Qualification Comparisons

Key Stage 4


What are they?  These are subject based qualifications that focus on in-depth study of particular subjects. 

How are they assessed?  The assessment for GCSEs will mainly be done through exams at the end of 2 years of study with other assessments (such as practical activities) only for testing essential skills.

Grading:  Grading scale for GCSE is 9 to 1 (9 being the top grade and U for performance below the minimum pass mark).


BTEC Firsts (Business and Technology Education Council)

What are they?  BTECs are skills-based qualifications that balance theory with practical work.  They provide study in a vocational area.

How are they assessed?  They are mostly assessed by coursework rather than just exams.

Grading:  Pass, Merit or Distinction

Subjects:  There are a range of BTEC subjects available but the most popular subjects include Business, Sport, Performing Arts and Engineering.

GCSE equivalent:  BTEC First (level 1-2) is equivalent to 4 GCSEs.

Functional Skills

What are they?  These provide practical skills in English, maths and ICT to help students to develop confidence and fluency in those subjects.  The courses focus on real-life problem solving and applying the knowledge and skills to everyday situations.

How are they assessed?  Assessment for functional skills are through exams.

Grading:  Pass or Fail

Subjects:  English, maths and ICT from Entry levels to Level 2.

GCSE equivalent:  Functional skills are available from Entry level to Level 2 with the Level 2 being equivalent to one GCSE.


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