Subjects and qualifications

Before you contact a school or college to enter as a private candidate you need to know which subject and qualification you want to study.

What is available?

Bear in mind that:

  • not all qualifications are available to private candidates
  • if you wish to study a subject that isn't available to private candidates, you will have to find a school or college that is willing to enter you as an internal student to conduct your assessments
  • not all qualifications are available in Wales and Northern Ireland

The following pages contain an overview of the qualifications and subjects that are available to private candidates, plus details of any special restrictions/conditions for private candidates:

Changes to GCSEs, AS and A-levels

Qualifications are currently in the process of reform. You need to make sure that you're studying the correct specification(s). You'll find information to help you through the changes on our changes to GCSEs, AS and A-levels pages, including timelines.

Finding subject information

You can find specifications (syllabuses) and other subject information including past papers and mark schemes for individual subjects through our qualifications page. As a private candidate, it's up to you to read your subject specifications and to be aware of the requirements.

If you have any queries about the content of the specifications, please contact the relevant subject team.

We don't offer any courses of study, and we can't provide information on courses offered by schools or colleges. We also can't recommend any distance learning organisations. We recommend that you find a school or college to take you for exams first, before you consider registering with a distance learning organisation.

Discount (classification) codes

Each specification has a subject group classification code (sometimes called a discount code) set by the Department for Education (DfE) which describes where it belongs.

You should be aware that if you take two specifications with the same classification code, schools, colleges, universities and employers are very likely to take the view that you have achieved only one of the two qualifications.

Up-to-date codes are also shown in our Entry codes document