The overall scheme of assessment uses a progressive mastery model which allows candidates to enter and exit the system at any point. This approach permits fine distinctions to be made between different levels of achievement, with the expected competences and complexity of tasks increasing as candidates advance. There is also a progressive shift of responsibility for initiating and sustaining performance work from teacher to learner which benefits candidates beyond the examination domain in terms of autonomy and independence.
The syllabuses are cumulative in design and the outcomes for each grade assume mastery of the outcomes of the previous grades. Parameters for examination components including technical work, unseen tests and theoretical questions are clearly defined. These provide a structured framework which teachers can integrate into the curriculum. There are no prescribed courses of study.
When syllabuses are revised, transitional arrangements are put in place to cater for variations in preparation periods and for the orientation of teachers to any new requirements. All materials are generally published in English, though specific demand for translation is given positive consideration.