First of all, it’s important to check out GCSE dates. In schools, most students take GCSE courses over a period of two years. If your son plans to learn intensively at home, you may choose to sit the exam one year after beginning learning, but either way it is important to decide as you will need to register your son at a local testing centre well in advance of the exam dates.
To take the GCSEs, you and your son have two options: if he is 16 or older, he can opt to enrol at a local further education college, either on a part time or full time basis. Or you can work towards the GCSEs at home.
You mention that he has not yet decided which GCSEs to study for. This is important, and as well as considering ability, and subject enjoyment you may also want to consider coursework elements. Subjects including English, science and history often contain a coursework element so you must consider how this will be marked. This has to be carried out by a neutral person. Some boards have specific regulations about these markers, for example regarding his or her qualifications. Look into this on the major GCSE examining boards’ websites – for example, OCR, EdExcel and AQA.
Another option is to enroll your son to take International GCSEs, known as IGCSEs, which do not involve any coursework.
With regards to registering for the exams, this depends on your specific exam board. The best thing to do is to phone up a range of examining bodies and ask for their ‘guides for private candidates’, which will outline deadlines and requirements to enter your son for their qualifications. Then you will need to contact a local exam centre, such as a school or college, to ask if your son can sit exams there. Note the centre will probably charge a fee, of around £25.
Now, onto tips to help your son pass his GCSEs. First of all, get a hold of a syllabus and a few textbooks so you can find the style that he works with best. Go through both the syllabus and textbooks methodically, at a pace that suits your son, and keep it active with lots of question and answer sessions and written responses too. As the exam draws closer, get hold of some practice papers so your son knows what to expect and how much he will have to be answering in a specific time period. Set your son some of the practice papers as test exams so he knows what to expect.
Lastly, don’t make GCSEs too stressful – try to keep the education process fun and engaging, so that your son will want to learn for the course for its own, interesting sake.