I love IGCSE’s! The noble IGCSE is an Qualification that is like the UK GCSE exam, but international. It’s of a slightly higher standard than the GCSE qualification, with 3 different exam boards Edexcel, CIE (cambridge) and AQA, and there are so many exams you can do, from Maths and English, to Astronomy and Bangladesh Studies. Some of them are so cool, I mean SO COOL, and it’s quite nice to be able to say to my very worried granparents, my future university and myself that i didnt waste this year, instead spent it studing ancient greek or doing my project for Global Citizenship. Of course you still can do the standard exams, just the kick-ass ones as well.

From September 2014 to Early January 2015, I studied for my Edexcel Mathematics A course. This was my first time doing an IGCSE and I was pretty sure 3 months wouldn’t be enough. I only had to do 2 hours of maths a day (5 days a week) and even then I never really did that much. The recommended time of study was about 140 hours, however that was for a class room situation and on my own I whizzed though chapters daily. The IGCSE covered all of the topics in the Junior cert as well as basic calculus (just simple differentiation), some further trigonometry, vectors and quadratic simultaneous equations. That was the Higher Level paper, and although it sounds hard, all it takes is for the penny to drop and everything falls into place. I finished the book by the end of November, though spent most of October pretending it didn’t exist.

As an external candidate (i wasn’t attending a Centre or school), everything was done through the textbook, the Internet and my mother. Getting through the textbook was definitely the easy part, but with only one month left I was panicking. I did about 3 or four pastpapers a week, spending a small fortune on ink. My advice to people who want to do this exam, buy the pastpapers. for 10/15 euro it saves hours of time, and about 20/30 euro on ink. That was probably the biggest mistake we made. However the pastpapers were crucial because the exam NEEDS to be thoroughly nit-picked. I had a habit of writing my answers as top-heavy fractions, which if I hadn’t corrected would have cost me 5-8%, as well as other things.

I sat my two papers at The Dublin Tutorial Centre, one on the 6th of January and one on the 12th. I had no idea what date or time my exam was at until very close to the exams, and while I don’t know if it was because I wasn’t an official pupil at their school or whatever, it took a while for them to send us the information. Due to the exam being international, the exam board only gives the date of the exam, and whether it s AM or PM. Anyway, I sorted it out when I went for a last minute study session with a teacher at the centre.

The exam situation was lovely! I sat my exam with only two other people, which meant that there was minimal noise and theres wasn’t a sense of unimaginable doom that comes with large exam halls. Although I wasn’t allowed my phone, camera etc(pretty standard), could bring in a little nibble of chocolate (YUM) and leave when i felt I’d finished. Each paper was 2 hours long, and I had plenty of time to check my work 2 or 3 times.

Now I just wait. I should be getting my results some time early march, and I’m very much hoping for an A*. the exam is graded on a curve so I’m not really sure what percentage I need to get, but 70-85%+ is usually the A* mark.

Currently I’m looking for my next set of exams. As the examinations for the IGCSE have many dates during the year, I can sit my exams In January, May/June and November, although this vary per exam (for example I can only sit Latin in May/June). Yesterday I spent my day looking up past papers and syllabus’ for CIE Physics. CIE Geography, Edexcel Global Leadership and CIE Chemistry. I think for May/June I’m going to sit CIE Geography, CIE physics and CIE Chemistry. Global Citizenship looks like a lot of fun, but there is not really a textbook for it and it involves doing a project in your community. As much as I want to the work load is too high, so I’ll just have to take it next year.

Note: for anyone looking to do any IGCSE’s as an external candidate, some exams require coursework that needs to be marked by a Centre. Although some Subjects offer an alternative, its best just to check that before jumping straight it.


If the blog title doesn’t give it away, this new blog is basically about free-spirited teens running rampant through the streets of Dublin city, tearing down the walls of the defined roads ahead of us, and running free into the pains and possibilities that lie deep in the jungles of the real world. whether that Jungle literal or metaphorical, we are those who want, will or have dived into a world of self learning and hope.

Or at least that what we want it to be.

At this current moment this tiny glimmer of a blog is merely 3 teenage girls living in Dublin,who have done away with the boundaries of attending a “proper school”, although it’s peaceful and exciting all at once, we have found that for the few that have, very little of what self learning can become, just isn’t happening. As a new Home Schooler myself I find that if I look hard enough i might find what I’m looking for, but the loop holes to get there are small and few. Sometimes it feels like i have to cut through many years of stupidity to get basic goals accomplished as an under aged individual.

However I’m getting off topic. We’d like to get together a group of teenagers in Dublin who are Self Learning to create a site full of resources and information for those Home schooling or looking in that direction. We’d love to be able to make the transition from school to home Ed as easy as possible, as well as a social one too! i find that the sole down side to home schooling is that as teens, sometimes we can become a bit socially deprived. Now that doesn’t mean I’m forever alone, sometimes I’m busy and bustling with clubs and friends and projects ( this blog for starts!), but i wish from 8-4 I had more to do. it can be soooo lonely! sure you can draw of go swimming or go hiking or…or…or…or. the list goes on. It’s just sometimes you find yourself with a very long ummmm. It’s almost like even though I don’t attend my old school, I’m still locked on to their schedule

Going of topic again…..

We’d like to make Home Schooling easy to start, socially superior and crazy fun times!! However, there is a limit to the knowledge of 3 teenagers, and we’d love some support from anyone within Ireland or abroad, who is or has previously home schooled for Ideas and contributions that you feel will benefit young, budding self learners we’d love your feedback ans support. If your Currently in the Dublin area, home schooling and would like to be a part of this blog we’d love to hear from you as to what you want to achieve and accomplish as a self learner.

Why self directed learning works for me

I liked school.
Probably not what you’d expect of an avid unschooler/life learner.
To be honest, the first year I was there, I loved it. I can actually go back through the posts of my blog and find the statement “I am loving school.”
So why on earth, you may ask, did I leave?
Well, first things first, the novelty and enjoyment of school did wear off. I went into school for the first time the day I turned thirteen. It was tiring, but there were so many people and it was lovely! The atmosphere was great, everyone was nice, the classes were interesting….
For about… six months, maybe?

After a while, being with people your own age every day wears thin. Personal space doesn’t really happen in school.
After a while, the once-interesting things being taught become severely boring, the homework takes over any ounce of free time you may have (especially for one with such severe procrastination issues such as myself) and the subjects become repetitive, uninteresting. It was as if my natural, free, wonderfully varied learning slowly transformed into the unnatural, forced, dull and bland learning that fits the system. The system is all that anyone cares about. I stopped drawing. I stopped playing music. I spent all my free time recovering from school.

So, near the end of second year, I realized that I was become just another person in the system, just another number, just someone who would go through life like everyone else, devoid of my natural passions and interests. The worst thing about school was that I hardly ever got to go outside.

When I left school, I had the best summer of my entire life (so far). And since then, that has continued. I am doing what I want, I get to be with the people I want. I am drawing again, I’m writing lots of music, I’m teaching myself the guitar, and most importantly, I get to be in the place I love every day, in the mountains. I sometimes do a bit of maths, a bit of Irish, and I go to French class, but other than that, I follow my passion in the things I love. I’m getting into photography, art, jewellery making, music, and writing a lot more, and I know myself that my true passion is the environment/nature. Where would this be if I were in school? I didn’t even have time for any of this there. Now, I’m free to develop my interests and develop as a human being, among people I want to be around.

That, my friends, is why self directed learning works for me.