GCSEs and A Levels
It’s perfectly possible for home-educated children to sit exams.
Due to controlled assessments in some subject, you may find that you have to sit International GCSEs (IGCSEs) in place of GCSEs. This is changing for many subjects, with the introduction of the new-style GCSEs. However, some subjects do not have an IGCSE equivalent (these are mainly the art, design & technology subjects with a practical controlled assessment)
Your child would be entering as a “Private Candidate”
These are the steps you need to take:
– Find an exam centre (ring local independent and state schools)
– Choose an exam board (sometimes this is dictated by the availability of an exam centre. Edexcel and AQA are easiest to find round here. CIE centres are generally further afield)
– Buy/obtain the course materials (eg perhaps one or more of a text book, workbook, YouTube, correspondence course, a tutor some people hire a tutor or club together to share a tutor). DON’T ask the exam centre to provide you with resources – this is not their job and may annoy them/deter them from taking private candidates in the future.
– Work through past papers (downloadable from the exam board website)
– Enter for the exam (roughly three months ahead of the exam itself) and pay the exam fee (anything from £35 – £150 per subject)
-Many home-educators stagger their exams, so that they are spread over several years instead of the usual two, in school.
-If you need extras, such as more time, a computer, a scribe etc… due to SEND, this would take longer to arrange and would probably limit your choice of exam centre, probably increase the cost and you would need evidence, like an assessment. Be prepared to be asked for an assessment that is less than 2 years old)
-Some subjects, such as most of the Art/Design/Technology subjects are impossible to sit as a private candidate.
-CIE exam centres are harder to come by because their administrative procedures are very different from the other exam boards and many schools, who already deal with several have decided that CIE is not worth the effort.
-Language exams generally require an oral exam – these centres are harder to find and generally more expensive, but they do exist.
-All of the exam specifications are downloadable from the relevant exam board (these also indicate whether the exam can be taken by private/external candidates)
Contacting a school or exam centre
Any school that is registered as an exam centre with a particular exam board may take private candidates – even for subjects that their own students are not sitting.
Expect to have done all your research yourself. This includes:
- knowing subject specification and whether it is open to private candidates
- knowing the full subject name and code.
- having researched, arranged and obtained all your own study, tutors, textbooks and resources.
Do not expect an exam centre or school to advise you on any of the above – this is not their job and in the case of many schools, it will deter them from taking private candidates for exams.