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 Education. 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.
It’s also got some controversy attached to it. Google “Exemplar Education” and you’ll find plenty of families who are unhappy with the company, and who feel trapped into using its services.
So what’s the truth?
The Truth about Exemplar Education
Exemplar Education is an online provider of (mostly) maths tuition for kids aged 5 and up.
Historically the company focused on providing a library of DVDs to families that would take their children all the way through the primary curriculum, with video lessons and worksheets to support the national curriculum. Families would buy all the DVDs they needed upfront, and pay it off like a hire purchase agreement, at a set fee per family, per week.
As the Internet developed, the Exemplar Education materials were moved online, and families were given a laptop to access the classes, instead. However, the same model was retained, where families paid upfront for the learning materials for a specific period (usually the duration of primary school, OR secondary school) and paid that back via a monthly fee.
Where this became controversial is that most Internet services of this type work on a subscription model. You pay each month, and when you don’t want the service, you cancel and stop payments.
This didn’t work with Exemplar Education because it is not a subscription. Remember, it’s an upfront payment, so families are committing to a LOAN when they sign up. Just because you stop using Exemplar Education doesn’t mean you can stop paying the loan.
Should I Avoid Exemplar Education?
This doesn’t mean that Exemplar Education is doing anything wrong. But it does mean that the sales associate who signs you up to Exemplar should explain very clearly that this a loan not a subscription, AND you need to be confident that if your circumstances change, you will still be comfortable paying off the loan for your access to Exemplar.
If you are clear about what you’re signing up to, and happy you can afford the fees, then my opinion is that the quality of materials provided by Exemplar Education is very good. 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+.
Things you might want to know before using Exemplar Education:
- How easy is it to get started?
- What does it cost?
- What are the lessons like?
- How can Exemplar Education help GCSE students?
- Is it better than a private tutor or tutoring centre?
- Can you cancel Exemplar?
How to Get Started
If you want to use Exemplar for anything other than just GCSE work, a local representative will come to your home.
Along with a short presentation, your child will sit a short assessment which gives some idea of what level they’re at in English and Maths. 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. This will allow you to log in to 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.
Once we were all signed up, my daughter completed a much more comprehensive assessment, covering Year 9 maths topics (she’s currently in Year 10). This identified several topics in Year 9 that Flea didn’t fully understand, which she could re-cover with Exemplar, before moving onto GCSE content.
The site built a personalised study plan, including topics Flea needed to cover, and skipping stuff she already knows. A dashboard shows clearly which topics she has completed, the score attained in each topic, and what is still outstanding. I’m hopeful this regular practice will help her to cope with exam stress.
As a parent, my own 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?
One of the challenges in working out the cost of Exemplar is there’s no one, single price. It depends on whether you want maths, english, or both. Do you want primary, secondary or just GCSE content? You might spend £500 for GCSE materials, or £4-5,000 for a full primary or secondary package.
Remember, Exemplar pricing is per family so it is much more cost-effective if you have more children!
You can pay this upfront but Exemplar offers interest-free finance (via a third party lender) that translates a £5,000 package into a £20 monthly payment over five years. But if you stop using Exemplar Education after 12 months, you’ll need to continue making these payments until the loan is repaid.
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 are the Lessons Like?
The Exemplar Education 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 the lessons in the programme follow a similar model:
- Children select a topic from their study plan. They will do a number of practice questions. If they complete these correctly, they can move on to take an assessment.
- If they do not answer the questions correctly, they can watch a video where a maths teacher will demonstrate the topic and give guidance. After this the child can take new practice questions.
- One the practice questions are done, the child takes an assessment. They must score at least 80% in the assessment to move to the next topic in their study plan.
By default, children must work through the study plan in order, and parents can tailor the required pass mark if they choose. Parents will receive an email notifying them each time their child passes an assessment, and if a child passes 5 assessments in a row with a score of over 90% you’ll get a certificate you can print off to show off their achievement.
The Exemplar Education GCSE Package
I really love the Exemplar GCSE Revision package. I think the quality and volume of content is hugely impressive considering the monthly price of £45. And this is genuinely a subscription package – there’s no big payment or loan involved. Just pay £45 a month for as long as you need it – and after 12 months, you get free, lifetime access to the materials.
For this, your child gets access to over 290 lessons, covering every topic in the GCSE curriculum. The content is different for every 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 her 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.
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:
- 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
- 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 Education (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…
Can You Cancel Exemplar Education?
As explained earlier in my review, Exemplar is a content library that you buy upfront, usually funded by a loan. So yes, you can stop using Exemplar at any point – but if you have taken out a finance agreement to pay for the content, 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.
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.
The HUGE downside of Exemplar is that if your child stops using the programme, or you feel it’s not working, you could be stuck with a big bill to pay long after you’ve logged out.
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:
- How to sign up for the Exemplar Education GCSE Power Pack
- More information on Exemplar
- Reviews of Exemplar on Trust Pilot
We were provided with complimentary access to Exemplar Education. However, all opinions are honest, and based on our experience.