Understand our rules

Find out about Ofqual's rules for the qualifications and assessments we regulate.

Applies to England


Ofqual is England’s statutory regulator for:

  • qualifications
  • early years foundation stage profile and national curriculum assessments (which together we refer to as ‘national assessments’).

We have set a range of rules for regulated qualifications, as well as guidance which supports those rules. We have also set out separate rules for national assessments.

This page will help you understand which of our rules and guidance apply to you, and to the qualifications and assessments you offer.

The Ofqual Handbook - rules and guidance for qualifications

For the qualifications we regulate, we have set a range of both general and qualification-specific rules and guidance, which collectively we refer to as the Ofqual Handbook.

General rules and guidance

These apply to all the qualifications and organisations we regulate. All regulated awarding organisations have to follow them.

We’ve also published information that explains how our General Conditions of Recognition differ from the equivalent rules in Northern Ireland and Wales.

Additional rules and guidance for specific qualifications

These apply to specific kinds of qualifications. Only the awarding organisations that offer (or want to offer) these qualifications have to follow them.

Ofqual Explains

Ofqual Explains is a series of videos about our regulatory framework which we launched in December 2018.

The videos, hosted on our Youtube channel, are designed to aid understanding and awareness of our rules and guidance, but do not form part of our statutory regulatory framework.

Rules and guidance for national assessments

Published 19 November 2014
Last updated 309 NovemberJuly 20232024 + show all updates
  1. Removed links to special rules for general qualifications during 2002, which were only valid for that year.

  2. Updated to include newly-published Qualification Level Conditions for Progression Qualifications.

  3. Added link to Conditions and requirements - Level 2 Technical Occupation Qualifications Qualification Level Conditions

  4. Removed links to some of the special rules for general qualifications during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as rules for legacy GCSEs, AS and A levels, as they are no longer in force.

  5. Added link to confirmed Alternative Academic and Alternative Technical Qualifications Qualification Level Conditions, Requirements and Guidance, following consultation.

  6. Added links to the GCE and GCSE subject-level conditions and guidance documents for qualifications awarded in 2022.

  7. Added links to the General Qualifications Alternative Awarding Framework and VTQ Contingency Regulatory Framework.

  8. Added links to the 2021 GCSE, AS and A level subject-level conditions that will apply to qualifications awarded in 2021.

  9. Added a link, under 'general rules and guidance', to a document that briefly details the regulatory differences between England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

  10. Added extraordinary conditions relating to awarding general qualifications in summer 2020.

  11. Added a link to the Extraordinary regulatory framework: VTQ Covid-19 Conditions and Requirements.

  12. Added new rules for certain qualifications included in school performance tables

  13. Added new link to online 'handbook' for Essential Digital Skills qualifications

  14. Updated to include Essential Digital Skills Conditions and Requirements

  15. Published new rules and guidance for Technical Qualifications

  16. Added information about our new video series, Ofqual Explains

  17. Updated to reflect release of Ofqual Handbook

  18. We have added more information about the upcoming launch of a new, online format for our rules and guidance.

  19. Added new rules for Ofqual-regulated apprenticeship end-point assessments

  20. Updated following launch of beta version of Ofqual handbook.

  21. Updated following withdrawal of rules for key skills qualifications, and changes to qualifications covered by our specifications under section 96 of the Equality Act 2010

  22. Updated following withdrawal of our rules for adult literacy and numeracy qualifications

  23. Added a link to National Assessment framework.

  24. Updated to reflect withdrawal of requirements for the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)

  25. Updated to include documents published to support our new Regulated Qualifications Framework, and our criteria for determining whether a qualification is 'relevant' for the purposes of the Education and Skills Act 2008

  26. Added a link to the 'Regulatory Documents List'.

  27. First published.