No one can tell you what to do, well at least not when it comes to your education. It is entirely up to you whether to take A-Levels or a BTEC, so we’re here to give you the lowdown on both, and not just the academic stuff.
We’ve given you the pros and cons of both qualifications below however, bear in mind that one of your pros may be someone else’s con. Some people know exactly what they want to do and how to get there and some people have no idea, and that’s absolutely fine.
What is the difference between A-Levels and BTECs anyway!?
First up, BTEC stands for Business and Technology Education Council, and are defined as career based qualifications. They focus on developing a range of practical knowledge and skills to help learners progress in their career.
By definition, A-Levels (the A stands for advanced) focus on ‘academic’ subjects. You often study three or four at the same time, and are most likely to be assessed by exams. Some people prefer salt and vinegar to cheese and onion, and some people prefer exams to coursework. There’s no crazy science behind it, it’s simply your preference and how you prefer to work.
You are continuously assessed when taking a BTEC with assignments and observed practicals, as opposed to A-Levels where you are likely to have one or two big exams at the end of the year. All Universities accept applications with both BTEC and A-Level qualifications, but if you’ve got your mind set on going to Uni, you should look at potential courses and locations, and check the entry requirements. Does the course include work placements? How is it assessed?
If you’re thinking about going straight into the world of work, you should consider what employers will be looking for besides your qualification. A-Levels show that you are able to multi-task, deal well under pressure and do well in exam conditions however, a BTEC qualification would allow you to prove to employers that you are able to perform well consistently, have relevant work experience and hold key skills such as organisation, communication and understand what will be required of you in the industry.
Some qualifications lend themselves to certain industries better than others, so make sure you do your research before making any final decisions. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, careers advisors and your teachers are always on hand to discuss your options.
Once you’ve talked to your school about the subjects you can study there, it might be worth browsing the kind of subjects you can study at college to see which might suit you best. Remember, there are no rules against applying for both if you haven’t made up your mind just yet, but at least you won’t miss out on a place should you decide that college is your preference.