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GCSE equivalency tests for BCU Health, Education and Social Work offer holders

GCSE support sessions

This page is for people holding offers with Birmingham City University ONLY. If you have been advised to take our GCSE equivalency tests by another institution, you will need to visit the page for external candidates.

You have been offered the opportunity to take our online GCSE equivalency test(s) and directed to this webpage because you:

  • have been offered a place to begin a course at Birmingham City University to study one of our Health, Education or Social Work courses in September 2020, either directly or through one of our School Direct partner institutions or with one of our SCITT partners that offer one of our franchised PGCE programmes (namely Arthur Terry SCITT, Haybridge SCITT, TMA SCITT, Titan and SCITTELLS) or via our Assessment Only route (which doesn't include any training) and
  • you haven't yet achieved one or more of the GCSEs you need to be able to begin your training.

The equivalency tests are applicable to the below courses. If you are offer holder at Birmingham City University and your course sits outside of the list below, please visit the page for other internal candidates.

  • Early Childhood Studies with Foundation Year 
  • Education Studies with Foundation Year
  • Working with Children, Young People & Families with Foundation Year
  • Primary Education with QTS (BA and with Foundation Year)
  • Secondary Education with QTS (BSc and with Foundation Year) – Computing/Physical Education/Science (Biology)
  • Social Work (BSc Hons and with Foundation Year)
  • Diagnostic Radiography (BSc and with Foundation Year)
  • Food and Nutrition (BSc and with Foundation Year)
  • Operating Department Practice (BSc and with Foundation Year)
  • Paramedic Science (BSc)
  • Radiotherapy (BSc and with Foundation Year)
  • Speech and Language Therapy (BSc and with Foundation Year)
  • Biomedical Sciences (BSc and with Foundation Year)
  • Biomedical Engineering (MEng, BEng)
  • Sport and Exercise Nutrition (BSc and with Foundation Year), Sport and Exercise Science (BSc and with Foundation Year),
  • Sports Coaching and Physical Education (BSc and with Foundation Year), Sports Therapy (BSc and with Foundation Year).
  • Midwifery (BSc) 
  • Nursing (BSc, with Foundation Year and MSci – all dual awards) - Adult/Child/Mental Health and, Learning and Disabilities

If you have not been directed to this page by a staff member (i.e. you have come across this page by accident) and have an offer for a course that's not listed above, do not pay an administration fee and sign up to these GCSE equivalency online support sessions and tests because the fee is non-refundable and we will not accept the result towards your application.

Frequently asked questions

How do I apply to do the online support sessions and GCSE equivalency test? 

You need to email the GCSE enquiry address at to register your interest

The administrator will take a note of your applicant ID and also check your printed/electronic receipt for the £25 administration fee, and then discuss the appropriate course for you and book you on to some dates for the support sessions and test.

What do I need to provide to apply for online support sessions and a GCSE equivalency test?

You must provide:

  • the subject you wish to study
  • your applicant ID (this will be on your welcome/offer email from us)
  • the course you have an offer for
  • a form of photographic ID which matches the name on your application
  • your receipt for the £25 administration fee (you can do this by attaching the email of your receipt, attaching a photo of your receipt or attaching a scanned copy of your receipt)
  • confirmation of the email address where you wish your test result to be sent

Do I need to bring ID at any time?

You will need to bring photographic ID, such a passport or driving licence, on the day of your test.

How much are the online tests and how do I pay?

There is no fee for these tests. However, you will need to pay a £25 administration fee, which covers the marking of your test paper. Only one fee is payable, even if you take more than one GCSE equivalency subject, or if you have to re-sit a test. The £25 fee is payable via our online shop before you begin any support sessions.

Do I need to pay an administration fee for each test?

No. You will only need to pay one fee, even if you are taking multiple subjects and/or you need to take a re-sit.

You must pay the administration fee before you email to sign up to support sessions and a test via our online shop, which you can find here.

Can I sit the online test before applying for a teacher training course at Birmingham City University?


These tests are only available to offer holders only. This means you must apply, be invited to interview and be successful at interview before our academic and admissions staff will consider whether you need a GCSE equivalency test for any reason. You will be given the opportunity to sit the test(s) you need if it is a requirement for entry onto your course programme.

Can I sit an online equivalency test if I am undertaking my GCSE currently?

Yes you can (if applicable, as we know that, due to the COVID-19 virus, many of you may no longer be taking them, although you may still receive a GCSE grade in due course).

However, we would like to emphasise how important it is that you focus on your GCSE(s) if you are still working towards them as GCSE qualifications are recognised across the UK by academic institutions and employers.

Is this test recognised across the UK?


The paper is written by our academic staff so will only be valid for your offer for the specified teacher training course at our University. You cannot use this equivalency test for entry on to any other course at our University or for entry to another university. 

When do the online study sessions run?

Study sessions will run online on a weekly basis from 4 - 6pm. Once you have made your application for an equivalency test you will receive confirmation of a link and password for the Xoodle portal. The subject tutor will make contact with you to explain the day of the week your support sessions will run on, and to arrange a start date.  

Can I study for two tests at the same time?


You are only able to study for and sit one test at a time as all subject classes and tests run simultaneously.

How long are the online tests and what areas are covered?

For each subject there are two papers of 1 hour 30 minutes each (so 3 hours in total). Information about what's covered under each subject can be found on the subject FAQ pages for EnglishMathematics and Science. Links to these pages are also available at the bottom of this FAQs page.

Are the questions based on a specific exam board? 

The tests for Maths and English Language do not relate to any particular exam board. The exam papers ask GCSE-level questions designed by our academic staff. We recommend using BBC Bitesize for revision purposes.

The Science support sessions and test are based on the AQA exam board. Further details are available on each of the subject FAQ webpages, which can be found at the bottom of this page.

Do I need to engage with the online study support sessions?

Yes, you must attend a minimum of four online study sessions to ensure you cover each areas of the test paper.

Can I sit the exam without engaging with the online study support sessions?

No. You must attend a minimum of four online study sessions to ensure you cover each areas of the test paper and to give yourself the best chance of passing the test. 

Is there any additional reading I can do to support my revision for the test(s)?

We would recommend to visit You will also be supplied with reading material when you attend your first support session.

How and when will I sit my online test(s)?

The subject tutor will tell you dates, but they will run weekly from the end of May until mid-September. You will sit the exam from your home computer via BCU's Assessment Centre using specialist software that has face recognition. 

What score do I need to get in the test to achieve a GCSE grade 4/C equivalent?

To pass you must achieve a minimum of 50% on your test (average across the two papers).

What percentage of people pass the tests?

During the 2018/19 academic year, 92.6% of people who took our GCSE equivalency test achieved a pass.

When will I find out if I've passed my test?

You will be notified of your result as soon as possible after the 10-day window which our tutors have to mark your paper.

How will I find out if I've passed my test?

Tutors will email you directly of your result as soon as possible following the 10 working days they have to mark your paper.

How many re-sits can I take?

You are only able to take one re-sit of the exam test per year.

How long is the test result valid for?

You are able to defer entry for one year only providing it is for the same course. For example, if you hold an offer for September 2020 entry and then pass an equivalency test, you may defer your entry to September 2021 only.

What if I have a question that isn't answered here?

If you have a question that isn't covered in this list please email Please note, if your question is covered in this list, you will be referred back to this webpage for the answer.

  1. This is an equivalency test and so is aimed at people who have already sat a GCSE and just missed out on achieving a grade C/level 4. It is not a GCSE course and so is not suitable if you have never undertaken a GCSE or need extensive support.
  2. You can only take GCSE equivalency support sessions and tests if you have been directed to this offer by our Education and Social Work Admissions team based on you having an offer to start an initial teacher training or social work course in September 2020 and your personal situation with regards to your GCSE qualifications. As such, we do not guarantee that our equivalency tests will be accepted by any institution or employer outside of Birmingham City University.
GCSE support sessions - Maths


Our online support sessions will cover all the essential areas of the GCSE equivalency test: Number, Algebra, Geometry and Statistics.

Maths FAQs >>

GCSE support sessions - English

English language

Our online support sessions will cover all the essential areas of the GCSE equivalency test: Fiction, Non-fiction, Reading and Writing.

English Language FAQs >>

GCSE support sessions - Science


Our online support sessions will cover all the essential areas of the GCSE equivalency test: Organs / Systems; Atomic Structure / Bonding; Forces / Motion; Photosynthesis / Respiration.

Science FAQs >>