A Levels and T levels

Students getting their exam resultsA and AS level, T level - GCE Advanced Level and Advanced Subsidiary, Technical Level


A levels are offered by...

 ... school sixth forms, sixth form colleges and some some further education colleges. They can also be studied through distance learning and:

  • are usually studied over two years
  • are offered in over 40 subjects
  • need a minimum of five or six GCSEs at grade 9 to 5 or the old A* to C grades or equivalent, usually including English or maths to start a course
  • some subjects, such as languages and sciences, may need previous study at GCSE level
  • are also available as vocational/applied A level and AS level subjects in for example, art and design, business, health and social care, and science. They are graded in the same way.
  • A levels are graded A* to E (they were previously graded A to E)
  • AS levels are graded A to E
  • Core maths is a new A level aimed at students studying science-realted subjects

Changes to AS and A levels in England:

Full details of the changes are explained on the GOV.UK website, including the timetable for each subject, they include:

  • A levels are fully linear, meaning all assessment/exams will be taken at the end of the course
  • You will usually study three A levels rather than four as happened previously
  • AS levels are offered as separate qualifications - no longer part of an A level qualification. This means that the AS results do NOT count towards a full A level qualification
  • Biology, chemistry and physics practicals include at least 12 practicals, for which an overall pass or fail will be awarded in the final A level grade, in addition to the overall A level grade achieved.
  • There are different assessment/criteria for AS and A levels in Wales and Northern Ireland.

For more information about A levels and other qualifications, look on GOV.UK

New T levels

T levels or Technical Levels are new two year technical study programmes taught full-time, that will sit alongside apprenticeships and are aimed at ensuring vocational qualifications are considered equal to A levels. They will be offered across 15 occupational areas:

  • Agriculture, environmental and animal care
  • Business and administration
  • Catering and hospitality
  • Construction
  • Creative and design
  • Digital
  • Education and childcare
  • Engineering and manufacturing
  • Hair and beauty
  • Health and science
  • Legal, finance and accounting

To be delivered via apprenticeships:

    • Protective services
    • Sales, marketing and procurement
    • Social care
    • Transport and logistics

Government T level website: www.tlevels.gov.uk 

T levels will be available to study from September 2020, some will launch between September 2021 and September 2022. A few 'pathfinder' T levels may be offered in some areas from 2019. It means that at 16 young people will be presented with two choices: the academic or the technical option. The technical option will prepare individuals for skilled employment that requires technical knowledge and practical skills valued by industry. It will be offered as two routes to skilled employment - T levels or apprenticeships. Both routes may lead to a higher or degree apprenticeship.

T Levels will be graded Distinction* (A level equivalent to three A*s), Distinction (three As at A level), Merit (three Bs at A level), Pass at C or above in core component (three Cs at A level),  Pass at D or E in core component (three Ds at A level).

The T level study programmes have been designed with employers to include the skills industry needs. They are 80% classroom-based and 20% workplace and will be studied over two years and will include a new technical qualification that may be taught in a classroom, workshop or simulated work environment. The programme will include:

      • a work placement of up to 45 days
      • technical knowledge and practical skills specific to their chosen industry or occupation
      • relevant English, maths and digital skills
      • common workplace skills

The content of the T level will be based on the same occupational standards used for the apprenticeship route. T levels will initially be taken by 16 to 19 year olds but will be availble to adult learners in the future. T levels are for students who want to develop work-related knowledge and skills but are not yet clear about the specific occupation they want to work in. They are for students who want to get the specialist knowledge and skills they need to get into employment in a highly skilled occupation, including higher or degree apprenticeships.

Individuals will be assessed at the end of the programme to test and certify their skills. Students who pass all parts of the programme will be awarded a nationally recognised T level certificate that will set out what they have achieved as part of the programme.

Time table for T level introduction:

Autumn 2020 - first T level programmes start for specific occupations in three occupational areas:
 - digital production, design and development (digital industry route)
 - design, surveying and planning (construction industry route)
 - education (education and childcare industry route)
Autumn 2021 - full range of T level programmes start for the following occupational areas:
- onsite construction (construction industry route)
- building services engineering (construction industry route)
- digital business services (digital industry route)
- digital support and services (digital industry route)
- health (health and science route)
- healthcare science(health and science route)
- science(health and science route)
Autumn 2022 - full range of T level programmes begin for the following occupational areas:
 - animal care and management (agriculture, environment and animal care route)
- agriculture, land management and production (agriculture, environment and animal care route)
- human resources (business and administration route)
- management and administration (business and administration route)
- catering (catering and hospitality route)
- craft and design (creative and design route)
- cultural heritage and visitor attractions (creative and design route)
- media, broadcast and production (creative and design route)
- manufacturing and process (engineering and manufacturing route)
- design, development and control (engineering and manufacturing route)
- maintenance, installation and repair (engineering and manufacturing route)
- hair, beauty and aesthetics (hair and beauty route)
- accountancy (legal, finance and accounting route)
- financial (legal, finance and accounting route)
- legal (legal, finance and accounting route)

Look on GOV.UK for more information on GCSEs, also information on A levels, and for an introduction to T levels


Page updated June 2019

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