College Levels Explained

Confused about the college entry requirements? This page explains the different levels you can study whilst at College, and future programmes. When you apply, we will assess which level is the best for you.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements differ from one course to another. When you have your initial interview we will advise which level is best for you to start on.

GCSE grading

All GCSEs in England are being reformed and will be graded on a new scale from 9 to 1, with 9 being the highest grade. English language, English literature and Maths were the first to be graded using 9 to 1 in 2017. Another 20 subjects were added, with most others following in 2019. During this transition, students will receive a mixture of letter and number grades.

NEW GRADING STRUCTUREOLD GRADING STRUCTURE
9
8

7
A*


A
6
5
4
B

C
3

2
1
D
E
F
G
UU


BTECs vs A-Levels – It’s all down to your preference

Let’s start by saying that no one option is better than the other, they are just different routes to what you want to do next. We will tell you about the pros and cons of both qualifications, however, bear in mind that one of your pros may be someone else’s con. Some people know exactly what they want to do and how to get there and some people have no idea, and that’s absolutely fine.

What is the difference between A-Levels and BTECs anyway?

BTECs are career-based qualifications, you will develop lots of practical skills and the knowledge to progress in your chosen career path, such as childcare or catering. You will be assessed throughout the year through practical assessments, coursework and tests.
A-Levels are focussed primarily on academic subjects. You often study three or four at the same time. You will have to complete in year essays and maybe have mock exams. Your final grade is based on your end of year 2 exams only.

Will Universities accept BTECs?

All Universities accept applications with both BTEC and A-Level qualifications. They are given the same value in UCAS Points and thus no one option is an advantage or a disadvantage, just check with the university on their entry requirements for a specific course.

What do employers want?

If you’re thinking about going straight into the world of work, you should consider what employers will be looking for besides your qualification. A-Levels show that you are able to multi-task, deal well under pressure and do well in exam conditions. However, a BTEC qualification would allow you to prove to employers that you are able to perform well consistently and hold key skills such as organisation, communication and understand what will be required of you in the industry. You will also undertake 45 days’ worth of work experience on our Level 3 BTECs.

Some qualifications lend themselves to certain industries better than others, so make sure you do your research before making any final decisions. For example, if you want to go into Medicine, then A-levels or International Baccalaureates are the best options. If you want to go into engineering or childcare you can choose either BTEC or A-Levels and if you are looking to become a tradesperson such as a mechanic, carpenter or hairdresser then BTECs are your best option.

Don’t forget that there are other options available such as apprenticeships, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge Pre U and the upcoming T-Levels. Careers advisors and your teachers are always on hand to discuss your options.