Can You Sit A-Level Exams Privately? Full Guide for Private Candidates

Can You Sit A-Level Exams Privately? Full Guide for Private Candidates

May 30, 2024 | 2months | Exams

A-levels are advanced qualifications that play a crucial role in shaping students' futures, influencing university admissions and career paths in the UK and beyond. Though traditionally taken in a school setting, A-levels are also available to be sat privately, offering flexibility and accessibility. Whether through self-study, an online course, or with a private tutor, sitting A-levels privately opens doors to personalised education at your own pace. Join us to learn how to take A-level exams privately.

Can I take A Level as a private candidate?

Yes, of course! This option is ideal for those who require or prefer a flexible study schedule, including adults returning to education, homeschooled students, and students who wish to retake A-levels for an improved outcome. In the same way that a student can take GCSEs as a private candidate, you will need to meet certain requirements, such as registering with an examination board and finding a suitable exam centre.

However, at CloudLearn, we can assist you with all the formalities of the process. The best part is that you don't need any previous qualifications to enrol in our A Level courses for private candidates and start the journey to exam success.

Key takeaways: What you must know

Why sit A-levels privately?

Choosing to sit A-levels privately comes with several compelling benefits:

  • Flexibility in Scheduling: Private candidates can study at their own pace and schedule exams when they are best prepared, not just at fixed times during the school year.
  • Tailored Learning Experience: You have the freedom to focus on specific subjects that interest you or are required for your future academic or career plans.
  • Access to Diverse Resources: Studying privately allows you to utilise a wide range of learning materials, including online courses, tutor support, and specialised textbooks, which might not be available in traditional school settings.
  • Opportunity for Focused Preparation: Without the distractions of a traditional classroom environment, you can concentrate more deeply on your studies.
  • Ideal for Non-traditional Students: Adults returning to education, homeschooled students, or students with special learning difficulties, such as ADHD and dyslexia, find private studying especially beneficial as it accommodates their unique needs and circumstances.
  • Guaranteed pass; Some academies thoroughly analyse their students' performance to create strategies and study plans that will lead their students to success. At CloudLearn, we ensure a 100% guaranteed pass! 98.2% of our students (who study the recommended duration) not only passed their exams but did it with flying colours, with grades 8 and 9 in GCSE and A* and A at A-Level. Isn't that impressive?

These advantages make sitting A-levels privately an attractive option for many learners seeking to advance their education in a way that best suits their personal and professional goals.

Where can you sit your A Level exams privately?

To sit your A Level exams, you must register with approved exam centres that accept private candidates. On the other hand, for preparation, students can only prepare on their own or at online academies (such as us, CloudLearn 👋). These platforms provide the flexibility to prepare anywhere, anytime, fully equipping you with the knowledge and confidence to succeed in your exams.

What are the disadvantages of doing A-levels privately?

One of the main challenges of sitting A-levels privately is the need for self-discipline in self-study, which can be daunting for some students. Without the structured environment of a traditional classroom, staying on track can be difficult. However, enrolling in A Level courses can mitigate these issues, providing a complete syllabus and access to tutor support, ensuring you remain guided and supported throughout your studies. The perfect combination of independence and guidance.

How much does it cost to do A-levels privately?

The cost of sitting A-levels privately varies depending on several factors including the number of subjects taken, the exam board selected, and whether courses include coursework or practical components. For a detailed breakdown, you can refer to our blog about the cost of taking A-levels privately.

Did you know?

At CloudLearn, you can find regular offers and discounts for purchasing in bulk. Book two courses for a 5% discount, three for a 10% discount, or four for a 15% discount! Additionally, access payment plans to split the total into smaller affordable plans as you go along the course.

Key deadlines to consider

When planning to take A-levels privately, it's crucial to be aware of key deadlines to ensure a smooth and stress-free examination process:

  • Registration Deadlines: Typically, you should aim to register for your exams at least six months in advance. This ensures you secure a spot at your preferred exam centre and avoid late registration fees.
  • Regular Exam Dates: A Level exams are usually scheduled during specific periods in the year, commonly in May and June. Some exam boards may offer additional sittings in January or October, providing more flexibility for private candidates.

Some online academies -like CloudLearn- also offer the benefit of fast-tracking your courses. This flexibility allows you to complete your preparation more quickly than traditional timelines. Such adaptability is especially beneficial for those who need to balance their studies with other commitments.

How to take A-levels privately? Step-by-step process simplified

Taking A-levels privately involves a clear, manageable process. From selecting subjects and an exam board to enrolling in an online course and booking your exam, this guide simplifies each step to help you efficiently prepare and succeed as a private candidate.

Step 1: Formal procedures

Define which and how many subjects to take

The typical student takes three to four A-levels, but the number can vary depending on your university and career aspirations. Choosing the right subjects is crucial as they can significantly influence your university admission prospects and future career opportunities. It's important to select subjects that align with your interests and the prerequisites of your desired university courses.

Need advice on choosing A-levels? Have a look at our guide to make the right decision.

Looking to excel in your A-Level exams?
Get the A-Levels you need at CloudLearn!

Choose an exam board

Selecting the right exam board is a critical step in your A Level journey as a private candidate. Each board offers unique syllabuses and assessment methods, which can influence both your study approach and examination experiences.

To make an informed decision, we recommend:

  • Research Available Exam Boards: Explore the different boards and their specific subject offerings. Among the available options, Edexcel and AQA stand out as the most popular among both students and exam centres. While all exam boards must include the same content and follow the same guidelines, they may differ slightly in the way they propose tasks and structure the papers. Additionally, they may or may not offer a practical section in some subjects, which can be important for some university entry requirements.
  • Align with Career and Educational Goals: Consider how each board's focus aligns with your career aspirations and further education requirements.
  • University Requirements: Check if your prospective universities have preferences for certain exam boards, as this could impact your application later on.

Research available exam centres

Finding the right exam centre is as important as choosing your subjects and exam board. Here's how to select the best location for your A Level exams:

  • Accreditation by Exam Boards: Confirm that the exam centre is accredited by the exam board you've chosen.
  • Location and Accessibility: Consider the travel distance and ease of access to the centre, as you will need to be there in person for your exams.
  • Facilities and Environment: Inquire about the facilities and the environment provided by the exam centre. Comfortable and well-equipped centres can enhance your exam performance.

Join an online course or find a personalised tutor

Preparing for A-levels as a private candidate is streamlined with CloudLearn, where you can find comprehensive online courses supported by personalised tutoring. Our courses are designed to fit your schedule and learning preferences, complete with interactive resources and continuous support from a dedicated tutor, who can provide extra material, specific explanations and mock exams to prepare you for exam day.

Many students fear opting for preparing for A-levels on their own given that it may be difficult to plan the content on your own, create your own study schedule and being consistent with it. However, online courses are the perfect mix of both, as they offer full course materials and tutor support while keeping the benefits of studying independently. This system has led 98.2% of our students to success! Not only can you pass your A-levels but also do so with outstanding results.

Book the exam

Booking your A Level exams as a private candidate involves selecting the right exam centre, paying fees and filling in some paperwork. Because navigating this process can be daunting, CloudLearn simplifies it by handling the booking for you. This enables you to avoid the stress of securing a spot at the exam centre that best suits you and making sure everything is in order for you to take your exams.

Step 2: Tips for revising (from other private candidates)

Private candidates often share valuable insights on forums about their experiences with A Level exams. Here are some practical tips gleaned from these discussions:

Create a study timetable

Developing a structured study plan is crucial. It helps in covering all necessary topics systematically and reduces last-minute stress. It also allows you to evenly distribute your time among the subjects you've chosen to study in an organised way until the day of the exam.

Revise regularly (and find a proper space for it)

Make revision a regular part of your study plan. It aids in retaining information and understanding the material deeply. Don't leave revision for the end, as you may have forgotten some topics by then, making it a more difficult task. Be sure to appoint regular revision sessions in your calendar, for example, once a month or every fortnight.

Pro tip: Once you are getting close to exam day, take mock exams under timed conditions. This practice helps in managing time during the actual exam and identifies areas needing more attention.

Need help in preparing for A-levels? Have a look at our guide about how to revise for A-levels.

Use your platform resources

Online learning platforms provide A Level students with a wealth of resources that enhance flexibility and efficacy in study habits. These platforms typically offer interactive learning materials, designed to cater to various learning styles and help students grasp complex topics effectively. Students can study remotely at their own pace, which is particularly beneficial for those balancing other commitments. Make sure to explore all these features and resources and leverage them to your benefit.

Take advantage of tutoring sessions

Tutoring sessions can be a pivotal aspect of your study strategy, especially when preparing for A-levels privately. On platforms like CloudLearn, tutors are available on request, providing tailored support exactly when you need it. These sessions can help clarify difficult topics, offer study tips and provide extra resources and practice tests.

Step 3: Pre and post-exam advice

The days before and after the exam are of utmost importance. Nervousness and anxiety are usually increased at this point, making students stressed and dubious. Here are a few tips to go through these moments as smoothly as possible:

Days before the exam

  • Take the weeks before the exam to make a final review of each subject, leaving some time to revise those topics that you may find most challenging.
  • Gather all the necessary materials and documentation early. Use the last few days before the exam to make sure you've got everything you need to avoid last-minute stress.
  • Once you know you are fully prepared for the exam, allow yourself to do those activities you like. Take some time to relax, see your friends and enjoy some leisurely activities. This will help you stay stress-free until you reach exam day.
  • Plan your exam day ahead. Calculate how much time you need to prepare and arrive at the exam centre on time to avoid delays and stress.
  • On the very night before the exam, have a good sleep. Even if you feel you could use that time to make some final revisions, it is scientifically proven that a good night's sleep is more beneficial. Allowing your brain to rest enables it to retain the information that you have already learnt, while sleep deprivation can cause the opposite.

During the exam

  • If you feel anxiety building up, think about how much time you have dedicated to studying, and the great efforts you have made. Additionally, keep things in perspective: although A Levels are important for your career path, they are still just exams, and your life plans are not ruined by a "poor result". You can simply retake them!
  • Manage time effectively. Do not try new methods or techniques, but remember your preparation and follow the same procedures. If you find any exercises or tasks difficult, avoid dedicating too much time to them. Browsing the exam and doing those exercises you find easier first can help you remember concepts and feel more motivated to do harder ones later.

After the exam

  • If you are too anxious, it is always a good idea to revise your notes and textbooks to look for the answers to those questions you were unsure about. This will help you predict your exam results until you receive them and also to learn for the future.
  • Stay tuned for your exam results. Follow the instructions provided by your exam centre to find out what the outcome was once grades are posted.
  • Once you receive your results, start planning your next steps. Be it entering university, or retaking your A-levels, it is always good to have a plan to follow.

Your Private A-Level journey, solved with CloudLearn!

Embark on your A-Level journey with CloudLearn and experience the ultimate in flexibility, support, and personalised education. Our platform offers comprehensive online courses, accessible expert tutoring on demand, and a wealth of interactive resources designed for success.

Whether you're a homeschooled student, an adult learner, or a retake candidate, CloudLearn tailors your educational experience to fit your schedule and learning style. If you still have questions about taking A-levels privately, have a look at this success case about Abigail, an A-level retaker who managed to improve her grades in just 16 months.

Join us to unlock your potential and achieve your educational goals with confidence and ease!

Exam Students


Do universities accept private A-levels?

Yes, universities widely accept A-levels taken by private candidates. These qualifications are considered equivalent to those taken in traditional school settings, as long as they are administered by recognised exam boards. CloudLearn ensures that your private A-levels meet the criteria expected by universities, ensuring your application is as competitive as any other.

How to retake an A Level as a private candidate?

Resitting an A Level as a private candidate is straightforward. First, choose your subject and exam board, then register with an exam centre that accommodates private candidates. CloudLearn offers comprehensive support and resources to help you prepare effectively for your retake, improving your chances of achieving the desired grades.

Can I sit my A-levels at home?

While you can study for your A-levels at home, exams must be taken at an approved exam centre. This ensures that all assessments are conducted under controlled and standardised conditions, maintaining the integrity and recognition of the qualification.

How do you take A-levels as an adult?

Taking A-levels as an adult is increasingly common and facilitated by platforms like CloudLearn. You can enroll in flexible online courses that allow you to study at your own pace around other commitments. They provide all necessary materials and tutor support to help you successfully achieve your A Level qualifications.

Can you pay to do A-levels?

Yes, you can pay to take A-levels privately through various educational providers. This is often a preferred option for those needing flexible study options or who are retaking exams.

Can a 16-year-old do A-levels online?

Yes, a 16-year-old can certainly do A-levels online. Online platforms like CloudLearn are designed to accommodate learners of all ages, including younger students ready to tackle advanced subjects. These platforms provide the flexibility and resources needed to study effectively from home or any location, with access to comprehensive course materials and ongoing tutor support. This approach is ideal for those who prefer a self-paced, flexible learning environment.

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