RHS Level 3: Exams and assessment

To help you understand how you will be assessed in order to achieve your qualification, we have some additional guidance available, including sample examination papers for all our externally assessed qualifications

RHS Level 3 Qualifications are assessed externally by the RHS. To complete an assessment, learners must be enrolled with an RHS approved centre.

RHS approved centres are responsible for enrolling learners, entering learners for assessments, supporting and preparing learners for assessment and the issuing of results and certificates.

Level 3 Certificate in Practical Horticulture

In order to achieve this qualification, learners must complete and attain (pass, merit, distinction): 

  • Online competency assessment
  • Practical competence assessments

Learners must pass both elements in order to be awarded the full qualification. These methods provide an opportunity for learners to demonstrate their practical skills while also being able to recall and apply appropriate knowledge and understanding elements underpinning these skills. 

The assessments can be attempted in any order and there is no requirement to pass one element before progressing to the other. 

Marks from the online test will be combined with the Practical Competence test and released by RHS Qualifications to the approved centre once both elements have been assessed.

Online competency assessment

  • 75 minutes long
  • Can be taken at the centre or at home using our remote invigilation software
  • The pass mark for the online competency assessment is 50%

    • In overall terms, the online test represents 35% of the overall marks for the qualification, with the practical competence assessments representing 65% of the total marks available

    Practical competence assessment

    This is the main opportunity for learners to demonstrate their practical skills and is assessed by an RHS External Examiner at the approved centre.  

    • Assessments will take place at appropriate points during the programme
    • The assessments will require the learner to demonstrate around 3–5 skills appropriate to Level 3
    • Learners will be presented with written instructions on the day of the assessment

    Once the marks for the online and practical tests are available, the overall mark will then be graded, as follows:

    • 0-49% Fail
    • 50-64% Pass
    • 65-79% Merit
    • 80%+ Distinction

    Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Plant Growth, Garden Planning and Applied Propagation

    In order to achieve the full qualification, learners must complete and achieve two examinations.

    • Available online or paper-based 
    • February, June and October each year
    • Each exam will take 120 minutes to complete
    • Learners must achieve at least 50% in each exam to pass (each exam carries equal marks)
    • A final grade for the overall qualification will be calculated by amalgamating the marks for each exam and expressed as a percentage. The result will be issued to the approved centre where the learner is enrolled

    The overall mark will be graded, as follows:

    • 0-49% Fail
    • 50-64% Pass
    • 65-79% Merit
    • 80%+ Distinction

    Level 3 Award in Horticultural Investigation

    Learners will be required to develop and submit a research project on a chosen horticultural topic. 

    The research project must be independently researched and written by the learner and presented in the form of a piece of extended writing (between 3500 - 4500 words long excluding footnotes, bibliography, and appendices).

    It should be based on the learner’s reading and their research, using a range of reliable and horticulturally appropriate sources of information which relate to the topic chosen.

    Discover more

    Browse example papers for Level 3 qualifications and view the exam timetable

    Approved centres offering RHS qualifications are free to define their own teaching framework, within the structure of the qualification specification, and will provide the learning materials to support your studies and prepare you for the assessments.

    RHS Qualifications are unable to issue results to learners directly. Learners must obtain their results from the approved centre where they completed the assessment.

    Do you have a question about RHS Qualifications?
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    The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.