HNVQ Internal Verification Toolkit

Internal verification helps centres ensure assessments are valid, reliable, practicable and fair. It also helps assessors to apply uniform and consistent standards.

Documenting internal verification activities helps manage internal assessment and verification, and plan for improvement. It also shows SQA that an effective internal verification system is in place and helps to safeguard the quality of our qualifications.

Internal verification:

  • ensures assessors understand national standards and can apply them
  • facilitates collaboration between assessors and internal verifiers
  • enables fair, accurate and consistent assessment judgements
  • supports the credibility of internally assessed Units and Awards
  • identifies quality concerns
  • helps protect assessors against challenges to judgements
  • supports preparation for successful external verification


There are three stages and the toolkit lists the activities and provides templates for each stage.

The first stage of internal verification is the pre-delivery stage. This includes:

  • planning the management and co-ordination of internal assessment activities
  • planning the management and co-ordination of internal verification activities
  • ensuring a shared understanding of standards
  • agreeing on assessment approaches
  • preparing learners


Role of assessor Role of internal verifier
Understand roles and responsibilities of assessor and internal verifier.

Ensure assessor and internal verifier roles and responsibilities are clear.

Define approach to internal verification, including sampling.

Be familiar with Unit/Award standards and conditions. Collaborate with assessor(s) and other internal verifiers to ensure shared understanding of Unit/Award standards and conditions.
Propose assessment approach. Assessors can use SQA unit assessment support packs and materials, where provided, or devise their own assessments.

Collaborate to ensure that assessment approach is valid, reliable, practicable, equitable and fair.

Internally verify centre-devised assessment before submitting to SQA for prior verification, where applicable.

Internally verify SQA-published assessments (where applicable) to ensure they are fit for use in the centre.

Prepare candidates for assessment. Confirm agreed assessment guidance for specific Units/Awards is implemented for candidates, including those requiring special assessment arrangements.

If you are offering SVQs, the internal verification system must show that broad agreement has been reached in terms of how assessment will proceed, taking account of centre-devised materials (if any have been developed). This pre-verification check should take into account any associated Assessment Strategy documents.

If you write your own assessments for Higher National or Advanced Units, you must internally verify them before use. We recommend you send them to us for prior verification, once internally verified.


Form for recording assessor(s) and internal verifier(s) for every Unit.

Form for recording discussions and actions from meetings.

Form for recording the internal verification outcomes, assessor feedback and action points.

The second stage of internal verification is the 'during delivery' stage. This includes:

  • creating and managing standardisation activities
  • sampling of candidates' assessed work
  • sampling of assessment practice
  • feedback to assessors
  • consideration of feedback from SQA external verification
  • confirmation of results
  • supporting assessors and answering queries
  • providing a second opinion for appeals, suspected malpractice, and special assessment arrangements


Role of assessor Role of internal verifier
Standardise assessment of candidates with colleagues.

Participate in or lead standardisation activities.

Ensure standardisation activities have taken place.

Raise any concerns or queries. Respond to queries, provide support and guidance to assessors.
Make assessment judgements / respond to feedback from the internal verifier where required.

Sample assessment processes, practices and evidence, including assessor judgements.

Provide feedback to assessor(s).

Provide second opinion in appeals, if required.

Provide second opinion in cases of malpractice, if required.

Feedback to candidates. Agree final results.


Form for recording discussions and actions from meetings during delivery of the qualification.

You will find further guidance to support you during this stage in the toolkit sections on: Standardisation and samplingMonitoring assessor judgements, Internal assessment appeals, and Malpractice.

The last stage of internal verification is post-delivery review. This includes:

  • reflection creating a feedback loop, which can aid improved delivery of the qualification
  • agreeing and planning any necessary changes in assessment approach for the future
  • agreeing and planning any further standardisation activities to address any issues identified
  • agreeing and planning any changes to internal verification processes for the future


Role of assessor Role of internal verifier

Reflect on assessment approach and judgements in relation to: validity, reliability, practicability and accessibility.

Reflect on assessment process.

Reflect on support for candidates.
Agree action plan.

Collaborate with assessor(s) in review of assessment approach, judgements and process.

Reflect on effectiveness of internal verification process, including sampling.

Agree action plan.


Forms can be used for recording discussions and actions from meetings at the end of delivery blocks. 

You might re-visit your internal verification self-assessment to decide if you need to make changes to your approach.

Further guidance and resources

What is an 'assessor'?

An assessor makes SQA units/awards assessment decisions. They may use SQA Assessment Support Packs or devise their own in line with the assessment strategy for the qualification.

What is an 'internal verifier'?

An internal verifier supports assessors in understanding and applying standards works with assessors and other internal verifiers to ensure assessment approaches are fit-for-purpose samples assessment judgements of assessors to ensure they are valid and reliable

The model of internal verification used is at the discretion of the centre. The chosen model needs to work within the context of your own centre.

The internal verifier must not verify the assessment judgements or assessments they have devised.

There are several approaches, including:

  1. Divide responsibility to named staff for particular units/awards. Giving the designated internal verifier a view of all assessment activities relating to the units/awards they are responsible for.
  2. Divide responsibility to named staff for internal verification relating to particular assessors (appropriate for units/awards containing a high degree of performance evidence). Gauging how assessor's make judgements. In this case, methods such as conducting dual/peer observations are useful. 
  3. All members of staff take responsibility for assessing and internally verifying units. Promoting understanding of unit/award requirements and facilitating standardisation.

For guidance on choosing a model, please see our frequently asked questions and use our Internal Verification Self-Assessment Form.

It may be helpful to carry out a self-assessment to establish to what extent your existing processes and documentation meet the requirements of the different stages of internal verification, as defined in the preceding sections of the toolkit.

Form listing the required elements of internal verification and allowing you to add your existing processes, records and actions to address any gaps.

Internal Verification: A Guide for Centres Offering SQA Qualifications (401 KB) gives guidance on a range of standardisation exercises and on sampling of candidate assessment by internal verifiers.

The following examples are standardisation exercises used by centres:

  • agreement trials
  • dual assessment
  • cross assessment
  • evidence review
  • double marking
  • blind marking

Sampling assessment judgements

Your sampling strategy will depend on the structure of your organisation and the range of qualifications you are delivering. The strategy you are using should be recorded.

Sampling might be as simple as two assessors cross-marking a number of candidate assessments.

If, however, you have a number of different assessors and groups of candidates undertaking the same qualification you will need to have a sampling strategy which will allow the internal verifier(s) to check that each assessor is making consistent assessment judgements in line with national standards, with each group of candidates over time.

The number of candidates included in the sample for internal verification should be proportionate to the total number of candidates you have. You might choose to use a defined percentage, or the square root of the total.

In the first year of delivery of a new qualification, you should verify assessments from every candidate group marked by every assessor. You might only need to sample a few from each group, or expand on the sample to explore further.

After the first year, the following factors should be taken into consideration when prioritising what to sample:

  • new assessors (new to the qualification)
  • changes to the Unit or assessments since the last delivery
  • issues identified at the last internal or external verification
  • different approaches to assessment used with different groups
  • different locations of candidates and/or resources used
  • different modes of attendance/study

You may not need to look at every Unit every year, if you are confident that national standards are being applied, and if there have been no changes since the previous year. You could apply a rolling programme of verification sampling to ensure that a check on standards is maintained over time. Once you have carried out initial planned sampling, if you have concerns, you may wish to expand the sample or sample again at a later stage in the delivery, before resulting is allowed.

It is important the approach to sampling that you take within your internal verification system is 'fit for purpose'. On a basic level, if the Units/qualifications you are planning to verify contain a good degree of knowledge, then the records of that knowledge evidence and associated assessment judgements should be sampled as part of the verification process.

When presenting the sample of candidate evidence for internal verification, the assessor should make the internal verifier aware of:

  • Any candidates in the sample who had assessment arrangements because of a disability or learning difficulty and what the arrangement was for the assessment(s) being verified
  • Any candidates in the sample who had remediation in the assessment(s) being verified. Remediation means that the assessor allowed the candidate to clarify their responses in an assessment, either by requiring a written amendment or by oral questioning. This must be formally noted by the assessor, in writing or recording, and made available to internal and external verifiers. Remediation is not allowed in Advanced or HN examination-based Graded Units.

If the Units/qualifications you are planning to verify contain a high degree of performance evidence (as do many S/NVQ/RQF Units), then apart from the usual evidence generated (candidate logs, assessors' observation reports etc), it also makes good quality assurance sense to use — at least as part of your internal verification approach — methods that gauge how assessor judgements are made. In this case, methods such as conducting dual/peer observations can prove useful.

Form for internal verifiers in monitoring the assessment practice of assessors.

Form for recording the sampling of candidates' assessed work by the internal verifier, feedback to the assessor and action points. This is for use for groups of candidates and would be used in conjunction with the records of candidate achievement to record which candidates' work has been sampled.

Form for recording the sampling of individual candidates' assessments (most likely for SVQ candidates).

Internal verification applies to qualifications, or elements of qualifications, that are internally assessed. The fact that they are internally assessed means that the centre delivering them must have a documented procedure for dealing with appeals from candidates about their results in assessments. Internal verifiers have a role in this (see Stage 2 below).

The procedure should have three stages, as follows:

Stage 1 — Informal

The appeals process begins with a preliminary informal stage where the candidate raises their concerns with the assessor.

Stage 2 — Informal

If the matter is not resolved with the assessor, the advice of the internal verifier for the Unit/qualification should be sought on the validity of the result awarded.

Stage 3 — Formal

If the matter is not resolved through the informal stages, a formal appeal should be submitted in writing to a senior member of staff, who will investigate the matter and respond. This could be, for example, a manager or the SQA Co-ordinator. You may want to include in your procedure that an Appeals Panel will be convened at this stage, comprising staff who have not previously been involved in the appeal in question.

The outcome of Stage 3 should be communicated in writing to the candidate and records should be retained.

Each stage should have appropriate timescales set for acknowledging receipt of the appeal and responding. There should also be defined timescales for being able to raise an appeal (eg within a month of the assessment in question).

All candidates must be made aware of the appeals procedure and be offered support in submitting and providing evidence for their appeal.

Centres offering qualifications that are subject to statutory regulation by SQA Accreditation, Ofqual or Qualifications Wales, must also inform candidates that they have additional stages of appeal, once the centre's appeals procedure has been exhausted:

  • appeal to SQA the awarding body
  • appeal to SQA Accreditation, Ofqual or Qualifications Wales (as appropriate) if they feel that the centre and/or SQA (awarding body) has not dealt with their appeal appropriately

SQA Accreditation, Ofqual or Qualifications Wales (as appropriate) cannot overturn assessment decisions or academic judgements but may investigate the effectiveness of the centre and/or SQA's appeals process and require corrective action.

SQA can also deal with complaints about assessment in the broadest sense; including the conduct of, and environment for, assessment but only if the candidate has already exhausted the centre's complaints procedure.

Candidates on regulated qualifications also have the right to complain to SQA Accreditation, Ofqual or Qualifications Wales (as appropriate) once they have exhausted your centre's complaints procedure and the SQA awarding body's complaints procedure.

SQA centres must have procedures for dealing with instances of suspected malpractice in internal assessments. Internal verifiers may be asked to provide a second opinion during investigations of suspected malpractice.

Candidate malpractice

Candidate malpractice means malpractice by a candidate in the course of completing an assessment and can arise in:

  • the preparation and authentication of assessment materials
  • the preparation or presentation of practical work
  • the compilation of portfolios of internal assessment evidence
  • conduct during an internal assessment

For examples of candidate malpractice, see our Malpractice page.

Dealing with suspected cases of candidate malpractice

Candidates must be made aware of what malpractice is and the potential outcomes of committing malpractice.

Where an assessor suspects malpractice in an internal assessment, the internal verifier should be alerted in the first instance and asked for a second opinion. If doubt remains over the authenticity of the candidate's work, then further investigation should be carried out by a relevant manager. This may result in a candidate disciplinary process. Different sanctions may be applied for different categories of malpractice.

It is a requirement for instances of candidate malpractice in regulated qualifications to be reported to SQA, and for records of all investigations of malpractice in all other qualifications to be retained to be provided on request by SQA. This must be written into centre procedures.

Centre malpractice

Malpractice means any act, default or practice (whether deliberate or resulting from neglect or default) which is a breach of SQA assessment requirements including any act, default or practice which:

  • Compromises, attempts to compromise or may compromise the process of assessment, the integrity of any SQA qualification or the validity of a result or certificate; and/ or
  • Damages the authority, reputation or credibility of SQA or any officer, employee or agent of SQA.

Malpractice can arise for a variety of reasons:

  • Some incidents are intentional and aim to give an unfair advantage or disadvantage in an examination or assessment (deliberate non-compliance);
  • Some incidents arise due to ignorance of SQA requirements, carelessness or neglect in applying the requirements (maladministration).

Malpractice can include both maladministration in the assessment and delivery of SQA qualifications and deliberate non-compliance with SQA requirements.

For further information and examples of centre malpractice, see our Malpractice page.

Dealing with centre malpractice

Staff must make every effort to avoid centre malpractice and should report any concerns to the head of centre. It is a requirement that centres report all cases of centre malpractice to SQA. Candidates or other members of the public can also report any instances of suspected malpractice to SQA, who will then investigate the matter.

The internal verification process ensures that the required conditions for assessment are in place and that correct assessment and resulting records are completed and retained in line with SQA's requirements.

We are a large organisation — can we have more than one internal verifier?

Yes, you can share out responsibility for internal verification amongst the staff, or sub-contract with external people to carry out internal verification.

You might want to allocate specific Units to different members of staff to lead on internal verification.

Alternatively, you could have a team approach, with all staff working together on understanding standards, providing mutual support in the internal assessment process and cross-marking each other’s assessments.

You must have appropriate agreements or contracts in place for sub-contracted arrangements, clearly defining roles and responsibilities relating to assessment and internal verification.

Do I need to have specific qualifications or experience to be an internal verifier?

There are SQA Learning and Development Units, which are mandatory for staff assessing and verifying regulated qualifications — see Choosing Appropriate Assessor and Verifier Qualifications (202 KB).

The internal verifier needs to have sufficient subject knowledge to understand the content of assessments and national standards for the award, and be able to confirm that reliable assessment judgements have been made.

Sector-specific Assessment Strategies provide a good source of guidance relating to assessor and verifier qualifications/experience for regulated qualifications.

The L&D Units replaced Unit V1 in May 2011. Internal verifiers who hold this Unit (V1) are still considered to be qualified verifiers and are not required to undertake the new Unit. However, they must be working to the current L&D National Occupational Standards (NOS) and undertaking appropriate continuous professional development.

The IV Toolkit takes account of the L&D11 NOS on which SCQF Internal Verifier and QCF Internal Quality Assurer qualifications are built. This helps ensure there is a strong alignment between company procedures, IV qualifications, IV practice and accreditation body requirements where regulated qualifications are being internally verified.

We are asked to send evidence of internal verification to SQA with HN assessments for prior verification. What kind of evidence is expected?

A named internal verifier needs to confirm that they have approved the version of the assessment sent to SQA as a valid assessment. This could be in the form of a signed front page for the assessment, or a footer on each page of the assessment.

The SQA qualifications verifier will be able to give you better feedback if they can see records of internal verification of the assessments — an exemplar pro forma has been provided for this, if you want to use it (see the section of the IV Toolkit on pre-delivery and understanding standards).

We are asked to provide evidence of internal verification to SQA with candidate assessments for SQA qualification verification. What kind of evidence is expected?

You should provide evidence of sampling and confirmation of results by the internal verifier.

Two exemplar pro formas are provided in the toolkit for recording sampling of candidates’ assessments, feedback to the assessor and any actions taken — if you want to use them (see the section of the IV Toolkit on support and sampling during delivery). One can be used for sampling by Unit, and one for sampling candidate portfolios.

You should provide information when providing assessments to SQA for verification about how your process of internal verification works, and particularly how you ensure that all staff involved in assessment have a consistent interpretation of the standards under assessment. The self-assessment pro formas provided could be helpful in explaining this (see the section of the IV Toolkit on self-assessment).

Do we need to use SQA recording documentation for internal verification?

No — there is no requirement to use the recording documentation provided by SQA in the IV Toolkit. The pro formas provided in this toolkit are just exemplars which you can choose to use or adapt if you wish.

You may wish to use other types of paper forms, or other electronic records.

You can use existing records as evidence of internal verification, if they cover the relevant issues — eg minutes of staff meetings where standards were discussed.

Within your centre, there should be a single policy for internal verification, but you may vary recording documentation to accommodate the range of awards the centre is verifying.

What happens if the internal verifier disagrees with the assessment judgements of the assessor?

Firstly, don’t leave verification to sampling at the end of delivery — focus on ensuring there is a common understanding of the standards before carrying out assessment, and sample assessments during delivery, so that any issues can be addressed.

You should not submit any Unit results for candidates until the issues identified through internal verification are resolved and the internal verifier confirms that resulting can take place.

If there is a difference of opinion, there should be a professional dialogue to reach consensus. If necessary, involve a third party to provide another opinion, or as a sounding-board — this could be, for example, another colleague or a manager.

Is sampling the same as cross-marking? Is cross-marking internal verification?

The SQA document Internal Verification: A Guide for Centres offering SQA Qualifications (401 KB) defines a range of standardisation activities which can be carried out with assessors to develop their shared understanding of the standards, and to support staff who are new to assessing the qualification — this includes cross-marking/cross-assessment, agreement trials, dual assessment, evidence review, double-marking and blind marking.

Sampling is undertaken by the internal verifier to ensure that national standards are being applied consistently by all assessors.

The guidance on sampling strategies in the toolkit explains the criteria which should be taken into account when constructing the sample to be verified — eg first delivery of a qualification or level, a new or inexperienced assessor, different candidate groups/locations/methods of assessment, or issues identified at previous internal or external verification (see the section of the IV Toolkit on support and sampling during delivery).

Do we need to internally verify re-assessments?

If a different assessment is required for re-assessment attempts to maintain the integrity of the assessment, and you are devising this yourself, then it should be internally verified before being used. We would also strongly recommend that it is sent for prior verification by SQA.

Candidate evidence produced for re-assessment attempts should be included within your internal verification sample, to ensure that national standards are being maintained.