The level of a qualification is linked to the complexity, depth and difficulty of the subject matter being studied

The Right Level for You

You need to ensure that your course or programme is at the correct level for you. If you are predicted to get good results in a range of Level 2 subjects, you should consider starting a Level 3 academic programme; If you are predicted to get a mixed set of results at Level 2, a mixed or vocational programme of Level 3 courses may be more suitable for you.

To find out about each qualification we offer, use the toggles below.

Level 2

These courses are equivalent to GCSE grades A*-C. There are also Level 2 BTEC and CTEC courses which are of a similar level to GCSE but designed for study by Post 16 students.

Level 3

The Level 3 courses are A Levels and Vocational courses of the equivalent standard, they are required for entry to university. You should be suited to Level 3 study if you have achieved five or more Level 2 qualifications; you may need higher grades in the subjects you plan to study in order to be successful. Since 2016 these have been two year courses.

Academic Courses

Academic courses are those which are assessed by examinations at the end of the course. They are considered to be a good preparation for those who are going on to further study at a higher level and are generally the qualifications which have been established for the longest.

Vocational Courses

Since September 2014, vocational qualifications at level 3 have been classified as either Tech Levels or Applied General qualifications.

Tech Levels are for students wishing to specialise in a specific industry, occupation or occupational group, enabling entry to an apprenticeship or other employment, or progression to a related higher education course. These courses have a compulsory work experience element.

Applied General qualifications are for students wanting to continue their education through applied learning, and which fulfil entry requirements for a range of higher education courses.

Both types of qualification now include an externally assessed element, as well as a portfolio of assignments assessed by the home centre, bringing them in line with the Level 2 vocational qualifications.

Vocational courses may suit students who find the pressure of examinations more challenging. They are also excellent for work preparation, especially when they are directly linked to the career path that a student wishes to pursue. Students who take a vocational course should be able to organise their learning and meet deadlines.

A Level Courses

The General Certificate of Education is more widely known as an Advanced Level (A Level) qualification; A Levels are academic courses.

Since September 2017 A Level courses have changed to become more challenging 2 year courses, assessed at the end of Year 13, with no A-S exam.

It has become the standard for most students to study 3 of these more difficult 2 year A Levels as part of their Post 16 education. Separate, one year A-S qualifications still exist but they are one year stand-alone courses which do not count towards the full A Level qualification.

GCE A Level qualifications are graded from A* to E.

BTEC courses

BTEC stands for the Business and Technology Education Council. These qualifications are vocational and are assessed by a combination of examination and portfolio. They are graded as Distinction*, Distinction, Merit, Pass instead of the A-Level system of A*-E.

BTEC courses are accepted by most universities; higher grades may be required in a BTEC than in an A-Level due to the way in which they are assessed. BTEC courses are often, although not always, career and job-role focused.

The BTEC courses are offered and administered by Pearson, the EdExcel examination board. They have different qualification sizes at Level 3.

Certificate: Equivalent in volume of study to half of an A Level.

Extended Certificate: Same size as one A Level.

Foundation Diploma: Same volume of work and study as 1½ A Level qualifications.

Diploma: Equivalent amount of study to two A-Level subjects.

Extended Diploma: Same size as three A-Level courses.

Cambridge Technical Qualifications

The Cambridge Technical courses are similar to the BTECs with a combination of externally assessed units and portfolio assignments. They are administered by the OCR examination board. In a similar way to the BTEC vocational qualification series, they are graded as Distinction*, Distinction, Merit and Pass.

They have their own system of sizes:

Certificate: Equivalent in volume of study to an AS level (half of an A-Level) as for BTEC.

Extended Certificate: Same size as one A-Level.

Foundation Diploma: Same volume of work and study to 1½ A-Level qualifications, as for the BTEC.

Diploma: Equivalent amount of study to two A-Level subjects.