This user guide will help you work your way through the ACT Assessments for your team. On this page you will find notes and videos covering how the assessments work, our approach to the ACT assessment and the assessment update cycle. Scroll down for further details.

User support videos

The following videos will guide you through how to use the ACT platform.

Setting up users in your direct team


Setting up your Organisational Structures


When a user leaves

Allowing users to see their results

Viewing your team's results

Viewing an individual's results

Enabling a resit

Viewing previous attempts

Assigning the new Tax Year Assessments

ACT Assessment Approach

ACT is a unique approach to improving payroll team performance and by using a unified model to assess competencies, provide customised training for each team member, and then assess the impact of the training, every member of staff benefits from a continuous and customised development program, every year. Improved staff satisfaction and retention, and significant skills improvement, leads to more accurate and compliant payrolls.

The ACT assessment approach is based on a professional competency and development model that has been established by The Payroll Centre’s experts over 25 years and supports a progression from new entrants to the industry through to expert practitioners. It is continuously reviewed and updated for factors such as new legislation, annual (e.g. Budget) changes and other environmental factors such as Internationalisation and the ever-growing use of technology.

The assessment framework has been set up to help payroll professionals identify potential training requirements. As such it provides feedback on performance against identified topics, at one of three “competency levels” to indicate those areas that would most benefit from further development. It does not and will not provide a “mark” as that is not the purpose of the assessment tool.

The assessments have been developed through our years of experience in conjunction with our successful family of BTEC Pearson qualifications and are based around the same professional competency and development model. They incorporate core skills, knowledge and technical expertise questions based upon each role and skill level.

A top-level view of the relevant part of the competency model (from entrant to advanced practitioner) is shown below.


Assessment Structure

The assessments have been built using the topic-based approach that forms the basis for the competency model. The knowledge and skills required for each Role / Level are broken into topics, and each topic is sampled via the chosen questions. This ensures the results of the testing give a broad review of the entire curriculum, which in-turn gives the professional and their supervisor the ability to understand learning gaps and intelligently focus further training on these gaps.The topics map directly onto the face to face training levels used for ACT to ensure that this is as easy as possible.

These topics have been chosen, and the questions and training developed, by our highly experienced payroll tutors and consultants using their experience and involvement in the payroll industry and government legislation support groups. The multiple-choice questions have been designed to both test and challenge the student and through our review by subject matter experts with over 150 years of combined involvement in the payroll sector, give a valid and reliable assessment of each topic area.

The multiple-choice question style ensures ease of use for the staff member and allows the automated marking and feedback required for the provision of instant “dashboards” at an individual and team level. The variety of questions, with varying levels of difficulty, further contribute to the identification of areas to focus on. By having four possible answers to each question and a varied number of questions in each section depending on its “importance”, the system can provide detailed, balanced feedback.

We do not offer timing or “exam conditions” guidance, as we believe the conditions and environment should reflect your business’ needs and likely the normal working conditions of your employees. For example, some organisations will want staff to undertake the assessment in an open-book, non-time limited manner, some may sit the questions in a team-environment, while others may set much stricter time constraints.

How to Use the Assessments

The current knowledge and learning requirements within an individual, team or department can be viewed by you, as the manager, using the dedicated management portal. As the ACT cycle develops and individuals sit the assessments multiple times after training interventions, the portal also provides a picture of the learning journey undertaken by the team and individuals within the team.

Manager dashboards provide “red, amber, green” feedback by individual by topic, as well as providing views across the entire team.

By analysing the dashboards, you can identify team and individual development requirements, and directly map them to the extensive choice of training. Once the training is completed the solution gives you the ability to assess the level of learning attained and as new legislation comes in or key areas change, the assessment tool gives you the ability to re-evaluate and continuously improve your teams skill sets and knowledge.

Assessment and Question Update Cycle

An assessment is provided for each level on the competency framework, each year. For example, “Introduction level, 2018-19”. Every assessment has a fixed set of questions, structure by topic, which are answered each time a person sits the assessment.

Whilst individuals sitting the assessments can see which level they have performed at within each topic area, the correct answers to questions are not provided as many organisations will ask individuals to re-sit the assessment multiple times to judge the effectiveness of training and other interventions aimed at improving performance. However, as the manager you can see, and can choose to share with the individual, whether each question was answered correctly or not.

For each assessment, prior results as well as the current performance can be seen via the dashboards. However, it is not possible to compare results across years as the assessment structure and number of questions will normally change to reflect changes to the legislative environment and our professional competency framework.

Assessments may also be updated during the year to reflect legislation or other changes, or to address question performance if our monitoring shows a question is not performing as expected. In this case the structure of the assessment and the number of questions will not change, in order to allow in-year comparisons of performance which will show the learning journey for individuals and teams.