BTEC qualifications are rising in popularity and increasing numbers of universities are accepting them. Their flexibility means that they can be studied alongside or instead of A-Levels and they adopt a more practical approach to learning.
But is BTEC right for you? Despite now having a small exam element, it’s still a great alternative to A-Levels.
From this September all schools and colleges in the UK are moving to a new BTEC Business specification – which includes a small exam element – in place of the old, exam-free specification. But is this new version still a genuine alternative to A-Levels? The answer is a definite “yes”. Even more so as the assessment criteria validates the quality better than ever before.
The new BTEC Business has only one formal exam, which accounts for just 11% of the final mark; in contrast, most A-Levels are 100% exam based. So BTEC is still ideal for students who want an alternative to traditional exams. There are also two or three controlled/supervised assessments (depending on the size of BTEC you are studying) – these are assignments completed in three hours in the classroom using pre-released material. All the remaining units are assessed by the teachers through coursework, so it’s still very different from A-Levels.
How specialised do you want your studies to be? A-Level qualifications require a student to split their time between three different subjects; with BTEC Business, you can achieve an equivalent qualification through focusing on different areas of just one subject. You can take the 4-unit BTEC Business Extended Certificate (equal to one A-Level), 8-unit Diploma (two A-Levels) or 13-unit Extended Diploma (three A-Levels), and achieve the equivalent number of UCAS points.
Why else is BTEC a good alternative to A-Levels? A-Levels focus on academic theory and apply it to exam questions. With BTEC, the theory is applied to real business situations, e.g. carrying out your own market research, looking at starting your business, organising an actual business event and developing a marketing campaign. The programme includes study trips to see how real businesses operate, which gives students a great opportunity to think about where they would like to work in the future.
While is it, without doubt, many schools are catching up on getting the right team members in place to effectively deliver BTECs, the style of learning is a great preparation for college and the work world due to its very practical knowledge application.
Many schools in the UK offer the BTEC Business Diploma (equal to two A-Levels) as a one-year intensive course. This is an exciting alternative to A-Level retakes or for students who want to change after one year of A-Levels but need a one-year course. A Diploma is also an option for those looking for those extra UCAS points to get into a great university. Students (aged 16) can take the two-year Extended Diploma (equal to three A-Levels) and carry on at school with their friends even if traditional A Levels would not be a natural choice.
Often parents are worried that universities won’t accept BTEC. In fact, over 95% of UK universities accept BTEC, particularly the Extended Diploma or Diploma with an A-Level (BTEC Plus). It is becoming more common for students doing BTECS to receive offers from Russell Group universities to study Law, Management, Politics and Economics. Universities recognise the range of skills that BTEC gives students, including independent research, time management, analysis and evaluation.
So if you are hard-working, motivated and looking for a genuine and internationally-respected alternative to A-Levels, BTEC Business could be the right solution for you. If you would like to talk about options and which schools offer them here, we are of course available to help guide you to make the right decisions.