Which qualification?

Are you confused by all the qualifications and course titles available?

When making a choice, you need to think about three things:-

1. Which type of qualification fits your future plans?

  • Check entry routes for any careers that you are interested in by looking at the National Careers Service job profiles

2. How do you learn best?

  • Check which course fits in with your preferred learning style.  Do you learn best through the use of images, maps and graphs (visual); through listening and speaking (auditory), through words (reading & writing) or are you a hands-on learner (kinaesthetic)?

3. Which level is best for you?

  • Qualifications are grouped together into levels of difficulty.  There are nine levels from entry level to level 8.  Each level has different entry requirements.
  • Most Year 11 students taking GCSEs will achieve results at either level 2 (9-4) and/or level 1 (3-1) giving you the entry requirements to progress on to qualifications at either level 3 or 2.

Take a look at the tables for each level to see what qualifications are available at what level and what you need to start. 

Speak to your tutor or subject teachers to find out what level you are currently working at.


For many apprenticeships and job-related courses you may need to take a qualification at either the same or a lower level rather than progressing to a higher level qualification as you need to learn the basics first


 Find out more about qualification levels on the GOV.UK website

Qualifications fall into three main types:

Academic qualifications

These are subject based, the most common being A levels, and usually assessed by exams.

You'll study particular subjects in-depth which can lead on to higher education (university), an apprenticeship or employment.

Applied general qualifications

These cover broad vocational areas and give you an introduction to an industry, such as travel and tourism, engineering, health and social care.  They combine academic study with practical learning and are usually assessed by a mixture of coursework and exams.  They include BTEC and OCR qualifications and can lead on to higher education (university), an apprenticeship or employment.


Vocational or technical qualifications

These are for those of you who have a clear idea of what you want to do.  They focus on a specific industry or occupation and are usually assessed by a mixture of coursework and practical, work-based tasks.  They recognise the skills and knowledge you need to do the job.  They include the new T Levels, NVQs, some BTEC and OCR qualifications, as well as diplomas and certificates from other awarding bodies such as City & Guilds.  They will prepare you mainly for employment and may form part of an apprenticeship.


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