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University Advice ❱❱ What is a BTEC?

What is a BTEC?

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BTEC stands for the Business and Technology Education Council. The BTEC qualification combines practical learning with theory work and study. It is perfect if you enjoy a more hands-on approach to study and know what sector of work you want to get into.

The different types of BTEC

  •  BTEC Firsts – these are available at entry level through to BTEC Level 2 and provide an introduction to work. They are equivalent to GCSE level (For more on student tips for GCSE exams, click here) and alongside other qualifications can lead to further study, work or an apprenticeship.
  • BTEC Nationals – available from BTEC Level 3, this BTEC Extended Diploma level is compared to A-Levels and is a well-recognised achievement by universities, colleges and employers. The BTEC National qualification is ideal for those wanting to go straight into work or higher education on completed
  • BTEC Apprenticeships – with over 25 sectors at this standard, a BTEC Apprenticeship covers Level 2-5. This more specialist level is often available at higher education facilities.

When will I study these?

You can study for a BTEC at any point in your life and there are several different ways that you can study for a BTEC Diploma. They can be studied alongside education, as part of an apprenticeship or you can study them as a standalone course. You are most likely to study these at a school or college and are perfect for those wanting to gain a more hands-on approach.

If you are aged 14-16 and want to gain a BTEC alongside your GCSE studies, you can study for the entry level BTEC First in one or two subjects.

Between the ages of 16 and 19, you can study for either a BTEC First or a BTEC Extended Diploma (BTEC Level 3) at a college or further education centre alongside your GCSEs, A Levels or other academic qualifications.

If you are over 19, you can still study for a BTEC, either BTEC Nationals (BTEC Level 3) or a higher award at a college or university. Achieving a BTEC is a good way to gain specialist professional based learning.

Once you have started studying for a BTEC, it is worth asking your BTEC personal tutor for your BTEC registration number. It is essential that you make a note of your BTEC registration number, particularly if you are planning on applying for further study, as this will be required on any application forms.

How long does BTEC take to study?

Depending on your circumstances, a BTEC will typically take one or two years to study. You can choose to study for a BTEC either on a full or part-time basis, this allows for flexibility within your current situation. If you have chosen to study full time you will usually complete the BTEC in a single year, however, if you are studying for a BTEC on a part-time basis due to work commitments or another study, you can complete the BTEC in two years. A BTEC Extended Diploma can take up to three years to complete, you can leave after one but you will not receive the full qualification.

How should I chose what to study

Unlike GCSEs and A Levels, where you will choose several subjects, you will study one BTEC and with thousands of different subjects open to you and it can feel daunting when choosing which course is the right one for you. The first step to take, is to decide what sector you wish to work within, from BTEC Sport to BTEC Biochemistry there are several different sectors to choose from. A BTEC can also mean that you could potentially look into the possibilities of a:

  •         Applied science degree
  •         Art and design degree
  •         Business degree
  •         Childcare degree
  •         Construction degree
  •         Engineering degree
  •         Media degree
  •         Health and social care degree
  •         Hospitality degree
  •         ICT degree
  •         Land-based degree
  •         Performing arts degree
  •         Public services degree
  •         Sport degree
  •         Travel and tourism degree

If you are struggling to decide on a general sector or on a specific job it is always worth seeking advice. Although you may feel you want to make the decision yourself, a school career adviser or a personal tutor can look at your current grades and school progression and offer you advice about how your stronger subjects can be transferred into a particular sector – check out our student subject guides, it will provide you with a great basis and what each subject covers. It is also worth talking to your family and your friends; after all, they know you the best! Most of all think about what you enjoy learning and what interests you the most, you might end up doing this as a career so you want to choose something that you are both goods at and enjoy! You should also consider what you plan on doing once completing your subject if you know you want to go to university; it is worth checking what subjects your university choice might require you to have in order to get accepted onto the course. Once you have decided what sector bests suit you, you can then look for a specific BTEC.

How is a BTEC assessed?

When studying for a BTEC, the course is divided into several sections. There are core units that everyone on the same BTEC will study, these core units will provide you with the basic and essential knowledge on your chosen subject. You will then be asked to decide on several optional units, think carefully when choosing these units, as well as being the things that interest you the most, or that you are the best at, they will also shape your study into a more focused area and will lead to the type of job, apprenticeship or further study that you will be able to apply for on completion. Throughout the course, you will be assessed on a number of assignments. These assignments will be specific to your course of study and may be practical or written, some may be completed individually and others as part of a team. You may also have to complete some work experience as part of the qualification, although this isn’t always the case. You can check how your specific BTEC will be assessed by checking the specification page when applying.

How is a BTEC graded?

On completion of your BTEC, you will receive a Pass (P), Merit (M), Distinction (D) or Distinction* (D*) grade. On this grading scale, Distinction* is the highest award and Pass is the lowest. The Distinction* was only added in 2010 to award those with outstanding work, so don’t worry if your parents or older friends haven’t heard of the D* grading! If your work did not meet the criteria for a pass you will receive an unclassified grade (U).

How to calculate your BTEC results?

You can use an online BTEC grade calculator to work out your potential grade for your current BTEC Level 1/2 or BTEC Level 3. Each module will be awarded credits and you will receive a number of points for each module. Depending on whether you achieve a pass, merit, distinction or distinction* you will receive a different number of points. The awarded points are then added up to give a BTEC score. Compare these points to a marking grid and you can work out your overall score. There are several BTEC grade calculators available online to enable you to easily calculate your grade. To use a BTEC grade calculator you need to have studied Edexcel QCF courses and not NQF.

What can I progress to do once I have achieved my BTEC?

On receiving your BTEC qualification and dependent on what level, you have several options open to you as to what to do next. If you have just completed a BTEC First, it is a good idea to continue on to study for a BTEC Level 3 (BTEC Nationals), or to enrol in further study, either of these two steps will lead to an apprenticeship (learn more – what are apprenticeships) or career. If you have completed your BTEC Level 3 or BTEC Apprenticeships, you can choose to go straight into employment, you will have a good basis for applying for specific jobs and you will have gained skills and experience that could benefit you in job applications, that will look great on your CV – gain help and advice with writing a student CV. You can progress to a higher level of BTEC or you can apply to further education such as a university. Also, you have the opportunity to take on an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship will allow you to gain new qualifications whilst working on the job and can lead to a career.


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