Confused about how to book your A Level exams? Our guide will answer your questions and get you on the right track.
If you’re studying an A Level course online, you’ll still need to sit your exam in person and you won’t be able to just turn up on the day.
All exams must be booked well in advance of the exam date and as an external candidate, it will be your responsibility to arrange this for yourself. Save yourself some stress by finding out all you need to know about booking your A Level exams.
When are my A Level exams?
A Level exams are nationally set, so when you book as a private candidate, you’ll still sit your exam at the same time as all other students in the UK.
A Level exams can only be sat in May/June and the dates of your exam will depend on the subjects you’re studying and the awarding body that your qualification is supported by.
You can find exam timetables for each awarding body and exam diet here:
Where can I sit my exams?
You’ll usually be able to sit your A Level exams at your local exam centre.
Exam centres are typically schools or colleges that are already presenting their own students for the exam.
You can find your local exam centres using these search tools:
You won’t find every available exam centre using these tools, so we’d recommend getting in touch with schools and colleges in your area to check if they accept private candidates.
Not all centres are open to external candidates, however, if you have a special relationship with a school, such as it being your old school or your child’s school, they might accept you even if it’s against their policy.
You should be aware that most centres will charge an admin fee when you book the exam to cover their additional costs.
You’ll pay this directly to the exam centre and the exact cost of this will vary depending on which centre you chose. These costs can vary drastically between centres and could be anywhere from £15 to £150 per subject so it might be worth your while comparing a few in your local area.
When should I book my exams?
Exam centres can only accommodate a set number of candidates and they must allocate their spaces to their own students first.
You should aim to book your exam about 6 months before your chosen exam date as this will give you the best chance of getting a place at your preferred centre.
The May/June diet of exams usually has a booking deadline of January or February, after which you will be charged extra if you manage to get a space.
Although you can book your exam closer to the exam date, we really wouldn’t recommend that you do this as the chances of you getting a place are slim and you will definitely have to pay 'late fees' if you are successful.
How much will it cost to sit my A Level exams?
The cost of your exam won’t be included in your course fees as they are an additional cost that’s paid directly to your chosen centre.
Prices are set by the exam centres themselves so there can be huge differences in the costs.
For A Level exams, prices usually start at about £175 per subject but at some centres, you can expect to pay upwards of £400 per exam.
We strongly recommend that you contact multiple exam centres in your local area, so you can be sure you’re getting the best price available.
What will I need to book my place?
To make sure you can get your exam place booked quickly and easily, it’s important that you have all the right information to hand.
You’ll need to have the right exam code for the papers you want to sit; it may be referred to as a syllabus, specification, entry or course code. You should contact your course provider if you can’t find this or are confused about which code you need.
The exams officer at the centre will also need:
- Your full name and date of birth (these will need to be verified with ID)
- Your address and contact details
- Your Unique Candidate Identifier (UCI)
Your UCI can be found on your certificate for previous UK qualifications such as your GCSEs. Don’t worry if you haven’t sat UK exams before, you’ll be allocated one by the exam board.
You should always ask in advance what proof of ID will be accepted so you can make sure you’ll be able to provide it. Exam centres usually ask for a current passport but if you don’t have one you may be able to use another photo ID such as a valid driver’s licence.
You’ll normally have to make your payment when you book your place. If you decide to withdraw at a later date you might not receive a full refund as the exam centre will have already incurred costs to enter you into the exam.
What will I need to take with me to the exam?
The exams officer should let you know where to go on the day of the exam, but it’s still a good idea to arrive about half an hour early just in case you run into any problems locating the room.
There are restrictions on what you can and can’t take into the exam room, so here’s a refresher if it’s been a while since you last sat an exam.
- Your photo ID
- Your Statement of Entry (this is not essential but might be helpful)
- A clear pencil case or bag
- Black pens
- A bottle of water
- A calculator unless the exam paper specifies otherwise
- Maths equipment such as a compass, protractor etc if required
- Your mobile phone
- A smartwatch
- A Wi-Fi enabled calculator
- Any pieces of paper even if they are blank
If a mobile phone is found on you during an exam, even if turned off, then you are likely to be disqualified from that exam. The exam centre has no say on this as it’s a Joint Council for Qualifications rule.
If possible leave your phone at home or leave it for safekeeping with the invigilator.
When will I get my results?
A Level results are usually released on the third Thursday in August each year.
Your results will usually be sent to your exam centre for you to collect in person, but you should check with the exams officer what the exact procedure is for your centre.