A-levels and Diplomas Explained

BTECs are gaining popularity as an alternative to A-levels, but they actually cover a whole range of academic levels. A BTEC level 3 is the equivelant to A-levels, where the higher levels 4 -7, hold the same status of achievement as a degree.

BTECs are vocational qualifications, rather than traditional academic courses, with typical subjects offered at BTEC level including Business and Engineering.

One of the main differences between BTECs and A-levels is the way both are assessed:

  • A-levels mainly involve two years of study geared towards a few big tests at the end.
  • BTECs are continually assessed via coursework and practical projects. You might only just be hearing about BTECs now, but they’re not a new qualification – they’ve actually been around since 1984.

Some universities have been historically more focussed on A-levels as suitable entry requirements, but as the numbers of students studying BTECs has risen, the qualification has become more and more respected, and Edexcel now says over 100,000 BTEC students apply to university every year, with the number steadily rising all the time. Universities have learned that BTECs are a great alternative to A-levels, and very few institutions won’t consider BTEC students as candidates – even Oxford and Cambridge include BTECs as part of their overall course requirements, although usually alongside other qualifications as well.

Further information is available on the What Uni website