Examinations: Your Responsibilities

Student sitting multiple choice test

General Information

Exams must be taken at a registered examination centre. Oxford Open Learning is your learning provider, not an examination centre, and although we will give you all the help and guidance that we can, especially with finding a centre and dealing with coursework forms, we do not book exams for you.

We can guarantee that you will be able to sit exams at about 30 centres around the UK and we also have a database (which grows and changes all the time) of around 500-600 other centres who may be able to help you.

Exam entry is entirely the responsibility of the student. We accept no liability for late, wrong or missing entries, nor do we have any influence over which centres will accept you or what they charge. You may be lucky and find a centre very close to where you live, but you should be prepared to make lots of phone calls and to shop around as prices and availability vary enormously.

All candidates should read the Introduction to their course very carefully, it will provide the exam entry specification codes for your particular subjects and explain the way the examination is structured. Candidates should also look at the Private Candidate guidance sections of the relevant exam board website:

All the required forms, except for the exam centre entry form, can also be downloaded from these websites and via Useful Links.

As a general rule, if you want to sit exams in June, you must have found an exam centre and booked your exam by the end of January. If you are sitting in January then bookings should be made by the end of September. Final deadlines are published on the exam board websites, for example, AQA’s Key Dates, but exam centres prefer to be contacted much earlier than these final dates.

Please be aware that exam centres accept Private Candidates entirely at their own discretion and the fact that you have found them on any list (ours or the exam boards’) is no guarantee that they will accept an application from you.  In our experience exam officers tend to look more favourably on well organized and polite candidates who have made themselves familiar with the specification codes and exam requirements and who apply in good time. Students who are well prepared and flexible will always find a centre to take them. However, if you have any special needs it may be more difficult, you should start making enquiries as early as possible and you must tell your exam centre before they make a booking for you. Unfortunately no centre can be guaranteed to accommodate particular needs.

IMPORTANT; if for some reason you are unable to sit your exam  then it may be possible to get a full or partial refund, depending on how soon you contact the exam centre before the exam date. If you decide not to sit at the last minute (it does happen) then please, please at least ring your exam officer/entering centre and tell them. You will not get a refund but it will save the exam officer trying to locate you and possibly delaying the exam for other students. An incident where one of our students fails to report for the exam can be so stressful for the exam officer (and other students) that  the centre refuses to take our students ever again!

Below are a few suggestions about how to improve your chances of booking an exam place and maintaining good relations with your exam officer;

Very Important Guidelines for keeping your Exams Officer happy

  • Follow the instructions we send out in December carefully and make sure that you know your exam board, entry code and any unit codes for A level. Do not approach an exam centre with no information or the wrong information. You will find everything you need about procedure either on this website, in the December exam information we send out or in the Introduction to your course.
  • Once you have found a centre, please do not keep pestering your exam officer with questions which can be answered by reading your course folder, this web page, the exam board web pages or the letters we send to guide you through the exam process. If in doubt contact your OOL Student Adviser or your tutor first.
  • Make sure that you provide a reliable contact phone number and a current address. Exams officers who have to spend hours trying to contact a private candidate understandably get very frustrated. Always give them Oxford Open Learning’s phone number (01865 798022) and the information sheets we provide as well as your own details, so that they have at least one reliable contact during office hours.
  • Do not be late for exams or fail to turn up without telling anyone. If you are withdrawing from an exam or are unable to get there on the day, please make it a priority to tell your exam centre. Exam officers get extremely stressed if they have to delay the start of an exam for their own students while they try to make contact with a missing private candidate.
  • Always pay your fees even if you do not sit the exam. The exam officer will often have had to do as much work for candidates who have withdrawn as for those who sit their exam.
  • Please treat your exam officer with courtesy and respect. They are not obliged to help you and if they do they are trusting that you will not take up a disproportionate amount of their time.
  • If you provide a stamped addressed envelope the exam officer will always be able to post your results to you even if you are unable to collect them in person. Similarly results can be emailed to you but they are not given out on the telephone.
  • Please always say “Thank you”. Exams officers go to a lot of trouble to help you and they do this voluntarily, they are in no way obliged to help you or any other Private Candidate.

Private or External Candidates

When you sit exams based on an Oxford Open Learning course, you will normally be a Private or External Candidate. However, if you are also enrolled on courses with a school or college, they will enter you as an Internal Candidate for their courses.

You cannot be entered as both an Internal and an External Candidate in the same exam centre during the same exam series.

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