How Are T-Levels Graded?

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As of 2022, T-Levels are a relatively new qualification. If you are considering taking a T-Level, you may be confused or even anxious about the process. Especially since there is not much information available about T-Levels. The grading process is one of the hardest parts of T-Levels to understand. Many students find that even school information is not clear on how T-Levels are graded. However, in this article, we will explain all of the key information on T-Levels that you need to know in order to make your choice and to understand how to get the best marks you can throughout your qualification.

T-Levels are graded based on the technical qualification element of the course, which is the main academic part that is made up of the core and the occupational specialism. This is graded Distinction* to Pass. The grade is worked out based on class assessments, exams and coursework depending on the course. Grades from a Pass upwards will have UCAS points. To gain a T-Level certificate you also have to complete a work placement and have a specified level of Maths and English education.

This may have given you a basic understanding of the T-Level grading system. However, it is important to know all the details on this complex topic so please read on for more information.

T-Level grading explained

The T-Level certificate is only awarded when candidates have completed all of the components in the course. A T-Level grade is worked out only based on the student’s performance in the technical qualification. This is the part of the T-Level which is taught and assessed in school or college.

The technical qualification (TQ) is made up of the core component and the occupational specialism. The core component is compulsory and includes general skills such as Maths and English which are necessary for a future in the field of the T-Level. The occupational specialism is chosen by the student and includes skills specific to their area of study within the T-Level. For example, in the Education and Childcare programme, an Early Years Education specialism would have skills specific to teaching nursery age children.

These components are assessed by exams and coursework in different proportions depending on the course taken. Typically, students have a combination of both methods of assessment throughout their course. A score-based algorithm then works out the grades for each T-Level, which students overall marks are then placed in, to give them a grade.

For more information on this, check out this helpful Think Student guide to how T-Levels are assessed.

How does the grading algorithm work in T-Levels?

The algorithm determines the overall grade using a combination of factors. These include the comparative size of the core and occupational specialism within the T-Level as well as the grade for the core (A*-E) and occupational specialism (pass, merit, distinction) for the specific student. These factors are combined to give each student a fair and accurate grade based on their work throughout the course.

The top grade that students can receive is a Distinction*, if they gain an A* in core and a distinction in occupational specialism, which is equivalent to 3 A*s at A-Level.

Students who do not yet have GCSE Maths and English or a Functional Skills level 2 qualification in both of these, will have to retake them in order to pass the course. All courses offer this as part of their help for students, but you may have to take it outside of normal lesson time, and it will mean more work during your T-Level overall. Some T-Levels also have a larger TQ than others because they are more complex.

This TES article is very concise and clear in its grading explanation, if you still are confused about some aspects.

What happens if you fail part of your T-Level?

T-Level grades may be awarded only based on the technical qualification, but the full certificate is only given to students who have completed all of the elements of the T-Level. This includes the technical qualification, a 45-day work placement, and level 2 or above Maths and English qualifications. For more information about this, check out this governmental guide.

This wide range of skills is reflected on the T-Level certificate, making sure employers are aware of students’ full achievements and skills gained from their course. The separate grades for core and occupational specialism are listed, as well as the overall grade.

This leaves many students with the question, if there are so many elements, what happens if you complete some of them but not all?

Due to the complex nature of T-Levels, students may end up not passing all elements, or may need to leave the course early for many reasons. In this case, they will receive a statement of achievement for the course confirming which requirements have been met. This certificate can be shown to employers and does not hold the same standard or any UCAS points but does help students to use their time spent in T-Level courses, even if they could not complete them fully.

For more information from UCAS about T-Levels, please check out UCAS’ helpful guide.

Can you skip your T-Level work placement?

As explained above, T-Levels contain many key parts which is what make them a well-rounded and highly respected qualification for employers and universities alike. The work placement is often considered to set the T-Level apart from other qualifications, as it gives students real-world experience which is invaluable to any field they choose to enter in the future, for a much longer period than most work experience lasts.

The work placement is undertaken in a workplace related to your chosen industry, in a local business. Students often have to arrange this themselves, but participating businesses also may reach out to students individually, to help them choose a place to work. The placement lasts 40 days and is sometimes paid, but students must make their own commute to and from the placement and it must be undertaken outside of the school environment to foster independence.

The work placement is a key part of the T-Level, and as such it cannot be skipped. Students are expected to complete the work placement just as they are any other part of the T-Level, otherwise they cannot be awarded their certificate at the end of the course and will only receive a statement of achievement as discussed above.

Students with SEND and other special circumstances will have arrangements made by their centres to ensure they can access a work placement that is suited to them and their needs and is accessible. If you are concerned about the work placement, please contact your school or college for more information, as there may be support in place you can access in order to help you complete this component. For more information about this, check out this governmental guide.

Can you get into university with T-Levels?

You can definitely get into university with T-Levels. As a new qualification, many universities are excited at the possibility of students with more independent skills than A-Levels originally give, and therefore are keen for students taking T-Levels to apply to be on their courses. Students taking T-Levels usually gain great specialist knowledge in their subject which is practical, making a great foundation for them to then study that subject at university if they wish.

Students who want to go to university for a 3-year course usually need at least 112 points from qualifications to gain entry. However, gaining more than this is always good as some universities may have higher tariffs, depending on how selective they are. This can easily be gained from taking a T-Level, as can be seen in the table below.

If you are not on track to gain the number of UCAS points you need to enter your chosen course, consider a foundation year, or taking a course with lower requirements at a different university. Most courses have the option of a foundation year where you can build up skills, with a much lower entry tariff. This is a great option for many students!

For more information on UCAS points at university, check out this Think Student guide.

It is also important to note that some universities do not accept students based on UCAS points. In fact, only ⅓ do! Therefore, if you are not sure about the grade equivalent that you will gain at the end, check with your course provider as it may still be enough to get you into your university of choice.

How many UCAS points are T-Levels worth?

UCAS points for T-Levels are roughly equivalent to A-Level grades, in that they provide a certain number, however instead of being in parts it is all part of one qualification. The table below explains how T-Levels are awarded tariff points, but if you want to know your exact number, please visit this guide from the UCAS website where full details are provided.

If you are interested in both T-Levels and A-Levels, and want tips on how to choose between them, please have a read of this helpful Think Student article.

UCAS Tariff Points T-Level Overall Grade A-Level Equivalent Grade
168 Distinction* – A* core grade, distinction in occupational specialism A*A*A*
144 Distinction AAA
120 Merit BBB
96 Pass (C or above in core) CCC
72 Pass (D/E in core) DDD
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