Below you will find answers to the most common questions we are asked about our Essential Digital Skills qualifications.

They are broadly grouped by topic covering:

  • Qualifications Structure and Content
  • Delivering EDSQ
  • Assessing EDSQ
  • Administering EDSQ

You may also find the following pages useful:

Full details about our Essential Digital Skills qualifications

Guidance on using our external assessment platform, Surpass

If you have a question that isn’t answered below, please contact us and we will ensure it is answered, we may even add to the list below!

Qualifications Structure and Content
Do the qualifications cover the skills needed for work or for life?

Both – the qualifications have been developed in consultation with our centres and cover a wide range of contexts that will be suitable for learners who choose to go onto further study, into the workplace, or for life skills. Whilst both levels contain a mix of contexts, the Entry level 3 qualification has a greater focus on skills for life, whilst in the level 1, there is a balance between skills for life and skills for work.

What age are the qualifications for?

The qualifications are for learners aged 16+ years. They are fundable under a new legal entitlement for adults (19+).

We have learners that are Entry 1 and Entry 2 is this suitable for them?

Essential Digital Skills qualifications are only available at Entry 3 and Level 1 as Entry 1 and Entry 2 are subsumed within Entry 3. Learners operating at Entry 1 or Entry 2 may be able to access the Entry 3 qualification depending on their initial starting point. However, where they need more time to reach the standard for Entry 3 you may find our Digital Skills for Life and Digital Skills for Work qualifications helpful. These qualifications are designed around the Essential Digital Skills standards so can be used as an entry route into Essential Digital Skills.

What content does the qualification cover?

The course content meets the national standards for Essential Digital Skills and focuses on five key areas including:

  • Using devices and handling information
  • Communicating
  • Being safe and responsible online
  • Creating and editing
  • Transacting online
How long will it take to complete the qualification?

We have assigned 45 GLH (guided learning hours) to each of the qualifications.

What are the benefits of doing this qualification and what can it be used for?

The qualification provides learners with the essential digital skills which are needed in a wide range of situations in life and at work. For example, successful learners will be able to make appointments, order goods and services, organise payments using online platforms, conduct video calls, create, edit and save a range of documents, and troubleshoot basic problems on their devices.

What level of digital skills will students require before starting the course?

The qualification is designed for students with little or no digital skills and there are no formal entry requirements.

It is, however, useful for learners to be able to turn on and control a device, connect it to the internet and open browsers and applications.

Our Entry level Digital Skills for Life and Digital Skills for Work can be used to cover these skills before starting Essential Digital Skills if required.

Delivering EDSQ
Do you offer a pre-assessment tool?

Yes, we offer a simple pre-assessment tool which is available here.

The Good Things Foundation also offers a planner tool which was created in line with the national standards for Essential Digital Skills. More information can be found on the Good Things Foundation website.

bksb’s Essential Digital Skills course includes a diagnostic assessment, learning resources and progress checks which cover 5 core areas across two tiers of ability. Centres approved for Gateway Qualifications EDSQ can benefit from an exclusive discount on bksb’s Digital Skills Assessments and Resources.

What devices can I use to teach?

You can use any device to teach Essential Digital Skills as we have designed the qualification content to be applicable to desktops, laptops, tablets and phones. Your teaching should cover a range of devices that are relevant to the learners.

Learners can take the assessment on any device as long as there is a good internet connection. However, we would strongly recommend that the assessment is taken on a device with a larger screen and physical keyboard, such as a desktop or laptop computer.

Which courses can learners progress to after completing EDSQ?

The Essential Digital Skills qualifications are designed to give learners the skills that are required in modern life and work. On completion of the Entry level 3 qualification, learners could progress to the Level 1 in EDSQ or Digital Functional Skills qualification (DFSQ).  Learners who complete the Level 1 could progress to a variety of digital skills programmes.

Further information about qualifications available from Gateway Qualifications is available in our digital qualifications section.

Assessing EDSQ
How will the qualification be assessed?

The qualifications are assessed using an online platform. There is one timed assessment at each level. There are a small number of tasks at Entry level 3 assessed through tutor observation.

Do we need Microsoft Office software?

No – as part of the assessment, the learners will be required to produce and upload documents, such as leaflets and spreadsheets with graphs. However, this can be done using any suitable software.

Are there assessment windows?

No – the assessments are available on demand.

Please refer to the Essential Digital Skills Instructions for the Conduct of Assessments for further information.

When can I expect to receive my EDSQ results?

Gateway Qualifications will hold awarding meetings for each new EDSQ paper. These meetings will take place as soon as there are sufficient learner numbers to issue a reliable and valid outcome. We will issue results and certificates to candidates who have sat the paper prior to this date as soon as possible following the meeting. For subsequent candidates we will issue results within 5 working days of successfully verified results.

Here is a flowchart of the EDSQ awarding process

What are the minimum requirements for the assessment software?

Our Essential Digital Skills assessments use Surpass HTML Delivery which allows the assessment to run in an internet browser.

Full details of the technical requirements and supported browsers are available on our Online Assessment – System and Hardware Requirements page.

Can my learners use Google Drive?

Surpass operates using the local physical hard drive on the learner’s device.  Learners, therefore, cannot use virtual (cloud based) drives when uploading or saving assessment evidence.

Administering EDSQ
How far in advance should I book the assessment?

Once you are confident that learners are ready to take the assessment, you can proceed to schedule at any time in the Surpass system, provided the learners have been registered on QuartzWeb.

We highly recommend learners sit a mock assessment in Surpass prior to attempting a live assessment to allow them to gain the full assessment experience, and to familiarise them with the online platform.

Is there a preferred internet browser that should be used to access the online assessment?

Surpass is widely supported by many internet browsers. Please view our System Requirements section for more information.

What are the software requirements for assessors?

You must download the Surpass Viewer software to view the schedule, invigilate, mark and moderate screens without disruption. Our Surpass Viewer Installation Guide can assist you.

How long after starting the course must we register learners on the qualification?

Learners must be registered in a timely manner as detailed within our FAQs for exams officers.

What should we do if a learner is absent and not able to take a scheduled assessment?

You do not need to do anything ahead of the assessment. If a learner is unable to attend an assessment, simply allow the examination date to pass and then schedule another assessment in the usual way. There is no additional charge for this.

You can delete scheduled assessments if the assessment date is more than 24 hours in the future.

How do I schedule a resit?

In most cases, learners will require additional teaching before attempting a resit. These assessments can then be scheduled in the normal way.

Learners do not need to be re-registered on QuartzWeb.

Is there a charge for resits?

If a learner attempts the live assessment and does not pass, you will not be charged a resit fee when you book their next attempt. The resit fee will apply for any subsequent assessments and is the same as the registration fee.

If a learner does not take a scheduled assessment(e.g. is absent), you will not be charged when you rebook their assessment.

How do I apply for a Reasonable Adjustments for Essential Digital Skills?

You do not need to apply for Centre permitted Reasonable Adjustments but maintain a record of the adjustment made. Centre permitted Reasonable Adjustments are provision of additional time and/or a reader.

Refer to page 16 section 4.11 in the Qualification Specification for Reasonable Adjustment guidance and information.

For any other Reasonable Adjustments, you must complete the ‘Reasonable Adjustments Request Form’ that you can find here.

Is there a charge for taking a mock assessment?

No, the learner registration and certification charge includes access to mock assessments. There is no limit to the number of mock assessments a learner can sit.