Private candidates

A private candidate is someone who enters for exams through an AQA-approved school or college but is not enrolled as a student there. You may be self-taught, home-schooled or have private tuition with a tutor or through a distance learning organisation.

You can only become a private candidate with us in the UK. Exams are not available for private candidates to sit outside the UK.

In these pages, you can find out everything you need to know, including:

You will be responsible for making your own entry through a school or college and paying your fees. If your specification includes NEA, you will be responsible for finding a school or college that can supervise, authenticate, administer, and – when required – to mark and standardise your work.

When re-sitting, private candidates will be able to carry forward a result from an NEA.

We no longer produce printed versions of this information. If you would like further information after reading these pages, please contact us on 0800 197 7162 (or +44 161 696 5995 from outside the UK).

The entry codes booklet is where you and your exams officer find the exam codes for your entry. You can also check to see if the subjects you wish to take are offered to private candidates in the subjects and qualifications guide section.

Where to start

Begin by deciding which subject and qualification you wish to study, and then find an AQA-approved school or college in the UK which is willing to accept and enter you as a private candidate.

This process of finding a suitable place can take some time, as not every school/college can take private candidates.

Note: You cannot be entered as both an internal and private candidate at the same school/college, and in the same exam series. You may wish to ask them for advice.

Other information

  • If you are the parent of a private candidate, we have general guides and information about subjects and qualifications that you may be interested in.
  • If you are a student, you may be interested in our guides for students.

Not all specifications or qualifications are available to private candidates because they involve coursework, controlled assessment or are practical in nature (such as some Arts or ICT) that can only be done by internally based school or college students.