Examinations: Your Responsibilities

Examinations: Your Responsibilities

General Information

Exams must be taken at a registered examination centre. Oxford Open Learning is your learning provider and not usually your examination centre, unless you are studying A level English Language, Literature or History, or GCSE English. These are known as “NEA” subjects and instructions for making entries for these subjects are given under “NEA Guidelines”. Although we will give you all the help and guidance that we can, we do not book exams for you, unless you are studying any of the above 4 NEA subjects.

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 600 other centres who may be able to help you.

If you are studying either French or Spanish then you should be aware that unfortunately the exam will be more expensive than normal and  your choice of centre may be limited to these 30 centres. A few local schools will help language students (particularly if they are language specialists) but most are put off by the oral. You might have to travel a long way, but we will always find you a place.

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 code for the subject and explain the way the examination is structured. Entry codes are also listed on this website, but be sure you choose the correct one. Candidates should also look at the Private Candidate guidance sections of the relevant exam board website:

Exam centre entry forms have to come from individual centres, but NEA /coursework forms can be downloaded from the AQA website and via Useful Links.

As a general rule, if you want to sit exams in summer, you must have found an exam centre and booked your exam well before the end of January. Please be aware that some schools will not take exam bookings after Christmas and entry deadlines seem to get earlier every year, so it does no harm to enquire as early as possible.

If you are sitting in January then bookings should be made by the end of September. Please put this date in your diary as we only send reminders about summer exams.

Final entry deadlines are published on the exam board websites, for example, AQA’s Key Dates, but exam centres generally prefer to be contacted very much earlier than this. Before Christmas we will email everyone sitting in summer about booking their exams, but please do start to make contact with possible centres as early as you can.

You should always 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 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.

If you have any Special Needs finding a helpful exam centre is likely to be more difficult and time consuming. You will need to have the correct documentation already in place as without it no centre can give you any special conditions. Approval for special access arrangements/extra time/ readers etc. is very time consuming, it cannot be done at short notice. If you need extra time, the exam will be more expensive and you must inform your exam centre of any requirements 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 the stress of 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 before Christmas 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  exam information email we send out or in the Introduction to your course.
  • If you want to have the best chance of getting your preferred exam centre you should begin making enquiries in October or November for a summer sitting. You may have to wait to book but it does no harm to ask early.
  • We have excellent relations with many centres so it is always a good idea to make it very clear that you are an Oxford Open Learning student. N.B. this will not work with every exam officer!
  • 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) 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 own 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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