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List of Exam Boards UK


Lead Academy

6 Mins Read

The examination boards in the United Kingdom (also referred as awarding bodies) are responsible for setting, marking and awarding qualifications to the students of schools and colleges. So, students need to take their GCSES or A Levels exam under specific exam boards.

This blog contains the details of the exam boards in UK. Find out how the boards are distinct from each other and which qualifications they offer.

The List of Exam Boards UK:

Some of the most popular exam boards in the UK include AQA, Edexcel, OCR and WJEC. Each board offers a unique set of qualifications and assessments, so it’s important to research your options carefully before making a decision. With the right exam board and qualifications under your belt, you’ll be well on your way to success in your chosen field.

students are setting in the exam room


AQA stands for Assessment and Qualifications Alliance. This board is considered to be one of the main examination boards in England.

AQA was formed from a merger between the Associated Examining Board (AEB) and Northern Examinations and Assessment Board (NEAB) in April 2000. It is a registered charity and is independent of the government.

At present, AQA accounts for taking and marking more than half of the GCSE and A-level qualifications in the UK each year. In total it offers qualifications in around 60 subjects which have a variety of specifications and qualification levels.

The subjects that are covered by AQA are Maths, English and science, numerous languages, humanities, ICT-related areas, PE and creative subjects. AQA also offers Applied General and Level 1, 2 and 3 qualifications in skill-based subjects like science, business, catering, and general skills, as well as independent extended projects.

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The full form of CCEA is The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment. CCEA is the examination board of Northern Ireland which also acts as the regulator of qualifications and awarding body of Northern Ireland. It is the only Northern Ireland based examination board that awards GCSE and A Level qualifications.

CCEA offers qualifications like GCSEs, Entry Level Qualifications, Essential Skills, and Graded Objectives in Modern Languages.


Pearson is another largest awarding body of the UK alongside AQA. It offers qualification in the name of “Edexcel.” Pearson is the only private exam board among the UK exam boards.

Pearson offers qualifications in around 50 subject areas that include the core subjects of Maths, English and science. But, it is mostly popular for offering GCSE and A-level qualifications along with some vocational qualifications including NVQs and Functional Skills.

There are more than 300 choices of topics attached to the various work-based and NVQ competency qualifications, and Pearson is a popular choice for BTEC and NVQ qualifications.


OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA) is again one of the main examination bodies in UK and also a part of Europe’s largest assessment agency. OCR sets and assesses GCSEs, A levels and a number of vocational courses.

Just like the previous exam boards, OCR offers GCSEs and A levels in more than 40 subjects that includes the core subjects of Maths, English, Science, and a range of languages, humanities and creative arts subjects.

It also offers more than 450 vocational qualifications in areas like ICT, health and social care, business and media.


WJEC (Welsh Joint Education Committee) under its own name and the Eduqas brand, provides examinations, professional development and educational resources to schools and colleges in Wales, England and Northern Ireland.

WJEC offers qualifications in traditional academic and work-related subjects at Entry Level, GCSE, AS/A Level. It also provides other level 3 qualifications such as Level 3 Diploma/Certificate in Medical Science or Level 3 Diploma/Certificate in Criminology as well as Functional Skills and Key Skills.

History of Exam Boards UK:

The creation of the current exam boards occurred when the GCE (A Level) boards and GCSE examining groups began to formally merge. The merged boards worked together to offer both GCSE and A Level qualifications.

students taking exam in classroom


The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) was formed in 1997 by the Northern Examining Association (NEAB), Associated Examining Board (AEB) and the vocational City & Guilds. Later on in 2000, AEB and NEAB formally merged into AQA while City & Guilds chose to remain independent.


In 1995, the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) took over the Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examination Board (OCSEB). UCLES merged all its A Level boards to form the Oxford and Cambridge Examinations and Assessment Council (OCEAC). In 1998, UCLES took over the vocational Royal Society of Arts Examinations Board. Then it chose to use the name Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR) for all its UK qualifications. OCR is the only major exam board owned by a university and is still run by the University of Cambridge.


The London Examinations merged with the vocational BTEC to form the Edexcel Foundation in 1996. It originally ran as an educational charity like AQA but the Foundation was taken over by Pearson in 2003. It is the only British exam board to be run by a profit-making company.


The Northern Ireland School Examinations and Assessment Council was replaced by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) in 1994. ICAAE, a division of ICAA, began offering GCSEs in 1997, in partnership with CCEA. In 2009, it began offering exams independently of CCEA though stopped offering such exams a few years later.

two girls celebrating exam results in school


The Welsh local authorities own this awarding body, but it operates independently.4 WJEC launched a new brand, namely Eduqas. Eduqas offers the new Ofqual-accredited qualifications while WJEC offers Welsh Government-regulated qualifications.


What are the main exam boards in the UK?

The main exam boards in the UK are AQA, OCR, Pearson, CCEA and WJEC.

What does an awarding body mean?

Awarding body is an examination board that remains responsible for setting examination and awarding qualification to students of schools or colleges. The qualifications may include GCSEs and A Levels.

How do the UK exam boards work?

In the UK, the exam boards set, mark and provide qualifications to the students. Ofqual must regulate the exam boards as they set rules that exam boards must follow. Further, the boards use JCQ set common policies and procedures that schools and colleges need to follow when delivering GCSEs, AS and A levels.

What does the awarding body mean on application form?

Awarding bodies are organisations that deliver qualifications, certificates, diplomas and awards. In addition, including awarding bodies on your application form means experts in their field formally recognize your qualification and the quality of the learning provider as well as your knowledge and skills.


Considering your convenience we have elaborately described the exam boards of the UK. Hopefully, the blog has answered all your queries related to the examination boards UK.

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