Booking GCSEs as a private candidate

Whether you’re going through home schooling, you’re a parent of a home-schooled child or you’re a mature learner – getting your head around the exam process can be tricky. But it doesn’t have to be. Find out everything you need to book your GCSE’s as a private candidate in just a few simple steps!

Who can take GCSE’s?

GCSE’s are commonly associated with high school age children, between 12 and 14 years, however they can actually be taken by anyone, at any age. If you aren’t attending high school, you can still take your formal GCSE exams at a school or college of your choice, and this is available for a wide variety of academic subjects.

The most important years of child development are widely speculated amongst professionals, with some arguing that from childbirth to the age of three the most vital developmental changes occur. Whilst others suggest a much longer timeframe. So, today we’re going to look at child development from birth to 12 years, looking at those four key areas, so that you can better understand your child’s developmental needs.

How do you book GCSE’s as a private candidate?

Knowing how to go about booking your GCSE’s as a private candidate can be daunting. After all, it is much different to those who take their GCSE’s in high school where everything is organised for you, and all you need to do is prepare and turn up to school.

For those who are not in traditional mainstream education, it is usually expected that you organise the sitting of your GCSE’s by yourself – and so knowing where to start can be confusing.

Tip: Most examining boards in the UK provide in-depth information on how to book in for GCSE examination as a private candidate. So, it is always worth checking the exam boards website for specific details.

Depending on the exam board your qualification is with may determine the exact steps you need to take in order to book your GCSE’s, however – for general advice on when and where you can do your GCSE’s as a private candidate – keep reading.

When should I book in for my GCSE’s as a private candidate?

Perhaps one of the most important points is to be aware of when GCSE’s take place, ensuring you get those important dates in your diary early on, allowing for ample time to book your GCSE exams. GCSE exam dates are nationally set, meaning that they are done at a specific time of the year, so if you’re late to book your exam, you will likely miss out!

Most GCSE’s take place in May and June, although certain subjects such as Maths and English can be resat towards the end of the year, in November. So, it is important to ensure you are prepared in advance for the set exam dates.

As previously stated, once you know the exam board your subject is under, you will be able to get a clear idea of when exams are taking place by checking out their online exam timetables! As a general rule of thumb, you want to have your exams booked in around 6 months before you are due to sit them. The earlier you book your exam, the greater the chance of securing a place in your school or college of choice. Below you can access the 2020 exam timetables for some of the most popular exam boards:

Where you can do your GCSE’s as a private candidate

Most of the centres where GCSE’s are local schools or colleges, and there are likely to be a range to choose from in your area. Again, you can find a wealth of vital information on the website of your given exam board, including where to find your nearest exam centre.

Tip: Although most exam board will list a range of locations on their website, there may be some that have not been listed. If your closest school or college doesn’t appear on any lists, why not give them a ring and ask whether they take private candidates?

Below you can access the search tool for some of the most popular exam boards, where you can find your local centre:

What to expect when doing your GCSE’s as a private candidate

So, you know the subjects you need to sit, the date you need to be there and where you need to go – so what next?

The first thing to note is that taking GCSE’s as a private candidate is not free. Every exam centre will set their own fee, and these can vary considerably, however typically each exam will usually cost upwards of £100 to sit. For this reason, it is vital that once your exam is booked in, it is not missed as this will likely lead to you losing that money and having to pay again when you rebook the exam.

Tip: Just because one exam centre has quoted a fee, it doesn’t mean you won’t find a more affordable option elsewhere. Be sure to shop around the different centres for the best price before confirming your booking.

To book your exam place, you will need the following to hand:

  • Your name in full, and date of birth (note, you will need to take ID to confirm your identity on the day of your exam)
  • Your address and contact details
  • Your Unique Candidate Identifier (UCI)
  • The exam code for your specific papers (also known as entry code, course code or specification). If you are unsure of this code, contact your course provider who will be able to help

On the day of the exam, you should expect formal exam conditions, and so knowing what to bring with you, and what to leave at home is important! Here is a list of important items to have on the day of your exam:

  • Photo ID
  • A see-through pencil case
  • Black pens
  • Pencils
  • A bottle of water
  • A calculator (unless stated otherwise)
  • Maths equipment if required, i.e. compass, protractor etc

We advise leaving your mobile out of the examination room, as if this goes off you may likely be disqualified from the exam. Other items to consider leaving behind are smartwatches, lose pieces of paper or any other technology which has internet connection.

You can never be too organised when it comes to these important examinations, and so hopefully our guide will help you take the right steps to obtaining those GCSE’s you’ve work hard for.