Glossary of terms

We have provided a glossary of all the terminology used within this QualsNI section with which you may not be familiar.


List of organisations

DE Department of Education in Northern Ireland
DfE Department for Education in England
Regulators are the organisations responsible for recognising awarding organisations, developing criteria for qualifications, accrediting these qualifications and monitoring their assessment and awarding
CCEA Regulation is the function within CCEA that acts as the regulator of qualifications in Northern Ireland
Ofqual is the regulator of qualifications in England
Welsh Government one of the roles of the Welsh Government was to function as the regulator of qualifications in Wales
Qualifications Wales is a new organisation which came into being in September 2015 and took over the regulatory functions currently carried out by the Welsh Government
Awarding Organisations (AOs) are organisations that are recognised by regulators for the purpose of developing, assessing and awarding qualifications and issuing certificates for learner achievements
CCEA Awarding Organisation is the function within CCEA that develops, assesses and awards qualifications used in schools and colleges in Northern Ireland and issues certificates for learner achievements
UCAS is the organisation responsible for managing applications to higher education courses in the UK


List of qualifications related terms

A levels are the qualifications that the majority of students use to gain entry to university
AS levels are the qualifications generally taken by students after the first year of their A level course. Students may also take a full A level in the subject
A2 units are the units taken by students at the end of their A level course. Unlike AS units, A2 units, when taken on their own, do not make up a qualification
GCSEs are the main qualifications taken by students at the end of Key Stage 4 (Year 12)
Open qualifications market is a term used to describe a situation where multiple awarding organisations offer regulated qualifications to schools
Grading system is a term used to describe the grades that are issued to students to recognise their achievement in qualifications (for example A*- G)
De-coupled is a term applied to A level qualifications when the AS marks do not contribute to the overall A level grade
Linear is a term applied to a qualification when all the exams have to be taken at the end of the course
Modular is a term applied to a qualification when the exams may be taken in stages throughout the course of study for a qualification
Re-sit is a term used to describe the opportunity for students to re-take an exam / qualification for which they have already received a mark / grade
Reformed GCSEs and A levels are qualifications that have been designed to meet Ofqual and Qualifications Wales criteria and are being introduced over a 3 year period from 2015 to 2017

Other terms

Other terms

NIEFQAN contains a list of all the qualifications that have been approved for use and are being offered in schools in Northern Ireland, along with the performance points that each qualification attracts
Performance points Performance points and GCSE/GCE size equivalence are used by DE as they allow qualifications of different size and grade structures to be compared when measuring school performance at key stage 4 and post 16 in terms of qualifications achieved by pupils
UCAS tariff points are points allocated to post-16 qualifications used for entry to higher education which allows broad comparisons to be made about a wide range of qualifications by universities and colleges