The Department for Education (DfE) describe Applied General qualifications as follows:
Applied General qualifications are rigorous advanced (level 3) qualifications that allow 16 to 19 year old students to develop transferable knowledge and skills. They are for students who want to continue their education through applied learning. Applied general qualifications allow entry to a range of higher education courses, either by meeting the entry requirements in their own right or being accepted alongside and adding value to other qualifications at level 3 such as A levels. Higher education institutions, such as universities, have pledged support for all approved applied general qualifications listed.
The overall qualifications are graded as follows:
- Certificate: P, M, D, D*
- Extended Certificate: P, M, D, D*
- Foundation Diploma: PP, MP, MM, DM, DD, D*D, D*D*
- Diploma: PP, MP, MM, DM, DD, D*D, D*D*
- Extended Diploma: PPP, MPP, MMP, MMM, DMM, DDM, DDD, D*DD, D*D*D, D*D*D*
Individual units are graded P, M, D. The grades for each unit attract points, which are added together to identify the final overarching qualification grade.
As noted in Education Context, to be classified as an Applied General qualification the qualification in question must meet certain criteria. This includes:
- A minimum of 40% external assessment
- A minimum of 60% mandatory core content
- An element of synoptic assessment
- There is a single resit opportunity
Units are either centrally assessed and externally moderated by OCR, or externally assessed.
However, the application of this may differ by awarding body, therefore if you require full assessment detail you should review the specification of the individual qualification you are interested in.
Applied General qualifications are advanced (Level 3) qualifications, mainly taken by 16-19 year old students who want to develop transferable knowledge and skills.
The popularity of Applied Generals has risen over recent years. The entry rate for applicants holding at least one BTEC (either alone or in combination with A levels) was 6.0 per cent in 2016, up from 5.8 per cent in 2015.
There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing Applied General qualifications that meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:
- These qualifications are fundamentally different to their predecessors and likely to result in students developing different skills and aptitudes. HEPs should review their understanding of these qualifications to ensure it remains up to date.
- The dual running of the qualification may result in applicants declaring the incorrect version within their application. UCAS will be working to support applicants and advisers in this area.
- The fully-reformed qualifications include both external and synoptic assessment, as well as changes to resit processes. These changes are likely to result in fewer students passing the qualification. Equally, it is likely that grade distributions will change. In light of this, HEPs may wish to review their entry requirements, offer making and decision-making strategies in relation to these qualifications.
- Fully-reformed and interim-reformed qualifications will be delivered by schools and colleges at the same time (see ‘Education context’). Therefore, HEPs may wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications.
- A larger mandatory core means that HEPs who require certain levels of achievement in particular units or ask for specific units to satisfy subject knowledge requirements should familiarise themselves with the new content specifications to ensure that these requirements are still valid. It should be noted that not all students will be able to choose their optional units as they may be prescribed by the school or college, therefore HEPs should be cautious if requiring achievement in optional modules as part of their entry requirements, offer making and decision-making strategies.