Understanding Moderation

By dessquire, 21 August, 2013


Moderation ensures learners are assessed in a consistent, accurate and well-designed manner. It ensures all assessors who assess a particular unit standard or qualification, are using comparable assessment methods and are making similar and consistent judgments about learners’ performance. 

The unit standards used for training set out the specific details of assessment against the various specific outcomes. These assessment criteria must be considered and used in the moderation process. This will apply to RPL assessment as well as to learners with special needs and who experience barriers to learning. 

Moderation is intended to cover the following 

  1. Assessment instruments, assessment design and methodology as well as the assessment records, the assessment decisions and the reporting and feedback mechanisms. 
  2. Moderation of assessments involving a variety of assessment techniques, such as work samples, simulations, role-plays, written items, oral, portfolios and projects. 
  3. Moderation activities include pre-assessment interactions with assessors, interactions during assessment and post-assessment interactions. 

Moderation within the context of the NQF is a means for professional interaction with, and improvement of practitioners, to continuously improve the quality of assessment. 

The main functions of a moderation system are

  • To verify that assessments are fair, valid, reliable and practicable
  • To identify the need to redesign assessments if required
  • To provide an appeals procedure for dissatisfied learners
  • To evaluate the performance of assessors
  • To provide procedures for the de-registration of unsatisfactory assessors
  • To provide feedback to the NSB’s on unit standards and qualifications

How does Moderation occur? 

Moderation systems combine external and internal moderation. Both external and internal systems must ensure all assessors produce assessments that are credible, fair, valid, reliable and practicable. 

Internal moderation

Internal moderation ensures assessments conducted by a single learning provider, are consistent, accurate and well designed. 

The three main stages to internal moderation are

  • Design

The choice and design of assessment methods and instruments are appropriate to the unit standard and qualifications being assessed.

  • Implementation

The assessment is appropriately conducted and matches the specifications of unit standards and qualifications. This includes ensuring the appropriate arrangements have been made and there are regular discussions among assessors. 

  • Review

Any lessons learnt from the two previous stages are considered and the necessary changes are made. 

Accredited providers should have individuals that manage their internal moderation systems. 

These internal moderators should 

  • Establish systems to standardise assessment, including the plans for internal moderation
  • Monitor consistency of assessment records
  • Through sampling, check the design of assessment materials for appropriateness before they are used, monitor assessment processes, check candidate’s evidence, check the results and decisions of assessor for consistency
  • Co-ordinate assessor meetings
  • Liaise with external moderators
  • Provide appropriate and necessary support, advice and guidance to assessors. 

Providers should have the capacity to implement an internal moderation system that will facilitate and ensure these activities will be carried out effectively and efficiently. 

The internal moderators in learning institutions should be experienced assessors who other assessors have confidence in. They should also have undergone training as moderators and have knowledge of the learning area. 

External moderation 

External moderation is a means of ensuring two or more providers delivering programmes on the same unit standards and/or qualification, are assessing in a well-designed manner, are consistent and maintain a specific standard. 

External moderation involves 

  • Checking the systems required to support the provision of learning programmes within an institution or learning site are appropriate and working effectively
  • Providing advice and guidance to providers and assessors
  • Maintaining a standard over a group of providers
  • Checking all staff involved in assessment are appropriately qualified and experienced
  • Checking the credibility of assessment methods and instruments
  • Checking internal moderation systems
  • Through sampling, monitoring and observing the assessment processes and learners’ evidence to ensure consistency
  • Checking assessors’ decisions. Individuals who will be external moderators should be experienced, know the learning area well, have undergone training for moderation, and have credibility among assessors and within their area of knowledge and expertise. High levels of personal and interpersonal skills are also required. 


  • Moderator is requested to conduct moderation
  • Compile a pre-assessment meeting agenda and checklist
  • Compile moderation planning document and checklist
  • Confirm date, time and venue for meeting with assessor
  • Conduct meeting and keep minutes of meeting
  • Gather required information such as Unit Standard, Assessment instrument and marking memo
  • Compile a post moderation checklist
  • Acquire the agreed % of completed assessments and assessors reports
  • Conduct moderation
  • Complete post moderation checklist
  • Review of moderation process
  • Provide moderation feedback to all parties 


All moderation must take place in accordance with the scope of moderation as outlined in the relevant unit standard and/or qualification. 


Registered moderators should be 

  • Proficient in assessment practices at the level of the subject-matter of the assessment
  • Registered as assessors
  • Have a broad level of expertise in the subject matter and in-depth expertise in assessments
  • Have undergone training and demonstrated competence in moderation 

As a qualified Assessor a moderator should be familiar with the assessment process. 

The moderators effectiveness will depend to a large extent on his/her ability to ensure compliance by the assessor with the assessment criteria as contained in the unit standard together with a willingness to follow assessment and moderation policies and procedures. 

Assessment and moderation are essential to the effectiveness of any learning. Any action taken by an assessor or moderator that detracts in any way from the experience, the fairness of assessment, the adherence to the specific outcomes and related assessment criteria is a very serious breach of responsibility. 

Moderators should be in a position to 

  • Consider and address issues related to the assessment instrument in terms of design, activities and related documents
  • Moderate assessments taking into consideration candidates with special needs, or candidates applying for RPL assessment.
  • Gather and consider evidence for on-site and off-site moderation
  • Make decisions whether to uphold an assessors decision or not uphold the decision


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