The completion of a second-chance vocational education and training qualification provides unskilled and semi-skilled members of the working population with a renewed opportunity to achieve a sustained increase in their employability on the labour market. One way of achieving a VET qualification at a later stage is via the so-called external examination. This makes it possible for unskilled and semi-skilled persons to take part in the regular final examination. External candidates normally use preparatory measures as a retrospective means of acquiring any knowledge and competences that they may be lacking for the final examination. Participation represents a major challenge from the point of view of external candidates, since the theoretical contents of training are examined alongside practical skills. The present issue of the BIBB REPORT explains how external candidates prepare for the final examination and identifies areas where specific action is required.