Exam information

Student taking exam

Many of our courses lead to qualifications from awarding organisations for which you will need to sit at least one exam. Exams are strictly controlled and can only be sat at registered exam centres on certain dates. We recommend you book your exam at least six months before your intended exam date.

Partner exam centres

NEC is pleased to be able to offer places for its students at partner exam centres in the following locations in England: Cambridge, Oxford, Reading, Coventry, Doncaster, Norwich, Gravesend, Swindon, Ashton-under-Lyne (Greater Manchester), Brighouse (West Yorkshire), Stockton-on-Tees (limited places available), Fareham (limited places available), London (limited places available).

If you wish to sit an exam in one of these partnership centres, our student support team can arrange this for you. If you would prefer to sit your exams somewhere else, there are hundreds of exam centres that accept private candidates across the UK.

Non-exam assessment

For some A level and GCSE subjects, there will be an element of non-exam assessment (NEA) involved. This could take the form of coursework, a speaking and listening exam, or a practical endorsement.

NEC students can study a course with NEA elements thanks to the Joint Council for Qualifications and the awarding bodies working with us to provide distance learners with a way to access this form of assessment. If you want to study a course with NEA elements, please visit our dedicated NEA page for full details on how it works.


The cost of sitting your exams is not included in your course fee. The cost will vary depending on the subject you are studying and the exam centre you are attending. You should also bear in mind that you will need to make your own travel arrangements to get there.

Registering for exams

Enrolled students who would like to sit their exams at one of our partner centres can download a partnership application form from learn@nec, or request the form from our student support team.

Bear in mind the following when finding an exam centre:

  • If possible we recommend you sit your exams at one of our partnership centres (see our list above)
  • Use the exam centre database in your student interest group – this contains a list of exam centres that our students have used in the past. We cannot promise that these centres continue to guarantee places to external candidates year on year
  • You could also contact the examining body for a list of exam centres – you can find contact details on our Partners and associates page
  • Search online for schools and colleges near you and get in touch with them, explaining that you are a private candidate
  • AQA exams are not available for private candidates to sit outside the UK
  • Overseas candidates who learn through a distance learning organisation such as NEC are classed as private candidates and as such are advised to return to the UK to sit their exams.

Once you have secured your exam centre you will need to provide them with the following information:

  • The awarding body of the subject you are studying
  • Name and specification number of the subject(s)
  • Any special access arrangements required
  • Your full name, address and date of birth.