General FAQs

Some Frequently Asked Questions

Do you offer tutor support?

Due to changes in our tutors’ personal circumstances and the effects of covid, we have decided to withdraw all Echo tutored courses from sale with effect from 28th Feb. From 1st March 2022, we will only be able to offer tutor free courses in the Science or Maths which will still be available on our website.
We will honour the tutoring of all existing students right up until they are ready to sit their exams but we will not be taking on any new tutored students.

How do your tutor free courses work?

We have carefully chosen set books for the students to work through using our courses to guide them. These books have been written to cover the specifications and are endorsed by the exam boards. Our courses take the student through topic by topic helping them to relate the information in the books to the specifications, we suggest scientific spellings and definitions to learn, practical activities to carry out to consolidate the learning as well as a set of questions at the end of each topic (the answers to which are provided for you to mark yourself)

Are you able to provide a grade for tutored students, if the exams are to be cancelled again?

Over the past two years we have worked with approximately 8-10 different exam centres, all with different requirements. We provided almost all with ‘a basket of evidence’ towards their grade. We are not able to provide a grade. However, all exam centres have understood this and have agreed and are able to provide their own tutors to look at the basket of evidence and provide this grade.

Why choose iGCSEs for home educated students?

IGCSEs are lovely as they have two sittings a year so you can sit Edexcel exams in January or in May/June (and as of 2023 this will be June and November) and CIE exams are in May or Oct/Nov. This way you can spread out exams sittings if you wish to do so.
All our science courses are International GCSEs (IGCSEs) as there is no course work or practical exam and is the most available form of examination for home educators. They are widely accepted by colleges and Universities and thought of very highly. For the science subjects we offer the courses to cover the specifications from the two main exam boards offering the IGCSE, CIE (Cambridge) and Pearson Edexcel – the content of the syllabus’ differ slightly, as does the format of the exam and the choice is very much a personal one for individual students.

Which board should I choose? Pearson Edexcel or Cambridge (CIE)?

Cambridge (CIE) exams have two tiers – Core ( highest grade achievable is C ) and Extended ( highest grade achievable is A*) and the level of entry has to be decided on registration for the exam. As does whether youw oudl like a numbered or lettered grade. There are three papers per subject  –  an alternative to practical, a multiple choice and a written paper.

Edexcel – You do not have to decide before the exam which level to take ( all grades available on the same paper – the questions get harder through the paper and are marked accordingly. )
For the single award subjects there are two papers per subject and for the Double award there are three papers in total, one each for Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

Does your child have SENs? You will need to ask the centre what arrangements are available for the student. For example are they able to have extra time, a reader and scribe, use of a word processor or even a separate room ? if so what proof do they require. This may vary between boards and may therefore influence your choice.

The layout of the set books may also be a factor in your decision, as certain layouts can affect how a student views the book and therefore how comfortable they are in using it and obtaining the necessary information. You could ask your local book shop or library to get a copy of the books in for you to have a look at. Amazon books often offer  the opportunity to see pages inside the book before purchasing.

Some exam centres do not offer both boards so it is worth checking with the exam centre you hope to use (if known) before purchasing. The main differences are found in the style of the exam papers so we recommend downloading a few of the past papers and look through to see if one best suits the student. There are some differences in subjects (for example Edexcel offer Human Biology whilst CIE does not) You do not have to stick exclusively with one board in all subjects but you need to just be careful of possible clashes in exam dates if you have a variety of boards and subjects.

GCSE or IGCSE Maths?

The only GCSE we offer is Maths (we offer IGCSE Maths too.) The choice is yours but we usually would recommend the IGCSE maths course rather than GCSE as the content is almost the same but in the IGCSE students can sit the exam in January (November as of 2023) or the summer and you are allowed a calculator in both exam papers which is helpful too! Most students choose the IGCSE but the option is there.

Key Stage 3 – how quickly should we aim to complete the course?

You are very welcome to use the material in whichever way suits you best over whatever time period works well for you. This will depend on how many lessons a week you would like to do and how much work the student has done before in that subject.

Some people have covered Physics in the autumn term, Chemistry in the spring term and Biology in the summer term (as great for growing seeds, visiting zoos etc!) Others have done one lesson of each per week and yet others have worked through one subject at a time. The choice is yours! You can always try one thing and change if you prefer a different system. Some students have raced through this level to start the IGCSEs and others have stayed at this level for the three years they would in school. Whichever way you do it, the course provide an excellent, strong foundation for the IGCSE material.

Should I choose the Double Science Award? Does the double science give 2 or 3 IGCSE grades? Is it a better choice for my child?

The Double award gives the student two IGCSE grades. Students sit three papers – one for each science and the same first paper as the single science students. It is worth asking yourself these questions

1) if your child is equally good at, and enjoys all three sciences could they do a little extra work and get 3 IGCSEs instead of 2?
2) lots of children have a ‘weaker science’ so many choose to study the other 2 and get the same 2 igcse results. We offer Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry and Physics to choose from.
3) the double award is 2 thirds of each course- not the ‘easier’ bit just less content. It’s the same books etc you just pick out certain topics
4) if your child wants to go on to further science studies after iGCSE there would be a third of the iGCSE course missing in their knowledge so they would need to make this up before moving on.

Do you offer a printed copy of the courses?

We are no longer able to offer a printed copy of the courses but you are very welcome to send the pdf to your local printing company and ask them to print and bind it for you. They should be happy to do so.

I don’t live in the UK can I still use your courses?

Absolutely! Our courses are designed to work just as well for international students. Just check which boards your local exam centre covers and you can get started. Your course is delivered as a PDF download.

Can your courses be covered in a year?

Yes! Most of our students find that they are able to cover the courses and take the exam in one academic year. So for example, if they start in September of one year and they study, on average, one topic per week, taking 4 to 6 hours to do so, they will complete the course in good time for revision and practise on past papers. Some students choose to take 18 months or two years depending in their learning style and what else they have in ther weekly timetable.

Key Stage 3 and IGCSE Courses and tutoring, for home educators, by home educators