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.
Internally assessed units are graded Pass (P), Merit (M), and Distinction (D).
Externally assessed units are graded Near Pass (N), Pass (P), Merit (M), and Distinction (D).
The grades for each unit are allocated points, which are proportionate to the size of the unit. The unit grades achieved by a student are converted into points and added together to determine the final overarching qualification grade.
The overall qualifications are graded as follows:
Certificate: P, M, D, D*
Extended Certificate: P, M, D, D*
Foundation Diploma: P, M, 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*
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
For BTEC Nationals, units are designated as internally, externally or synoptically assessed. Internally assessed units are 60 or 90 GLH and externally assessed units are 90 or 120 GLH.
Externally assessed units are set and marked by Pearson, and at least a part of the assessment is carried out under supervised conditions.
External assessments may include:
- written exams
- tasks involving an additional activity (e.g. research or an investigation) prior to the supervised part of the assessment
- tasks carried out under supervision over a number of sessions (students have no access to their materials between sessions)
Internally assessed units are assessed by teachers. They are contextualised using realistic, work-related scenarios, and may be provided by local employers. These units usually involve assignments, but may be exams. They may be in the form of:
- written reports/business proposals,
- solving and explaining a mathematical problem
- reporting on the findings of a practical investigation
Each unit in a qualification has specified assessment and grading criteria. Assessment and grading are subject to external standards verification.
For more detailed assessment information, you should review the specification of the individual qualification you are interested in on the Pearson website.
Applied General qualifications are advanced (Level 3) qualifications, mainly taken by 16-19 year old students who want to develop transferable knowledge and skills.
Popularity of Applied Generals has risen over recent years. The entry rate for the combined BTEC only and A level and BTEC groups 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.