exemplar education GCSE maths

Today we are sharing our Exemplar Education review, based on our first three months using the online tutoring platform.

If you have a child in school in the UK, you may well have heard about Exemplar. It’s widely promoted through schools and also very popular in home educating families. More than 400,000 children have used Exemplar in the company’s 27-year history.

Is Exemplar Education any Good?

As regular readers may know, my 14-year-old is not a big fan of maths. In the past we’ve tried tutors and services such as Kip McGrath. So what I really wanted to know was, “Is Exemplar Education any good?” and, “Can Exemplar help my teenager do better in maths?”

If you’re also wondering is Exemplar Education any good, it’s reassuring to know that the content is 100% based on the national curriculum. Content is available for all GCSE exam boards at both foundation and higher level. Got younger kids? Exemplar also offers content for primary school children aged 4+.

As part of my review, I wanted to look at: 

  • How easy is it to get started?
  • What does Exemplar Education cost?
  • What are the lessons like?
  • How can Exemplar help GCSE students?
  • Is it better than a private tutor or tutoring centre?
  • How can you cancel Exemplar?

do tutors really help?

How to Get Started with Exemplar

In the main, this service isn’t something you just buy online and start using.

If you want to use Exemplar for anything other than just GCSE work, a local representative will come to your home. You’ll get a presentation about the company’s background, along with a demonstration of the platform.

Your child/ren will also be asked to complete a short maths and english test, to ensure they are in line with the expected score for their age. This is to ensure you don’t buy a package that is too advanced or too simple for your child.

If you decide to sign-up, you’ll be given a log-in for each child in the family, and another log-in for the parent. You can then access Exemplar through a web browser from any computer you choose. Depending on the package you buy, Exemplar may provide a laptop for each child in the family.

In our case, the test indicated it would be useful for Flea to re-do some year 9 maths, before moving on to the GCSE package.

The first step was for Flea to log in and complete a far more detailed assessment, covering all the Year 9 maths. This assessment can be done over several days as there’s quite a lot to get through.

At the end of the process, Exemplar identified 38 topics out of 200+ that Flea seemed to struggle with. So it built a personalised study plan that allows Flea to work through those topics and skip the stuff she already knows.

This seems like a sensible use of time. I can’t see any benefit in Flea going over material she knows if there are gaps in her knowledge of other topics. She is currently logging in for an hour, twice a week, and working her way through the programme. I’m hopeful this regular practice will help her to cope with exam stress. 

As a parent, my home page tells me how long Flea is spending on Exemplar, what marks she’s achieving, and how far she is through her study plan. It can also send me an alert if she hasn’t logged in for a while *makes all-seeing Mum eyes gesture*

What Does Exemplar Education Cost?

It is surprisingly hard to answer the question – what does Exemplar Education cost?

One of the challenges is that there’s no one, single price for Exemplar. Do you want maths or english, or both? Do you need primary school, secondary school or just GCSE content? Depending on the answer, the cost might be anywhere from £500 to more than £10,000.

Exemplar prices are set per family, not per child. So the more children you have, the most cost-effective the programme is likely to be.

Another factor is how you buy Exemplar Education. When you sign up, you are effectively buying all the lessons upfront. If you want to buy the primary school package, you should expect to pay around £5,000 for lifetime access to all of that content. To make this easier for families, Exemplar offers interest-free finance, which means you’ll pay around £20 a week over five years.

Where some families come unstuck is not realising that Exemplar isn’t (usually) a subscription like Netflix. If you decide after 12 months that you no longer need the service, you can’t return it, or cancel your account. The loan needs to be repaid regardless. The sales rep should run through all of this with you in detail, so you’re fully aware of what you’re signing up for. Personally, the model seems fair to me – otherwise there’s nothing to stop people simply downloading all the content, and then cancelling their account after the first month!

That said, the pricing works differently for Exemplar’s GCSE revision package. The GCSE Power Pack can be bought online as a subscription for £45 a month. There’s no long contract, so it is ideal for shorter periods of exam revision. A nice bonus is that the pack is free after 12 months, so you get lifetime access for just £540.

what does exemplar education cost

What are Exemplar Education Lessons Like?

The Exemplar platform has lessons for children aged from Year 1 to Year 12. Obviously we’ve focused on the lessons for secondary school children, but I understand all stages of the programme follow a similar model.

Your child starts by selecting the first topic from their study plan. They will then attempt a number of practice questions, with two attempts at each question. If they do well, they will be prompted to take the assessment for the module. If not, they have the option to watch a video, where a maths teacher demonstrates the concept and explains the technique required.

Once the child feels confident, they can take the assessment. If they score over 80% they are judged to have passed the topic, and can move to the next one. If they score below 80% they go back and do more practice, then take the assessment again (with different questions). At any time they can rewatch the video.

You can tweak settings by switching from “auto” to “manual” which will let a child skip a topic, and you can also set your own pass mark if you think 80% is too low or high. That said, we kept the default settings because nothing in life is more entertaining than the sound Flea makes when she scores 79% in an assessment. Also it’s very useful because generally on the second attempt she’ll score over 90%.

We’re finding each topic takes between 20 minutes and 90 minutes to complete, depending on the length of the video. Speaking of videos, Flea *may* have sniggered at these a little – they do feel a little dated in parts. But I guess maths is timeless, and so long as the information is valid, we shouldn’t judge the hair (too much).

How Can Exemplar Help GCSE Students?

I really love the Exemplar Education GCSE Revision package. I think the quality and volume of content is impressive considering the monthly price of £45.

For this, your child gets access to over 290 lessons, covering every topic in the GCSE curriculum. The content can be tailored for every different exam board and for students sitting the foundation or higher level paper.

Alongside this, kids can access the Exemplar teacher support line. This means every weekday evening and weekend morning, there’s a freephone line where they can speak to maths teachers and get help with any aspect of the GCSE course they might be struggling with. Flea can also email a teacher with help with her homework or Exemplar work, at any time.

This avoids all those scenarios where Flea can’t do any work because she’s stuck, and I try to help her even though it’s 25 years since I last studied maths, and we both end up wanting to cry/strangle each other/lay down and wait for the sweet release of death.

Like all Exemplar Education customers, we get one log-in for Flea, and another for us, as parents. It means I can log in and see which modules she has completed, how long she spends on a topic, and her assessment scores. It can even email me if she hasn’t logged in for a while. So your teen can’t be pretending to do maths while sneaking watching YouTube.

gcse maths online

Is Exemplar Better Than a Tutor?

Having tried tutors and tutoring centres in the past, my view is… it depends on your child.

For some children, the idea of sitting down and independently working through maths online could be a challenge, and they might work better with one-to-one, dedicated support from a tutor. For other children, a tutoring centre might offer a supportive environment and they thrive on the routine and social aspect of classes.

Here’s how I think the options compare:

Kip McGrath:

  • Cost: £27 a week (not including holidays) so around £1,100 per year
  • How it Works: Small weekly classes with a qualified maths teacher
  • Time: 1.5 hours per week tutoring, plus 20 minutes homework
  • Pros: Loved the teacher input and small groups meant lots of support
  • Cons: It’s a pain driving to the tutoring centre, ours was 12 miles each way

Private Tutor: 

  • Cost: £25 a week (not including holidays), so around £975 per year
  • How it works: A former maths teacher comes to the house once a week
  • Time: One hour’s tutoring plus 30 minutes homework per week
  • Pros: Really tailored, personalised support and immediate feedback
  • Cons: It’s sometimes hard to keep the same day/time free every week

Exemplar (GCSE pack, as this is most relevant to us)

  • Cost: £45 a month or £540 total cost for lifetime access (Exemplar costs circa £1,000 per year for other packages)
  • How it Works: online exercises completed at home
  • Time: No minimum of maximum time required
  • Pros: Cost-effective, great back-up support, lots of content to work through
  • Cons: It’s a teenager, on a laptop, connected to the Internet. They’re easily distracted…

How Can You Cancel Exemplar?

As explained earlier in my review, Exemplar is a content library that you buy upfront. Therefore you can stop using Exemplar at any point – but if you have taken out a finance agreement to pay for Exemplar then you will need to continue making payments until the loan has been repaid. If you paid upfront, you will not usually be entitled to a refund.

The exception is the GCSE revision package, which can be paid on a monthly subscription of just £45, and after 12 months you can continue to access the platform without any additional payment. If you wish to cancel before the subscription term ends, then you simply need to cancel the account from within your Exemplar dashboard.

Overall Impressions

I have been hugely impressed by Exemplar Education. I love that this is a flexible, home-based tool with content that I feel confident is matched to Flea’s school work, and will help give her invaluable practice in core maths techniques.

The overall programme will be particularly attractive to families who home educate, or where there is more than one child. Because Exemplar pricing is per family, using it for 2 or 3 children will save a huge amount over the cost of private tuition, and gives you the flexibility to fit their study around a busy family life.

Does Exemplar work? Well, we’ve been using the programme for three months now. Flea (helpfully) took a maths test at school in December and scored a slightly disappointing Grade 4. In her most recent test, two weeks ago, she upped her marks by 20%, taking her from a Grade 4 to a solid Grade 6.

I think we still have a long way to go, but at the moment we are continuing to work through the Exemplar Education programme, and I’ll report back when Flea sits her end of year tests in May. Fingers crossed!

You might also find these sites useful to find out more about Exemplar Education:

 

We were provided with complimentary access to Exemplar Education and paid a fee for my time creating this review. However, all opinions are honest, and based on our experience. 

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She's also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world's coolest ten year old.