Interpreting ICA Assignment Feedback

Written by Dave Robson on Friday May 13, 2016

Ping. Here’s the email – the mark for your ICA Advanced Certificate or Diploma assignment is now available.

Gulp. Time to access the ICA website.

Let’s look at the two main scenarios that tend to unfold. 

     1. You put the hours in, you did the research, you paid attention to the structure of the      question and identified (you think) what it was asking for. And you got the reward!      Woo-hoo! You achieved the mark you were after. 

     2. You put the hours in, you did the research, you paid attention to the structure of the      question and identified (you think) what it was asking for. And you got…. What? Hold on…      that’s not right, surely?

In general terms, most ICA students who do the research and put the effort in, come in the first category. But the honest answer is that not everyone does. To be fair, if they did, what would be the point? Where’s the academic rigour which is one of ICA’s touchstones?

So let’s address scenario 2.

When you receive your assignment mark you will also receive your assignment feedback. The first section is the generic feedback, which is provided by the chief examiner. The second section is the individual feedback. We’ll take a look at each of these, as both are important for you to read.

Generic feedback

Hmm. Maybe this is a misnomer.

It’s generic in the sense it applies to all the students who undertook this assessment, not generic in the sense that ‘this is bland and broad and doesn’t apply to me’.

You should read this first. I know it’s tempting to skip straight to the individual feedback, but don’t.

The generic feedback sums up the overall approach to the assignment by all students and contains all the content that the chief examiner expected to be covered, therefore giving an indication of where marks were to be gained. What were the commonalities in the responses? What did the students do well and where did they struggle? It’s about giving you the big picture and some context – so make the most of it.

Consider your assignment submission in light of the generic  feedback. You may have picked up on a pertinent content point, but have you fully explored it in the context of the question, with analysis or an appropriate example, thereby demonstrating your knowledge? You need to if you want to obtain the higher marks.


Individual feedback

It is useful to know that ICA uses a system of positive marking – which means that we award marks for what we see rather than deducting marks for what isn’t there. So, if your feedback identifies something that was missing or could have been added, the marker is telling you how it could have been improved rather that saying you lost marks for not including it.

The feedback you receive will not be exhaustive. The marker will include the most relevant points and they will focus on helping you to prepare for future assignments rather than listing everything that may have been improved. They will also highlight strengths and positive features.

We would recommend that you take time to read all of your feedback, to reflect on how you approached writing it and to consider how, in hindsight, you think it could have been improved.

1. Content

Having identified where the assignment has fulfilled the expectations of the guidance and marking criteria, the examiner will in this section also cover any areas which could have been enhanced.

Whilst this is often the longest part of the individual feedback, it is usually short compared to the depth given in the chief examiner’s generic feedback. As already highlighted, the content of your individual feedback must be considered against this generic feedback to fully contextualise your own result.

2. Style and presentation

The examiner will highlight areas where they identified good practice or an area that could be enhanced further with regards to the style and referencing approach within your assignment. Any guidance here tends to be suggestive. For example: if you are asked to consider your referencing style, you may have achieved clarity and consistency, but the examiner may observe it could have been improved by using the methods suggested on the ICT Learning Platform. Students are advised to present the assignment professionally with clear navigation (for example, use of sections and headings). Should the examiner assess the assignment as either too long or too short, they will also mention it here.

3. Summary

The examiner’s summing up may be very short – although it may also be used to reinforce an area (or areas) which needed further consideration or could be approached differently next time.

Finally, a section (ICA Notice) will be added where an assignment has contravened the submission guidelines. Nothing in the above notes a penalty or deduction in any way, however a penalty when applied will have been verified and notification from ICA Assessments will be made here. Any penalties incurred (e.g. for breaching word count or late submission) will also be detailed.

Does that help?

So there we go. We’ve covered off the two feedback elements you get and how to use them.

To reiterate – read the generic feedback first, then read your individual feedback in light of the overall approach. This will help you understand how your mark was arrived at by the examiner.

Finally – it’s important to reinforce the point that ICA examiners do not negative mark (plagiarism aside). There is no ‘taking away’ of marks because you didn’t make a very good job of presenting your assignment in the style requested. All aspects of the assessment represent an opportunity for you to gain marks if done well.

Perform strongly, and a pass beckons.

Perform poorly – well, hopefully the feedback will help you understand what went wrong. And how to avoid it next time.

By the way, if you are in the scenario (1), aka the ‘woo-hoo’ group, this overview still applies to you. You can always improve, so understanding what you did well and what you might have done better is still worth knowing – maybe for assignment two. Or your next ICA qualification!



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