AQA Education
Formation7 November 1997 (alliance)
1 April 2000 (merger)
Merger ofNEAB and AEB/SEG
TypeExamination board
HeadquartersDevas Street
M15 6EX[1]
Region served
Colin Hughes Edit this at Wikidata
Formerly called
  • Assessment & Qualifications Alliance (1998–1998)
  • Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (1998–2012)[1]

AQA Education,[1] trading as AQA (formerly the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance), is an awarding body in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It compiles specifications and holds examinations in various subjects at GCSE, AS and A Level and offers vocational qualifications. AQA is a registered charity and independent of the government. However, its qualifications and exam syllabi are regulated by the Government of the United Kingdom, which is the regulator for the public examinations system in England and Wales.

AQA is one of five awarding bodies which are recognised by schools across the country. AQA is also recognised by the regulators of the public exams systems for England, Wales and Northern Ireland to offer GCSE, AS and A Levels in the United Kingdom. AQA also offers the AQA Baccalaureate, a qualification also intended for students in Year 12 and 13 and which includes the study of three A-Levels, an extended project and extra-curricular enrichment activities.[2] AQA is the largest examination board for GCSEs and GCE A Levels in England.[3]

AQA administration office, Guildford

The organisation has several regional offices, the largest being in London, Guildford and Manchester.[4]


AQA was originally formed on 7 November 1997 as an alliance of NEAB and AEB/SEG exam boards and City & Guilds vocational awarding body.[5][6] NEAB and AEB/SEG formally merged on 1 April 2000.[5][7] City & Guilds chose to remain independent of the new organisation, but transferred its GNVQ provision to AQA.[5]

AQA holds the candidate records and awards for the following historic exam boards:

Examination reform

The Conservative Party under Prime Minister David Cameron initiated reforms for A Levels to change from a modular structure to a linear one.[8] British examination boards (Edexcel, AQA, OCR and WJEC) regulated and accredited by the Government of the United Kingdom responded to the government's reform announcements by modifying syllabi of several A Level subjects.[9] However, the Labour Party and in particular the Member of Parliament Tristram Hunt announced that it would seek to halt and reverse the reforms and maintain the modular A-Level system.[10] Labour's policy, and the modular AS- and A-Level system, are supported and promoted by the University of Cambridge and by the University of Oxford.[11][12]

The organisation announced that it will begin offering courses for which all assessment is carried out through examinations at the end of the course. This is commonly referred to as a linear course. Beforehand, they offered modular courses in England with several exams.[13]


During the summer 2022 exam series, AQA came under heavy criticism after several of its exam papers contained topics not included in the subject specific 'advance information'. Following an announcement from the exams regulator Ofqual in December 2021, exam boards were required to produce advance information, covering the 'focus' of exams, to alleviate the disruption experienced by pupils during the COVID-19 pandemic.[14]

In June 2022, GCSE Physics Higher Paper One contained a 9-mark question on energy transfers and circuits. Advance Information had listed "series and parallel circuits" as a topic "not assessed" in the paper. Following the error, AQA announced that full marks would be awarded for the offending question, guaranteeing nine marks for each pupil who sat the paper. In addition, AQA announced that it would be performing "extra checks on the advance information and question papers for future exams".[15]

In relation to the June 2022 A Level Physics Paper Two, claims were made that advance information provided to pupils misleadingly stated that questions relating to Electric Fields and Capacitance would only be present synoptically and in low tariff questions; these topics made up the third question of the paper, worth 12 marks, and came up 8 times in the multiple choice section, in total these topics made up 23.5% of the 85 mark paper. The perceived error lead to significant backlash on social media.[16] AQA responded by defending the paper, stating that the two topics were separate and therefore "neither carried enough marks to be included in the advance information list".[17]

On 17 June 2022, AQA apologised after A-level Law Paper Two contained a 30 mark question on Rylands v Fletcher and Private nuisance, accounting for 30% of the 100 mark paper, which had not been included in the advance information. In response, AQA stated that it would "look at how students performed" after the paper had been marked and that it would "take any action necessary to protect [pupils]."

On 17 June 2022, exams regulator Ofqual criticised AQA and other exam boards for the 'distress' which mistakes on the advance information had caused pupils.[18]

Shortly following the AQA A-Level Chemistry paper 2 (sat on the morning of 20 June 2022) photographs surfaced on social media, namely Twitter, showing the paper had been leaked potentially up to 7 days before it took place. Throughout the day that followed, AQA were reluctant to comment on the matter. This revelation was met with frustration and disbelief from students, teachers, and parents.[19]

Chief executives

The Chief Executive of AQA runs the organisation on a day-to-day basis, while being accountable to the AQA Council. The role was known as the Director General from its introduction in April 1998 until July 2010.[20]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "AQA EDUCATION overview - Find and update company information - GOV.UK". Companies House. 30 September 1998. Retrieved 17 August 2023.
  2. ^ "AQA – Overview of the AQA Baccalaureate". Archived from the original on 7 June 2009. Retrieved 2011-12-08.
  3. ^ "Assessing candidates on future potential | Resource library | Talent Q". Archived from the original on 22 November 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  4. ^ "AQA | Contact us | Contact us | Our offices". Archived from the original on 10 November 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Tattersall, Kathleen (2003). "Ringing the Changes: Educational and Assessment Policies, 1900 to the Present". Setting the Standard: A Century of Public Examining by AQA and Its Parent Boards. Manchester: AQA. p. 22. ISBN 0954470508.
  6. ^ "Assessment and Qualifications Alliance". Oxford Reference. OUP. Archived from the original on 17 June 2022. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  7. ^ AQA. "Our Heritage". AQA. Archived from the original on 29 September 2020. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  8. ^ [ARCHIVED CONTENT] Changes to A levels - The Department for Education
  9. ^ "Edexcel A levels | Pearson qualifications". Archived from the original on 27 October 2014. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  10. ^ "Labour pledges to halt A-Level reforms". Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  11. ^ "Cambridge urges schools to enter students for AS-levels - BBC News". Archived from the original on 5 October 2018. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  12. ^ "Oxford raises concerns over A-level exam reform - BBC News". Archived from the original on 5 October 2018. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  13. ^ "BBC News - AQA exam board to bring in exam-only GCSEs in England". 27 September 2010. Archived from the original on 21 November 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2011.
  14. ^ "Letter to schools: Advance information". GOV.UK. Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  15. ^ AQA (9 June 2022). "An update on GCSE Physics Higher Tier Paper 1". AQA. Archived from the original on 10 June 2022. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  16. ^ "AQA Twitter page, where the backlash is viewable". Twitter. June 2022. Archived from the original on 9 June 2022. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  17. ^ "An update on A-level Physics Paper 2". AQA. 16 June 2022. Archived from the original on 17 June 2022. Retrieved 17 June 2022.
  18. ^ "GCSE and A-levels: Mistakes in AQA papers caused 'pupil distress', Ofqual says". BBC News. 17 June 2022. Archived from the original on 17 June 2022. Retrieved 17 June 2022.
  19. ^ "AQA responds to claims A Level paper was leaked weeks before exam". ECHO. 20 June 2022. Retrieved 20 June 2022.
  20. ^ AQA (16 July 2010). "Director General and Deputy Director General Change of Title". AQA. Archived from the original on 23 October 2021. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  21. ^ AQA (28 January 2013). "Kathleen Tattersall". AQA. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  22. ^ Tattersall, Kathleen (30 September 2003). "A National Obsession". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  23. ^ Children, Schools and Families Committee (2008). Testing and Assessment: Oral and Written Evidence v. 2: Third Report of Session 2007-08. London: TSO. p. 109. ISBN 9780215515117. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  24. ^ Garner, Richard (4 March 2010). "Head of Curriculum Quango Quits with Warning". The Independent. Archived from the original on 11 March 2010. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  25. ^ a b AQA (4 June 2010). "New Director General - Andrew Hall - Starts at AQA". AQA. Archived from the original on 30 October 2021. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  26. ^ Dickens, John (17 January 2017). "Ormiston chief Toby Salt takes top role at exam board AQA". Schools Week. Archived from the original on 9 August 2020. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  27. ^ a b Whittaker, Freddie (9 September 2019). "AQA chief executive Toby Salt steps down". Schools Week. Archived from the original on 18 September 2020. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  28. ^ a b AQA (19 February 2020). "Colin Hughes to Become AQA's Chief Executive". AQA. Archived from the original on 27 July 2020. Retrieved 4 May 2020.