Private Candidates are students who have opted to learn and study A Levels independently. This can be either entirely self study, using textbooks and online resources. Or, studying a specially written online A Level course with the help of a tutor and learning provider. There are no restrictions or specific requirements for being a Private Candidate, but if a student is of school age, then it will need to be registered with the local authorities.
The flexibility of study for Private Candidates can be very appealing. As a Private Candidate, you can study as and when you want, where you want. The only restrictions you have, are when you have to take your examinations and submit any coursework. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why studying this way appeals to recent school leavers and mature students.
What A Levels are Available for Private Candidates?
Believe it or not, there are very few A Level subjects that aren’t available for Private Candidates. Of course, some subjects may be a little more tricky to study, but that doesn’t mean impossible. The key things to be aware of with A Level subjects are the requirements for completing the courses. Some A Levels have additional requirements such as coursework or practicals or fieldwork, that as a Private Candidate, you will still need to complete.
A Levels with coursework include:
A Levels with practicals include:
A Levels with fieldwork include:
- Environmental Science
Needless to say, some courses additional elements can prove tricky for Private Candidates to complete. If you find this is the case for you, it’s worth noting that the international version of A Level courses don’t have these requirements and still come with UCAS points. If you’re opting to totally self study A Levels, keep in mind that completing some courses with additional elements might not be possible.
How do I Complete Coursework as a Private Candidate?
A Level subjects that come with a coursework element (also known as NEA), require students to complete an extended essay for submission with their written examinations. These courses, English and History, will require some additional assessments on top of the usual written examinations. Provided you have a tutor helping you with your studies, then you can complete the coursework element without issue. Your tutor will have to rough mark and authenticate your work ready for the exam centre to submit it with your written papers.
If you have opted to self study your courses, then you may have to find a private tutor to help you with completing your coursework element, as this much be checked and verified as you work by a professional before being submitted.
How do I Complete Practicals as a Private Candidate?
If studying one of the science subjects, you will usually need to complete practicals. There are some exceptions, you can opt not to partake in the practical element, but this will effect your final grade. You should also note, it will state on your certificate that you didn’t complete the practical element of the course. Alternatively, you can study the International versions of the courses, which don’t have practical elements, instead they come with additional written papers to complete.
The theory of the practicals and what you’re expected to be able to do in a lab is covered within your course materials. But to actually carry out the practicals, you will need to register at your chosen examination centre early. From there, you will have a chance to attend the centre and practice your practicals before being assessed for them. It’s worth noting, you don’t have to do your practicals in the summer exam season, you can do them earlier or spread them through your studies.
Once your practicals are completed, the centre will hold your results and submit them to the Awarding Body along with your completed written exams.
How do I Complete Fieldwork as a Private Candidate?
The fieldwork requirement for A Level Environmental Science or Geography is slightly more tricky. Currently, there are very few exam centres that offer the option of completing fieldwork. Private Candidates are required to carry out various experiments over several days out in the open and so finding a centre close to do this can be hard. That said, there is again the International option for these A Levels, where no fieldwork is required, instead you can do additional written examinations to get your qualification.
How do I register at an Examination Centre?
Examinations for Private Candidates work in almost exactly the same way as for regular students. You will need to attend an exam centre to sit your exams along with all the other students taking the A Level. In order to be able to attend the examinations, you will need to register at an examination centre as a Private Candidate. This is a very simple process and finding a centre can be done through the Awarding Body website.
How much does it cost to be a Private Candidate?
The cost of studying as a Private Candidate can vary massively and so it’s good to do your research. Generally, to study an A level course online with a learning provider is around £380 for the whole course. When it comes to the examinations, again, the fees for this do vary and can range between £60 and £250. If you are looking to study a course with additional elements, then you have to have a tutor to support your learning. They are the ones who will be responsible for carrying out the additional assessments you need prior to examination.
It is worth noting that if you have recently left school or college, it is definitely worth speaking to the Exams Officer to see if you can attend there to sit the exams as a Private Candidate.
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