HE Exams Wiki

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Most home-educated students go to college or sixth-form school to study for A-levels, or other qualifications such as BTECs. However, some students do continue to study from home at 16+. This page discusses your options, and has some advice from parents who have supported students in this situation.

Studying A-levels From Home

****If any one has any advice/knowledge to add here please do***

Support Groups

Facebook Group Home Educating through A-levels

Facebook Group Home Education UK Exams and Alternatives

Useful Links

Sixteen Plus - options, child benefit etc

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) - alternatives from home education.

Applying to University after Home Education

Making entries and sitting exams

Finding an exam centre

International A Levels

Cambridge International A Levels

CAIE (Cambridge) International A-levels, are available in the UK.

They are generally accepted as equivalent to state-regulated A-levels by UK universities; most unis have made statements confirming this. CAIE has a search facility which allows you to find these recognition statements, but it can be hard to navigate so we have made a snapshot of recognition statements as of May 2019.

They have November and June sittings. Cambridge International A Level is typically a two-year course, and Cambridge International AS Level is typically one year. Cambridge International A Levels still have the option to sit AS-levels which contribute to the final A-level grade, unlike the reformed A levels.

Assessment options

You can choose from a range of assessment options to gain Cambridge International AS & A Level qualifications:

  1. Take the Cambridge International AS Level only. The syllabus content is half a Cambridge International A Level.
  2. Take a ‘staged’ assessment route – take the Cambridge International AS Level in one examination series and complete the final Cambridge International A Level at a subsequent series. AS Level marks can be carried forward to a full A Level twice within a 13 month period.*
  3. Take all papers of the Cambridge International A Level course in the same examination session, usually at the end of the course.

* The staged assessment route is not possible in all subjects. The outcomes awarded for Cambridge International AS Level language syllabuses cannot be carried forward to Cambridge International A Level.

CIE were not effected by the A level reforms - explanation here CIE International A-levels and the A-level changes:

Edexcel International A-levels

Edexcel International A-levels have no coursework - they offer exam-only assessment for all subjects, including sciences. They are NOT available in the UK, but you can take them at overseas Edexcel centres. Pearson say they are working on making these available in the UK - no timescales as yet.


***This section needs checking and contributing to. Please share your knowledge***

Cambridge International AS and A Levels - Subjects

A-Level History

AS-levels do not have coursework, but A-levels do.

A-level Maths

A-level maths is available to private candidates from all the major exam boards.  There is no coursework; it is exam-only and therefore straightforward to arrange.  The modules offered, and syllabus, appear very similar across the boards. I enquired about transferring credit for completed modules from Edexcel to OCR and was told by the exam board subject helpline that this would normally be a formality for maths, although not necessarily for other subjects where there was more variation between the syllabuses.

A-level Sciences

For AS exams from 2016 and A-level exams from 2017, candidates can take the exams without having any practical assessment.  However, in this case certificates won't have the "practical endorsement" on it. This will probably be required if you're applying to study science at uni, but may not matter otherwise.

A-level Literature in English

This does not involve coursework. It consists of 4 exams. Two can be done at AS level and staged and carried forward when taking the final 2 exams the following year. Students can choose from a variety of set texts which are listed in the spec: ☀https://www.cambridgeinternational.org/programmes-and-qualifications/cambridge-international-as-and-a-level-english-literature-9695/

(Many self study this topic, and I have found 2 course providers teaching this spec; Home Made Education and Wolsey Hall (There may be more but its seems a lot of course providers teach other boards which may then involve course work/NEA)

A-level Divinity (Religious Studies)

This does not involve coursework. Staged assessment route is not possible for this one. Exams are November only. There are 3 papers and to complete the full A level the student chooses 2 papers to sit in one sitting. Topics are: Paper 1 OT Prophets, Paper 2 The Gospels, Paper 3 Acts and other NT letters. (The only course provider I have found for this is NSWLearning).

A-level Sociology

This does not involve coursework/NEA. It consists of 4 exams. Two can be done at AS level and staged and carried forward when taking the final 2 exams the following year, or all 4 can be taken at the same time at the end. (In my research the most popular sociology course is the AQA one which has no coursework and only 3 exam papers. When asking a tutor the differences she replied that the CAIE spec has more a focus on religion than some other specs.)

A Level Distance Learning Providers

***Please add any info here***

A Level Reforms

From 2013-2019 there were large reforms to A Levels

The main features of the new qualifications are:

  1. Assessment mainly by exam, with other types of assessment used only where they are needed to test essential skills.
  2. AS and A levels assessed at the end of the course. AS assessments will typically take place after 1 year’s study and A levels after 2.
  3. AS and A levels are decoupled – this means that AS results no longer count towards an A level.
  4. AS levels can be designed by exam boards to be taught alongside the first year of A levels.
  5. The content for the new A levels has been reviewed and updated.

Government information on changes inc a timetable of he changes (useful if looking for past papers)

The Uni Guide (from The Student Room) to the changes

A-Levels In One Sitting? Retakes?

Does it matter if you spread your A-levels out over 3 years or more? What about resits?

Some universities, or some departments, specify that A-levels must be taken in one sitting, ie 3 A-levels with final exams taken in the same exam season. Others do not have a policy on this. Some say that applicants with resits will not be disadvantaged, whilst others may say they do not accept resit grades. Usually the university will make a statement about these things on its 'Information for applicants' page, and then on the department/ course listings you may find more detail about requirements for a specific course. The reason for prioritising first-time grades and 3 A-levels in one sitting is that very competitive courses may be fast-paced and they want applicants who will be able to keep up with the workload. Some degree courses have a lighter workload than others or may be more flexible.

Here are some examples of university statements about timing of A-levels: Be sure to do your own research these statements have not been checked recently

Bristol University

  • We accept A-levels taken early in accordance with the relevant course admissions statement, subject to the following condition. 
  • We normally expect you to have taken three A-levels (or equivalent qualifications) in one sitting. If you haven’t, please ask your referee to explain the reason for this in their reference so we can take it into account when considering your application. 
  • Some courses have restrictions on applicants resitting their A-levels. Check the relevant  admissions statement to find out whether this applies to you. 

[ source]

East Anglia, University of

For most courses, you don’t need to have achieved all of your A-levels in the same sitting and we do consider resits. But there are a few restrictions and these are mainly our Pharmacy and Medicine degrees.

Entry requirements do vary from course to course, so it’s best to have a look at our Course Finder, search for the course you’re interested in and look at the Essential Information section, where you will find the Entry Requirements for that particular course. 

If you have any further queries about entry requirements please contact our Enquiries Team on enquiries@uea.ac.uk. 


Exeter University

We will treat an achieved or predicted qualification grade in the same way irrespective of whether or not re-takes are involved (this applies to all our programmes with the exception of our BMBS Medicine programme – for further detail please view the BMBS Medicine policy).

Where predictions are not available for those applicants who are re-taking part or all of a qualification, we will normally base our assessment on the assumption that they are likely to achieve one grade higher than their original result.

The University does not discriminate against applicants who have re-taken part or all of a qualification. [source: General Academic Entry Requirements]

Imperial College, London

The majority of our entrants will hold A* or A grades in all their subjects at A level. Programmes require excellent passes in a minimum of three A levels, two of which will usually be required in the following subjects: Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry or Biology. Programme specific entry requirement details are provided in the College’s undergraduate prospectus and within the UCAS entry profiles.

Applicants for medical programmes are required to achieve the three required A levels in one sitting.

Applicants may also not present two A levels in the same subject awarded by two different examination boards that have been sat in the same sitting. [source]

Kent, University of

If you are unsuccessful in gaining a place, this does not prevent you from applying to Kent again in the future, especially if you are retaking your exams or taking additional qualifications. [source]

King's College, London

Early sittings

Please note that whilst King’s encourages students to stretch themselves academically, students who are entered early for their examinations should have the potential to achieve the same grade as might be expected if they were entered in the standard year. Therefore, if you gain an A-level B in Year 11, this will not be considered as good as a student who achieved a grade A in year 12. [1]

Loughborough University

The majority of our courses will consider applicants who are re-sitting their exams according to the standard selection process.

London School of Economics (LSE)

Given the competition for places and the nature of assessment at LSE, we prefer students who have achieved high grades in their first attempt (and in one sitting) at relevant examinations. If extenuating circumstances have impacted your exam performance, you should include details of these in your application.

Manchester University

Applications will be considered against the standard selection process of your chosen course if you have either:

a) sat your examinations early;


b) followed an accelerated curriculum and spent three years studying A-levels where the examinations were taken over two years.

If a student is studying an advanced curriculum where the examinations are spread over three years, consideration for an offer will be at the discretion of the academic School for that subject. Each applicant in these circumstances is considered on a case-by-case basis and we may request further information to support our overall review of the application. [source]

Warwick University

4.7 Non-standard patterns of examination entry and resits

The University normally expects applicants to demonstrate that they can succeed on a demanding course of study within a defined timescale, as exemplified by (but not limited to) the achievement of three A levels (not including General Studies and Critical Thinking) over the course of a maximum of two years of study.

Students who resit individual units to improve their A-level grades within this timeframe will not be penalised. However, students who resit their final Year 13 examinations may be at a disadvantage when considered alongside those who have attained the required grades within the usual timeframe. Some courses will not consider candidates who have taken three years to reach the required level of attainment.

Though all applications will be considered on their individual merits, students who follow a curriculum where the normal number of required examinations are spread over three or more years may be at a disadvantage when considered alongside those who have attained the required grades within the standard timeframe, and some courses will not consider such candidates.

If students take examinations early (relative to the majority of the cohort) allowances will not be made for lower grades achieved.


Personal Experiences

What is it like doing A-levels from home education?  How do families decide whether it is right for them?  Here are some comments from home educators: Case Studies: A Levels at Home