A levels versus BTEC qualifications

Deciding between A levels and a vocational qualification such as a BTEC or CACHE diploma can be a confusing and tough decision. Check out our mini comparison guide below.

A levels are more exams focused

A levels are traditional academic qualifications and are usually assessed by exams. Although some BTEC qualifications may include an exam, these qualifications are more vocational and are typically assessed by coursework and practical projects.

A levels are more theoretical

This does largely depend on the A levels chosen as many A levels still feature practical work. However, when compared to a BTEC qualification, A levels are usually more theoretical. A levels are largely based around classroom learning while BTEC qualifications typically include more hands-on learning.

A levels teach academic skills

The traditional A level pathway involves progression to university. Many A level courses include academic writing and referencing in preparation for degree level study. Many BTEC students progress to university, however, BTEC qualifications tend to focus on employability skills in real world contexts.

With A levels you study multiple subjects

Students study multiple A level programmes and can therefore study a range of subjects at once. A levels allow students to gain skills in different specialist areas that can be combined to lead to degree level study. With a BTEC qualification, only one subject is studied with all modules relating to that single topic.

A levels keep your options open

If you know what you want to study, a BTEC qualification can be useful for starting on that pathway which is perfect if you are passionate about one career. However, if you later change your mind it may be difficult to get on to a degree programme in a completely different subject area. With A levels, as you study multiple subjects and demonstrate the capability of academic writing, you have more flexibility if you change your mind.

Depending on your career path, it may be better to study A levels or a BTEC qualification. Some universities prefer students who have vocational qualifications while others prefer students with A levels. If you have a particular university course in mind, check the entry requirements.




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