Level 3 Examination Process

The purpose of this page is to outline the standards expected from candidates to achieve their Level 3 Fencing Refereeing Qualification and to set out the relevant syllabus and assessment conditions and criteria.

Level 3 is the minimum requirement for referees wishing to put themselves forward for GBR EFC refereeing opportunities, and the expected level of achievement for domestic referees that wish to referee elimination bouts at National and Regional Championships.

Level 3 is also the designated entry point for referees wishing to progress internationally via the International Referee Pathway Programme (IRPP).



In order to be awarded a Level 3 Refereeing Qualification, Referees will be required to pass an initial theory exam and three practical assessments by at least two different examiners within 12 months.

Assessments and theory exams will be carried out by designated examiners.


Minimum Standards

In addition to holding a level 2 referee qualification in that weapon, referees should demonstrate they

  • Are capable of refereeing competently at the latter stages of domestic cadet and junior competitions.
  • Have a wide knowledge of the technical rules of fencing. This knowledge should be focused on scenarios commonly found during fencing competitions.
  • Can perform clear, clean and consistent Hand Signals.
  • Are able to explain simple phrasing in French as well as English.
  • Have an excellent knowledge of the penalty sheet of the FIE rule book (t.170) and consistently apply these when necessary.
  • Are able to be consistently punctual and dress respectably.
  • Are able to consistently act as role models, upholding the values of British Fencing and be  positive ambassadors for the sport.


Initial Theory Exam

An initial theory exam at which the candidate must score over 80% to continue with the assessment will be conducted. The candidates should attend dressed appropriately

This is normally done at the first assessment competition attended by the candidate – either prior to the competition starting or during the poules and DE’s.  The theory exam will consist of an oral examination of the rules as well as a video referee examination.

A video referee examination will consist of the candidate standing in front of a video screen watching specially selected sections of fencing matches (approximately 12) and will be expected to referee as if officiating at an actual match, ie calling hits, actions and awarding penalties using correct hand signals and cards, in french.

Successful candidates from the theory exam will be permitted to participate in the practical assessment of the examination.


Practical Assessment

Practical assessments will be carried out over a series of designated competitions with a minimum of 3 successful observations recorded.

The practical assessment held at the selected competitions can be conducted by one assessor as long as the following pre-requisites are met;

  • there are no conflict of interests
  • the same individual assessor is not used on subsequent assessments
  • one assessment is carried out with two assessors per year -ideally at one of the  BF nominated competitions.


These designated competitions will be published on the BF website and be of a standard at least equal to or greater than typical EFC cadet competitions. A provisional list of competitions, along with information for competition organisers can be found here 

Level 3 candidates must complete an application form  to register their interest and submit a minimum of one month in advance of any assessment to the BF Referee Manager.


The candidate will be expected to referee throughout the competition from pools, through to the finals where necessary.

Candidates will be expected to reach a minimum standard of 80% of correct calls.

Failing an assessment

In the event that the candidate passes the theory and first practical but fails a subsequent practical assessment they will  be awarded a Provisional Level 3 and may be encouraged  to apply to be part of the International Refereeing Allocation Process.

If sufficient opportunities exist they will be selected for a MAXIMUM of 2 EFC international events.  If they are then awarded a grade of 4 or 5 by the EFC observer at either of these events this will be deemed to be practical passes at BF competitions.

If the referee is awarded a grade 3 this will be classed as a “developmental” pass.

As the EFC recently updated the referee observation requirements (2019) to include the right to ban referees from the EFC circuit if they scored below 2 at two consecutive competitions in any one season. Therefore we strongly recommend that feedback is sought to allow for appropriate decision-making around these opportunities.

Provisional Level 3 candidates should present themselves at additional assessments throughout the year where they will be assessed by different examiners to ensure the candidates are actively refereeing and at the same standard.


Notes to Designated Examiners/Assessors

  • In the event one of the criterion is not observed it should be awarded N/A and must be evaluated at the next assessment.
  • The examiners will complete, sign, date, and return the online candidate observation smart-sheet which will automatically upload to British Fencing’s smart-sheet database.
  • The online smart-sheet observation form is to be submitted within 2 weeks and is the responsibility of the assessor to so do.
  • Practical assessments can  be run with one nominated referee examiner (normally the head referee) provided that the conditions for single assessments are met (see above note: Practical Assessments)



Competitions for Level 3 Assessments

British Fencing will publish a list of selected competitions annually whereby a Level 3 observation may be conducted. This published list along with information for competition organisers can be found here.

These selected competitions will be divided into Category 1 and 2 depending on NIF level and will require the attendance of Category 1 and 2 examiners/observers as per the Designated Competitions and Examiners for Level 3 & 4 Refereeing Competitions.

Competition Organisers wishing to be considered for a level 3 observation status should apply to BF for consideration.

The competition organiser will be required to confirm they are able to provide a software log (use of Engarde or similar) of the referees allocated to matches. Failure to provide this information will result in the competition being ineligible for referee assessment. This completed excel (or similar) spreadsheet is to be submitted by email to the BF Referee Manager.

Level 3 Referee Assessors

The current list of Level 3 referee assessors can be found here 

Those marked in red need to attend the Level 3 referee assessor training seminar

If you are interested in becoming a level 3 referee assessor, you need to be an active FIE referee and attend the training seminar.  Please contact Nickie Bailey 


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