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Preparation and practice are the key to passing the apprenticeship test

Published 21st June, 2024 by Chris James

Chris James

Chris James

Chartered Institution of Waste Management’s representative on the BCC Board
The British Cleaning Council

Preparation and practice are the key to passing the apprenticeship test

Chris James is the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management’s (CIWM) representative on the BCC Board as well as an assessor for the new Level 2 Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship. In this column, Chris gives some expert advice to sector staff to help them pass the assessment at the end of apprenticeship training.

If there was one thing I would say to cleaning and hygiene operatives coming forward for end-point assessment for the apprenticeship it is ‘prepare and practice’! OK, two things, both equally important.

Once you have completed the apprenticeship training, your employer, often in consultation with your training provider, will tell you that they think you are ready for the test, or to give it proper title, the end point assessment.

It is important to understand that it is delivered independently of your employer or training provider, by people you will not know. Please accept they are industry experts and are actually very human, and want to provide you with every chance of being successful. I would say don’t worry, but you will, even if only a bit. The best way to reduce worry is to prepare and practice.

So…you have an upcoming multiple choice question paper! Please remember your photo ID to prove identity even if the test is online. You will face 24 questions in an hour. It’s about what you know. It is closed book test, meaning you cannot refer to your notes. It is based on what you have learned and, after revising, can remember. Remember, there is only one right answer to a question. There will be four options, one correct and three which are incorrect. Take your time, read the question carefully and because you will have practiced and revised, it will be clear which one is correct. Most apprentices are OK with this test. If you do not pass first time you can always have another go following more revision.

The next part of the assessment will generally be at your place of work. It will be observation with questions and will take two hours. You will be using equipment and materials you are familiar with. Your employer, training provider and assessor will make sure you have everything you need to succeed. But I cannot stress enough the need to practice and perfect your cleaning techniques using recognised industry methods. Equally, know how and when to use PPE and COSHH Safety Data Sheets; know how to carry out checks to make sure equipment is safe to use. And another thing - preparation and use of cleaning agents is a key element. Practice dilution of cleaning chemicals into a variety of different sized containers until you are certain of what to do and how to do it.

Because it is important, you are given the chance to show all of the skills required in the time allowed, the assessor may direct you. For example, she may say: “Thank you for cleaning this area. I would now like you to prepare and move to cleaning a toilet area.” This is commonly included because of the need for a close focus on the order of cleaning and prevention of cross- contamination, colour coding etc. From time to time the assessor will ask you questions about what you are doing, to make sure that you know why you are doing it. For example: “Can you tell me why you are using a red cloth in this area?”

Throughout the observed practical assessment, the assessor will try to remain in the background, recording your performance. This may be as notes, audio, photos or even video, depending on location and constraints. Once this is over, the assessor will have a few more questions for you, some based on what they saw you do and others which are more general.

As before, if you do not pass this part of the assessment first time you can retrain and try again.

The third part of the assessment is a number of set questions. It will take 30 minutes and can be daunting. I always try to put the apprentice at ease and start with questions which are generally accessible. Rehearse this a number of times before the actual assessment so you will be prepared and familiar with talking about your work and what you know. Personally, I would always use my phone on a tripod to video the assessment as well as taking notes, since this would always take place in a quiet private space.

If you do not understand a question, ask for it to be repeated. Most assessors will try and re-phrase it in a way to help you understand. ‘Simples’ as they say.

I will finish as I started with a single crucial piece of advice. Prepare and practice. I could bore you with details of the exceptional performances I have been able to observe as well as the dire. The best always prepare, practice and rehearse. I would say good luck, but I prefer to say, ‘good preparation!’

For more information about the apprenticeship standard, please visit:

About the contributor

Chris James

Chris James

Chartered Institution of Waste Management’s representative on the BCC Board

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