Students now have a new path post-GCSEs. T Levels have been around for some time. However, they are now starting to come into their own.
This is particularly useful for students looking to get into university without A-Levels. T Levels provide the perfect springboard between key stage 3 and 4 and further education.
What are T Levels?
T Levels are technical qualifications and are seen as an A-Level equivalent. These qualifications are created and developed in collaboration with businesses to ensure that learning is tailored to the industries they are applying to. T Levels prepare students for work through advanced training and study modules.
T Level courses are studied by students between the ages of 16 and 18 after completing their GCSEs. T Levels have two different sections: classroom learning and on-the-job experience in a partnered business for forty-five days (or three hundred and fifteen hours).
What subjects can you take?
T-Levels are restricted to only a few core subjects, specifically educational and trade-based subjects. When the T Levels were initially announced in 2017, 15 subjects were announced. Since then, further subjects have been added to the list.
The courses that are supported by T Levels are:
- Agriculture, land management and production
- Animal care and management
- Building services engineering
- Craft and design
- Cultural heritage and visitor attractions
- Design, development and control
- Design, surveying and planning
- Digital business services
- Digital production, design and development
- Digital support and services
- Hair, beauty and aesthetics
- Healthcare science
- Maintenance, installation and repair
- Management and administration
- Manufacturing and process
- Media, broadcast and production
- Onsite construction
These subjects will have placements in them and will focus on giving you work experience. This is a key feature of the qualification and is specifically designed to ensure that students receive on-the-job experience and theory-based learning.
What is the structure of T Levels?
All T Levels will have a mandatory placement involved, focusing on developing your practical and technical skills. These placements must last at least forty-five days, although these can be extended.
Your placement hours will be worked out when you start, but generally, they will work in these areas:
- Block placement: A part of your day at your placement, followed by part of your day in education.
- Day release: You are expected to be at your work placement one day a week.
Some colleges or schools will mix these up to keep your schedule manageable. Your placements will be organised in accordance with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and the National Apprenticeship Service, which is also part of the ESFA. Unfortunately, you will not be able to do any apprenticeships abroad when doing T Levels.
There are three compulsory elements to the T Levels, which are:
- Technical qualification (this will include core theory & skills for the industry you are working in and specialist skills and knowledge for a career).
- Industry placement.
- A minimum standard (if this has not already been achieved in Mathematics and English).
T Levels are graded like a BTEC is usually graded. This means that you will have three possible qualification grades: Pass, Merit or Distinction. After this, you will be awarded a certificate for your grading, which will also include the following:
- A separate grade for your occupational specialism (also pass, distinction, merit).
- Industry placement details.
- Mathematics and English qualification grades.
- Your module grades (graded A* - E).
- Your overall grade.
This certificate will be sent out to you the same way a normal BTEC certificate would be sent out to you.
What is the overall pass rate for T Levels?
According to the Department of Education, the overall pass rate for T Levels is 90.5% for 2022/23. Alongside this, 98.7% of learners have achieved an ‘E’ or above in their core component.
Occupational specialism courses have also scored high too. In 2023 94.9% of learners achieved a pass or above in the occupational specialism.
How many UCAS points can I get with T Levels?
T Levels are a great way to gain access to university. As BTECs are starting to be phased out, T Levels are starting to become the norm and universities have begun to accept them as part of their entry requirements.
The UCAS points for each grade are:
|UCAS points||Overall T Level grade||A Level|
|168||Distinction* (A* on the core and distinction in the occupational specialism)||AAA*|
|96||Pass (C or above on the core)||CCC|
|72||Pass (D or E on the core)||DDD|
UCAS tariff points are also available for students who have partially completed their T Levels. This will, obviously, depend on what you have completed and what you have left over.
Are T Level placements compulsory?
Yes, they are. Students will always have to complete a work placement as part of their T Levels and cannot be excused from them.
The whole reason for the T Level is to provide students with on-the-job work experience. If you want to avoid embarking on a work placement, it may be better to look at other qualification types, as schools and colleges will not excuse students from their work placements.
Which universities accept T Levels?
Universities do accept T Levels. More and more colleges and universities have begun to accept them as part of their entry requirements; however, not all universities accept them, of course, but the list is forever growing.
Remember, some universities may decide not to accept them one year and re-accept them the next. The full list of universities who accept T Levels can be found on the government website.
Are T Levels higher than a BTEC?
T Levels and BTECs have the same scoring. T Levels are advanced level 3 courses equivalent ot three A-Levels, as are BTECs.
However, T Levels' entry requirements are higher than that of a BTEC. This is because of the compulsory work placement on a T Level, whereas BTECs do not have them. Employers may set some entry requirements, so they will change every year.
Are T Levels as good as A-Levels?
The two qualifications have the same basic equivalencies. A Distinction* for your T Level is equivalent to three A-Levels at A* standard.
Are T Levels replacing BTECs?
Eventually, yes, T Levels will replace BTECs. This won’t be for some time, however. These will now be considered the main vocational qualification for students.
Some BTECs are being phased out already. As of 2024, it is thought that around a third of all BTECs will be replaced by T Levels, with more planned after that.