We want as many private candidates as possible to receive results this summer. To support you to receive grades, we are allowing schools and colleges extra time to make entries on behalf of private candidates. Schools and colleges can make entries on your behalf up until 26 April 2021 without incurring extra charges.
You should approach a school or college to confirm your entry details as soon as possible.
FAQs from the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ)
Who is classed as a private candidate?
Private candidates are candidates who have not studied with the exam centre which makes their entry. Included in this group are, for example:
- School age students who have been home-educated;
- Adults who have studied independently;
- Students who have studied with a distance learning provider which does not offer exam entry;
This guidance also applies to students at a school or college who have studied an additional subject outside of the school or college, and to former students who have returned to their school or college to resit a qualification.
I am a private candidate, what do I need to do?
If you are a private candidate who is not registered with a centre, sit tight and do not panic. By the end of March, we will provide a list of centres able to take on private candidates for GCSE, AS and A level. You will be able to use this list to contact centres who are offering the qualification you wish to take. If you are already registered, do work with your exam centre to make sure you are satisfied with the approach they intend to take to assessment and the charges they intend to make this year.
How can I find an exam centre which will accept my entry?
A list of centres accepting private candidates for GCSE, AS and A level will be available in a database on the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) website at the end of March.
You will be able to search for a centre by name, the qualification you wish to take with the relevant awarding body, and its location relative to your postcode, though some centres may also offer remote assessment.
When will the private candidate centre list be available on the JCQ website?
The list will be available by the end of March.
How will I be assessed as a private candidate?
Awarding Organisations expect centres to make clear how they will be assessing you.
You will be assessed this year on a range of evidence, in a similar way to other students in their schools and colleges.
Awarding organisations will be providing centres with additional assessment materials. Centres may want to base one or more assessments on these additional assessment materials or on available past exam papers. Further information on the additional assessment materials will be available at the end of March, including guidance on how centres can use the assessment materials to devise suitable assessments. In some cases, particularly where there is no suitable pre-existing evidence, centres might also wish to set you other assessments in order to ensure they have enough evidence to determine your grade.
You should only be assessed on what you have studied, like other students. This should be informed by an initial conversation your centre has with you, as well as any other pre-existing evidence you may have provided.
What if I am unable to sit an assessment at my exam centre?
Where a centre wishes to supervise an assessment, but you are unable to sit the assessment at the centre, you can be supervised remotely. Centres do not need to have specialist remote invigilation software – you could be observed remotely using standard video conferencing software (for example, Microsoft Teams or Zoom). Centres can choose whether or not to offer remote assessment.
Will it cost more this year?
The DfE has made a grant available to exam centres so that they can charge a similar rate to what they would charge in a normal year.
The DfE and the awarding organisations are working with centres to make sure enough centres are willing to work with private candidates.
Will all centres be able to accept private candidates?
All centres are able to accept private candidates, but some may choose not to. To help you find a centre to make your qualification entry, JCQ will publish a list of available centres by the end of March.
When is the entry deadline for summer 2021 private candidate entries?
This year, centres will be able to make private candidate entries up to 26 April 2021, without incurring any late fees. Some centres may have earlier deadlines for accepting new private candidate entries.
What if I need reasonable adjustments?
You should discuss this with the centre before asking them to make your entry.
Can the centre charge me a fee to make a reasonable adjustment?
If the centre agrees to make a reasonable adjustment for you they should not charge you any additional fee for providing this.
If I move centres, can I transfer an agreed reasonable adjustment?
You should discuss this with your new centre as they will need to process a new online application.
We encourage centres to share evidence relating to reasonable adjustments where a student is transitioning between centres. You can help your new centre by telling them the reasonable adjustments you had for previous examinations. You should also tell your new exam centre of your former centre so that they can talk to them.
What if I’m already registered with a centre and now want to change? Can I transfer my entry and will I be charged?
You should discuss this with the centre that made your entry as they will need to withdraw your entry so that a new one can be made by your new centre. Awarding organisations will not charge centres fees for withdrawing an entry up to 26 April. We encourage centres to be flexible when a private candidate needs to transfer centres but we cannot intervene in individual cases.
What should I do if I can’t find a centre willing to enter me for the qualification I have been studying for?
Check the JCQ list at the end of the month. If you are still unable to find a centre contact the awarding organisation for assistance.
Can I take exams in the autumn instead?
It is government policy that exams should take place in the Autumn. Ofqual has launched a consultation, running until April 9th, on the specific arrangements for an Autumn 2021 series.
Can I submit work that I’ve already done as evidence?
You may have already generated a significant amount of evidence during your studies, including essays, assignments and mock exams.
Centres don't have to accept pre-existing evidence, but they should make that clear before they accept your entry.
Before your exam centre can decide on accepting pre-existing evidence, they need to consider the conditions under which it was produced and the level of confidence they can have in its authenticity. Further information is in the JCQ guidance document.
How can I access past papers for practice?
Please discuss this with your centre once you have made an entry.
Does the centre have to accept my preferred evidence?
No, it is for the centre to decide what evidence it will accept, in line with the awarding organisation and Ofqual guidance.
Do I have to pay for qualifications this year?
Yes, private candidates are expected to contribute to the cost of their qualifications as in every other year. To avoid the extra costs of the additional requirements of assessing private candidates this year being passed on to candidates, the Department for Education are providing funding for centres and asking centres to charge candidates the same cost as a normal year.