You may have heard of BTECs, and you may also have many questions on what they are. There are many assumptions made of BTECs, including the thought that they are not as good as GCSEs. As a result, one of the most frequently asked questions is whether BTECs count as, or are equivalent to, GCSEs. By fully understanding the weighting of each qualification, students can make a more informed decision on which course to study.
Simply put, BTECs and GCSEs are not the same thing. BTECs are not a type of GCSE, but they can be taken at the equivalent level to GCSE study. BTECs come in 3 levels: Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. Each level has a distinct function and is suited to students in various stages of their education. Level 1 of the BTEC is of the same level as GCSE, along with Level 2. Level 3 BTECs do not count as a GCSEs or GCSE level, but instead are of A-Level standard.
By reading this article, you can explore every BTEC level, as well as the requirements for each type of BTEC and what they are each equivalent to.
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Can you do BTECs at GCSE?
Some students may question whether GCSEs are the best form of education as a Year 10 or 11. You might just stumble across, or hear about BTECs, and what the option regards at GCSE level. Some BTEC levels can be taken alongside GCSEs.
BTEC level 1 is aimed at ages 13-15, so the people who are currently studying at a GCSE level can take these. If you are looking to take BTEC level 1, you can definitely do this alongside your GCSEs, and it will give you a better insight into the world of work.
BTEC level 2 is also GCSE level, but where level 1 is aimed at students from grades D-U, level 2 is A*-C standard work. BTEC level 3 is for those who are post 16. As a result, you would be doing these alongside your A-Levels.
What are the requirements for BTECs?
To get onto a BTEC level 1 course, two GCSEs will need to be studied and you must also study Maths and English GCSE at the same time. After level 1, students can then move onto BTEC level 2, which is more focused on an introduction to vocational work.
This qualification, along with others, can take you to further study, an apprenticeship or into employment. As a result, you will need at least four or five GCSEs at grades 4 and above, or a BTEC level 1. You are then also required to have a GCSE in Maths and English, for the same reasons as Level 1. Click here to read this Edexcel guide on BTECs.
Can you do BTECs instead of your GCSEs?
Whether you can completely replace GCSEs with BTECs depends on what you plan on applying to in the future. Many universities may not accept students without GCSEs, although some do. You should first contact your university to see what they accept and read this article for more information on universities and their BTEC tolerance.
Not only GCSEs, but also other work experience and training may be needed. Most universities require a good GCSE in Maths and English but may also want subject-specific further qualifications. GCSEs are especially important in getting you to further education (you can read more about that is in this article) which can then get you to university.
Mostly speaking, a level 2 BTEC is probably not enough for a university to accept you so you should definitely try and get a Level 3 BTEC as well. BTEC level 3 qualifications are taken by a large proportion of the students finding a place at university. Lots of these take the qualification alongside one or two A-Levels to increase their chances.
Which BTECs count as GCSEs?
Each BTEC level has different equivalencies which it can be broken down into. BTEC level 1s are all equivalent to a single GCSE.
Level 2 BTECs are more complex and can come in three different forms. The BTEC level 2 Certificate is equivalent to one GCSE at a grade A*- C. If you go further, and take a level 2 Extended Certificate or Diploma, this is the equivalent to four GCSEs, at grade A*- C. For more details about how the different levels of BTEC education work, click here.
A BTEC level 3 is not equivalent to any GCSEs, but only A-levels. A BTEC level 3 National Extended Certificate is equivalent to one A-Level whereas a BTEC level 3 National Diploma is equivalent to two A-Levels. The BTEC level 3 National Extended Diploma is equivalent to three A-Levels.
You can however, then go on to take BTEC Higher Nationals, which are levels 4 and 5 qualifications. These are equivalent to first and second years of an undergraduate degree. Click on this Think Student link for a comparison between further BTECs and A-Levels.
Which subjects can you take at BTEC level?
Each course and job you apply for will require different subjects. Keeping in mind that BTECs are vocational qualifications rather than classroom-based courses, there are more than just the regular academic subjects available to take.
There are over 2000 different BTECs in 16 different sectors, including science, ICT, engineering, hospitality, sport and so many more. The most popular qualifications are in health and social care, business and sport.
Your choice of subject (or subjects) should match the sector you want to go into and what you want to learn in the future. However, there are some subjects which are only offered by very few colleges and schools, like BTEC level History or English. Check out this link to the UCAS page to find the best subject for you.
Should you take BTECs or GCSEs?
There is always the possibility to take both BTECs and GCSEs if you are unsure of which you would rather do. However, if you prefer more practical work outside of the classroom, and less exams, the BTEC is an excellent choice. It focuses on the workplace side of education and combines practical learning with theory.
On the other hand, GCSEs are composed of academic subjects focused on written examinations. Choosing BTECs can be a big commitment, as once you’ve started BTECs, it’s very difficult to make your way back into fully academic education. Check out this article from Pearson to see a list of the BTEC level 2s available in the UK.
From this article, hopefully you have a better understanding of how BTECs relate to GCSEs and A-Levels, and how they are equivalent to them, but also the different subjects and options available to you.