The CNED (which French people pronounce as one word) is a distance-learning organization, and it does preparation courses for the different education concours. I signed up for the CNED in June after registering for the concours and received my first packets and homework in mid-July.

The CNED CAPES preparation course costs over 400 euros. They allow you to pay it off over multiple installments.

The advantages of the CNED:

  1. They give you at least four homework assignments for each part of the test that you can send in for feedback from teachers.
  2. They give you access to a forum of people doing the same course as you and this can lead to opportunities for group work or simply commiseration.

Why I liked the CNED:

  1. I was fairly panicky about the CAPES and wanted to prepare a maximum possible. I sent in every homework assignment I could and read the feedback carefully.
  2. Taking the CAPES as a candidat libre can be lonely and intimidating. I followed the CNED forums closely and listened to people’s advice. It helped me feel far less alone and let me get into two different work groups.

Why I didn’t like the CNED:

  1. The CNED teachers give you feedback of vastly varying quality, which surprised me as a teacher myself. Some teachers clearly had put in the time to think about what advice to give. Others whipped off the grade as fast as possible (or so it seemed) and gave me useless, incorrect (see #2), or uselessly harsh feedback.
  2. Certain teachers had questionable English, too.
  3. Working with other people can be a good thing depending on who they are. Otherwise, obviously, no one should feel it’s imperative to join study groups like mad. Your own instincts and intuition may be more useful.

Next page: The Written Exams

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