Non-exam assessment: what you need to know

Student taking exam

Non-examination assessments (or NEA) form part of the assessment for some A level and GCSE subjects. This could be a written piece of coursework or a practical session such as a spoken language endorsement.

Many distance learning students find themselves in a difficult position when they reach the stage in their course where they need to enter for the exams. They are often left to their own devices to find an exam centre willing to accept them – a serious problem when the assessment requires coursework or practical work to be marked. Exam centres who would normally be willing to accept a student for written papers will be unlikely to assess the NEA. If an exam centre does agree to do this for you, there could be some unexpected costs.

It is now possible for NEC students to study a course with NEA elements due to the JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications) and awarding bodies working with us to achieve a suitable solution for distance learning students. You can read more about our NEA campaign at our blog.

A level English Language, English Literature and History

For these A levels, the NEA is an essential part of the assessment. As a recognised exam centre in our own right, we are approved by the awarding bodies to supervise, authenticate and mark your coursework, which is then submitted to the awarding body for moderation. NEC students will then need to arrange to sit exams at one of our partner exam centres. We will be able to make your exam entry and transfer your exams to your chosen centre.

If you decide not to use one of our partnership exam centres, you need to be aware of extra fees (additional to what we charge) which will be charged by your exam centre – we don’t have any control over these fees.

A level Biology, Chemistry and Physics, and GCSE English Language

For A level science subjects and GCSE English, the practicals and spoken elements are treated as an endorsement and are not essential to gain the qualification; however, many higher education institutions require the endorsement so it is essential that you speak with them before making a decision. We ensure that our students have the opportunity to take these additional endorsements, and crucially, under the new NEA rules, we can enter you for your exams if you choose not to take the endorsement.

You can take the practical endorsement for all A level science subjects at our partnership centres in Brighouse, Coventry and Oxford.

The GCSE English spoken language endorsement can be taken at our partnership centres in BrighouseCoventryFareham and Oxford.

We are continuing to work on more ways for NEC students to be assessed for science practicals and speaking and listening elements, and will keep this page up-to-date with any changes. Further information will also be made available to you on learn@nec after enrolment.

Modern foreign languages

Oral exams for modern foreign languages do not fall under the term NEA, but form an essential part of the assessment along with the written exams. We can guarantee you a place to do these oral exams at our partnership exam centres in BrighouseCoventry, Fareham, Gravesend and Oxford.

You can also choose to sit your written papers at any of our partnership centres (excluding London) and then come to NEC in Cambridge for your oral exams.

Arranging your assessment

As you’ll be aware, there is an additional fee for examination and NEA entries. We try to keep these fees as low as we can and we’ll always be honest and upfront about the costs. NEC students can find a copy of the guidance on applying to sit at a partnership centre – including full details of fees – on learn@nec.

NEC will process all examination entry administration for you and provide you with information about the partner exam centre you have selected – all you need to do is to make arrangements to turn up in good time for your exams. This will help take a lot of pressure off you and reassure you that everything has been arranged.

Further information

If your chosen course has an element of non-examination assessment, call our Course Advice Team free on 0800 389 2839 and we’ll be happy to share our expertise to help you make the right choice.

You can also view or download a free copy of our guides for more details: