Frequently Asked Questions

How many courses can I pick?

We recommend that most students select three courses only: Only students with an 8-9 (A-A*) GCSE grade average take four courses. This is because universities only require three grades as entrance requirements and all national data tells us that students have higher dropout rates and failure rates when taking too many courses.

What is the difference between a Vocational course and an A’ Level course?

Both Vocational and A level courses will allow you to gain access to good universities. Please become familiar with subject specific entry criteria for certain subjects and universities. Below is the current UCAS/Grade equivalents.

UCAS points 2017 onwards A’ level grade Vocational grade
56 A* D*
48 A D
40 B  
32 C M
24 D  
16 E P

A’ Levels are all assessed by an external exam and are now all linear, this means you will be examined at the end of two years, there are no external examinations at the end of year 12. However, all A level subjects will hold have examinations in the summer term of year 12. Vocational qualifications are 60% modular coursework and 40% external assessment. Most Vocational qualifications now carry an examinable element. Some students suit 100% examinations more than others and you must consider your learning preference when choosing your courses.

Whilst it is true that some Russell Group universities will not accept alternative qualifications to A’ Level, most universities do accept Level 3 vocational qualifications.

How do I choose what options to take?

The first thing you need to consider is what career you intend to pursue. Any chosen career will have degree requirements either in terms of subject, degree classification or both. You then need to research what the requirements are for that degree – go to:

This will then guide you to particular Level 3 courses (A’ Level or Vocational). However, while doing this you must consider the entry requirements for the level 3 course in sixth form. There is a big jump between the academic expectations of GCSE and A’ Level and Vocational courses. If you do not meet the entrance criteria, you will not cope with the academic content of the course. We do not want you to fail Year 12, choose your courses wisely – be ambitious but make sure they are within your reach.

If you do not know what you want to do in the future then choose courses that will keep your options open.