The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) is the largest exam board in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It sets the syllabuses for, and holds examinations in, various subjects at both GCSE and A Level. The other major English, Welsh and Northern Irish exam boards are OCR, Edexcel, the WJEC and the CCEA.
AQA was formed after the merger of the Associated Examining Board/Southern Examining Group (AEB/SEG), the Northern Examinations & Assessment Board (NEAB) and City & Guilds in 2000. The organisation has several offices: the two largest are in Guildford and Manchester.
AQA offers a range of qualifications and services, including GCSE, GCE, GNVQ, VCE and Entry Level. AQA also administer schemes such as the Unit Award Scheme and Access to Higher Education. In addition we hold the current National Assessment Agency (NAA) contract to conduct and report on the monitoring visits to schools which have pupils taking National Curriculum Tests.
The Council for the Curriculum Examinations & Assessment (CCEA) is an examination board traditionally serving Northern Ireland, though it is open to others (it is the only board to do Irish A-levels and AEA).
Edexcel is one of the main exam boards in the UK (the others are AQA, OCR, CCEA, WJEC. It offers ELC, GCSE, GCE, BTEC, NVQ, -iDA and Skills for Life qualifications. It was formed from the merger of the University of London examination board (UCLES) and the BTEC (Business & Technology Education Council). In 2003, the Edexcel Foundation (the charity which managed the board) formed a partnership with Pearson PLC to set up a new company called London Qualifications Ltd, which was 75% owned by Pearson and 25% by the Edexcel Foundation. London Qualifications Limited changed its name to Edexcel Limited in November 2004. In 2005, it was completely taken over by Pearson PLC, and no longer remained a charity; it is now a limited company. It is based in London, One90 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7BH; however it is an international company, offering qualification globally. Its motto was "Success through qualifications", but after 2005 it was reformed to "Advancing learning, changing lives".
Edexcel has a reputation for controversy: in January 2002, one of its AS Mathematics (D1, 6689) papers turned out to have different numbers on the answer sheet and on the question paper, but it failed to inform schools. It was revealed to have used administration staff and other university graduates to mark papers.
Edexcel has also been perceived as a great 'digitiser' of its administration: in 2003, it introduced an onscreen marking system, ePen. ePen give lots of data about student performance, even at each question. Edexcel has made available the data available to schools through its Results Analysis Service (RAS). From summer 2007, it formed a new service to schools and students - Results Plus: giving students access to their grades online, and schools access to their performance online.
The Oxford, Cambridge and RSA (OCR) exam board is a British organisation that sets examinations and awards qualifications (including GCSEs and A-levels). It is one of England, Wales and Northern Ireland's five main examination boards: the others are AQA, Edexcel, the WJEC and the CCEA.
OCR is based in Cambridge, England with offices in Birmingham and Coventry. Together with University of Cambridge ESOL and University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), OCR makes up Cambridge Assessment, the day-to-date working name for UCLES , the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) which operates in over 150 countries. The name Cambridge Assessment was adopted in 2005.
The name OCR reflects the fact that it was created in 1998 through the amalgamation of the University of Oxford Delegacy for Local Examinations (UODLE - founded 1857) and the Oxford & Cambridge Schools Examinations Board (OCSEB - founded 1873) with the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES - founded 1858) and the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) Examination Board and various other organisations. UCLES is a non-teaching department of the University of Cambridge. Once, every UK exam board linked to or was part of a British university, now OCR is the only one left.
The Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC) is an examination board traditionally serving Wales, but now also serving England and Northern Ireland. Established in 1948, it is based in Cardiff. It is the fourth-largest UK exam board in terms of awarded qualifications, at 475,000 per year.
Along side offering A-Level and GCSE qualifications WJEC also offers the Welsh Baccalaureate, which is a supplementary qualification taken in Secondary Schools and Further Education Colleges alongside A-Levels.