University of London Exam Board

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Examination boards in the United Kingdom (sometimes called awarding bodies or “awarding organisations”) are the examination boards responsible for setting and awarding secondary education level qualifications, such as GCSEs, Standard Grades, A Levels, Highers and vocational qualifications, to students in the United Kingdom.

Until the mid-1990s, academic exam boards and vocational accreditors were run very much as separate organisations. In more recent times, this distinction has been removed, with all the term ‘awarding bodies’ now being used. This article focuses on the contemporary and historical awarding bodies that set academic exams in state schools. In everyday terminology, these organisations are still referred to as ‘exam boards’.

Broadly speaking, the UK has always had two separate school systems: one for England, Wales and Northern Ireland; and one for Scotland. As a result, two separate sets of exam boards have been developed.

Examination boards working together

The UK’s examination boards sometimes work together. For example, they sometimes offer qualifications jointly or share training materials for common parts of specifications.

The JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications) is a common voice for UK exam boards. The JCQ is made up of AQA, CCEA, City & Guilds, Edexcel, OCR, SQA and WJEC. Among its roles, it devises standard rules for exams and publishes statistics.