Glossary of key terminology for Examinations

Centre number

The Centre number is a five-digit number that all schools (centres) entering candidates into exams need to have.

It forms part of each candidate’s UCI number, a unique number allocated to all candidates that are entered for exams.

Arbor only supports one Centre Number per site.

What makes up an award?



This is the part of a qualification that is certificated (candidates get results against an overall award). Schemes can have multiple awards, and every award comes with an award code, also known as a ‘cash-in code,’ used for candidate entry purposes.

Some awards are linear, which means that the award and its learning unit have the same entry code (the same award and learning unit code) and candidates only take one exam for the entire award. Most GCSEs are now linear awards, as well as all iGCSEs.

This is different from modular qualifications, where there can be several learning units connected to a single award, where each learning unit has their own exam.

Learning units/components

Otherwise known as components, these can be examined and graded. E.g. the Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing units of a language qualification. A unit comes with a learning unit code, which is used for candidate entry purposes. Results for all learning units are combined to determine a candidate’s overall award result.


These are the actual exam(s), linked to a learning unit, which a candidate sits. Exams can take several forms, depending on the options provided within the basedata (e.g. online, written, on demand.)

You may have several date options for an assessable as we add basedata throughout the academic year. E.g. January 2016 exams, June 2016 exams.

You will enter candidates into the exam that corresponds to the exam series you require e.g. June 2016 series entries.

Exams will have their own exam codes as well, but for candidate entry purposes, you should focus on having the correct AWARD and LEARNING UNIT codes. These are the codes that awarding organisations require in terms of submitting candidate entries and returning results.

Assessable Instance

An Assessable Instance is an Assessable that takes place at an exact time and date. It is useful to create assessable instances if you have an exam or a piece of coursework with a definite deadline.

  • You do not need to set these up for coursework components, as these can take place at any time.
  • You will need to add an instance for all units assessed under exam conditions. This will ensure the Assessable shows up on a candidate’s timetable.


Types of Qualifications

EDI qualifications

EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) qualifications are qualifications that you can subscribe to. This means if you enter any candidates into them in Arbor, the data can be sent to awarding organisations directly via an EDI entry file (this file can be generated on Arbor). Read more about how to send entries via EDI file from the AQA website here.

Non-EDI Qualifications

This is a qualification that doesn’t use EDI files for basedata and entries. Entries into these qualifications will not generate EDI entry files, and must be made directly with awarding organisations, using their online portals. Non-EDI qualifications only exist in the Ofqual database.

Most (but not all) non-EDI qualifications are vocational. 

They will appear on the candidate statement of entries and statements of results.

Our database of Non-EDI qualifications comes from Ofqual. You can subscribe to Non-EDI qualifications/awards in the Qualification Offering page by clicking ‘Add new’ and searching for the qualifications QAN code.

How do Key Skills qualifications work in Arbor?

As long as the qualification is listed in the Ofqual database, we can support it. Key Skills qualifications can often be re-sat multiple times throughout the year. We support this as long as the exam board’s basedata allows for this.


Qualification data


Basedata files are provided by Awarding Organisations for MIS systems like Arbor to use in order to schedule, manage and enter candidates into awards and units. You can see how Arbor works with basedata here: Examination Basedata FAQ

Qualification Scheme

The Qualification Scheme is similar to a qualification specification. It contains a Scheme Code e.g. Pearson EDI Aea Mathematics 9801.

QAN Code

Every award has a QAN code, which is a unique award identifier assigned by the DfE. You can subscribe to awards on your Qualification Offering page by searching for its QAN code.

Discount code

Some awards have a discount code. Candidate results for awards with discount codes are used by the DfE for performance table purposes. Discount codes for Key Stage 4 can be found via the Secure Access website.


Student data

Candidate number

A 4-digit unique identifier that awarding organisations require all candidates to have. Once assigned, use this number when entering a candidate for all exams.

Unique candidate identifier (UCI)

This is a unique 13-character identifier unique number allocated to a candidate. It is made up of:

  • the centre number
  • a year reference number
  • candidate number
  • an alphabetical check digit

They are essential for tracking candidates, especially if they have previously taken exams at another centre before.


Types of Candidates

Internal candidate

Students enrolled in your centre, who will receive results at your school. Candidates have a CN and UCI and are enrolled in your centre.

External candidate

Someone who enters for exams through an AQA-approved school or college but is not enrolled as a student there. Candidates have a CN and UCI but not enrolled in your centre. You may be self-taught, home-schooled or have private tuition with a tutor or through a distance learning provider. For more guidance from AQA, click here. Results are not included for analysis purposes.

Transferred candidate

Where a student needs to sit an exam at a different school to the one that entered them – because they've moved house, been in the hospital, or other exceptional circumstances. For more guidance from AQA, click here.

There can be two types of Transferred candidate, Internal or External:

Transferred Internal candidates: these are normally Dual Subsidiary students, who are entered into exams by your centre but must sit their exams at another centre. Results included for subject analysis purposes.

Transferred External candidates: candidates that a centre accepts for exam sitting purposes, but whose entries are made by another centre. No results are received so no analysis is possible.

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