Our heritage

At the start of the 20th century, the assessment system as we know it did not exist. Secondary education and exams were only available to a small group, characterised by social class, age and gender, rather than ability. Exams were used by universities and some professional bodies to select students.

Here you can see AQA’s journey and how it and its predecessor boards have contributed to making exams accessible to all.


The universities of Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool established the Joint Matriculation Board (JMB) and became public exam providers. They were later joined by Birmingham and Sheffield universities.

From the beginning, the JMB sought to establish a partnership with schools, providing support for teachers and setting up subject committees of teachers and learned societies.


The Associated Examining Board (AEB) was established to provide the new General Certificate of Education (GCE) to all secondary schools. The purpose of the new qualification was to offer a wider range of subjects to more students, with an emphasis on classroom teaching for all abilities.


The JMB merged with the Northern Examining Association to form the Northern Examinations and Assessment Board (NEAB), and in April 2000 a merger with the AEB created the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, the largest exam board in England. We are now simply known as AQA.


We acquired Teachit, an online community where teachers share classroom resources, and Doublestruck, which enables teachers to access past paper questions to create customised work and provides interactive on-screen assessments.

The JMB’s founding commitment to give all students the opportunity to show what they can do remains at the heart of our charitable purpose, which is to advance education by enabling teachers and students to realise their potential.