Choosing your Options

How to decide on Subject choices

  • Check your predicted and achieved GCSE grades. You can also check your course suitability with your teachers. Subject entry requirements give you an indication of suitable courses – See Level 3 Programme Content (A Level and Vocational Subjects)
  • Consider your future career plans. If this includes university, check on the UCAS website which subjects are required for you desired course. If you are unsure of your future path choosing options that provide a broad range of different skills and knowledge may be advisable.
  • Choose subjects you enjoy and wish to explore in greater depth. Study a subject you took at GCSE or choose a new one that interests you. There is a step-up in study requirements for A Level and Level 3 Courses so you will need to choose subjects that motivate you.

How to decide between A Levels and Vocational Level 3 qualifications

There are a few good reasons for picking one type of course over another.

  • Predicted and achieved GCSE grades are extremely important, since national surveys show there is a pattern between the GCSE grades and the results students achieve on A Level and BTEC Level courses. Subject entry requirements give you an indication of suitable courses. See ‘Curriculum Subjects – Sixth Form’.
  • A Levels usually best suit students who enjoy an intellectual challenge and are confident about doing well under exam conditions.
  • Vocational Level 3 qualifications tend to be more work related and practical than A Levels. They are assessed through a combination of unit examinations, coursework and projects. Students complete and pass units as they progress through the course, so a successful outcome is not totally dependent on doing well in final year examinations.

The table below indicates recommended study programmes based on GCSE grades

**Students can do any combination of courses they meet the entry requirements for. You can choose either all A Levels, all Vocational Level 3 qualifications or a ‘mix and match’.

See ‘Curriculum Subjects – Sixth Form’ for each subjects’ grade entry requirements.

Recommended study programmes based on GCSE grades

GCSE Grade Profile Recommended Study Programme
Mostly grades 9 to 6 Generally, three A Levels / Vocational Level 3 Qualifications over two years.Some students may wish to choose a fourth qualification to study. This can be discussed on an individual basis at interview
Mostly grades 5 to 4 Three A Levels / Vocational Level 3 Qualifications over two years
Not achieved Grade 4 in five subjects Sixth Form entry requirements are not met. See careers team for further advice and support

Chart showing Vocational Level 3 qualification type and A Level equivalent

Qualification A Level Equivalent Length of Study
BTEC National Level 3 Certificate Equivalent to half an A Level One-year course (taken in Yr12 and toped up to Extended Certificate in Yr13)
BTEC National Level 3 Extended Certificate Equivalent to one A Level Two-year course (taken in Yr12 and Yr13)
OCR Technical Level 3 Certificate Equivalent to half an A Level One-year course (taken in Yr12 and toped up to Extended Certificate in Yr13)
OCR Technical Level 3 Extended Certificate Equivalent to one A Level Two-year course (taken in Yr12 and Yr13)
BTEC Level 3 Foundation Diploma Equivalent to one and half A Levels Two-year course (taken in Yr12 and Yr13)
WJEC Level 3 Applied Certificate Equivalent to half an A Level One-year course (taken in Yr12 and toped up to Applied Diploma in Yr13)
WJEC Level 3 Applied Diploma Equivalent to one A Level Two-year course (taken in Yr12 and Yr13)