Scheme of assessment

Find mark schemes, and specimen assignments for new courses, on our website at

Assessments for this specification are available on-demand on the secure area of the website e-AQA.

Certification for this specification is available for the first time in June 2017 and then every January and June for the lifetime of the specification.

All materials are available in English only.

Aims and learning outcomes

Courses based on this mathematics specification should provide a broad, coherent, satisfying and worthwhile course of study. They should encourage students to develop confidence in, and a positive attitude towards mathematics and to recognise the importance of mathematics in their own lives and to society. They should also provide a strong mathematical foundation for students who go on to study mathematics at a higher level.

Courses based on this specification should encourage students to develop:

  • a willingness and ability to work independently and co-operatively
  • an ability to understand mathematical ideas and to communicate them in a variety of modes
  • an appreciation of the ways in which mathematics is used
  • the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to apply a range of mathematical concepts to situations which may arise in their own lives
  • an ability to use mathematics across the curriculum
  • a firm foundation for appropriate further study.

Assessment objectives

The assessment objectives (AOs) have been set by AQA. These assessment objectives are based on the assessment objectives from GCSE Mathematics, first teaching 2015. In this way the ELC assessment objectives show clear progression of skills to GCSE Mathematics.

The internally set and externally set assignments in all components will require learners to demonstrate their ability to:

AO1: Use and apply standard techniques

Students should be able to:

  • accurately recall facts, terminology and definitions
  • use and interpret notation correctly
  • accurately carry out routine procedures
  • accurately carry out set tasks requiring multi-step solutions.

AO2: Reason, interpret and communicate mathematically; solve problems within mathematics and in other contexts

Students should be able to:

  • draw conclusions from mathematical information
  • construct chains of reasoning to achieve a given result
  • interpret information accurately
  • communicate information accurately
  • present arguments
  • translate problems in mathematical contexts into a process or series of processes
  • translate problems in non-mathematical contexts into a process or series of processes.

Both assessment objectives will be assessed in each component at a level of demand and in proportions which are appropriate for entry level learners and for the content of the component.


The scheme of assessment allows attainment to be recognised at Entry Levels 1, 2 and 3. These levels are the equivalent to National Curriculum Levels 1, 2 and 3.

Students are required to submit for assessment and moderation, evidence from eight components. Each component is equally weighted with a maximum of 30 marks per component.

Externally set assignments

All eight components have three externally set assignments available covering Entry 1, 2 and 3.

Initially marked by the teacher to a mark scheme supplied by AQA, each externally-set assignment will form part of the portfolio which is sent to the AQA moderator.

Marks are gained for correct answers on the externally set assignments. Each assignment has a maximum mark of 30 and so the final total mark for this external section of the portfolio is

number of components × marks achieved per component.

Students must attempt one externally set assignment for four or more components for which they wish to submit external work. These must be taken under controlled conditions, directly supervised by the teacher.

The components may be taken in any order and at any time throughout the course. It is not a requirement that all students do an assignment at the same time; this is at your discretion. It is expected that each assessment will be completed by most students within 45 minutes.

You may, at your discretion, extend this time allowance if required.

Students may be given one page of the assignment at a time and so complete the assignment at different sittings should they wish.

Students may not make more than one attempt at the same externally set assignment for a component, although they may attempt a different assignment if they fail, for whatever reason, to complete the first assignment.

Once a student has completed an externally-set assignment, it must be kept securely until required for moderation.

Calculators are allowed in all components except Component 2.

Internally set class work

Any remaining components submitted for moderation should consist of classwork completed by the student. Teachers should set work on each of the outcomes detailed in the subject content. However, students who submit clear evidence for Entry 3 outcomes may be assumed to have met some Entry 1 and 2 outcomes in some cases. Details of components where outcomes are subsumed are given in the Appendices.

Each outcome in the internal assessment may be awarded one mark if successfully completed. No half marks are available. Each component has 15 outcomes and therefore a maximum of 15 marks.

This mark will be doubled so that internal components have the same weighting as the external components.

Internally-assessed class work can take various forms, including worksheets, work from text books and poster displays. When devising such tasks, care should be taken to ensure that students are given the opportunity to respond to all outcomes, at an appropriate level and in appropriate detail.

Class work may be based in other subjects or curriculum areas or may be designed as independent activities. For example, a student may have written a story in their English lessons involving elements relating to the component on the calendar and time. If this is the case, each of the mathematics component outcomes must be clearly identifiable within the assessment task and must be capable of being evidenced as required by the component. A photocopy of the work carried out in the other subject area would be acceptable for submission.

All the work required for the externally set assignments and internally-assessed class work can be delivered as classroom based activities. Students should have access to mathematical instruments and calculators. Other resources might make for effective delivery of specific components, including:

  • computers and software packages
  • other support material – eg timetables, money, building blocks etc.

All assignments will be marked by the teacher/lecturer, in accordance with mark schemes/instructions provided by AQA, and will subsequently be moderated by AQA.

The level of award (Entry 1, Entry 2 or Entry 3) will be based on the student’s total mark out of 240. AQA will review the relationship between total mark thresholds and the level of award at an awarding meeting following each series.

Assessment support

It is recognised that at Entry 1 and Entry 2, many students have learning difficulties which involve a range of communication skills. It is important that the Entry Level Certificate is accessible to and achievable by such students. Therefore, in assessing Entry 1 and Entry 2 outcomes, teachers may, where necessary, submit as evidence of student attainment a teacher written record of student responses as an alternative to student recorded responses. A student may communicate his/her responses by eye contact, pointing, signing, or by using a method particular to him/her, provided that the teacher makes a written record of such responses for assessment and moderation purposes.

At Entry 3, it is expected that the students will normally be able to record their own responses and any teacher assistance given will be limited to the use of strategies designed to improve accessibility such as:

  • the re-phrasing (without simplification) of tasks or questions which have not been understood
  • the explanation of terms or phrases used in tasks and questions where such explanation does not, in itself, provide the information which the student must supply
  • the provision of feedback in relation to inappropriate or inadequate answers given by the student where such feedback does not, in itself, provide the information which the student must supply.

However, where this is not possible, special arrangements may be requested.

Guidance on the design and assessment of component assignments, classwork and the structure of the course will be provided by AQA advisers and annual standardising training. Exemplars and guidance material will also be published on the AQA website, within the maths resource zone.

All assignments must be taken under conditions in which the teacher/lecturer can authenticate that they are the student’s own work.

The conditions required for the supervision and authentication of internally assessed work are given in the Assessment administration part of this specification.


Students entered for the Entry Level Certificate are not required to provide evidence for all the outcomes listed, but they should be encouraged to complete as much as possible, as failure to do so may prevent them demonstrating the qualities needed to reach Entry 1, Entry 2 or Entry 3.

Evidence must be presented for moderation for all components. For all components, it must be clear which outcomes have been achieved and how marks have been awarded.

The work submitted for assessment should not include all the work completed by a student in preparation for assessment – only that which is required by each component.

If you would like to enter students for the complementary Unit Award Scheme, (UAS) you should check the evidence required at See also the Appendices part of this specification.

Portfolio/folder of work : at the end of the course students must submit a portfolio of work.

This portfolio will be in two parts.

The first part will contain between four and eight externally set assignments.

The second part will contain between zero and four components of class work.

Evidence from all eight components in the portfolio of work should be available for moderation.

Differentiating factors

The eight components cover mathematics content to Level 3 of the National Curriculum. As such, the ELC content provides a sound starting point for progression to or parallel study of the Foundation Tier of GCSE Mathematics or Level 1 Functional Skills Mathematics. GCSE specification references have been provided for each outcome where appropriate (see Subject content).