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GCSE equivalency testing for non-BCU applicants

The opportunity to take BCU GCSE equivalency tests for students holding an offer from an institution other than Birmingham City University will end on Thursday 30 July. After that date, this page will close.

Trainee science teachers in lab

You have been offered the opportunity to take Birmingham City University online GCSE equivalency test(s) and have been directed to this web page because you:

  • have an offer from another institution to commence a course in September 2020 and
  • you haven't yet achieved one or more of the GCSEs you need to be able to begin your training

To be eligible for these online tests, you must have been referred to this web page by the provider with whom you are holding an offer.

If you have not been directed specifically to this page by an institution with whom you are holding an offer (i.e. you have come across this page by accident), do not pay an administration fee and sign up to these online GCSE equivalency support sessions and tests, because the fee is non-refundable and only institutions that have agreed in advance to accept our online GCSE equivalency tests will accept the result towards your application to start your course.

Please ensure that you have referred to the FAQs below before getting in touch with our team. If your question is covered in this list, you will be referred back to this webpage for the answer.

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 GCSEequiv.external@bcu.ac.uk to register. In your email you must include:

  1. your completed application form 
  2. a copy of your photographic ID 
  3. a copy of your receipt of payment for the course(s) you wish to complete

I have paid for my test but not heard anything further. What do I do?

Once you have paid for you test, you need to email the GCSE enquiry address at GCSEequiv.external@bcu.ac.uk to register. In your email you must include:

  1. your completed application form 
  2. a copy of your photographic ID 
  3. a copy of your receipt of payment for the course(s) you wish to complete

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

As per the above, you must provide:

  • your completed application form
  • a copy of your photographic ID which matches the name on your application
  • your receipt for the course fee

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, if you take your test(s) at our assessment centre at our City Centre Campus. If you take your test(s) is taken online, you will be required to show your ID to the camera.

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

The fees for these tests are made up of an admin fee and subject fees as follows:

  • £25 admin fee (this is a one off charge regardless of the number of subjects you are taking) plus the fees for each subject you are taking
  • English Language:  £90 support sessions and test
  • Mathematics: £75 support sessions and test
  • Science: £75 support sessions and test

The cost for English is higher because, while Maths and Science are mainly marked via the software, English will need to be marked entirely by staff.

If you wish to take more than one subject, the package you choose on our online shop will reflect the full cost, e.g. if you were to take English and Mathematics, you would pay £25 admin fee + English Language fees of £90 + Mathematics fees of £75 = £190.

You pay for your support sessions and test(s) package via our online shop.

Do I need to pay an administration fee for each online 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 and course 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 test before applying for a course?

No.

These online tests are only available to people holding offers for specific courses with a select number of institutions this September. Your institution must have referred you to us for equivalency tests for you to be eligible for the support and test(s), and for your test(s) to be accepted. If your institution has not referred you to this webpage and recommended you sign up for GCSE equivalency testing then do not sign up and pay fees as there is no guarantee your institution will accept the result of your tests(s) for entry onto your course.

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?

No.

The paper is written by our academic staff so will only be valid for your offer for the specified course at our University and any other institutions who have agreed in advance that they will accept our test for particular courses (and have, therefore, you referred you to this webpage).

Please note, our staff are keeping a list of institutions who have agreed to accept our equivalency tests and what courses they will accept the tests for, so if your institution is not on the list, we will not take your application for testing forward and book you on to our support sessions. As mentioned previously, fees are non-refundable so do not pay for testing with us unless your teacher training provider has referred you to us specifically. 

When do the online study sessions run?

Study sessions will run weekly 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?

No.

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 online test(s)?

We would recommend to visit www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize. You will also be supplied with reading material when you attend your first support session.

When and how 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?

Your test will be valid only for September 2020 entry to your course unless previously agreed by the institution with whom you are holding an offer.

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 GCSEequiv.external@bcu.ac.uk. Please note, if your question is covered in this list, you will be referred back to this webpage for the answer.

PLEASE NOTE: 
  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 the institution with whom you have an offer (which you intend to take up) for this September (2020). 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

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

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 >>