As an adult, you might be looking to take an exam in order to progress in your career or move into a new profession. Adults can take all sorts of exams at all different levels, but finding the right learning resources and support isn't always easy.

Exams in law, accounting, and medicine, for example, are commonly taken amongst adults who are training for a new career or a professional development. These courses need specialist attention and tutoring, which is very often carried out via distance learning through a specialised agency.

You don't have to feel alone when preparing for your exams!
Studying for exams as an adult can be frustrating, you just need to find the right support. Photo credit: lyonora via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC

And it's not just specialised professional exams that adults need to sit. Some people find that, in order to move into a new career or progress to a certain level, they might need a GCSE or A-level in a subject that they don't already have any qualification or skill in at a fundamental level.

Even more base level exams in adult numeracy and literacy require people to invest a lot of time and effort into preparation and practice. This is why many adults turn to private tutors.

Private tutoring, whether an online tutor or at home, tutors can provide people with a fine-tuned education support alongside their studies from an expert. If you find a tutor with particular experience in tutoring for the exam you’re taking, then you’ll benefit from their expertise in the exam format as well as its content.

Studying for an exam as an adult can be tough when you’re having to fit it around a full-time job and other responsibilities. It can be hard to know where to start with exam prep, let alone how to prepare properly and learn everything you need to.

And that’s why hiring a personal tutor is such a great choice! You can meet whenever and wherever suits you, and you can even carry out your lessons via video chat if you don’t have the time to travel around for face-to-face lessons.

Some adults might find themselves opting to take a GCSE or A-level exam, whether in order to apply for a certain job or qualification, or to boost certain skills. This is much more difficult that if you were to take the exams at the target age group, as you are without the classroom education that most students receive in preparation.

How Can I Choose a Learning Provider or Private Tutor?

This is the biggest hurdle for most adult learners, as it takes a lot of research and exploring the market to find out which learning provider you would like to use. A learning provider is the agency or company you pay to supply you with your syllabus and learning resources.

Most companies offer online teaching or detailed learning resources that are available for use at your convenience, so you can sit and study whenever you have the time. This means that studying and exam preparation can fit conveniently around your schedule and your work.

Make the right choice when it comes to distance learning and tutors!
Take the time to sit down and research your learning options. Photo via

Finding a reputable provider can be a bit tricky, so make sure you really scour the internet and speak to people if you can so that you can find a legitimate and reliable learning provider to get you on the road to success.

You need to make sure that any company you go with can provide a high standard of course materials and tutoring, and that you’re getting your money’s worth.

Many people use distance learning providers because of how convenient they are with fitting around your other commitments. They don’t usually provide individualised teaching, however, which is a problem for some people.

If you are unsure about distance learning providers or want to check on their legitimacy, you can have a look at the Open & Distance Learning Quality Council (ODLQC) website. The ODLQC is an independent organisation that inspects learning providers to make sure they are safe to use.

The ODLQC also provide a link to the Association of British Correspondence Colleges (ABCC). The ABCC is a reputable organisation which also provides details of the reliability and legitimacy of distance learning providers should you wish to check on something.

From these websites you can get a good idea of what is on offer in terms of distance learning and compare your options.

Sometimes learning providers for adults taking exams cannot always give the personal guidance and support that you need in order to really get ready for your exams. Although you will receive the syllabus teaching you need, you might still feel a bit lost.

This is where tutoring comes in really handy – and it’s pretty much necessary! Even if you are doing a distance learning course or attending a class, it is really beneficial to get some individually tailored support to help you with your course.

A lot of adult learners still need that one-on-one teaching with a real life teacher. Whether online or in person, private tuition can be a great way to properly get ready for your exams and pass with flying colours.

There are lots of ways to find a personal tutor, including looking for local adverts in your community, searching online and word of mouth. Finding a great private tutor isn’t always easy, so make sure you check for reviews and references when considering who to hire.

Make sure you find the right tutor for you so that you can receive the right kind of teaching that you need. If you are taking an accounting qualification such as the ACA, for example, you might want to specify that your tutor has professional experience in accounting or experience teaching it.

If you are studying for a specialist exam such as accounting or law for example, you will need to find a tutor who is a qualified expert in that area so that they can give you tailored and quality teaching and exam preparation.

Do you need help apply to university? Find a tutor to help with your UCAS application.

How Will I Sit My Exams?

After all the effort you’ve put in to finding a learning provider or private tutor, it can be a bit tricky finding a place to actually sit the exams you are studying for.

When you’re a student at school, college or university, you simply learn the course content in class and turn up to the exams at the end of the course. With distance learning, it’s up to you to do all the organisation and find somewhere to sit the exams.

Once you’ve chosen a learning provider, don’t waste any time in finding somewhere to take your exams. Sit down and research for institutions in your local area, or even somewhere you could travel to.

Get organised when registering for your exams!
Finding somewhere to take your exams isn't always easy, but good research will help! Photo credit: albertogp123 via VisualHunt / CC BY

This can be fairly straightforward with many sorts of exam - particularly if you are studying for an exam which is part of the national curriculum such as a GCSE or an A-level, as you can register to take these exams as an external candidate at a local school or college, and this doesn't usually cost too much to do.

For most lower-level study courses, you will most likely have to sit your exams at a college as an external candidate or at an exam centre, so leave yourself ample time to make the appropriate calls and applications so that you’re in time to sit the exam when you need to.

For higher-level exams that are more specialised, you will most likely need to take these at a college which offers the course, or at a test centre. You will need to check online or by phone if your exam is offered near you or somewhere you can travel to, and if you are eligible to register to sit it.

Some people make the mistake of assuming that the fees they pay for their learning provider will also include the exam organisation and registration. In fact, your learning provider will provide you with course materials and tutor support, but the exam registration is up to you, the student.

Make sure you factor in the costs of registering for exams when you start your course. If, for example, you are studying for A-levels and will need to register as an external candidate to take your exams, the costs of this can be around £37 per paper, depending on the exam board.

Also be sure that you do everything with lots of time to spare. If you are late with registering to sit an exam, you run the risk of missing the deadline and thereby missing the exam session you wanted to sit. If you're in a rush to take an exam or need the qualification by a certain time, make sure you double-check the exam session dates and apply for the one you need in good time.

Know someone about to sit the 11 plus exam? Read up on finding a tutor to study for the 11 plus exam.

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