About Edexcel Essential Skills Northern Ireland

Find out more about our Edexcel Essential Skills Northern Ireland qualifications, why you should take them and how they are assessed.

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What are Essential Skills Northern Ireland?

Essential Skills Northern Ireland are the only basic skills qualifications offered in Northern Ireland. Designed for 14-19 learners and adult learner, they are available at:

  • Levels 1 and 2

Centres can offer Essential Skills Northern Ireland as stand-alone qualifications or as a key component of other qualifications, including BTEC Apprenticeships.

The Essential Skills Northern Ireland suite consists of three individual skill areas, with qualifications available at each level within these skills:

  • Application of Number 
  • Communication 
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Why take Essential Skills Northern Ireland?

Essential Skills Northern Ireland qualifications:

  • are designed to meet a range of different needs, offering more choice and clearer progression for learners
  • aim to improve the skills of young people and adults
  • provide a single suite of skills standards and qualifications, suitable for all learners - both young and adult - and across all contexts
  • provide a better guarantee of the skills young people need to participate and progress in education, training and employment
  • offer a flexible, on demand assessment, which is externally assessed for communication and application of numbers and internally assessed for ICT

How will I be assessed?


Essential Skills Northern Ireland communication is split into the following two components:

  • an externally set and marked combined reading and writing exam
  • an internally set and marked speaking and listening assessment that is externally verified

The reading and writing assessment is available on demand for your convenience.  

Application of number

Essential Skills Northern Ireland Application of number is an externally set and externally marked assessment.

It is available on demand for your convenience.


Essential Skills Northern Ireland ICT is assessed through an externally set and internally marked assessment.

This will then be verified by Pearson.

Next steps

Interested in offering Essential Skills Northern Ireland?

Complete the Expression of Interest form