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 provider.

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 (+44 161 696 5995 from outside the UK) or email

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.

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.

Not all specifications or qualifications are available to 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.

Distance Learning Providers (DLPs)

Distance Learning Providers (DLPs) that are registered and approved by us are able to make entries for students who are studying qualifications with non-exam assessments (NEAs) only.

In these circumstances the DLP will supervise, authenticate and mark the NEA element of the qualification. They will work with you and us in allowing you to sit the written element of the qualification at a school or college in the UK which is closer to your home. At present we have four DLPs registered with us:

  • National Extension College
  • ICS Learn
  • Oxford Open Learning
  • Learnonline Pembrokeshire College

Please note we cannot recommend any Distance Learning Provider or give any information about these third party organisations. For details and further information about the qualifications on offer through these DLPs, please contact the organisation directly.