Posted: 11th January 2021

What’s the difference between BTECs and A levels?

Broadly speaking, BTECs provide a more practical and hands-on experience than A Levels. The courses are designed to expose students to a particular sector or industry and they offer an alternative to more theory-focused A Level courses. Assessment is continuous across the two-year study period rather than through a final examination at the end of Year 13.

This real-life focus means that BTECS introduce and nurture a wide range of transferable skills which are highly sought after by employers. These include communication, working collaboratively, critical thinking, problem solving, adaptability and resilience. Students are able to apply their learning to real-world scenarios which reinforces their understanding of the concepts introduced.


For example, the Business BTEC teaches students about business environments, finance, marketing and human resources. It provides them with opportunity to devise a marketing campaign; measure financial performance; analyse business accounts and participate in selection interviews. All highly relevant to a wide range of future careers.

Is a BTEC easier than A levels?

BTECs should not be seen as an ‘easy option’. They still involve essay writing, research, analysis and independent self-study. The top grade, D* (D stands for Distinction) is treated as equivalent to an A* at A Level. Students opting for BTECS will have to work steadily and consistently throughout the course because of the continuous assessment methods. However, you may find the teaching and learning style of BTECs suits you better than that of A Levels. This could have a significant impact on the grades you achieve.

Who does well at BTECs?

If you are interested in studying a BTEC you may want to consider the following questions:

  • Do you find it easier to learn new topics using hands-on examples or do you prefer thinking in terms of abstract concepts? A Levels tend towards more conceptual study.
  • What types of assessment suit you? If you feel more comfortable with coursework than exams, a BTEC may be a good option. If you get your highest marks in exams, A Levels may be a better bet.
  • What working style suits you? BTECS will need you to work consistently over a two-year period, A Levels can have more peaks and troughs depending on exam dates with a final push at the end of the two year course.
  • What motivates you to work hard? Do you have a love of learning for its own sake, which might suit A Levels, or are you interested in developing skills and knowledge which are of direct use in employment, which is the focus of a BTEC?

Can I get into university with a BTEC?

Yes, nearly 1 in four students going to university now are doing so having completed BTECs and Level 3 BTECS are awarded the same UCAS points as A Levels. However, as with all qualifications, students should check the requirements of the courses they are interested in. Some universities require applicants to mix BTECs with at least one A Level and, regardless of qualification type, they will need to get the required grade.

Where BTECS can be particularly helpful is if you are considering a more vocational course at University. For example many Business, Finance and Management courses will look favourably on the Business BTEC.

Mrs Bruller, Head of Business and Economics

If you would like more information about Sixth Form courses at Leweston please contact the Admissions Team on or 01963 211015.

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