Private Candidate A-Levels: How to Book and Succeed

Students studying in a library for private A-levels.

Imagine having the freedom to tailor your A-Level journey to your preferences. As a private candidate, that’s exactly what you get. But here’s the reality check – booking and succeeding in A-Levels as a private candidate isn’t always easy. It’s a unique challenge that calls for a strategic approach. 

In this no-nonsense guide, we’ll walk you through the process. From booking to acing the exams, we’ve got you covered with practical advice and tips. 

Let’s get started on your path to A-Level success!

Why Choose A-Levels as a Private Candidate

A-Level examinations have long been considered a crucial milestone in the academic journey. Traditionally, students pursue these qualifications in school settings, but an increasing number are opting for a different route: becoming private candidates. Why? Let’s delve into the advantages that draw students to this path.

1. Flexibility and Personalisation

The primary allure of being a private A-level candidate is the flexibility it offers. You gain control over your study schedule and can tailor it to your unique needs. Whether you’re working part-time, have other commitments, or simply prefer a self-paced learning approach, this flexibility empowers you to shape your educational journey.

2. Subject Freedom

As a private candidate, you’re not limited to the subjects offered by your school. You have the freedom to choose the A-level subjects that align with your interests, career aspirations, or university requirements. This customisation is invaluable, enabling you to craft a curriculum that suits your goals.

See Related: Should I Take A-level Chemistry?

3. Self-Motivation and Independence

Sitting A-Levels demands self-discipline and motivation. This experience fosters independence and instils a sense of responsibility that can be invaluable in your future academic and professional endeavours.

4. Repeating or Improving Grades

For those who wish to enhance their grades or retake specific subjects, a private A-Level candidate provides the opportunity. It’s an avenue for self-improvement, and you can focus on areas where you aim to excel.

5. Accommodations for Diverse Needs

Private candidates often find it easier to request accommodations, such as extra time or specific examination conditions, to meet their unique needs, including medical or learning requirements.

6. Distance Learning and Online Resources

With the growth of online resources and distance learning options, private candidates have access to a wealth of study materials and support, making it increasingly convenient to prepare for A-Levels independently.

In summary, choosing A-Levels as a private candidate grants you unprecedented control, customisation, and independence. While it’s not without its challenges, the benefits are clear. In the following sections, we’ll explore how to navigate the booking process and succeed in your private A-Level journey. 

The A-Levels Booking Process Simplified

Before embarking on your journey as a private A-Level candidate, it’s crucial to grasp the booking process’s intricacies. While it might seem straightforward, some nuances can affect your path to success. Let’s break it down without any unnecessary fluff.

1. Registration with Exam Boards

Sign up and book A-levels as a private candidate.

Your first step is to choose the exam boards for your A-Level subjects. Different boards offer various syllabuses, so make sure your selection aligns with your study goals. Popular boards include AQA, Edexcel, and Cambridge International, among others.

2. Subject Selection

Carefully choose your A-Level subjects based on your interests and future aspirations. Be mindful of prerequisites for specific courses or universities if you have a clear career or educational path.

3. Exam Centres and Entries

Private candidates must find a suitable exam centre to sit for their A-Levels. Ensure the centre you select is accredited by your chosen exam board. Once you’ve made your choices, you must complete your exam entries, providing your selected subjects and personal details.

4. Deadlines and Fees

Stay vigilant regarding registration deadlines and fees. Missing deadlines can be a setback, and fees can vary depending on your chosen exam centre and subjects. Be sure to budget accordingly to avoid last-minute surprises.

5. Documentation and Identification

Prepare the necessary identification and documentation for the exam centre. That often includes a valid passport or government-issued ID, as well as proof of your exam entries and payment.

6. Exam Timetable

As the exam season approaches, stay updated on the release of exam timetables. Make a study schedule that aligns with your exam dates to ensure you’re well-prepared.

7. Additional Considerations

Depending on your circumstances, you might need to address specific considerations, such as special accommodations for disabilities or medical conditions. These should be communicated to the exam centre well in advance.

Exam Boards and Exam Centres: Everything You Need to Know

Choosing the right exam board and exam centre is a critical part of your journey as a private A-Level candidate. Let’s explore these aspects without any fluff to ensure you make well-informed decisions.

1. Selecting the Right Exam Board

Each exam board offers distinct A-Level syllabuses and assessment methods. To make the right choice:

  • Research available exam boards and their subject offerings.
  • Consider your subject preferences and career goals.
  • Check if your chosen universities or institutions have any specific requirements regarding exam boards.

Remember, your chosen exam board can impact the content and format of your A-Level exams.

2. Choosing the Ideal Exam Centre

Your choice of exam centre can significantly affect your exam experience. Here’s how to choose wisely:

  • Ensure your selected exam board accredits the centre.
  • Consider the location, as you’ll need to travel there for your exams.
  • Inquire about the exam conditions and facilities they offer, as they vary.

Your chosen exam centre should align with your needs and preferences as a private candidate.

3. Booking with Your Chosen Exam Centre

Once you’ve made your selections, it’s time to book your exams with the chosen centre. Ensure you follow their procedures for private candidates, providing your subject choices and personal details accurately.

4. Be Mindful of Deadlines

Pay close attention to deadlines set by your exam centre. Please include them to avoid additional fees or even exclusion from the exam session.

5. Confirm Your Exam Dates

As the exam season approaches, check your exam dates and timetable to avoid any surprises. This information will be crucial for your study planning.

6. Prepare for the Exam Day

Young businesswoman studying at home for A-levels as a private candidate

Lastly, as your exams draw near, focus on your preparations. Create a study plan, gather necessary study materials, and ensure you’re ready to perform your best on exam day.

By understanding the importance of your choices in exam boards and centres and by adhering to deadlines and preparations, you’re well on your way to a successful private A-Level journey. Now, let’s dive into preparing as you approach your exams.

Preparing for A-Levels as a Private Candidate

As a private A-level candidate, effective preparation is the key to success. We’ll guide you through the essential steps to ensure you’re well-prepared.

Study Strategies and Resources

  • Start early: Time management is critical. Begin your A-Level preparations well in advance to allow ample time for thorough study.
  • Quality study materials: Invest in high-quality textbooks, online resources, and study guides. Ensure they align with your chosen exam board’s syllabus.
  • Practise past papers: Solving past exam papers is one of the most effective ways to understand the exam format and types of questions.

Time Management and Self-Discipline

  • Create a study schedule: Plan your study time wisely. Allocate sufficient time to each subject, considering your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Set goals: Establish clear study goals and milestones. That keeps you motivated and on track.
  • Minimise distractions: Find a quiet, organised study space and limit distractions to maximise productivity.

Support and Study Groups

  • Consider joining or forming study groups: Collaborating with others can enhance your understanding of challenging topics.
  • Seek support from tutors: If you’re struggling with specific subjects, consider private tutoring to clarify concepts and improve your performance.

Self-Assessment and Feedback

  • Regular self-assessment: Periodically assess your progress and adjust your study strategies if necessary.
  • Seek feedback: Get feedback from teachers, tutors, or study group members. Constructive input can help you identify areas that need improvement.

Managing Stress and Maintaining Well-Being

  • Stress management: Develop stress-relief techniques like exercise, meditation, or deep breathing to keep exam anxiety in check.
  • Maintain balance: Don’t neglect your physical and mental health. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep are essential.

With these practical and actionable steps, you can succeed in your A-Level exams as a private candidate. The key is to stay disciplined and maintain a structured approach to your studies. Now, you’re equipped to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

What’s the Cost of Sitting A-Levels Privately

When considering the cost of sitting A-Levels privately in the UK, it’s important to be aware that expenses can vary. Exam entry fees typically range from £100 to £200 per subject, while study materials, including textbooks and resources, may cost around £100-£200 per subject. Tuition costs, if you choose to opt for additional support, can vary significantly. 

Additionally, the budget for transportation to the exam centre depends on your location. These expenses can add up, so it’s essential to plan your budget carefully. Being financially prepared will help you navigate your private A-Level journey with confidence.

Study Mind Can Support You!

Your journey as a private A-level candidate offers flexibility and control over your education. It may come with costs and challenges, but the rewards are worth the effort. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll navigate the booking process, prepare effectively, and aim for success. 

Remember, simplicity, dedication, and self-belief are your allies. If you’re seeking additional support, consider Study Mind’s A-Level Tutors

We can also help you register with an approved testing centre and take the stress out of booking A-Levels as a private candidate! Contact us today and find out more!


Is it more challenging to pass A-Levels as a private candidate than in a traditional school setting?

While private A-level candidacy comes with its unique set of challenges, it’s relatively easy than traditional schooling. Success depends on factors such as your study habits, discipline, and access to quality study materials. The advantage of flexibility can empower self-motivated individuals to excel, making private candidates a viable option for many.

Can I choose any exam centre for my A-Levels, or are there restrictions?

You can typically choose your preferred exam centre. However, it should be accredited by your chosen exam board, and you’ll need to coordinate with them to ensure availability for your selected subjects. Select an exam centre convenient for you in terms of location and facilities.

What additional costs should I consider when sitting A-Levels privately?

Beyond exam entry fees, consider expenses for study materials (textbooks, resources), potential tuition costs, and transportation to the exam centre. Additionally, budget for unforeseen costs, such as supplementary study aids or special accommodations, which can vary based on your needs.

Are there any limitations on the subjects I can choose as a private A-Level candidate?

You are generally free to select the A-level subjects that align with your interests, career aspirations, or university requirements. However, it’s essential to ensure you meet any prerequisites for specific courses or institutions if you have a clear academic or career path in mind.

Can I retake A-Levels privately if I’m not satisfied with my initial results?

Yes, private candidates have the opportunity to retake A-Levels to improve their grades or to meet university entry requirements. Ensure you understand the registration deadlines and costs associated with retakes and plan your study strategy accordingly.

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