Written exams

Before you take exams as a private candidate, check the subject specification for the format of the assessment. This will tell you what is needed and give you an idea of what you can expect on the day.

You should ensure that you bring what you need to the exams (including any pre-release materials) and follow all instructions during the exam. At the end of the exam, the invigilator in charge of the room will tell you when it is alright to leave.

The JCQ publish information for candidates on specific exam regulations each year, where applicable, including:

  • written exams
  • on-screen tests
  • exam room posters
  • social media.

You can also read our guide on what to expect on exam day.

Pre-release (preliminary) material

You may need pre-release (preliminary) material in advance of the exam. Exams requiring pre-release material are indicated in the specification so please check each subject specification carefully.

The information and materials are sent to your school or college and the exams officer should forward them on to you.

Please note: it is your responsibility to ensure that you receive the pre-release material. If you have not received it, contact the exams officer. We are unable to send the material to you directly.

Access arrangements and special consideration

Access arrangements for private candidates with a physical disability or learning disability should be requested at the time you make your entry and before the deadline dates. If you have a temporary injury, contact the exams officer immediately.

Special consideration may be given after your exam if you have been affected by illness, a temporary injury or any other indisposition at the time of the exam. You must contact the exams officer at your school or college as soon as possible. They are able to apply for special consideration and need to submit the request within seven days of the last exam.

For further information, read JCQ's information on access arrangements and reasonable adjustments and special consideration.


You can view AQA exam dates, or provisional exam dates, on our dates and timetables page.

Timetable clashes

If you find out that you have two or more exams at the same time, contact your exams officer straight away. Alternative arrangements will be made where possible and need to be done through your exams officer.