Beginners’ guide to exams

Q: Can my child take public exams ?
A: YES! Your child can take nationally recognized exams such as G.C.S.E.’s, O Levels, I.G.C.S.E.’s and A Levels as
private candidates.

Q: Where can we sit exams?
A: Home educated children can sit exams in any exam centre that is willing to take them. Exam Centres can be State Schools, Independent Schools, Colleges of Further Education, commercial Exam Centres, such as Tutors and Exams, or Exam Centres like ourselves set up specifically for home educated students.

Q: What are exam boards?
A: Examination boards (often called awarding bodies or awarding organisations) are the examination boards responsible for setting and awarding qualifications, such as GCSE’s and A Levels. Exam boards in the UK are:

  • AQA (Assessment and Qualification Alliance)
  • CAIE (Cambridge Assessments International Education)
  • CCEA (Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment)
  • Pearson Edexcel
  • ICAAE (International Curriculum and Assessment Agency Examinations)
  • OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations)
  • WJEC (Welsh Joint Education Committee)

The CED Exam Centre currently only carries the CAIE (Cambridge Assessment International Education) board which offer UK and internationally recognised qualifications.

Q: What subjects can be taken?
A: The range of subjects open to the home educated child is varied and large. Many home educators like to use the IGCSE qualification as it, in most cases, does not require coursework or classroom assessment. GCSE’s and O Levels are also an option, though it would be wise to look up the subject syllabus on the exam board website to check there is no coursework or that there is an alternative non- coursework paper option. Some of the larger exam centres do allow you to take subjects with coursework / practical components but they charge for the privilege.

Our exam centre offers CAIE subjects that are 100% exam based. We do not offer subjects that have coursework options, oral components, science practicals or subjects that require specialist equipment – such as drawing boards. You can see a list of IGCSE subjects available from the exam board here. You need to download the syllabus of the subject you are interested in to see what the assessments are for the subject and if it is 100% exam or not. If it is 100% exam, you can probably sit it at the CED exam centre in Mowcop.

Q: What do I need to do?
A: Looking under the exam board’s website; looking at the subject you are considering and take note of it’s syllabus. It is often good to look at the same subject under different exam boards. Once you are settled on subjects and boards you then need to find an exam centre to sit them at. Even if you are not taking the exam for the next couple of years it is helpful to know where is available to sit exams. To do this, phone the exam centre and ask to speak to the examinations officer and enquire whether they take external candidates and name your chosen board and subject. Ask the cost involved as this can vary noticeably from centre to centre. It is also advisable to request the offer (and price) in writing.

Q: How long does the whole process take?
A: One of the joys of Home Educating is that you are not locked into anybody else’s timetable! If your child needs longer to get through a syllabus (if you look on the board websites they often have recommended text books for the subject) then you can take that time, it does not matter
if it takes 3-4 years to 2 years or 6 months, you work at your own child’s pace. Most schools take multiple subjects over 2 years . If you and child know the subject area you would like to pursue at University then it is always helpful to contact a University to see their options and requirements for entry. Some home educators will take exams in batches of 1– 2 subjects over 12 –24 month periods but will start when their child is ready to cope with the study as early or late as that happens to be. There is less pressure with your own timetable, exams can be retaken if needed! The bigger picture is your child and their walk with God, their character, and instilling a love of learning.

Q: How much will it cost?
A: In thinking about cost you will have the exam board fee and the cost of the exam centre invigilation. You pay the exam board fee for each exam and the exam centre – fees
normally only once per exam season i.e. June 2021. The cost charged normally includes the cost to the exam centre for facilitating the exam (this is normally a one-off fee per exam season) plus the fees for the exam board certificates. This total fee can vary massively depending on the centre from £80 to upwards of £450 per subject, so it is worth shopping around.

To view the cost of sitting exams at the CED exam centre please go to our membership page.