This advice, aimed at cutting down on the number of reassessments and minimising burdens on teachers, is the latest to emerge from the Higher Still Development Unit (TESS, last week).
The assessment of three units which go to make up each of the new post-16 courses could be combined to form a prelim towards the end of a course in February or March, the HSDU suggests.
The guidance for schools and other examination centres cautions against imposing too great a burden on pupils and adds: "If unit assessments are grouped, it would be for the centre to decide whether to spread assessment over a number of normal, timetabled sessions or whether to make special timetabling arrangements so that assessments can be carried out in a single event."
Higher Still programmers believe this strategy of combining unit assessments will lay to rest fears about the frequency of assessment. They also suggest that concentrating assessment towards the end of a course would allow pupils to turn in a better performance which itself would cut down the need for reassessments.
As we disclosed last week, the HSDU feels that pupils should be reassessed no more than twice. But the guidance states that pupils should be told that two unsuccessful assessments, the original attempt and one further effort, would indicate that the work is proving too tough and they should switch to the level below.
The 89-page document also contains advice on mixed-level groups, recording and reporting on student attainment, assessing core skills and staff development.
Seminars on assessment for senior school and college managements will be held during the coming session.