Home educated young people take exams as private candidates which involves selecting an exam board with suitable courses and finding an exam centre. State schools don’t generally let young people who aren’t registered pupils go in to sit exams. Many home educating families opt to take IGCSEs also known as International GCSEs because of the difficulties of arranging to sit GCSEs.
In December 2022 the JCQ list of centres accepting private candidate entries was updated for the 2023 series and can be found here. JCQ notes that centres may still accept private candidates even if they are not listed on the JCQ website. Appearing on the list is not a prerequisite for supporting private candidates.
The JCQ list is specifically for GCSEs (ie NOT IGCSEs although they MAY help with IGCSEs if you ask) also A Level (here just called “GCE”)
The main exam boards or awarding bodies for IGCSEs are Pearson Edexcel and CIE. More exam centres are registered with Pearson Edexcel though this does not necessarily mean that the centre will accept private candidates for IGCSEs.
Where a candidate requires any special arrangements such as extra time, use of word processor, scribe, rest breaks etc, this is known as “Access Arrangements”.
Home educated candidates can spread exams over several years. Some home educating families find it is not necessary to take as many exams as children do in school and there may be flexibility or non-standard entry where colleges understand more about the applicant’s background. Home educators also tend to begin exams earlier. In some cases it’s been possible for home educated young people to sit exams as external candidates in private schools. Home educating families tend progress through the course material by self-study working through recommended textbooks. Families can also set up their own tutor groups.
The reason why home educators tend to use centres which are already up and running rather than setting up their own registered exam centre are to do with the rules for becoming an exam centre
Ofqual Student Guide 2023
JCQ Access Arrangements Private Candidates via this page
Home Educators Exams Wiki
Home Educators’ Qualifications Association + HEQA Webinar Get Started with Exams as a Private Candidate, 1 hour webinar, April 2022.
Ofqual published guidance in May 2022 to help awarding organisations comply with their obligations under Equalities Law. Read more here
Faregos Exam Centre run by home educators for home educators, Hampshire + Home education Exams tutor groups, Hampshire and Hampshire/Berkshire border.
Home educated young people aged 14-16 in England are able to attend college part-time and the Government will pay for the course. However, GCSEs are mostly not available.