Here in the UK, the most common study route chosen for 13-16 year olds by homeschooling parents is the International General Certificate of Secondary Education, also known as the iGCSE. Recognised by institutions all around the world, iGCSE qualifications are a great way to not only prepare your child for their further studies, such as A-Levels and university education, but also open doors for future employment opportunities, which often require the completion of GCSE or equivalent (like iGCSE) study as baseline.

With a lot of your child’s future prospects depending upon these qualifications, many homeschooling parents feel quite overwhelmed at first and find the prospect of guiding their child through their studies incredibly daunting. Although it’s perfectly understandable to feel anxious or concerned, try to take a deep breath and push those worries to one side for a few minutes while you continue reading; everything is going to be okay.

As a Principal Examiner for the major exam boards, I have trained team leaders and examiners in how to mark GCSE and A-Level papers for many years and this has given me a lot of invaluable experience when it comes to preparing for this type of study, so I thought I’d share some advice to help alleviate some of your stress below:

One of the biggest and most common mistakes I see parents make is being reactive rather than proactive when it comes to iGCSEs, and I’ve got to be honest with you; I completely understand why. Time flies by so fast that we often overestimate how much of it we actually have – one minute, the iGCSEs are a year or two away, and the next your child is about to take the exams!

If you want to avoid falling into that same time-wrap trap and make sure you really set yourself and your child up for success, your first and most important steps are going to be to focus on the three P’s: Pick, Plan and Prepare.


When it comes to iGCSEs, you’re going to have a lot of choices to make, and while you may be right in thinking this is a case of “the sooner, the better”, the last thing you want to do is rush the decision process and deny yourself the chance to think everything through properly.

Since every child is different and no two homeschools are the same, these decisions will all be very personal to you and your family, so I’m not going to sit here and tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. Instead, I want to offer up a way of making the decision making process a little less overwhelming and keep your thoughts structured and focused on the most important considerations to make:

Exam Board – There are several different exam boards in the UK that offer iGCSE qualifications and they all have their own subject choices, specifications and requirements. Choosing the right exam board can make a huge difference to your child’s experience while studying, so again this is a very personal choice to your family, but in my experience two of the better exam boards are Pearson Edexcel and Cambridge so it may be worth starting with them.

Subject – In my experience, the average number of subjects a homeschool can successfully accommodate at iGCSE level is between 5 and 5, with each subject your child chosen requiring around 150 hours of studying to achieve, so it’s worth taking this into account when picking what your child wishes to study, along with your child’s own abilities and wants. It’s natural to gravitate towards the subjects your child is already excelling at, but if your child has a certain career or higher study path in mind which requires particular subjects to achieve, this may dictate your subject choices even if they aren’t what you first expected.

Time – Most parents split their child’s iGCSE studies across two years in line with a traditional school’s timescale, and this is usually achievable within that timeframe. However, if you plan to reduce your breaks to allow more schooling time, or your child is studying fewer subjects, you may be able to fit this into one year of study. Equally, if your child is taking particularly complex or tricky subjects, you may wish to spread their studies over additional year – it very much depends on your personal circumstances and only you will know what is best for you.


Once you’ve decided which subjects your child will be studying and under which exam board, you’ll want to start putting together a plan for their learning pathway. My suggestion would be to check out the specifications for each of your chosen courses and select the topics you want to base your child’s studies around in order to put together a scheme of learning, but in all honesty it doesn’t matter what your plan looks like – the most important thing is that you have some sort of plan in place that you can stick to.



Now you’ve got a plan in place, it’s time to prepare yourself and get all the puzzle pieces put together. For example, if your child will be studying biology and your knowledge is a little rusty, you may want to brush up on the key subjects ahead of time to build your confidence. Equally, if your child is wanting to study French and you aren’t even remotely fluent in the language, don’t start trying to cram it in and stress yourself out – in cases like this, you’re going to be much better off seeking out a qualified teacher to help tutor your child in that subject instead. Good tutors – especially those with exam experience – can be hard to come by, so I recommend making some enquiries as soon as you can in order to avoid disappointment.

If you’re in need of an English and History tutor, I still have a few slots available at the moment so head on over to my tutoring page for more information.


By following my advice above, you should hopefully feel a lot more in control and confident about the iGCSE process, but should you be in need of further advice or help, simply get in touch with me today and I will happily share some free resources with you to help explain things in more detail!

Until next time,