Since the end of 2010, qualifications are arranged in the new Qualifications and Credits Framework (QCF). This affords every qualification a standardised level, as shown below in the QCF Levels table. Since qualifications have a designated level, they can more easily be compared.
In addition to the level at which study is undertaken, courses vary in size - the number of units they contain. According to OfQual (Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation), the amount of study in a unit is to be specified in credits, so that the size of any qualification will be expressed in the same way - the sum of the credits for each of the units in the course.
Credits are a more flexible approach to studying and gaining qualifications, allowing students to progress by accumulating credits, which relate to a given number of hours of work for an average student.
So, courses and qualifications will be compared on the basis of size and level:
|BTEC Entry Level Award for IT Users (ITQ)||6 Credits||At Entry Level 3|
|BTEC Level 1 Certificate for IT Users (ITQ)||13 Credits||At Level 1|
|BTEC Level 2 Certificate in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Leadership Skills||13 Credits||At Level 2|
Ofqual says that 1 credit represents 10 hours of Total Qualification Time (the Guided Learning hours plus all other time taken in study and preparation).
GCSE and GCE A-Level courses don't specify a number of Credits.
However, some comparison can be made:
A GCSE represents about 140 hours of study at Level 21
A GCE A-Level represents about 360 hours of study at Level 32
The last entry in the table above specifies 130 hours of study.
A selection of courses are shown for comparison in the table below: Qualifications and credits.
Some information on the University and College Admissions Service and tariffs is in the table: UCAS Tariffs.
This information has been compiled from and checked against these sources:
Awarding bodies and www.gov.uk - Education and Learning pages
Ofqual - www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofqual
Ofqual - Register of Regulated Qualifications
Accredited Qualifications - www.accreditedqualifications.org.uk
Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Eduction - www.qaa.ac.uk
The British Computer Society - www.bcs.org; www.ucas.com
This page was updated: Sep. 2016.
|QCF Level||Traditional||Other types of qualifications||General examples|
|Entry||Key Stage 3 Foundation||Functional Skills (English, Maths and ICT)||Entry Level Certificate in Adult Literacy BTEC Entry Level Certificate BTEC Vocational Award Functional Skills Entry Level Certificate|
|1||GCSE Grades 1 - 3||Functional Skills (English, Maths and ICT) Awards (1 - 12 credits) Certificates (13 - 36 credits) Diplomas (37 credits and over)||Level 1 Certificate in ... Level 1 NVQ in ... BTEC Award for IT Users (iTQ) BTEC Introductory Certificate/Diploma BTEC Vocational Certificate/Diploma|
|2||GCSE Grades 4 - 9||Functional Skills (English, Maths and ICT) Certificates (15 credits) Extended Certificates (30 credits) Diplomas (60 credits)||Level 2 NVQ in ... Level 2 Diploma in ... BTEC Award for IT Users (iTQ) BTEC First Certificate/Diploma BTEC Vocational Certificate/Diploma National Certificate/Diploma|
|3||AS/A-Level||Certificates (30 credits) Extended Certificates (60 credits) Diplomas (120 credits)||Level 3 Certificate in ... Level 3 NVQ in ... BTEC National Certificate/Diploma BTEC IT Certificate/Subsidiary Diploma/90 credit Diploma/Diploma BTEC IT (Business) Certificate/Diploma BTEC IT (Networking and System Support) Certificate/Dipl. BTEC IT (Software Development) Certificate/Diploma National Certificate/Diploma/Extended Diploma|
|4||University Degree (BA, BSc)||
|Level 4 NVQ in ... Level 4 National Diploma in ... BTEC Higher National Certificate/Diploma|
|5||Level 5 NVQ in ... BTEC Higher National Diploma in ...|
|6||Level 6 National Diploma in ...|
|7||Masters Degree (MA, MSc, MPhil)||Level 7 National Diploma in ...|
|8||Doctorate (PhD)||Specialist Awards|
Qualifications and Credits
|AQA GCSE(9-1) Mathematics||1
|CIE Certificate(9-1) Mathematics||1/2||130||200||1.00|
|Edexcel GCSE(9-1) Mathematics||1
|AQA GCSE(9-1) Biology||1
|AQA GCSE(9-1) History||1
|OCR GCSE(9-1) Computer Science||1
|AQA GCSE(9-1) Business||1/2||120||1.00|
|OCR GCSE(9-1) English Language||1
|1AQA GCSE(A*-G) Mathematics A||1
|1AQA GCSE(A*-G) Mathematics B||1
|2CCEA GCSE(A*-G) Mathematics||1
|Edexcel IGCSE Mathematics A||1/2||140||1.00|
|Edexcel IGCSE Biology||1/2||140||1.00|
|BTEC Award for IT Users(ITQ)||2||70||80||10|
|BTEC Certificate for IT Users(ITQ)||2||120||130||16||1.00|
|BTEC Diploma IT User Skills(ITQ)||2||280||360||38|
|NCFE Certificate in Maths||2||170||170||17|
|1BTEC Certificate in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Leadership Skills||2||130||130||13|
|City & Guilds Diploma in Legal Studies||2||209||213||37|
|Edexcel NVQ Diploma in Laboratory Science||2||214||331||37|
|Ascentis Diploma in Business||2||291||370||37|
|CCEA Advanced GCE in Physics||3||360||1.00|
|AQA Advanced GCE in Spanish||3||360||1.00|
|WJEC Advanced GCE in Biology||3||360||1.00|
|OCR Advanced GCE in ICT||3||360||1.00|
|City & Guilds Advanced Technical Certificate in Engineering||3||360|
|OCR Advanced GCE in English Language||3||360|
|OCR AS GCE in Biology A||3||180|
|Edexcel AS GCE in History||3||180|
|CCEA AS GCE in Pure Mathematics||3||180|
|BTEC Award for IT Users(ITQ)||3||85||95||12|
|BTEC Diploma in IT User Skills(ITQ)||3||280||360||39|
|Entry 1 Certificate in Maths||E1||170||170||17|
|Entry 2 Certificate in Maths||E2||210||210||21|
|Entry 3 Certificate in Maths||E3||230||230||23|
|BTEC Entry 3 Award for IT Users(ITQ)||E3||45||60||6|
|BTEC Entry 3 Certificate for IT Users(ITQ)||E3||95||130||13|
|BTEC Award for IT Users(ITQ)||1||60||90||9|
|BTEC Certificate for IT Users(ITQ)||1||90||130||13|
|BTEC Diploma for IT Users(ITQ)||1||250||370||37|
|NCFE Award in Maths: Working with Statistics||1||20||20||2|
|NCFE Award in Maths: Handling Data||1||40||40||4|
|NCFE Certificate in Maths||1||170||170||17|
|1BTEC Certificate in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths Leadership Skills||1||130||130||13|
GLH: Guided learning hours
TQT: Total Qualification Time
1: Courses no longer available
2: Wales and N.Ireland
All of the Courses listed here are keyed into the new Credit rating system - they have the suffix 'QCF' in the Specification Title in the National Database entry.
It used to be the case that courses other than GCSE and GCE would rate themselves as being equivalent to so many GCSEs (or so many A-Levels). We were apt to say "How many GCSEs is an NVQ?" or "How many GCSEs is a BTEC?" This is still a sensible comparison to make - a GCSE is a Certificate at Level 2 and an NVQ or a BTEC at Level 2 and requiring a similar number of hours of study is broadly equivalent always bearing in mind that a GCSE is an academic qualification whereas an NVQ or BTEC is a vocational one.
According to OfQual, every unit and qualification has a credit value that is linked to the number of Guided Learning Hours assigned to the course and the Level of study involved. The size of qualifications conforms to this general scale:
|Award||1 - 12 Credits|
|Certificate||13 - 36 Credits|
|Diploma||above 36 Credits|
Guided Learning Hours stand at around 6 hours per Credit... more for lower levels of study and depending on the nature of the course material. The student can expect to spend more time doing the work and practicing than the quoted Guided Learning Hours.
Scroll down further for the UCAS Tariffs table.
UCAS Tariff Points
The only sure way, really, to find out if your results or your intended results at A-Level will get you a place at any of the universities or colleges of your choice is to enquire with those universities directly. UCAS Tariff Points is a system for standardising the value of different qualifications and grades - some universities use UCAS Tariff Points whereas others require specific grades in particular subjects and some universities use both. The table below is intended as a general guide. The average entrance requirement is around 120 UCAS Tariff Points.
|UCAS tariff points||AS Level||A Level||UCAS tariff points||Award||Certificate||Diploma|
Number of points per GCE
P: Pass; M: Merit; D: Distinction