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, especially those which are practical in nature (eg Art and Design)
  • 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 and conduct your assessments

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

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 on our changes to GCSEs, AS and A-levels pages, including timelines.

The new qualifications are now linear and a single entry code is required for the subject which covers all the components and certification. Some subjects have a non-exam assessment (NEA). The entering centre is responsible for ALL components.

In the new qualifications, AS and A-level are two entirely separate qualifications, and the AS doesn't count towards the A-level. If you intend to enter for the A-level qualification it is not a requirement to sit the AS. All exams and assessments must be completed in the same exam series.

Finding subject information

You can find specifications (syllabuses) and other subject information including past papers and mark schemes, or specimen papers for new qualifications, 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 customer support team.

We don't offer any courses of study, and we can't provide information on courses offered by schools or colleges.

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