Don't know where to start with taking exams from home education? Start here! First of all there is a list of simple steps. We also have personal experiences of how other home educators got started. Our Jargon Buster will help with unfamiliar terms.
How to get started Edit
1. Make a realistic plan. Edit
- You don't need to take as many subjects as school pupils do. Trying to do 5+ subjects in a year would be quite challenging to organise and study for.
- You cannot usually just carry on with all GCSE courses started in school, as some exam syllabuses can't be taken by private candidates.
- Look at local colleges, see how many GCSEs you need to move forwards, and work back from there. Often you only need 6 at grade C / 4 and higher, including English and maths, to do A-levels, or 4 to do Btecs.
- You don't have to complete GCSE-level exams at age 16; you can take longer if you need to. Seethe FAQ
- You don't have to do GCSEs; there are some Alternative Qualifications, or consider part-time College at 14+.
2. Decide which subject you want to do first Edit
Look at the page for your chosen subject on this wiki. This will tell you which specifications/ syllabuses are available to home educators, and lists textbooks and other resources. We have a list of Subjects covered by this wiki. Your choice of syllabuses will be limited by which boards nearby exam centres cover.
3. Find an exam centre Edit
As an external (private) candidate, you take GCSEs, IGCSEs and A-levels at an exam centre, which can be a school or a private exam centre dedicated to external candidates. You take the exam under exam conditions, at the published time of the exam, usually alongside other candidates. The exam syllabuses you can choose will depend on which exam boards your exam centre uses.
See if there are any exam centres recommended by home educators near you on our Finding an exam centre page. Even if they are listed as taking external candidates, email them just to check they still do.
4. Decide how you want to study for the qualification Edit
You can study independently from textbooks and online resources, or use Distance learning courses or tutors. For more on these, and general questions about taking qualifications from home education, see our Frequently Asked Questions page - including taking GCSEs at college at 14+, choosing an exam board, questions about regulations, etc.
5. Make your entries with the exam centre Edit
When you're ready to make entries, see 'Making entries and sitting exams' for what you need to tell the exam centre. You deal with the exam centre, not the exam board. The exam boards won't take entries direct. The homepage of this wiki takes you through all the commonly requested options - how you make entries, how to prepare for exams, what happens after age 16, case studies of home-ed students and their paths to uni or work, etc. Scroll down the page and see what there is.
Advice to newcomers from other home educators Edit
Simple Guide to GCSEs by Sally S - a home-educating mother explains how her family did it.
Please do add your own experiences here or in the comments box below. It's easiest if you set up a Wikia account to edit - it only takes a moment and is really easy.