NPA Cyber – Alternative assessments now live

Those of you who have been following this development will be aware that the alternative assessments for NPA Cyber Security have been in production for some time now. This project was significantly delayed due to a number of setbacks. Firstly, the original alternative assessments produced were not deemed fit for purpose after undergoing quality assurance procedures. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and other priorities took over.

However, this project was resumed after summer and I am pleased to advise that the alternative assessments are now live on SOLAR. If your centre already has access to NPA Cyber Security assessments on SOLAR, then the new alternative assessments should also appear without the need to request them. If you have any issues accessing the assessments, please contact the SOLAR team.

The alternative assessments do not replace the current assessments on SQA Secure (ie SOLAR test and tasks in ASP), but provide an opportunity for centres to assess their learners in an alternative way . Centres are free to decide which assessment to use based on what is most suitable for their learners and their circumstances.

The alternative assessments cover the knowledge evidence (ie Outcomes 1 and 2) of Data Security, Digital Forensics and Ethical Hacking at SQCF Levels 4-6. Although it was envisaged that the practical assessments would also be reviewed (see last blog update), this has not been possible at this time. Therefore, the practical component is still covered by the tasks set out in the Assessment Support Pack (ASP) that is available on SQA Secure. However, in order to avoid centres having to resort to two different sources to access the assessments, the practical tasks have been packaged up and uploaded to SOLAR alongside the alternative assessments. Therefore, the entire assessments for each level can now be accessed via SOLAR. Some more detail of the alternative assessments is provided below:

  • There is one knowledge assessment for each level (ie one for Level 4; one for Level 5; and one for Level 6) covering the three units (ie Data Security, Ethical Hacking and Digital Forensics).The knowledge assessment follows an integrated approach and is comprised of scenario-based tasks to cover Outcome 1 and Outcome 2 of all three units. All tasks must be successfully completed in order to pass the assessment.
  • There is one practical assessment comprised of practical tasks (same tasks as in ASP). Therefore, the practical assessment still follows a unit-by-unit approach. All tasks must be successfully completed in order to pass the assessment.

Although many of you will be familiar with the functionality of SOLAR for multiple-choice tests, which are automatically marked, these alternative assessments are human-marked. Therefore, assessors will need to allocate a mark (0 for unsatisfactory, 1 for satisfactory) when working through the candidate’s assessment upon completion. There is a step-by-step video explaining human marking for SOLAR assessments:

Please do not hesitate to contact the team if you have any queries.