Exemptions, Equivalences and Recognition of Prior Learning Policy


This policy is aimed at our customers, including learners, who are delivering/enrolled on or have taken an ABMA Education (hereafter ‘ABMA’) approved qualification or unit. It sets out the process learners and centres should follow when applying for exemptions, equivalences and recognition of prior learning (RPL).

Centre responsibility

It is important that your learners are aware of the contents of this policy.

It is also important that members of your staff involved in the management, delivery, assessment and quality assurance of our qualifications are aware of the contents of this policy.

Review arrangements

We will review this policy annually as part of our self-evaluation arrangements and revise it as and when necessary, in response to customer and learner feedback or requests from, or good practice guidance issued by, Ofqual, or other relevant bodies.

If you would like to feed back any views please contact us via the details provided at the end of this policy.

What are Exemptions?

An exemption is certificated learning from non-regulated provision.

If a learner has completed a course or qualification that is not regulated we will review this qualification/course under exemption.

What are Equivalences?

An equivalence is certificated learning from other regulated provision.

If a learner has completed a course or qualification that is regulated by Ofqual, or similar, we will review this qualification/course as equivalent.

Evidence to support Exemption and Equivalence applications

ABMA recognised exemptions and equivalences

Recognised exemptions and equivalences are published in the qualification specification.

When applying for recognised exemptions and equivalences, learners will be expected to submit a copy of their certificate(s). If the certificate does not provide a breakdown of the units completed, then learners will also be expected to submit a copy of the qualification transcript/breakdown.

The onus is on the learner to supply ABMA with all the evidence needed to support the application at the time of submission.

ABMA will then review the evidence submitted.

Other exemptions and equivalences

For other forms of certified learning not published in qualification specification, learners will need to submit:

  • Copies of certificates
  • Copies of transcripts/breakdowns
  • Copies of the course syllabus
  • Other relevant information which we request

The onus is on the learner to supply ABMA with all the evidence needed to support the application.

ABMA will then review the evidence submitted.

What is RPL?

 RPL is non-certificated learning and must not be confused with equivalences or exemptions.

RPL is defined as “a method of assessment that considers whether learners can demonstrate that they can meet the assessment requirements for a unit through knowledge, understanding or skills they already possess and so not need to develop through a course of learning”.[1]

Examples of non-certified learning includes, but is not limited to:

  • Work experience
  • Non-certified training
  • Volunteer work
  • Hobbies

Evidence to support RPL application

Learners must submit as much evidence as they can when, both what they would consider relevant and perhaps less relevant, when applying for RPL.

For example, if applying for RPL because of work experience, the learner would need to submit a letter, on company headed paper, from their employer detailing what the learner does/has done as part of their role.

The onus is on the learner to supply ABMA with all the evidence needed to support the application at the time of submission.

ABMA will then review the evidence submitted.

RPL review criteria

When reviewing an RPL application, we must assure ourselves that the evidence negates the need for the learner to be taught the specific unit(s) of the qualification. Therefore the evidence submitted must cover all the learning outcomes and associated criteria of the unit(s).

We will ask, is the evidence:

  • Valid
    • The evidence submitted is cross-referenced with all the learning outcomes and associated criteria of the unit(s)
  • Authentic
    • The evidence is assessed for authenticity. For example, if a letter outlining a learner’s work experience has been submitted, we would contact the employer to verify the letter’s authenticity
  • Sufficient
    • There must be enough evidence submitted to cover all the learning outcomes and associated criteria for the unit(s)
  • Reliable
    • The evidence is assessed against all the learning outcomes and associated criteria of the unit(s) to determine whether or not the learning demands of the unit(s) has/have been met
    • We would assess whether or not we are confident that the evidence:
      • negates the need for formal learning, and
      • whether the learner could undertake the formal assessment if they did not partake in the formal learning

The learner is either granted or not granted RPL.

What does being granted RPL mean?

If a learner has successfully demonstrated that they qualify for RPL, then they do not need to be taught the unit, i.e. they will not be expected to undertake formal learning such as lectures, seminars, classes, etc.

However, what is important about RPL is Ofqual’s General Condition E10.2 (b) which states that RPL is “recognition by an awarding organisation of that learning and/or attainment through amendment to the requirements which a Learner must have satisfied before the Learner will be assessed or that qualification will be awarded”.

ABMA learners will, therefore, be expected to be formally assessed to ensure that they have completed the unit/set of learning outcomes.

So, learners granted RPL will be expected to complete the formal assessment alongside those learners who have undertaken the formal learning associated with that unit. Types of formal assessment include, but is not limited to:

  • External Examinations
  • Controlled Assessments
  • Internal Assessment (e.g. essays, reports, etc.)

How to submit an application for Equivalences, Exemptions and RPL

As the learner is central to the process – it will be ultimately their choice and responsibility whether to apply to claim equivalences, exemptions and RPL. Learners must therefore play an active role and contact their centre to request an application be made.

Applications for equivalences, exemptions and RPL must be submitted by centres on their learners’ behalf. Prior to submitting the application, it is the centre’s responsibility to make the initial consideration and determine if the learner’s request is appropriate. If the centre is in any doubt they should request advice/clarification from ABMA.

Upon authorising the request, the centre must ensure that appropriate evidence and documentation is reviewed and/or maintained and ensure that this is submitted to ABMA upon application.

Centres need to log onto ABMA Interactive (AI), click on ‘Enquiry Form’ and under ‘Enquiry Type’, select ‘RPL, Exemption, Proxy, Equivalence Enquiry’.

In ‘Enquiry details’, state whether you are applying for equivalences, exemptions or RPL.

For equivalences and exemptions, centres must go onto the ABMA website, download, complete and attach the relevant form to the enquiry raised in AI. Please note that the same form is used for both equivalences and exemptions. To access this form, go to ‘Learners’ à ‘Forms’ à ‘ABMA Exemption Application Forms’ (the same form is used for exemptions, equivalence and RPL applications).

Before you submit the application, you must ensure that you attach all the available information that will help with the application under ‘Enquiry details’ of the Enquiry Form.

Deadlines for applications

 Applications for exemptions, equivalences and RPL must be received by the examination spreadsheet deadline.


 If you wish to appeal against our decision to not grant exemptions, equivalences or RPL, please refer to our Appeals Policy.

Contact us

If you have any queries about the contents of the policy, please contact our Quality Department at:

ABMA Education

7 Queens Square | Lyndhurst Road | Ascot | Berkshire | SL5 9FE | United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 20 8733 7000

E-mail: quality@abma.uk.com

Web: www.abma.uk.com


[1] Ofqual, DCELLS and CEA (2008). Regulatory arrangements for the Qualifications and Credit Framework. Ofqual, DCELLS and CEA, p. 42

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