Qualifications

Updated Thursday 6 April, 2017 by

In the UK there are a wide range of qualification types on offer.

Qualifications range in size and type, can be academic, vocational or skills-related, and are grouped together into different levels of difficulty. 

A qualification shows employers, teachers and learners what you have learnt and what you can do as a result of that learning. 

If you need to know the level of a qualification, you can:

 

Click the tabs below for further information:

General Certificate of Secondary Education

Description

Usually studied in Years 10-11 but can be started or retaken after Year 11. GCSEs are available in over 50 subjects, some may be called Applied GCSEs. These are related to work, in a vocational subject for example business, ICT and gives you the opportunity to gain hands on experience.

Will it suit you?

You should enjoy studying and be good at exams.

How are you assessed?

Through exams and controlled assessments. Controlled assessments have replaced coursework and may include projects, fieldwork, artwork, experiments or investigations. This will depend on the subject you decide to study.

Where do they lead?

Into work, training or further study.

New GCSE Grading Structure 

GCSE Reform

AS and A2 Level

Description

A levels normally take two years to complete, studied at either at sixth form or college. They are made up of AS and A2.

An AS level is 50% of the overall A level, so once you have completed your AS level you can either continue with your study and get the full A level or leave with an AS level qualification.

Some A levels are called ‘Applied’ these are work related subjects and are available in 10 subject areas.

For the latest updates regarding AS and A Level Changes, click here.

Will it suit you?

For AS/A2 levels you should enjoy studying and be good at exams.

For Applied A levels you should be interested in a work area and enjoy learning in a practical way.

How are you assessed?

For A2/AS levels you will be assessed mainly by exam with some coursework. Some subjects will be assessed on practical skills such as science/art.

For Applied A levels you may be assessed on individual units which may include projects, assignments, unit tests or group work.

Where do they lead?

Into work, training or higher education.

Business and Technology Education Council

Description

Work related qualification (e.g. Design), sometimes in a very specific job area. Offered at 4 levels including higher education level.

Will it suit you?

You must enjoy different types of learning such as coursework and practical skills.

How are you assessed?

You will be expected to complete coursework, case studies and a portfolio of evidence showing the work you have done. This will be assessed by your teacher or external examiner depending on the subject area you chose.

Where do they lead?

Into work, training, further or higher education depending on the level.

National Vocational Qualification

Description

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are work based awards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that are achieved through assessment and training.

Will it suit you?

You must enjoy different types of learning such as coursework and practical skills.

How are you assessed?

You will be expected to complete coursework, case studies and a portfolio of evidence showing the work you have done. This will be assessed by your teacher or external examiner depending on the subject area you chose.

Where do they lead?

Into work, training, further or higher education depending on the level.

International Baccalaureate Diploma

Description

It is an internationally recognised qualification for students aged 16-19. It involves a wide range of subjects including languages, the arts, science, maths, history and geography.

Will it suit you?

You have to be an academic person and be interested in studying the subject areas listed previously.

How are you assessed?

By external exams. Coursework will be assessed by your teachers.

Where do they lead?

Into work, training or further study.

Entry Level

Description

Can give you extra support if you find learning difficult or if you not been in school for sometime. They can help you develop new skills, increase your confidence and knowledge.

Will it suit you?

If you have no qualification, then you can use this qualification as a stepping stone to help you progress.

How are you assessed?

You will be assessed on a combination of tests, assignments and tasks which can be written, oral or practical.

Where do they lead?

Into work, training or further education.

Higher Education

Description

A range of qualification, including Degree, HNC/HND, Foundation Degree, Diploma of Higher Education (Dip HE). Generally entered at 18+.

There are lots of courses/subjects you can study, both academic and vocational. You will have the option to study part time or full time and some courses will include time in the workplace.

Will it suit you?

You will have to do both academic and practical work depending on the qualification you aim to achieve.

How are you assessed?

A mixture of exams and coursework.

Where do they lead?

Into work, post-graduate or professional study.

Apprenticeship

Description

Apprenticeships allow you to combine work and study by mixing on-the-job practical training with classroom learning.

Will it suit you?

Apprenticeships can take anything between one to four years to complete. Working hours will vary depending on your employer but you'll typically work a minimum of 30 hours per week.

How are you assessed?

You'll be employed to do a real job while studying for a formal qualification, usually for one day a week either at a college or a training centre. 

The length will depend on a number of factors such as the level of the apprenticeship, your chosen sector, employer requirements and individual ability.

Where do they lead?

By the end of your apprenticeship you will hopefully have gained the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in your chosen career.

Downloads

Qual Chart