One of the main differences between a BTEC course and A Levels is the way students learn and are tested.

A Levels mainly involve two years of study with exams at the end, whereas BTECs are assessed throughout the two years through a combination of tests, coursework and practical projects.


A Vocational course is a full-time course that provides a more practical approach by applying learning to real life situations. Many of our vocational courses feature a work experience placement, designed to provide you with the opportunity to further develop your knowledge and skills. 

Progress is measured throughout the course, allowing you to monitor your performance on an ongoing basis, just like in the workplace. For many students the ongoing assessment provided by the Diploma route can be a preferable option to exam based courses.

An Extended Diploma (Level 3) is a two-year course, equivalent to three A Levels, and will appeal to a student keen to pursue their chosen subject at a higher level and/or as a career.  An Extended Certificate (Level 3) can be taken alongside an A Level programme, in place of one A Level subject.  A Diploma or Extended Certificate (Level 2) is a one-year course, designed to provide students with the confidence and skills to progress to a Level 3 Extended Diploma.


T Levels are high quality technical courses designed with employers, to give young people the skills that industries need, and for them to thrive in the workplace.

Equivalent to 3 A levels, T Levels can be studied following GCSEs and they last for 2 years. 

80% of the course is studied in College, gaining industry specific skills and knowledge, and the remaining 20% of the course is an industry placement, putting into practice the knowledge and technical skills learnt in the classroom. On completion, students receive a nationally recognised qualification and will be prepared for  future progression routes that include skilled employment, higher level apprenticeships or higher education.


A Levels have been changing and are now linear in nature. This means they are externally assessed after two years. In some subjects you may be able to take the AS examinations at the end of the first year though they will not count directly towards your final A Level grade. 

For some subjects there may be reduced amounts of coursework. Mock examinations will be held in the Spring Term of the first and second years. A Levels will continue to be graded from A* to E. You will continue to be able to choose from a broad range of subjects you may not have encountered before, or have had the opportunity to study at school, from Classical Civilisation to Economics, Film Studies to Law and Politics to Sociology.


Applied ‘A levels’ are growing in popularity nationally and are now being offered by a number of exam boards.

They offer a different assessment model to conventional A levels as they are a balance of both coursework and exams. Exams boards give them various different names, such as Extended Certificates, but it is simplest to think them as applied versions of A levels.

These courses are structured like diplomas but are the same size as a single A level and work within an A level programme. They are usually studied in combination with A levels but you can study three Applied ‘A levels’ as a full programme on its own.

These qualifications have all been developed in conjunction with universities and provide a platform for progress into higher education. This includes Russell Group universities but some of these, such as Bristol University, stipulate that they should be accompanied by at least one conventional A level.