For something so simple as doing an exam, the process is incredibly confused and complicated.
So far i've gathered that I need...
1) Find a test centre that accepts private candidates
2) Find the exams I want to do (of which there is a bewildering choice with each subject)
3) Fill in the exam entry form and pay the fees
4) Submit a coursework entry form, and a form with each piece of courseworkto get it marked
How do I know which courses to choose from the AQA website, there’s hundreds, how do I know which require coursework, which dont, what my coursework needs to contain, what the exam will contain so on and so forth, theres no information what so ever on any of this on AQAs website.
There is an answer to this. Do IGCSE. That's International GCSEs. Go to the Edexcel website and find the subject lists.
These exams have no coursework element. You sit 2 papers, usually days apart and that's it. Make sure you download the specification so you are familiar with the course content and the exam format (set books etc).
Exam centres that accept private candidates will offer these. They are taken in either November or May/June. They are very similar to the old "O" Level.
The advice about taking IGCSEs is good. Since the 'eelction' of the new Government, IGCSEs are available in state schools. This should make it slightly easier to find a broader range of exam centres.
With regards to the GCSE, it is probably worth finding a centre that will accept you first, then check which exam board they offer. This is because many schools or colleges will only accept you if they are doing the same specification or have an exam running at the same time.
All the other requirements are listed in the specification, which is available online. For most subjects, Controlled Assessment replaced Coursework in September 2009. You will need to go to your exam centre to do this. I hope this helps. Good luck.