BTEC Qualifications Guide
What is a BTEC?
BTEC stands for 'Business and Technology Education Council', which used to run the award, first introduced in 1984.
BTECs are awarded by EdExcel and are taken in more than 100 countries at all levels, from pre-GCSE to Degree equivalent.
They are vocational and work-related courses, designed to accommodate the needs of employers and allow students to progress to further and higher education.
A BTEC takes a practical approach to learning, without missing any of the important theory on the subject.
BTECs are extremely reputable, having been around for 25 years now, so rest assured you will be embarking on an excellent course.
Why should I take a BTEC?
There are a couple of reasons why you may want to choose a BTEC over other qualifications.
First, they are recognised by a large number of companies across a wide range of industries.
As well as being developed in partnership with industry representatives so all employer and student needs are met, many professional bodies offer successful BTEC students exemptions for their own accredited qualifications.
Second, if you are not fond of taking exams and find the pressure causes you to under-perform, a BTEC will allow you to undertake a number of units for which you wil present evidence, based on real-life work and studies.
This means you can demonstrate your skills and knowledge through a practical situation rather than sweating it out in an exam hall.
You will be provided with personal guidance and support by your teacher, who will also help you meet deadlines and reach your full potential.
How do BTEC qualifications work?
There are different sizes of BTEC qualification at each level. Generally:
- The smallest is the Award
- Then the Certificate
- And the largest is the Diploma
Unit results are graded as Pass, Merit or Distinction.
The number of units varies according to the design and focus of each qualification, and all students complete realistic work-based assignments, which are internally assessed.
Assessment decisions and quality assurance procedures in each centre are regularly checked by EdExcel.
What are the different BTEC levels?
BTECs are offered at a number of different levels. We've outlined them below for clarification, and to ensure you choose the correct level to take.
- Firsts – for learners to develop confidence and initial skills for either a broad work sector or everyday life
- Nationals (Level 3) - specialist qualifications for students with a clear view of their future career or seeking progression to higher education
- Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (Level 3) – preparation for entry to higher education to study art and design
- Higher Nationals (Level 5) – higher education qualifications widely recognised by universities and professional bodies
- Development and Professional Development qualifications (Levels 4-7) – short courses needed for professional development
- BTEC Short Courses - available at all levels
- WorkSkills (Entry 3 - Level 1) – a suite of skills-based employability units.
You can read more about the different types of BTEC qualification available at the EdExcel BTEC website.
How long does a BTEC take?
A BTEC will generally take one to two years to complete, depending on whether you study for the course full time or part time.
When can I take a BTEC?
- BTECs are flexible. They can be taken alongside, or in place of, GCSEs and A levels and alongside Diplomas in schools and colleges.
- BTECs are mode-free and the time taken to complete them depends on the size and level of the qualification.
- Each BTEC programme has identified guided learning hours.
Take a look at the website of the college(s) you are thinking of applying to, and see their academic deadlines and term dates for the course.
What BTEC subjects can I take?
BTECs currently cover the following subject areas:
- Applied Science
- Art and Design
- Business and Services
- Children and Young People
- Construction and the Built Environment
- Driver Training
- Hair and Beauty
- Health and Social Care
- Hospitality, Travel and Tourism
- Land-based and Environment
- Performing Arts and Music
- Public Services and Uniformed Services
What is a BTEC qualification worth?
BTEC qualifications are fully recognised as holding equivalences to GCSEs and A Levels (dependent upon the level of BTEC qualification taken), and can be used towards the UCAS points needed for an university application.
An example of this could be using a Level 3 BTEC Diploma, with a DD grade, to count up to 240 UCAS tariff points towards your application. Furthermore, a Level 2 BTEC First Diploma is worth the equivalent of four grade 9 - 4 GCSEs.
This means you can take a Level 1 BTEC First independently alongside GCSEs, or work towards them both in the same subject area.
How to apply for a BTEC qualification
The website of the further education college you wish to apply to will either have a paper application form for you to download and fill out, or you may be able to apply for the course directly online.
Colleges are likely to ask you for hard copies of your GCSE results as proof, and you may also be invited to interview depending on the levle and/or type of course you are applying for. This is usually just to check that you are applying for the course most suited to you.