Do BTECs Have Exams?

In A-Level, General by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

Information about further education qualifications can often be confusing and convoluted. This article will help you get a better understanding of how BTECs are examined, as well as giving you the answers to other common questions.

BTECs are predominantly made up of coursework, with some BTECs having externally marked exams. These exams are either paper-based or taken on a computer. There are also internally assessed assignments given at the end of each unit. These assignments are set and marked by your teacher or a course tutor.

This is the surface-level answer, but to fully understand what’s included in a BTEC please read the full article. Want to know all about how BTECs are examined and assessed? Keep reading!

Do BTECs have written exams?

BTEC courses contain an element of external assessment, which is set and marked by the exam board. This could be in the form of a written exam, but this might not be the case for certain courses. For more information about how BTECs are assessed, check out this guide from Pearson Edexcel.

BTEC written exams work in the same way as GCSE or A-Level exams. The skills and knowledge outlined in the specification are tested. The exam is sat at a set date and time and the examiners mark the students’ work against a mark scheme. Students can re-sit BTEC Nationals up to two times. For more information about resitting BTEC external assessments, check out these FAQs from Pearson Edexcel.

Do BTECs have coursework?

Throughout BTEC courses, there are continuous assessment methods. Usually this in the form of coursework. What that involves depends on your course, but it’s likely to be more interesting and enjoyable than typical A-Level homework. The amount of coursework is going to vary depending on the course specification and the level of the qualification. For more information about this, check out this guide from Pearson Edexcel.

It is very important that deadlines for coursework is met. There are often two stages of deadlines. An initial stage is set prior to a final deadline a few weeks later. Feedback is then given to students who meet the initial deadline. They can use this feedback to improve their work to a passing standard if their work does not pass first time. They then resubmit by the final deadline.

Students who don’t submit work of a passing standard by the final deadline fail the module. Failing a unit will dramatically limit the final grade of a student. If the student fails a ‘Core Unit’, then the student fails the entire BTEC course. For more information about these deadlines, check out this article from

What are BTECs?

BTEC stands for the Business and Technology Education Council. BTECs are practical, vocational qualifications. They are a viable alternative to traditional more theory-focused ways of learning. BTECs are designed for students who are interested in a particular industry or sector but are not sure what exact job they would like to do yet.

Recently BTECs are gaining popularity. UCAS data showed that in 2018, over 10% of students accepted into university only had BTEC qualifications.

BTECs are accepted in most Universities. They are certainly a good qualification to consider, especially if you are put off by A-Levels. For more information about this, check out this article about BTECs vs A-Levels.

What are the different BTEC levels?

BTECs can be studied at various levels and are therefore very flexible. BTEC Firsts are a level 2 qualification and equivalent to GCSEs. BTEC Nationals are a level 3 qualification and equivalent to A-Levels. BTEC Higher Nationals are equivalent to the first year, or the first and second year, of an undergraduate degree. They are level 4 or level 5 qualifications.

BTEC Apprenticeships are available at levels 2 to 5. For more information about these levels, check out this guide by UCAS.

Students can take three separate BTECs, or take just one, known as the extended diploma. This is the equivalent of three BTECs or A-Levels.

How are BTECs graded?

BTEC qualifications are normally graded from a pass(P) up to a distinction* (D*). Each mark is equivalent to a certain number of UCAS points. The highest grade is Distinction*, which is similar to getting an A* at A-Level.  Below is a table detailing the different BTEC results as well as the A-Level grades and UCAS points they correspond with.

BTEC result A-Level grade UCAS points
Distinction* (D*) A* 56
Distinction (D) A 48
Merit (M) C 32
Pass (P) E 16
Near Pass (N) (not available for all courses) U N/A
Unclassified (U) U N/A

For more information about how BTECs are graded, check out this Think Student article.

Which universities accept BTECs?

BTECs are sometimes overlooked by students as they’re considered an easier option, due to their less academic nature. But despite being quite different to A-Levels, BTECs are actually an equivalent qualification and convert to UCAS points.

Most universities in the UK accept students who have one, or multiple, BTEC qualifications. However, it’s important to take a close look at course entry requirements. Some universities, particularly Russel Group universities, may require applicants to have three specified A-Level grades instead of a particular number of UCAS points.

In most cases, it’s a good idea to take at least one A-Level alongside BTEC qualifications to create a more competitive application. For more information about if universities accept BTECs, look at this article.

What can you do after completing a BTEC?

After successful completion of a BTEC National qualification, students can then progress onto employment, or they can continue their learning in the same or related areas of study. This could be in higher education or in professional development programmes.

Some BTEC National qualifications are recognised as technical certificates and therefore form part of the apprenticeship framework.

If you’ve completed a BTEC First qualification, then these will enable you to go on to study at Level 3. You may want to do an apprenticeship or to go into employment. For more information about what you can do with a BTEC qualification, check out this guide by UCAS.

What other qualification are similar to BTECs?

Another Level 3 qualification to consider is T-Levels. They are newer qualifications that are set to replace BTECs in the near future. To learn more, check out this Think Student article.

T-Levels are technical based qualifications that were designed in collaboration with employers to give young people industry-based skills. T-Levels are also part of ‘further-education’, meaning that they’re typically taken by students in sixth-form or college. If you want to learn more about what further education is, have a look at this article.

It’s important to note that a T-Level does involve two written assessments on the informational-side of the course. A key difference between BTECs and T-Levels, is that a T-Level requires you to complete a 45-day work placement within the industry relating to your subject area.

To find out more about T-Levels and how they differ from BTECS, have a look at this article.

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