BTEC Nationals in Business: assessment support | Pearson qualifications

BTEC Nationals in Business: assessment support

Thu Jun 27 10:43:00 UTC 2024

This page will try and help you understand the assessment of our Level 3 (RQF) BTEC Nationals in Business.

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There is also a sister page to support you in the delivery of this qualification.

Internally assessed units

An assignment is set after the content of specific learning aims has been delivered.  The assignment is a distinct activity completed independently by learners, and is separate from the teaching and learning for that learning aim or aims.

An assignment is issued to learners as an assignment brief with a defined start date, a completion date and clear requirements for the evidence that they need to provide. A valid assignment will enable a clear and formal assessment outcome based on the assessment criteria.

The specification for each unit includes the assessment criteria and guidance for assessors in the section headed 'Essential information for assessment decisions'.

The BTEC Centre Guides below provide guidance on how to run the assessment of internally assessed units.

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Our new on-demand CPD offer is available on our Quality Assurance Events & Support webpage, applicable to BTEC Entry Level/Level 1 Introductory through to Level 3 qualifications.

Each package includes a short video, an activity to consolidate understanding, the answers, and a PDF copy of the video presentation.

 Title Description
Roles and Responsibilities of the Assessor What should an Assessor be doing at key points during the academic year?
Good Practice Producing Assessment Plans Need some help with unit sequencing, assessment or internal verification dates?
Marking, Assessment Records and Feedback Do you want to provide high quality feedback to your learners? How should the Assessment Record form be completed to a high standard?
BTEC Resubmission and Retake Rules (COMING SOON) When can a resubmission and retake be authorised and how do they differ?
Understanding and Managing Plagiarism How can you identify and prevent plagiarism and the inappropriate use of Artificial Intelligence?
Internal Verification  
Title Description
Roles and Responsibilities of the Internal Verifier What should an Internal Verifier be doing at key points during the academic year?
Planning for Internal Verification Do you need some help with creating Internal Verification plans?
Effective Internal Verification Are you completing internal verification (IV) documents to a high standard? Here we explore how to complete the IV of Assignment Brief and IV of Assessment Decisions templates.

What to teach?

Here the answer is simple.  Please teach all of the specification content.

What to assess?

The BTEC Centre Guide to Internal Assessment states:

Do Assignment Briefs need to cover all unit/component content?

No. Your assignment brief needs to cover just what is being assessed so no need to include the entire unit content.

All unit/component content needs to be taught, where relevant, to provide learners with the breadth and depth to their studies. There is no formula for how much content needs to be assessed.

The amount of content the learner will need to refer to will depend on the specific requirements of the actual assignment and the requirements of the assessment criteria and associated assessment guidance which can sometimes prescribe which areas of the unit/component content needs to be assessed.

Section 6 of the BTEC National specifications includes the following:

As assignments provide a final assessment, they will draw on the specified range of teaching content for the learning aims. The specified content is compulsory. The evidence for assessment need not cover every aspect of the teaching content as learners will normally be given particular examples, case studies or contexts in their assignments. For example, if a learner is carrying out one practical performance, or an investigation of one organisation, then they will address all the relevant range of content that applies in that instance.

We have provided Authorised Assignment Briefs (AABs) which you can download and use with your learners.

A summary of what’s changed:

  • real-life candidate malpractice examples involving AI that has not been referenced appropriately (see new appendix A)
  •  new information on how to authenticate private candidate work
  •  a new section, AI use and marking, to give clearer guidance on the impact on marking of student use of AI tools and on the use of AI tools by assessors when marking, with real-life examples (see new appendix B)
  • an expanded list of AI tools and AI detection tools.

There is an updated version of the Assessment Record template for BTEC Entry – Level 3, these can be accessed on the BTEC forms and guides webpage.

This template now includes an updated authenticity declaration to include acknowledgement of any use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools. This form is provided for immediate use.

AI declaration

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If you design and use your own Assessment Record, please ensure this is updated to replicate the authenticity statement in our template/s.

All of the forms required for assessment and verification can be downloaded from the web site.

Assessment guidance

The guidance below is largely taken from Senior Standards Verifier (SSV) Reports.

For this mandatory unit, up to four different businesses are required – two contrasting businesses for Learning Aims A and B, another business for Learning Aims C and D and a further business for Learning Aim E.

For Learning Aims A and B:

Contrasting businesses are to be selected individually by learners. The contrast is in the features: ownership and liability, or size, or sector or purpose. It is not necessary to have one for-profit and one not-for-profit business as required by the previous QCF qualification suite. We advise that learners do not choose their own centre as one of the businesses, largely because they are difficult to understand in terms of ownership and liability and learners often make mistakes about this feature.  A small sole trader might not allow learners the opportunity to do justice to the requirements of the assessment criteria - for example, complex relationships with stakeholders, organisation structure and functional areas might be limited with a sole trader.

The features, outlined in the unit content, should be considered in equal measure in each business. We don’t want comprehensive coverage of one business with sparse coverage in the contrasting business. Stakeholders of each business should be similarly given equal consideration and their influence should be relevant to each business. This also applies to organisation structure and aims and objectives. We want to see that the theory which you’ve taught is applied to the specific selected businesses. Generic organisation charts and generic coverage of what different departments do is not appropriate.  

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For Learning Aims C and D:

Learning Aims C&D look at the external environment and the market in which a business operates. Learners could use one of the businesses used for Learning Aims A&B, or choose a different business altogether.  


The internal and external environment is usually done well and learners can readily use situational analysis techniques. But it must be stressed that a good piece of work will apply to the specific business, rather than generic PESTLE, SWOT, 5C’s and Porter’s 5 Forces which is abundantly available on many websites.


For C.D2 learners need to make a judgement on how well the chosen business is affected by the environment in which it operates, and show they understand and can use a variety of situational analysis techniques. In order to achieve this evaluation they should discuss the effects of the internal, external and competitive environments on the business and assess these effects for C.P4 and C.M3. They should also show they know how to use situational analysis techniques and apply to a business: PESTLE, SWOT, Porter's Five Forces and 5 C's. They should use at least two of these techniques for the award of C.P5 and more for the higher criteria.

Business markets tend to be less well done as these concepts are more difficult to understand and apply to an actual business. We expect clear explanations of market theory, how the market will influence the chosen business when making pricing and output decisions. Supply and demand curves are illustrative, but they should be clearly explained, and referenced.


For Learning Aim D, business markets are the focus: D.D3 requires an evaluation of how changes in the market have impacted on a business, and how this might affect the reaction of the business to future changes. To achieve this Distinction criterion, market structure, including supply and demand and how these affect pricing and output decisions should be explored for D.P6 and assessed for D.M4.


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For Learning Aim E:

Every business is potentially ripe for investigation, not just the iconic Apple which learners often use to extol the products rather than really get to the bottom of how its success can be linked to innovation and enterprise. A more mundane business, like Aldi, offers more potential.


A set of slides produced by a group of learners is not appropriate evidence here as it is not possible to perceive individual contribution and understanding. Learners should always show their individual knowledge with their own detailed speaker notes - if they choose to do a group presentation.  


The AAB asks for a presentation, but if this will be difficult to manage if you have a large number of learners in the class, you do not have to stick with this instruction. The learners could produce powerpoint slides for their evidence, but slides are limiting so it's important they have notes view. Or you could ask the learners to write a report.  

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For this unit it is expected that learners will work in small groups. Organising an event on your own is tricky but a group of learners will be able to plan and run a sizable event which gives scope to achieve all the criteria. But, remember group evidence is not acceptable, and learners must produce their own, individual evidence of their contribution and participation.

Please make sure the event allows the learners to demonstrate the skills and activities required in the assessment criteria and that individual evidence is produced. The important thing is individual learners have the opportunity to do justice to the unit requirements and produce their own evidence.  

The event itself must be sufficiently complex. Learners have to plan and stage the event to showcase their organisational and management skills. Something like a school/college special event for other students to raise money for charity would be appropriate. Something like a raffle is too simple and not suitable.

Th 2016 OSCA materials include an example of learner work for Learning Aims B-E.

For Learning Aims B and C:

As well as investigating ideas for an event, learners should consider actual big events they’ve had experience of; they must consider the factors which these events have in common to make them successful to meet B.P3.  Learning Aims B & C are both concerned with planning the event and this work should be done before the event is staged.


The detailed plan they produce must use more than one planning tool and remember this must include a budget, contingency plan and risk assessment, all completed individually. We want to see a valid analysis of key factors, including awareness of the importance of contingency planning for C.M3. Learners’ records and diaries/logs of the planning process are expected in their evidence. They should produce a survey for delegates to analyse. 

For Learning Aims D and E:

The staging of the event is covered in Learning Aim D and the review of the event is covered in Learning Aim E, and this work should be done after the event itself.


During the staging of the event, learners must show that they have played a part in managing aspects of the day. They should write about this and we expect a Record of Activity to support this, completed by the Assessor. After the event the success of the event should be reviewed, and the delegates’ feedback analysed and help them identify improvements.  

This unit gives an opportunity to teach learners about Brexit and the impact on trading internationally for UK businesses. To do this, learners will have to use UK businesses, and this is recommended as it allows them to investigate finance/support and barriers, trade agreements.

For Learning Aims A and B:  

Two contrasting UK businesses operating in contrasting markets are required. The contrast could be in terms of sector, purpose or size and the markets will be developing or developed. Businesses like Coca Cola, Apple, Nike are not good choices for this unit.  Learners should use the same businesses for LAs A and B and choose one of them for AB.D1.


The chosen businesses should be two contrasting businesses which operate in different markets (developed, emerging or less developed). In order to fulfil the requirements of the assessment criteria, the contrasts could be – manufacturing/service, importing/exporting, existing multinational/small business starting to trade internationally.

Learners need to bring out the contrast in the ways they operate internationally. It would be better if the businesses were not in the same industry as this would give learners more scope to investigate the differences. The point is that learners have to explain the main features of globalisation and if the businesses are similar, then they won't have much scope to consider the features indicated in section B1. Of course, they should also use contrasting markets for A.P1, emerging, developing and developed as indicated in A1.


The specification states on the first page: Learners study how UK businesses develop strategies to trade globally. Learners will also consider the factors that influence the implementation of these strategies. So, this unit works best if learners choose contrasting businesses which originate in the UK. The reason for this is because in the unit specification, A3 covers support for business operating internationally and this has to be analysed for A.M1.

For Learning Aims C and D:  

One of the businesses used for Learning Aim A and B can be used or a different business altogether. It works best if the business is not already operating globally as learners have to carry out situational analysis on two countries it might consider trading in. The same business can be used for cultural aspects and adapting processes and products for different markets for Learning Aim E.


For LAs C&D learners need to select a business which could consider operating in two different countries. Learners need to carry out situational analysis and to consider cultural differences.


So for LA C, the learners should be aiming for C.D2 where they are recommending one country for a business to operate in. To get to that point, they should consider two countries where a selected business could operate and think about the external factors which will influence them making this decision. The situational analysis should therefore be carried out on two countries, and equal consideration given to them which is then used to make the recommendation to meet C.D2 of one of the countries.


PESTLE is the situational analysis referred to in the unit content C1, so this is what learners should carry out on the two countries they have chosen for C.M3.


For LA D, the requirement is about cultural factors which generally will affect international businesses and learners don't have to apply this to a named business, but they can of course give examples. D.M4 is not a comparison but an analysis - so detailed examination of different aspects and the relationship between the different factors.

For Learning Aim E:  
Learning Aim E should use a named, selected business which is trading internationally, and looks at strategic and operational issues. Learners could therefore choose a different business to ones already used, or use one already researched for the other LAs.

This is a popular optional unit. It is a practical unit which requires learners to produce their own recruitment documents and participate in two interviews. A large business of 250+ staff should be selected for Learning Aim A, and learners investigate their methods of recruitment and selection. Many businesses publish such information online for potential recruits, but learners must not copy/paste chunks from a website as this doesn’t show they’ve understood the process. They must show they understand why the business adheres to ethics and legislation, not just that there are laws to protect people.

For Learning Aims B and C:  

For Learning Aim B:

Learners must produce their own job description, person specification and advert. It is not acceptable to download these from a company website. It should be a job realistic for someone following a National in Business, so a managerial position may be aspirational, but it isn’t suitable. It works well if learners swap documents and apply for each other’s jobs: as well as preparing documents for the business recruiting someone, learners should also be the applicant, completing CV, covering letter and Application Form. All these documents are required as a minimum. Learners don’t have to design the Application Form, and this can be downloaded from a website.


Preparation for the interview should be researching suitable questions, what to wear, travelling, demeanour etc and the role plays should be as realistic as possible. Learners should note interview responses when in the interviewer role and make a decision on whether to recruit. As with any role play, it is strongly recommended to record the interviews (audio or visually) for a number of reasons. It means that the performance and asking/answering of analytical questions can be authenticated by the internal verifier and standards verifier. Importantly, it also means the learners can listen/see their performance which will help them review their performance for Learning Aim C.


If this isn’t possible, then a fully detailed and individual Record of Activity should support the achievement of criteria and peers can complete a Witness Statement.


For Learning Aim C:

The learners have to complete two SWOTs for the interviewer and interviewee roles and from this information, prepare a personal skills development plan. They should be thinking about future interviews and career development in this learning aim.

Externally asessed units

There are four externally assessed units and they are either of 90 or 120 GLH.

Each assessment is taken under specified conditions, then marked by Pearson and a grade awarded. Learners are permitted to resit external assessments twice during their programme. Learners may resit an external assessment to obtain a higher grade of near pass or above. If a learner has more than one attempt, then the best result will be used for qualification grading.

These two videos provide a useful introduction to BTEC external assessment and how best to prepare learners for them.


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Examiners' reports

After each exam series, the Lead Examiner for each unit writes a report to provide feedback to teachers. Examiners' reports are the communication channel between senior examiners and teachers and contain an explanation of how the senior examiners have interpreted the mark schemes as well as examples of both good and poor candidate responses.

You can download the question papers, mark schemes and examiners' reports for each past exam series and taken together, these will give you the best insight into what is required in each unit.

In this unit learners examine marketing aims and objectives for existing products/services and understand the importance of relevant, valid and appropriate research in relation to the needs and wants of customers. They will use market research data and other information to make recommendations about the type of marketing campaign that a business should undertake.

Part A introduces learners to the context and consists of a research pack released on the afternoon before the Part B is taken.  Learners can use their time with Part A to annotate the research pack and to prepare up to two sides of A4 notes to take into the Part B supervised assessment.  Learners’ notes can include notes about the provided research.  Learners’ notes must not include any attempt to pre-prepare marketing plans, budgets or timelines. Please note that any attempt to do this it may actually restrict learners’ ability to respond to the specific context that will be presented in Part B.

Part B is a three-hour supervised assessment taken on the timetabled date set by Pearson.
The controlled conditions for this unit allow learners to:

  • have access to the annotated research and the two pages of prepared notes to allow them to complete the task
  • have access to permitted software or applications

Learners must not have access to the Internet, email, or any other resources aside from their permitted notes.

An Administrative Support Guide is available to help guide you through the assessment process.  

This unit includes aspects of both personal and business finance.

Personal finance involves the understanding of why money is important and how managing money can help prevent future financial difficulties. Learners need to understand the financial decisions they will need to take throughout life. This unit will also give learners an insight into where they can get financial advice and support.

The business finance aspects of the unit introduces learners to accounting terminology, the purpose and importance of business accounts and the different sources of finance available to businesses. Planning tools, such as cash flow forecasts and break-even, will be prepared and analysed and measuring the financial performance of a business will require learners to prepare and analyse statements of comprehensive income and statements of financial position.

In this unit learners examine how businesses adapt their approaches to management in response to challenges in their environment. Depending on their roles and responsibilities, managers need to develop skill sets that enable them to work effectively in areas such as the management of people, financial, resource and quality management, and the management of change. Learners will investigate some of the issues that managers and leaders have to deal with in the workplace in making businesses more efficient and ensuring their survival and growth.

Part A introduces learners to the context and is released before the Part B is taken. Learners can use Part A for familiarization but are not permitted to make notes to take with them into Part B.

Part B is a three-hour supervised assessment taken on the timetabled date set by Pearson.

Learners must not have access to the Internet, email, or any other resources aside from their permitted notes.

An Administrative Support Guide is available to help guide you through the assessment process.  

In Unit 7 learners draw together learning from previous units in the qualification. The unit consolidates understanding and skills to enable the interpretation of data, and formulation of decisions and solutions to given complex business problems. Learners will consider business situations/scenarios where they are required to select and use appropriate evidence from several sources and support their arguments. They will be able to predict probable consequences, identify faulty arguments or misrepresentations of information or data, compare information and data, provide reasonable alternatives, and evaluate and justify proposed solutions.

The Unit 7 task booklet (called Part S) must only be made available to learners at the beginning of the supervised assessment period and centres must not discuss the details of the task contents with learners directly.

Part S is completed on a computer. Learners are permitted access to any relevant software to enable them to complete the Part S task. This includes, but is not limited to offline versions of:

  • offline Office applications, such as Microsoft Office, Open Office, etc
  • any other offline applications, such as project planning software, calculators, spell-checkers, etc

Learners are not permitted to take notes or any other materials into the Part S supervised assessment period but they may have access to blank paper and pens to jot down ideas or sketch out plans. These plans must not be submitted as part of the learners work and will not be marked by examiners.

Learners must not have access to the Internet, email, or any other resource.  

An Administrative Support Guide is available to help guide you through the assessment process.

Grade boundaries

All of the grade boundaries for the BTEC externally assessed units are given in ‘raw’ marks. A raw mark is the actual mark awarded by our examiners for an assessment. Raw mark scores can be downloaded by Exams Officers from Edexcel Online.

A grade boundary is the minimum mark at which a grade can be achieved. For example, if the grade boundary for a Distinction is 29, then 29 is the minimum mark atwhich a Distinction can be achieved. A mark of 28 would therefore be a Merit.

Unit results for BTEC National qualifications are reported on a 5 point grade scale: Distinction (D), Merit (M), Pass (P), Near Pass (N) and Unclassified (U).

Raw marks from the external units are converted into points based on performance in the assessment. Points are awarded on a sliding scale between the grade boundaries based on the number of raw marks achieved by each learner.

The grade boundaries for past Unit 2 tasks are as follows:

Unit 2 Developing a Marketing Campaign (31489H) Max. Mark D M P N U
Grade points
  24 23-15 14-9 8-6
May 2017 70 54 39 24 12 0
January 2018 70 54 39 24 12 0
May 2018 70 56 41 26 13 0
January 2019 70 59 42 26 13 0
May 2019 70 55 41 27 13 0
January 2020 70 54 39 25 12 0
January 2022 70 54 39 25 12 0
May 2022 70 53
39 25 12 0
January 2023 70 54 39 25 12 0
May 2023 70 55 41 28 15 0
January 2024 70 54 40 26 13 0

From May 2020 onwards, the total marks for the assessment of Unit 3 was reduced from 100 marks to 80 marks. This should be borne in mind when using past papers for mocks.

The grade boundaries for previous exam series are as follows:

Unit 3 Personal and Business Finance (31463H) Max. Mark D M P N U
Grade points
31-20 19-12 11-8
May 2017 96 58 41 24 12 0
January 2018 100
60 43 27 13 0
May 2018 100
56 41 27 13 0
January 2019 100
56 41 23 13 0
May 2019 100
54 38 22 11 0
January 2020 100 59 42 25 12 0
January 2022 80 48 35 22 11 0
May 2022 80 42 29 17 8 0
January 2023 80 48 35 22 11 0
May 2023 80 47 33 20 10 0
January 2024 80 44 32 21 10 0

The grade boundaries for past Unit 6 tasks are as follows:

Unit 6 Principles of Management (31588H) Max. Mark D M P N U
Grade points
31-20 19-12 11-8
January 2018 88
May 2018 88
70 51 32 16 0
January 2019 88
70 51 32 16 0
May 2019 88
70 50 31 15 0
January 2020 88 67 50 34 18 0
January 2022 88 65 49 33 17 0
May 2022 88 64 47 31 15 0
January 2023 88 65 49 33 17 0
May 2023 88 66 50 34 18 0
January 2024 88 64 48 33 18 0

The grade boundaries for past Unit 7 tasks are as follows:

Unit 7 Business Decision Making (31589H) Max. Mark D M P N U
Grade points
31-20 19-12 11-8
January 2018 70
May 2018 70
60 44 28 14 0
January 2019 70
53 37 22 11 0
May 2019 70
55 39 24 12 0
January 2020 70 52 38 25 12 0
January 2022 70 53 38 24 12 0
May 2022 70 53 37 22 11 0
January 2023 70 54 39 24 12 0
May 2023 70 52 37 23 11 0
January 2024 70 54 39 24 12 0

Grade statistics

The grade statistics show the number of learners who completed each qualification each year, and the proportion achieving each grade.

  Completions D* D M P U
2017 1,238 2.8% 10%
49.9% 29.5% 7.8%
2018 1,473 0.9% 6% 50.2% 32.6% 10.3%
2019 1,292 0.8% 10.1% 56.1% 25% 8%
2021 2,647 12.1% 17.4% 35.4% 33.7% 1.4%
2022 2,185 2.2% 10.8% 46% 30.9% 10.1%
2023 1,750 1.5% 10.7% 49.2% 29.1% 9.4%
  Completions D* D M P U
2017 252
4% 30.2%
46.4% 15.1% 4.4%
2018 6,001 3.7% 30.5% 45.2% 18.5% 2%
2019 7,427 3.4% 31.7% 46% 17% 1.9%
2020 8,684 21% 30.1% 31.5% 16.4% 1%
2021 12,364 21% 30.9% 30.7% 17.2% 0.2%
2022 13,344 17.7% 34.1% 31.9% 14.4% 1.9%
2023 12,719 9.5% 34.8% 36.3% 16.6% 2.8%
  Completions D* D M P U
2017 334
2018 2,326 1.6% 23.7% 30.1% 40.5% 4%
2019 2,230 1.1% 29.6% 31.3% 33.9% 4%
2020 4,001 8.7% 24.3% 28.4% 35.7% 2.9%
2021 9,082 9.7% 22.0% 30.4% 37.3% 0.5%
2022 7,278 2.4% 21.8% 29.6% 40.1% 6.1%
2023 7,642 1.9% 20.6% 29.9% 39.7% 7.8%
  Completions D*D* D*D DD DM MM MP
2018 2,112
14.5% 29.7%
14.5% 8% 6.8% 1.2%
2019 3,001
13% 30.4%
14.6% 8% 8.4% 0.7%
2020 3,062 12.3% 21.1% 19.9% 14.6% 15.4% 9% 6.7% 1%
2021 4,230 16.0% 17.8% 19.1% 15.8% 14.2% 8.7% 8.0% 0.5%
2022 5,094 9.0% 25.4% 20.2% 15.3% 12.3% 9.9% 6.7% 1.3%
2023 4,685 3.7% 19.8% 25% 17.4% 14.4% 10% 7.4% 2.2%
  Completions D*D*D* D*D*D D*DD DDD DDM DMM
2018 1,652
8.4% 7.7% 5.7% 1.5%
2019 3,314
8.9% 8.5% 6.6% 2.1%
2020 3,526 5.5% 11.6% 15.4% 13.3% 12% 10% 9.2% 6.9% 8.1% 6% 1.9%
2021 5,471 10.1% 9.9% 11.4% 12.8% 12.3% 11.1% 10.2% 6.5% 6.9% 8.1% 0.8%
2022 9,022 4.2% 12.6% 14.1% 11.7% 11.7% 11.4% 10.6% 8.9% 8.0% 4.3% 2.6%
2023 8,440 2.1% 7.3% 13% 14.1% 12.1% 11.7% 11.4% 9% 10.1% 6% 3.3%

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