A Guide to T-Levels

5 mins
June 6, 2022
Do you have loads of questions about the new qualification sweeping the nation? Have you heard of T-Levels and want to know more? Read on to get all the answers to your questions.

What are T-Levels?

T-Levels are an alternative to A-Levels, apprenticeships and other courses for 16-19 year olds. They are the equivalent of three A-Levels and focus on vocational skills that help students enter skilled employment, higher education or apprenticeships.

Each T-Level includes two in-depth industry placements that last at least 45 days over the two years (these usually take place at the end of each year). Students get valuable workplace experience, and employers get early sight of the new talent in their industry.

T-Level students spend 80% of the course with their education provider, learning the skills employers need. The other 20% is a meaningful industry placement, where they put these skills into action.

Why do T-levels?

A T-Level is definitely for those who already have a good idea of what they want to do, or at the very least the industry they want their future career in.

In my case (Daniel), I chose a T-level in Digital Production, Design & Development because digital software plays a huge part in everyone's life, both personally and professionally. If you take a step back and look, it is a massive subject that needs more than a single A-Level or BTEC.

So what are the disadvantages of T-Levels?

As you already know, a T-level course is specific to the chosen subject, meaning if you change your mind about your career path later, it may be more difficult to transition than if you had chosen 3 A-levels.

The benefit of picking multiple qualifications (A-level subjects) over a T-Level is entirely down to the person. You might want to keep your options open or cover a wide range of subjects, but it's worth noting that A levels won't give you the same headstart into the industry as a T-level would.

What are the advantages of T-Level over A-Levels, BTEC or other qualifications?

Other than that, everything else is a huge advantage over other qualifications!

On the T-level course, you'll get:

  • 3 A-Level grades from a single subject you're passionate about (which also makes revising for the subject much easier!)
  • At least 45 days total between two industry placements (one in each year)
  • Advanced and more in-depth knowledge of your subject (in comparison to the A-Level/BTEC course of the subject)
  • Your class will have fewer students than a regular class, making it easier to create a friendly environment and have 1 to 1s with your teachers.

How do T-Levels compare with other qualifications?

On completion of a T-Level, you'll be awarded one of the following grades:

(Please note, just because the grading is pass, merit, etc, a T-Level is its own qualification alongside A-Levels, BTEC and others. It is not a BTEC qualification).

  • Pass
  • Merit
  • Distinction
  • Distinction Star (*)

As a nationally-recognised qualification, a distinction * at T-Level is equivalent to three A* grades at A-Level.

If you have aspirations to go to university, you'll know that universities use UCAS Tariff points to set course entry requirements. It's worth noting that a distinction at T-Level is worth the maximum number of points - 168.  

How do T-Level exams work?

In short, T-Levels are a mixture of A-Level and BTEC courses. It can be a little bit complicated to understand at first, but it's split into two years, and we'll explain the grading process below.

Before we explain, here is the grading progress in summary:

TOTAL: 100% (to be completed gradually over two years)

  • Year 1: 40% - Graded on Paper Exams (similar to A-Level)
  • Year 2: 60% - Graded on Course Work (similar to BTEC)

Each year you will get a grade from A-D per module, resulting in an end grade that is a single grade of A-D. After both years, the A-D grades are put together to give you a grade from Pass to Distinction*.

Obviously, it's not entirely fair to give you a final grade based on the beginning of your time taking the T-Level while you've just started learning. Because of this, your initial exams usually won't count (or at least only as a tiny fraction) towards your end performance for the first year. But make sure to give it your best effort throughout the course!

T Levels and UCAS points

A T-Level course is two years long and can be completed during college. The T-Level is regarded as the equivalent of 3 A-Levels and takes as long as doing three A-Levels, (sometimes even a couple of extra hours a week depending on the qualification provider). Because of this, the grades link up like so:

Your first year is only 40% of your end grade, but that doesn't mean you should ignore revising! Your result for year one can limit your final grade.

Your final grade at the end of the two years works in a banding progress, meaning that only getting so many marks will limit the best grade you can get overall.

Let's say your result for Year 1 means you get a B from getting BBC across the modules. This now means my results from Year 2 can only get me a maximum end grade of a Distinction (ie, AAA at A-Level). Unfortunately, unless the grade boundaries are lowered, you would be unable to achieve a Distinction* as your final grade for the T-Level. Your first year really does count so show some dedication!

What T-Level subjects are currently on offer?

T-Levels are still very new, we're just coming up to the third academic year!. They're not yet available in all sectors and subjects areas - however, the current number of subjects is rising rapidly.

The following courses are currently available for students to study:

  • Building Services Engineering for Construction
  • Digital Business Services
  • Digital Production, Design & Development
  • Digital Support Services
  • Education and Childcare
  • Health
  • Healthcare Science
  • Onsite Construction
  • Science

From September 2022, T-Levels will also be available in:

  • Accounting
  • Design and Development for Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Engineering, Manufacturing, Processing and Control
  • Finance
  • Maintenance, Installation and Repair for Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Management and Administration

From September 2023, you'll also be able to study in:

  • Agriculture, Land Management and Production
  • Animal Care and Management
  • Catering
  • Craft and Design
  • Hairdressing, Barbering and Beauty Therapy
  • Media, Broadcast and Production
  • Legal Services
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