HOW I STUDY AT HOME - EXAMS, GCSES AND MORE

Exactly Abby

Alongside the many other questions I receive as a Home-schooled Teenager, a regular is; 'How does it work?".

Although it's nothing extraordinary for me, the concept of home-schooling is baffling for a lot of people. The confusion as to how home-schoolers receive any qualifications is common. In this post I explain how I do my schooling at home and how it applies to real world life.


One thing to remember with home-education is that everyone is on different levels and an individual student discovers what methods suit them best as they go along. In the UK we generally have an 'each to their own' kind of policy where every home-educating family works out their own way of studying and acquiring qualifications. There are a few various networks that have devised their own curriculum which anyone at home can follow if they apply. However, this isn't as popular here as in other countries, such as the USA.


PRIMARY EDUCATION

Home-education doesn't have a start age. Everyone is learning from day one. I never even remember the day I officially started learning at home. However, I believe that everything you do is a learning process. Therefore, you never start homeschool and you definitely never leave. 

I did experience playgroup when I was pre-school age and very much enjoyed it. But aside from that, no other event has drawn me close to attending school, thus far.

Not going to school was a great option for me. Yes, whilst all my friends were at Primary School playing skipping games in the playground, I was sat at my dining room table puzzling out mental arithmetic. But, I could happily go to my favourite activities in the evening without worrying about homework. Am I ever sad that I didn't experience school? Well, to tell you the truth, maybe a tiny bit - because of the social side, not the learning aspect. When I was about 10, a friend explained to me that she wouldn't want to be home-schooled. Her reason? The last Friday of every term the teacher brought in a movie and they had the afternoon off.
I'm not sure this would make it on to my 'Things I Wish I Had Experienced If I Had Gone To School' list.

The social interaction of homeschoolers is often misunderstood. I've met plenty of people over the years through numerous activities I have attended and have had the pleasure of meeting many different characters. To settle the ever-present debate; home-schoolers are socialised. Perhaps a better way to look at this is to think about how you can make friends from all walks of life. I've had the chance to explore loads of unusual and exciting activities with my free time and have been privileged to have met lots of interesting people from these places.

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I think you'll agree that books are the ultimate tools for learning. I wouldn't be writing this today if it wasn't for the knowledge I've accumulated from reading. A common query I have to answer is 'Where do you get your school supplies from?'. It's incredibly easily to buy educational books from local shops and online. They come in all shapes and sizes for a range of ages and subjects. When I was younger I really enjoyed using the English spelling and vocabulary books, which you could scribble your own writings in.
Keep reading to learn how I used educational books when I was older.



SECONDARY LEVEL

Instead of following any strict curriculum when I reached secondary age, my parents taught me through various books we had collected over the years - as my sisters had previously been home-schooled, we have no short supply of educational materials. There was no large jump for me from Primary to Secondary education, because I had been taught from some secondary books before entering this stage of learning. I possibly did more science experiments in my kitchen than I would have in a school laboratory (don't try this yourself - my Mum is a chemistry graduate!). 


GCSES AND EXAMS

Applying for exams as a homeschooler isn't as complicated or confusing as people think.
First of all, my family searched and found where I could sit some GCSE Exams (qualification in last years of high school). Many centres and schools offer this facility, although they are currently on the decline; I found a private school in the end and actually did IGCSEs (International GCSEs). These are more accessible to private candidates than the regular GCSEs. The reason being, coursework isn't compulsory. They work just the same as GCSEs and are considered the same at college and university. The difference is; they are International and therefore examined throughout the world in different countries.
After I'd applied to sit those exams at that particular school, I researched to find the syllabi and specification of the exam board. For example, if the school was sitting a Mathematics AQA IGCSE exam, I would search for the IGCSE Mathematics specification on the AQA website and print it off. Fortunately, subject specifications are generally quite detailed, very easy to find online and tell you exactly which topics you will be tested on in the exam.

Aside from this, I also had some textbooks that were designed to follow the specific courses I was taking. For a subject such as Maths, I didn't need any strict instructions to look at. Apart from the odd topic added and omitted from board to board, Maths is all basically the same because of the nature of the subject. In fact, we actually bought the wrong book because I thought I was doing a different exam board! This worked to my advantage in the end though, because the book was of great quality and covered almost everything I needed to know.

For English, it is quite crucial to have the book as this is where you can read the anthology texts that feature in the exam. My main help for this subject was Sarah Holmes. Sarah has lots of videos on English, including how to study and how to write good essays. Although she mainly focuses on the Edexcel anthologies, her videos are nevertheless interesting and very helpful for showing you how refine your own writing and analyse any given texts. She carefully goes through every detail of the writing, helping you understand the devices and themes the writer has used (if you want to know more about how I taught myself 'GCSE English', let me know).

For my two sciences, Physics and Chemistry, I used some old GCSEs books we already had. The specifications were especially useful for subjects such as these because topics are always changing in scientific syllabi. The main resource for my science revision was the internet. My two favourite places to go for revision were Mr Anderson from Bozeman Science and Freesciencelessons. Mr Anderson shows things in fun and coherent ways. Because he is teaching a different curriculum, his videos are more challenging and they helped me understand Physics topics in much greater depth. Freesciencelessons show things very clearly. Their videos are very straight-forward and comprehensible. Both of these channels make learning enjoyable.

In conclusion, home-education is actually very simple, once you can see the whole picture.



You can read more about my experience with exams here: Exams: A Homeschooler's Observation

If you want to find out more about Home-education in the UK have a look at the Education Otherwise Website.

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Thanks for Reading.

Abby x

Check out my latest post: My Minimalistic Shower Routine


2 comments

  1. Loved this post. I have always found Home schooling so interesting! It’s so lovely to hear from someone who actually has gone through it! Xx

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  2. I've always wanted to experience being home schooled but I don't think I have the motivation to do it, haha. Also, thank you for some of the tips xx

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