Demystifying the Exam Booking Process with NEC: Everything You Need to Know Thursday, 09 November 2023

Explore the essentials of booking exams with our latest ‘long-read’ blog, complementing our well-received webinar on the topic. We also address some thought-provoking questions from the session, providing valuable insights to assist you in your exam preparation journey.

If you are keen to learn more, the webinar is available to watch here.

Studying with NEC

When you enrol with NEC, you’ll have access to your course material and a dedicated tutor through our online platform learn@nec. While our study process is straightforward, we understand that the examination aspect can be daunting. Our goal with this guide, and in our webinar, is to demystify the exam booking process, whether you’re a current NEC student or considering distance learning.

NEC’s Examination Offer

Louise Tolhurst, NEC’s Exams and Assessment Manager, outlines the range of services we offer:

  • Guaranteed exam places: NEC guarantees an exam spot for our students at one of our partnership exam centres.
  • Ease of booking: Distance learners often find the exam booking process intricate. With NEC, all you need to do is fill out our form, and we handle the rest.
  • Diverse examination methods: As an approved examination centre, NEC covers both written exams and non-exam assessments (NEAs). This includes oral exams for languages, coursework for A level English, Literature, History, and the spoken language endorsement for GCSE English Language, to name a few.

Access Arrangements

For students with special educational needs, disabilities, or temporary injuries, access arrangements are available. These ensure you have the necessary tools and environments to perform at your best. It’s crucial to apply early for these arrangements, as availability can be limited.

How to Book Exams with NEC

  1. Visit the exams and assessment page on learn@nec.
  2. Browse through the ‘About Assessment’ section within your course.
  3. Complete the online exam application form. Once reviewed, you’ll receive a payment link.
  4. Await confirmation, and then focus on your studies!

NEC’s Exam Centres

Our partnership exam centres are located across various cities including Belfast, Birmingham, Cambridge, and London, among others. We’re always expanding, so do check the exams and assessment page on learn@nec for updates, or see the Exams and Assessments page on our website.

Feedback from Students

Our examination service is highly regarded, with 93% of candidates in a recent survey rating our communication as excellent or very good. Furthermore, 100% found that our booking system met their requirements.

Get in Touch

For more detailed information or any queries, visit our website, learn@nec, or directly email our exams team at

Lastly, for those who prefer visual content, our webinar on this topic is available on the National Extension College’s YouTube channel here. And for more information on exams and other related topics, do visit the exams page on our website.

Questions and Answers from the Exams Webinar

Q: I want to sit Physics A level written paper in June 2025. Would I apply for the Exam Centre by January 2025 and for the Physics Practical Endorsement by 1st December 2024?

A: That’s correct. Even if you don’t have special access arrangements, we advise that as soon as we send an alert out to say the application form is available, you should apply. We also advise applying even earlier than 1st December to get first choice on the practical endorsement dates, as some of our partnership exam centres for endorsements will get full before the 1st December deadline.


Q: My daughter is at a specialist school, and they don’t offer History GCSE (which is why she is studying History IGCSE with NEC). Her school has said that they could be her exam centre. Should the school contact NEC or the Exam Board to be her exam centre? 

A: You need to ensure that you visit the assessment section of her course to get the appropriate information like the awarding body and the specification number. This ensures that they enter her for the correct spec. They just need to make an entry for her with the awarding body, which is Pearson, like they would for any other Pearson candidate.


Q: For students and parents who are sitting at a separate exam venue to the ones that you have, are the exams team willing to liaise with that exam venue if the parent or sponsor would like it?

A: If there is any sort of NEA attached we’re always happy to do that. Please email us at for further details.


Q: Can you explain how the A level History NEA works? Specifically, A level History coursework.

A: As you work through the course, it will guide you on when to submit the various elements of the NEA. Our tutors will mark the actual written work, providing you with the mark around April of that examination year. You have an opportunity for a mark review, with criteria explained on our exams and assessment page of learn@nec. If you’re satisfied with the mark, it gets sent to the awarding body for moderation. We have a great track record with the awarding bodies for moderation and haven’t faced any issues to date.


Q: For a student in Scotland without a partnership centre due to the NEA element, how does the examination process work?

A: NEC needs to be your entering centre to ensure compliance with all awarding body requirements. We handle the entry and NEA, and then make a transferred candidate application to a centre of your choice. The student can take their written exams in Scotland but will receive their overall mark from NEC.


Q: In the past, we needed to book access arrangements directly with your partnership exam centre in Wimbledon. Has this process changed?

A: The process has been altered. While some access arrangements might still require you to approach the centre directly, most bookings are now done through us, making things easier. For any queries or concerns, email our exams team.


Q: I’ve started three A levels and want to finish them within a year. How long can I delay booking the exams?

A: This largely depends on the subject. If there are non-examination assessments (NEA) or practical endorsements, it’s advisable to think about it sooner. Centre availability is also a factor. For example, centres in Fareham and Wimbledon fill up quickly for subjects like maths. If the centre you’re interested in is popular, it’s advised to book early. Late fees can be quite hefty, so it’s best to avoid them.


Q: How do you support students looking for exam centres around them?

A: While we do have a main centre in Wimbledon, we are constantly in talks with potential new centres. We always aim to provide more choices to our students. If a new centre becomes available after you’ve booked, switching might be possible. Just get in touch with us.


Q: How do late fees work?

A: Nobody wants to incur late fees as they can be quite expensive. There are levels to the fees, with costs potentially tripling for very late bookings. Plus, past a certain deadline, there’s no guarantee a centre can accommodate you. It’s always best to book early to secure your preferred centre and avoid extra costs.


You can watch back the webinar with Louise here.

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