Government help with Numeracy and Maths GCSE
I know this page is headed ‘How to take the exam as a private candidate but I feel I must point out you might not have to go it alone. This is straight from a government website:-
English and maths qualifications
These are sometimes called ‘Skills for Life’ or ‘basic skills’ qualifications. They’re based on national standards recognised by employers and colleges. A range of qualifications are available.
You can take an English and maths qualification if you:
- are over 16
- have left compulsory full-time education
- have English and maths skills below level 2 (GCSE) standard
Qualifications are available in:
- English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
Qualifications are available at the following levels:
- entry level (ICT is only available at this level)
- level 1
- level 2 (GCSE)
You can even ask for an adviser to ring you back at a time convenient to you! See here. This service is for England only– but the page provides links to ‘Skills Development Scotland’ and ‘Careers Wales’.
Private Candidate Information
Individuals wanting to take the exam on their own (independent of a school or college) are known as private candidates. There are a few tasks private candidates need to complete :-
1. Select an examinations board (assessing body).
In England there are 3 boards to choose from:-
AQA (Assessment and Qualifications Alliance) www.aqa.org.uk
OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations) www.ocr.org.uk
All of the exam boards follow the same syllabus and work together to ensure that they are following the same standards. This should mean that it makes no difference which exam board you choose. However there has been a lot of controversy about this. Some teachers have argued that some exam boards questions are more straightforward than others. For my maths challenge I will be sitting the AQA exam to be consistent with my daughter’s school.
2. Find a local exam centre.
You need to find a local exam centre that is willing to accept private candidates. All of the exam boards have guidance for private candidates on their websites:
AQA– web.aqa.org.uk/admin/p_private.php Telephone 0844 209 6614
Edexcel– www.edxcel.com/iwantto/pages/private.aspx Telephone 0844 576 0027
OCR– www.ocr.org.uk/learners/index.html Telephone 01223 553998
The process for finding a local exam centre varies between exam boards. For example AQA publishes a list via the link above whereas for Edexcel you are required to e-mail a request. If in doubt I would recommend using the telephone numbers listed. I found that the exam boards were very helpful.
3. Decide when you are going to sit the exam.
Maths GCSE is normally taught over 2 years, however it should be noted that most candidates will be sitting a number of exams at the same time. If you are a mature student just sitting one exam and/or have previous relevant knowledge you may require less time. In my case I originally targeted June 2011. I’ve since found out that the Maths GCSE syllabus changed from September 2010 (I’ll blog about this soon) and the first sitting of the new exam will be in June 2012. My children will be taught the new syllabus and since I’m taking the exam in order to support them, I have settled on June 2012.
4. Apply at your local centre and pay the fees.
Your local centre will make the application for you to sit the exam. You will need to go to the centre in person with proof of identity (for example current passport or driving licence) and the appropriate fees. The exam board requires a fee (approx £30 for GCSE’s) but the local centre may require an additional admin. fee (this will vary between exam centres). The information required by the exam centre/exam board may vary between exam boards. I would recommend contacting your local exam centre to check the requirements before you go to the centre. In addition there are closing dates for entries to all exams. I will be contacting my local centre at least 6 months before my exam date.