Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Exams: A Celebration of Studies


We split our year into 3 terms, each being 12 weeks in length. We have 11 weeks of regular studied in those weeks, with the final being our exam week. We love exam week! It is a celebration of all that we have learned and studied in our term, and our school days are shorter than typical. 

I'd like to share how we do exams, but before doing so, I wanted to share the purpose of exams. Exams for us are not for the purpose of giving grades. I don't assign grades to these exams. Rather, the purpose is to give me, their educator and teacher, an idea of how they are doing. I get an idea of where we may need to spend more time or where I may need to consider teaching in a different way or with a different book.

I largely follow the Charlotte Mason method, and I mostly follow her guidelines for exams as well. I will share links for resources at the bottom of this post, but before that, I will give a rough guide on how I write our own exams.

Instructions for Writing your own Exams:

1. I begin by looking at each subject we covered in the term, whether extensively or briefly. I make a list of each of these subjects.

2. If it's a subject we cover every day, we have a question on two different days, so I add that subject in twice. If it's a subject we cover several different aspects (such as in natural history, we have two different books- one more animal based and one more biome based... and in literature, we have two different books we go through at once), then I also add that subject twice to have two different subjects. And recitation, we sometimes have listed 3 times so that my kids can recite all of the works they've practiced every week.

3. We typically do exams in 4 days, though we can even do them in 3 days if needed. I split the different subjects between the 4 days, making sure that we never cover the same subject twice in one day.

4. Those are the basics! But to be more detailed, you can type your exams up in a packet, with lines ready for writing, maps needed included, etc. You can save your recitation and singing work for when Dad or Grandma or friends are around, and your kids can recite and sing for them. Or you can video record them, so they can watch it later or send it to someone! 

5. With multiple kids that I'm homeschooling, I try to keep many of their exam questions the same, if they are studying the same thing. Some subjects obviously call for different questions, though, and my older daughter has subjects that my younger daughter doesn't. I have a kindergartner who does some school work, but we do not start exams until first grade. When my kids are younger, their exams are primarily done orally (they answer the questions aloud). As they get older, they will have more and more exam questions that they write out.

For Examples and more Information:

* You can look at actual PNEU Programme exams, like Programme 95 here. The PNEU (Parent's National Educational Union)  was Charlotte Mason's parent organization, and she would send out programmes (curriculum) along with exams to all of them. You can go to worldcat.org and type "Charlotte Mason exams" or "cmdc exams" into their search database and find more examples if you're extra nerdy like me.

* Ambleside Online has exam questions for all of their years and terms here. These are geared toward their curriculum, but you can use the questions as a guide for you own homeschool.

*A Delectable Education has a podcast on exams that is informative that you can listen to here.

* A Delectable Education has an exam planner that you can buy for $20 here.

* Ambleside Online has a page that discusses exams here.

Notes and Disclaimers: I live in a state that doesn't require state testing or for grades to be turned in. It is one of the easiest states to homeschool in. If you live in a state that does require these things, you could still do exams like this for your own homeschool adventure enjoyment, or you could tweak these to make them fit your state's requirements. 

Of course, this is what works for our family. If you prefer not to do exams or if you have a way that works better for your family, then by all means, do what works for you and yours!


  1. I love this idea so much. Excited to try it out for our kiddos :) I came from such a loaded background of tests meaning so much and being so pressured, and while I did well, I'm loving the thought of celebrations of learning, not massive measurements of performance.

    1. I come from a similar background and love creating something different in our home! I hope it will be a joy for your family as well <3

  2. Thank you for this! I'm inspired! I live in Iowa and we also don't have to turn in grades or lesson plans. I'm very thankful we have this freedom!

    1. The freedom is so wonderful!
      You're welcome!!