yyyyzryrd
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I'll be taking a Computer Science exam in 2021, as a private candidate. I am not on any CS course with my college (first year, Y12 - will be Y13 this September), so it's mostly self taught (though, I did take CS in high school).

Do I pick the A-level exam or the AS-level exam? What precisely is the difference? A google search says AS is essentially the first year of a full A-level, but another says they're different entirely.

I am looking to do only the year 1 exam in 2021, as there is no way I'd fit two years into a few months of study on top of my other subjects. So, which is the correct option?
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Compost
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Where are you (England? Wales, Ni? Elsewhere?) and which specification are you taking?

I you're taking the full A level then there is no need to take AS exams at all - just wait to the end of the course and then take A level exams. However, the second half of the A level course in England involves NEA (coursework) which is very hard to complete as a private candidate - for this reason the AQA specification is not available to private candidates.
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yyyyzryrd
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I'm in England. Not sure what precisely you mean by "taking the full A level then there is no need to take AS exams at all" - I'm not on the CS course at all. It is not something I am taking as a subject. Only that an exam will be completed by my as a private candidate in 2021.

As far as the NEA, I can't really find much information about it. The AQA site provides limited details, but I believe it to be very possibly to work alongside the college and AQA to provide adequate facilities to complete an NEA, should one arise (https://www.aqa.org.uk/student-and-p...xam-assessment).
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(Original post by yyyyzryrd)
I'm in England. Not sure what precisely you mean by "taking the full A level then there is no need to take AS exams at all" - I'm not on the CS course at all. It is not something I am taking as a subject. Only that an exam will be completed by my as a private candidate in 2021.

As far as the NEA, I can't really find much information about it. The AQA site provides limited details, but I believe it to be very possibly to work alongside the college and AQA to provide adequate facilities to complete an NEA, should one arise (https://www.aqa.org.uk/student-and-p...xam-assessment).
I'm equally baffled by your answer.

The NEA makes up 20% of the A level - this is clear if you look at the specification. I understand that you are not taking a course but that you are studying it by yourself but you need to decide whether you want to take:

  • The AS exams to get the AS. This is achievable as a private candidate but the online exam needs specialist help so very few centres will accept private candidates for it.
  • The A level exams to get the A level. Note that you cannot be entered for AQA A level Computer Science as a private candidate. The only option would be to persuade your college to supervise and mark your NEA as a favour to you and to be entered as a centre candidate for the A Level. This will take considerable time and effort on their part for which they will not get any funding so they will almost certainly say no.
AQA do not enter into discussions with candidates - everything has to be sorted out through an exam centre willing to accept your money to enter you for the assessments. Not many centres accept private candidates and even fewer will accept candidates for CS because of the online exam - it will be pretty much limited to the few that already teach it and accept private candidates. our college is your best bet but don't rely on them - check very early on what they are prepared to do.
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thegalaxy
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(Original post by Compost)
I'm equally baffled by your answer.

The NEA makes up 20% of the A level - this is clear if you look at the specification. I understand that you are not taking a course but that you are studying it by yourself but you need to decide whether you want to take:

  • The AS exams to get the AS. This is achievable as a private candidate but the online exam needs specialist help so very few centres will accept private candidates for it.
  • The A level exams to get the A level. Note that you cannot be entered for AQA A level Computer Science as a private candidate. The only option would be to persuade your college to supervise and mark your NEA as a favour to you and to be entered as a centre candidate for the A Level. This will take considerable time and effort on their part for which they will not get any funding so they will almost certainly say no.
AQA do not enter into discussions with candidates - everything has to be sorted out through an exam centre willing to accept your money to enter you for the assessments. Not many centres accept private candidates and even fewer will accept candidates for CS because of the online exam - it will be pretty much limited to the few that already teach it and accept private candidates. our college is your best bet but don't rely on them - check very early on what they are prepared to do.
There’s no online exam on the OCR spec - they’re both paper based - though you’d run into the same problem with the NEA presumably.
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Compost
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(Original post by thegalaxy)
There’s no online exam on the OCR spec - they’re both paper based - though you’d run into the same problem with the NEA presumably.
Also, the OCR specification doesn't specifically ban private candidates but the problem of getting a centre to supervise, authenticate and mark the NEA remains.
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yyyyzryrd
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So, I wrote a number of emails. I also researched a bit. If it will help anyone in the future, this is what AQA emailed back to me:

"[...] Normally because of this NEA element the A level Computer Science is not available to private candidates. Now if your centre has a teacher that is willing to run through this NEA with you and carry out all of the administration you will be able to complete it. This being said they will need to enter you as a normal candidate cas you cannot enter private candidates for A level Computer science [...]" .

It is possible to take the exam. I honestly don't know why. Too much bureaucracy. That being said, I do still appreciate the individuals who tried to nail it through my thick skull. This is for you:

I love you.
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