Advanced (A) Level qualifications
The General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (short form: GCE Advanced Level), or more commonly, the A Level, is a school leaving qualification offered by educational bodies in the United Kingdom. Courses focus on academic subjects.
Students choose the courses which best suit their interests and abilities and which offer them appropriate opportunities for progression. Initial course choices are made via the online application form and all applicants will have a counselling meeting to discuss their applications.
In addition to their A level studies all students will follow a programme of Enrichment which takes place on a Wednesday afternoon and includes opportunities for a range of extra curricular activities and sports. Students also follow a programme of activities designed to develop competencies in organisation, team working and communication skills.
Changes to A level courses
The specifications for all A level courses are undergoing a process of review by the Government to ensure that they prepare students adequately for university and employment. The majority of A level courses are now linear, examined at the end of the 2 year course and with no more than 20% coursework component. The AS exam will still be available as a standalone qualification, but the marks from this will not contribute to the overall A2 qualification taken at the end of Year 13.
BTEC Level 3
BTEC courses were introduced in the 1980s, and offer an alternative to A Level education at sixth form level. A BTEC Level 3 Extended Certificate is equivalent to one A Level. As a result, you can usually study a mix of BTEC level 3 courses and A Levels
A big difference between A levels and BTEC Level 3 courses is in their delivery and assessment. A Levels are assessed using formal exams at the end of two years of studying, whereas BTECs are continually assessed throughout the course through coursework, practical projects and some external exams. If the thought of exams fills you with dread, studying for a BTEC could be ideal. However, if you do not like extended projects and coursework based learning then A Levels could be more suitable.