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How does Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) actually work?


Awarding organizations for regulated British qualifications have created a guide, endorsed by the Home Office, to assist in evaluating Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) applications. RPL is a process that evaluates a learner's prior non-certificated achievements against the learning outcomes of specific units or qualifications. This involves comparing a candidate's previous learning against the required outcomes of a qualification unit.


Assessment of RPL Evidence


In the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process, evidence is assessed with the same strict standards as any other form of evidence. RPL doesn't exempt learners from completing necessary summative assessments, such as mandatory exams or practical tests. This is because these assessments are essential for evaluating evidence obtained either through previous assessments or the RPL process.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) enables individuals to bypass redundant learning and proceed directly to summative assessments in areas where they can demonstrate competency in the required learning outcomes. However, it is crucial for assessors and quality assurance staff to ensure that these learning outcomes are considered achieved only when the evidence meets the necessary criteria.



For RPL evidence to be considered valid, it should accurately reflect the requirements of the learning outcome. This includes ensuring the evidence is current and relevant to present practices, not outdated or representative of significantly changed methodologies.​



Authenticity in RPL evidence assessment involves verifying that the evidence is indeed the learner's own work. This means determining if the evidence was personally created by the learner or is the outcome of a group effort. In cases where team collaboration is involved, such evidence is acceptable only if it aligns with learning outcomes focused on teamwork or joint efforts, but not for activities expected to be done individually.​



Reliability in RPL evidence assessment means that the evidence must be consistent enough for an assessor to reach the same conclusion if the assessment were conducted again.​



For RPL evidence to be sufficient, it must comprehensively satisfy the requirements of the specified learning outcomes. In cases where the provided evidence is not adequate to meet all requirements, it should be supplemented with additional evidence from other appropriate assessment methods to ensure that all criteria are fully met.​


Outcomes of RPL


When it comes to the outcomes of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), if an individual can provide evidence that fulfils the requirements of specific learning outcomes, they can receive credit based on their existing skills, knowledge, or understanding.

In cases where RPL evidence partially meets the learning outcomes, additional assessments may be necessary to complete the requirements. This approach, endorsed by regulators and Ofqual, ensures that credit is awarded only when evidence meets the standards of the unit, whether it's obtained entirely or partly through RPL.

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