'A' Levels or Vocational?

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Both can lead to Higher Education but which is right for you?


What are A/AS Levels?

A Levels are academic, or study-based courses. Assessment is mainly by examination, with some coursework. Exams may be taken in January and May/June. A Levels are a traditional route into Higher Education. Students can choose up to four subjects in the first year, which are studied to AS Level. In the second year students usually continue to A2 level in three of their subjects. It is also possible to take up a new AS Level in year two. Students can choose a combination of subjects they have studied at GCSE along with new subjects.


'A' Levels or Vocational?   The College expects students to have achieved a minimum of 5 GCSEs at Grade C or above before undertaking an A Level course. Each subject is studied for about 4.5 hours per week, and it is expected that students will spend about the same amount of time per subject on private study and homework.

There is more work to do alone than at GCSE, but it will be in subjects students have chosen and therefore have an interest in. To do well at A Level students need to develop study skills and self-discipline – the students who do best are those who put in extra study, such as wider reading, as well as homework and class work.


What is a Vocational Course?

Vocational courses are more closely related to the world of work with a practical slant, but there will still be some study-based learning; the amount varies according to the course taken. Assessment can be by practical assessment, portfolio assessment (coursework), and examination. Vocational courses at this level are full-time courses. Students who have achieved 4 GCSEs at Grade C or above can take a Level 3 course (2 years full-time). It may also be possible to take an additional AS level alongside a vocational course (subject to A Level entry requirements).


'A' Levels or Vocational?   You may be given an assignment to do over the summer before you start your course. You could also read the journals and magazines related to your course (available in libraries). Vocational courses tend to be quite structured, with more of the work taking place in class or on placement and perhaps less in your own time – although you will still have homework and coursework assignments to complete.

Vocational courses at Level 3 are equivalent to 3 A levels and also lead to university

What if I don’t achieve the GCSEs needed for A levels or a vocational course at Level 3? Vocational courses are available at Levels 1 and 2 and students can progress to Level 3 from these courses.


Learning Styles

    We will work with you to make sure you are on a course that is best suited to your way of learning. This will help you exceed your potential and maximise your opportunities for University or job success. Use the information in the table below to discover the right learning style for you. 

'A' Levels or Vocational table

 For details see FT Vocational Courses  For details see Apprenticeships  For details see 6th Form Centre