HE Exams Wiki

If you have children of different ages, or if you are starting home education near the end of an academic year you might find these links helpful.

Starting Home Education in Yrs 7-9

Starting Home Education in Year 11

Where Can I Find Information?[]

Switching to home education for the last 2 years of school isn't always straightforward and you will need to do some research. However, this HE exams wiki has plenty of information to help you - the best place to start is the New to HE page and the linked pages. Do ask questions on the HE exams and alternatives group, if you are not sure about something.

Considering Home education for Qualifications is a good place to start for an explanation of the differences between taking exams in school and taking them through home education and a look at your options. It is particularly important to make yourself aware of the potential problems some GCSE subjects present home educators - this is usually because there is a practical component that the exam centre must be prepared to facilitate and then sign an written endorsement to the exam board confirming it has been done, or if necessary mark and moderate. Few centres are able to provide this service to home educators and if they do it is often at extra cost. The IGCSE page provides an overview and explains an alternative route open to home educators for some subjects. Plus it is worth checking the individual subject pages for the subjects your child hopes to sit.

If you are starting/considering home education with a child in yr 10, there are a few important things to be aware of if you want your child to do exams.

  • Exam centres - You will be responsible for finding an exam centre and making arrangements to register for exams. It is getting harder to find centres, as some centres are closing doors to private candidates, especially following the Covid upheaval of 2020/21. If you want your child to take an exam in a summer sitting, you will need to be finding out about exam centres in the previous autumn, and probably registering for those exams in January of the year your child wants to sit the exam, although some exam centres will have earlier deadlines.
  • Financial costs - home educators pay for exam costs as well as any courses, tuition or textbooks. £150 per subject just to sit the exams is about average, but can be quite a bit more.
  • Changing syllabus/subjects - home educated children can't always take the same exams as school children. If your child has already started GCSE study in year 9, you might have to switch syllabuses, and possibly drop some subjects. Even if your child hasn't started GCSE study, you will need to research which subjects and exams are do-able for home educated children and combine this information with knowledge about what exam boards your exam centre can facilitate, to determine which syllabuses your child should study. The subject pages are very useful!
  • Spreading exams - home educated children often do fewer exam subjects and spread their exams over several years to help spread the cost and the workload. You might want to consider whether your child could take some of their exams in year 10, if they are ready. The idea of 2 years of study and 11 GCSEs at the end can go (unless that is what they want). Many home educators study a GCSE/IGCSE from scratch in a school year and do 5-8 subjects spread over several sittings. Some do more, some less. Most do Maths, English Lang and some form of science but you don't have to do any particular subjects.
  • Is your child likely to need Access Arrangements in their exams, because they have been used to using them at school? Have they been assessed by the SENDCO recently? Try to obtain copies of records relating to this, to show to your new exam centre.

 Where to start[]

It's important to work out WHAT you are studying before you worry about the HOW.

There's a lot of information available to help.

The subjects page gives you an list of which subjects are possible - we are not tied to school restrictions on timetabling or EBacc so lots of flexibility. Some very practical subjects are very difficult though.

So for some subjects it is much easier for home educators to arrange exams for International GCSEs (IGCSEs). But that doesn't mean we have to do IGCSEs for all subjects, GCSEs are just as doable for many subjects. This page will help explain IGCSEs.

Then you need to know which exam specification to follow. The exam boards (awarding bodies) page explains different awarding bodies and some tips on choosing between them.

The most important thing when deciding on an exam board is to go for one you can arrange the exams in - so it is good to check what local exam centres can facilitate. Best to ask for each subject as centres might not offer all options. The finding an exam centre page will help. Read the information rather than jumping straight to the list at the bottom as there are tips on where else to look and how to approach centres.

You do not need to stick to all IGCSEs or the same exam board. Decide which is the best specification for each subject - read the spec, compare exam papers, consider practical issues (number of papers/length of papers/how often offered), look at resources available (books/courses). You don't need to make this decision for all subjects at the start.

The individual subject pages have links to the specifications, links to past papers, links to resources and more advice. They are in the process of being updated so not all pages are as organised as others but it's getting there.

Then you are ready to decide how to study.

This page helps with advice on self studying. The subjects pages have links to resources (and often links to answers) and past papers. If you want a course (most of us self-study for at least some subjects so they are not a requirement) there is a list of Distance Learning Providers here, search on here for the provider before signing up to read past comments, we have a weekend business post that you could check out.