manager they can complete the "Change to ILM assessment instrument" form to proceed. Centres who wish to do this should speak to their allocated ILM Quality Delivery team and will need to complete the "Change to ILM assessment instrument" form which can be found in Appendix 5 of the Guide to Assessing ILM qualifications.

Examples of alternative assessment instruments include:

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

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 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.

  • Word count

All ILM assessments have a suggested word count. Learners will not be penalised for exceeding the word count, although Centres may wish to avoid excessive word counts by providing additional guidance to learners.  

  • Deadlines and resubmissions

Although punctuality is not an assessment criterion, Centres will generally wish to establish deadlines for submitting work in order to better manage their workload.

  • Marking and feedback

Helpful and constructive feedback on assessments must be provided to learners to ensure each learner knows what has been done well and how he or she can improve.

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".

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.

Download the assessment verbs glossary

Guidance and Assistance

For some of our more challenging units our ILM Assessment Team have created assistance documents to provide additional support and guidance to help you support your learners. These are in addition to the unit specifications, assessment briefs, and results sheets already available in the Guides and Resources section of the website and should be used in conjunction. They break down exactly what the assessment criteria is asking for and provide valuable hints and tips on how to approach the assessment for each criterion.

8600-341 Leading and motivating a team effectively - Assistance

8607-409 Managing personal development - Assistance

8607-519 Developing and Leading a team to achieve org goals and objs - Assistance

8607-520 Assessing your own leadership capability and performance - Assistance

8607-521 Managing own Continuing Professional Development - Assistance

Understanding the ILM Assessment Criteria and verbs is essential for learners to successfully complete their ILM assessments. Please use these short videos to support your tutors and learners.

Assessment Verbs – with a focus on Describe, Explain and Outline.

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Understanding Leadership - Assessment Criteria – review of Assessment Criteria for the unit and what is required.

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How to Understand Assessment Criteria – what are Assessment Criteria and how they are met.

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