This site has been put together by people on the HE-Exams Yahoogroup , which discusses the practicalities of gaining formal qualifications as a home-educated young person. 

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There are a few GCSEs which do not involve Controlled Assessment, and these are listed below.  Most GCSEs are not a realistic option for private candidates because they involve Controlled Classroom Assessment.  This means that an extended assignment has to be done at an exam centre under supervision.  While this is not complex for most subjects, in practice, few schools are prepared to arrange this for external candidates.  There are some private exam centres which will arrange for GCSE Controlled Assessments, but it can be very costly - one example is £150 in addition to other exam fees of £75 per written paper, at Pascal's College in South London.

If the subject you want is not available as an exam-only GCSE, you can usually sit an International GCSE instead.  These are equivalent to GCSEs and are accepted by all universities and colleges as such; you do not need to be at all concerned about their status.  Many independent schools enter their students for IGCSEs as routine.  For more discussion and references, see the page on IGCSEs.

For practical subjects such as Physical Education or Dance, you are unlikely to find any centre which will accept external candidates for the Controlled Assessment element. Instead, home-ed students generally take Alternative Qualifications such as sports and coaching qualifications accredited by the National Governing Body in their sport. Please see the Alternative Qualifications page for more.

GCSEs without controlled assessment:

  • Economics - AQA
  • General Studies - AQA
  • Modern Languages - for the less common modern languages, there is usually no coursework but there are compulsory speaking and listening tests, which can be hard to arrange. Including:-
  • Japanese
  • Greek (Modern)
  • Russian
  • Arabic
  • History - new GCSEs for examination from 2018


If a subject is not listed here, it may well still be available to external candidates.  For more information see the individual subject pages as listed on the Main Page of this wiki.


List of CIE IGCSE exam subjects which are open to external candidates as of Summer 2013:

Accounting 0452
Afrikaans - First Language 0512
Arabic - First Language - 0508
Art and Design 0400
Bangladesh Studies 0449
Biology 0610
Business Studies 0450
Chemistry 0620
Chinese - First Language - 0509
Computer Science 0478
Development Studies 0453
Dutch - First Language - 0503
Economics 0455
English First Language 0500
English Literature 0486
Environmental Management 0680
Geography 0460
German 0505
[[French - First Language - 0501
History 0470
Islamiyat 0493
Latin 0480
Mathematics 0580
Additional Mathematics 0606
ICT (0420)- involves a practical which can be difficult, but not impossible, to arrange.
International Mathematics 0607
Pakistan Studies 0448
Physical Science 0652
Physics 0625
Religious Studies 0490
Science (Combined) 0653
Science Coordinated (Double) 0654
Sociology 0495
Travel and Tourism 0471

Second Language Subjects - all involve a compulsory oral element and so can only be taken if you can find an exam centre willing to assist with this. However, if your children are lucky enough to be bilingual, ALL of the First Language subject exams are open to private candidates with NO oral component. There is a wide range of those languages open to PCs.


Most of the subjects listed below are International GCSEs (IGCSEs), although there are a few coursework-free GCSEs such as maths and psychology.

All Edexcel International GCSEs are linear, which means you need to take all the exams in the same exam session.  

[Edexcel IGCSEs - Complete list] - for some less common qualifications not listed below, you can check if it is available to private candidates by opening the Specification and searching for 'private candidates'. 

Maths GCSE

Maths International GCSE and Further Pure Mathematics IGCSE

Physics International GCSE

Chemistry International GCSE

Biology International GCSE

Business Studies International GCSE

Human Biology International GCSE

Economics International GCSE

English Language International GCSE

English Literature International GCCSE

Geography International GCSE

Global Citizenship International GCSE

History International GCSE

Science - Combined Double Award

Religious Studies International GCSE 

Psychology GCSE


AQA has its own list of AQA qualifications available to private candidates, so check for updates.

The AQA Certificate (IGCSE) is AQA's new IGCSE qualification.  Many are available at Level 1 and Level 2.

AQA Certificates - available specifications Edit

Biology (8401) (AQA Level 1/2 Certificate) Edit

Chemistry (8402) (AQA Level 1/2 Certificate)

English Language (8705) (AQA Level 1/2 Certificate)

English Literature (8710) (AQA Level 1/2 Certificate)

Enterprise and Employability short course (4805) (Level 1 and Level 2 Certificate)

French (8655) (AQA Level 1/2 Certificate)

Further Mathematics (8360) (AQA Level 2 Certificate)

Geography (8031) (AQA Level 1/2 Certificate)

German (8665) (AQA Level 1/2 Certificate)

History (8045) (AQA Level 1/2 Certificate)

Physics (8403) (AQA Level 1/2 Certificate)

Preparation for Working Life full course (4801) (Level 1/2 Certificate)

Preparation for Working Life short course (4800) (Level 1 and Level 2 Certificate)

Science Double Award (8404) (AQA Level 1/2 Certificate)

Spanish (8695) (AQA Level 1/2 Certificate)

AQA Free- Standing Maths Qualifications: Edit

FSMQ - available specifications

Foundation Level - Money Management (4981)

oundation Level - Using Spatial Techniques (4982)

Foundation Level - Using Data (4983)

Higher Level - Financial Calculations (4984)

Higher Level - Shape and Space (4985)

Higher Level - Data Handling (4986)

Higher Level - Algebra and Graphs (4988)

Advanced Level (pilot) - Data Analysis (9993)

Advanced Level (pilot) - Hypothesis Testing (9994)

Advanced Level (pilot) - Dynamics (9995)

Advanced Level (pilot) - Mathematical Principles For Personal Finance (9996)

Advanced Level (pilot) - Decision Mathematics (9997)

Advanced Level (pilot) - Calculus (9998)

AQA Functional Skills Edit

English Level 1 (4720)

English Level 2 (4725)

ICT Level 1 (4527)

ICT Level 2 (4528)

Mathematics Level 1 (4367)

Mathematics Level 2 (4368)


AQA list quite a few GCSEs as being available to private candidates, but realistically many will not be an option because of controlled assessment.  Nevertheless, it's worth reading through the requirements just in case:

[GCSEs available to private candidates]

The following AQA GCSEs are definitely available to private candidates and are regularly taken by home-educated students:

Law GCSE (no controlled assessment)

Maths GCSE/IGCSE Further Mathematics (Level 2 Certificate/IGCSE), FSMQ

Psychology GCSE

Sociology GCSE

Religious Studies (GCSE no controlled assessment for either A or B)

Economics GCSE (no controlled assessment)

General Studies GCSE (no controlled assessment)


Level 1/2 Certificates

Latin  3 Choices: Latin Language, Latin Language and Roman Civilisation, Latin Literature



Law GCSE (no controlled assessment)

Classical Greek GCSE (no controlled assessment)

Latin GCSE (no controlled assessment)

Religious Studies GCSE (Spec A or B)  

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