I know that in the United Kingdom I can sit examinations equivalent to GCSE/A-levels without actually doing the years required in a school or other institution.

I want to know if there are other exams that I can sit that are considered higher than A-levels and I am given a certified certificate of qualification, without spending time in any institution, all that is necessary is to arrange payment for this exam at a centre. And if I pass then I receive the qualification.

  • 1
    Is this not exactly what GRE is?
    – wimi
    Jan 5, 2020 at 18:37
  • 2
    No GRE in the UK. Jan 6, 2020 at 15:38

2 Answers 2


Speaking about education in the UK generally, the answer is probably no. The A-level exams correspond to qualification level 3, and anything above A-levels is considered higher education: bachelor degrees cover Levels 4-6, master degree is level 7, and doctorate is level 8. I do not know any HE provider in the UK awarding HE degrees by examination only.

Having said that, the Open University provides many courses using distance learning, which do not require students to attend the campus, except for a couple of short periods each year.


There are two sorts of qualification you can take that go beyond A-level without become "higher education". These are GCE Advanced Extension Papers and STEP papers. Both of these used to be available in a large range of subjects, but as far as I am aware Maths is only subject available now in both types of exam.

Both are primarily used as university entrance exams, but at least for STEP, some people take then for "fun".

I've no idea how you would go about taking them if you were not assocaited with a school or FE college though.

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