How does Examination Basedata work in Arbor?

What is basedata and why is it needed?

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. MISs usually require you to import basedata yourself in order to submit entries via your MIS system.

Arbor does not require you upload your own basedata for most exams, only for centre-specific basedata such as for some Pearson BTECs

Arbor instead keeps EDI data up to date by downloading basedata from each awarding organisation whenever it is released then uploading it to our database - this includes BTEC Unit basedata for series such as January or June (available via the Pearson website). This basedata is imported overnight on the day it is released - so should appear for use in Arbor the day afterwards.

Basedata is needed for Arbor to be able to create Series data for qualifications (Awards and Learning Units within the Exams area). Without a series, you can't enter a candidate into an Award or Unit for an EDI qualification. Examples of Series are 6G21 (June 2021) or 7B22 (July 2022).

We use the JCQ format for basedata.

How do we find Basedata?

Basedata is released by awarding organisations in batches, from September through to January each year, covering different exam series (e.g. November 2015 series basedata, January 2016 series basedata etc). 

Publicly available basedata can be found on an Awarding Organisation's website. The easiest way to find this is usually by typing into a search engine, e.g. Google - for example, searching for 'Pearson Basedata'. The main Awarding Organisations' basedata can be found at the following links:

How does Arbor manage my basedata?

Arbor downloads exam data from the Ofqual database every night and automatically loads most exam board basedata into your MIS. This means that you can add any qualification or unit recognised in the UK with a QAN (Qualification Accreditation Number).

We do this so that we can offer a common set of data; all exam dates, entry codes, Award/Unit structures, cache in codes and accreditation data is managed by Arbor. We let Arbor do all the hard work with basedata, so there is no need to import old basedata and manipulate it.

If your qualification is a Pearson BTEC or Cambridge International, please note that we can't automatically scrape this type of basedata. You will need to upload it.

How long does basedata take to become available?

You'll be able to make entries in Arbor the day after the basedata is released as this happens overnight.

What happens when the basedata isn't complete?

Exam boards don't always release the full basedata all at once. This could mean that:

  • the exam board hasn’t released the exam date yet
  • the series is missing from the qualification and you can't yet make entries
  • there may be no exam details listed for a qualification, or some details missing
  • learning units/components do not appear after you have subscribed to the qualification on your qualification catalogue - when this happens you can enrol students into each unit/component individually as if it were a standalone unit

Exam boards often release basedata in parts so you will have to wait for the data to become available. Exam boards will usually display the dates on their website for when the full basedata will become available. As we scrape basedata overnight, the details should appear in Arbor the next day.

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