You might be worried about how you'll get your grades this summer if you're a private candidate, separate from any school or college. Don't be! We've put together the guide below to tell you everything you need to know, and how you can access support.
Governments across the UK have determined that summer exams will not happen in 2021. As a result, examination centres will now be responsible for determining your grades for you, based on previous examinations, coursework and predicted grades. The obligation will be on them to find out as much as they can about you and your studies. However, each nation within the UK will each approach this in a slightly different way.
- England - Private candidates will be assessed by their recognised exam centre. This assessment will be based on evidence such as exam-board produced assessments. Assessment will focus on topics that the candidate has been taught. A list of recognised exam centres will be published by the government in due course.
- Northern Ireland - Exams have been cancelled, and all students’ grades will be determined by their teachers. However, the CCEA has also committed to awarding all private candidates a grade this summer. In order to achieve this, you should register with a CCEA-approved examination centre. Deadlines for registrations are quite early in the year, so it’s worth doing this as soon as possible.
- Scotland - The Scottish Government and partners are working to find an appropriate solution. Specific guidelines for private candidates haven’t been published yet. However, Scotland is largely following a similar pattern to the rest of the UK.
- Wales - Qualifications Wales is working to ensure that every private candidate is accommodated by an existing examinations centre. They will host you, and the WJEC will mark and assess your work. The WJEC will also be responsible for any appeals you may wish to make.
In all cases, additional information is being developed to support private candidates. We will update this page as this information becomes available.
- Develop a good relationship with your examination centre - Good communication will be vital and can help both parties out. Contact the head of department or exams officer for each subject you are studying and introduce yourself. Most will sympathise with your situation and will work with you to make things easier. If you have a private tutor or anyone who is helping to support your learning, it may be worthwhile introducing them into the conversation as well. Your success is in their interests, and they’ll be able to give an honest picture of your progress without any modesty you might feel.
- Try reaching out to other private candidates - Remember that you’re not alone. While the current approach was built with school students particularly in mind, there are lot of people who are in exactly the same position as you. Talking to other people who are going through the same process can help to ease any concerns that you may have about being left out. Some organisations, such as the National Extension College (NEC) exist specifically to support independent learners like you.
Contact your UCAS choices - The university or college you have applied to may not be aware that you are a private candidate. Getting in touch with them to discuss your situation might help you get some clarity. You can then discuss the ways you can meet the terms of your offer. They'll also be able to better support you when results day comes around.
Join our mailing list - As we get new information, we'll also be sending out emails to let you know how things stand. Sign up here for updates.