BTEC Nationals are vocational qualifications designed to develop skills, knowledge and understanding in a sector area as preparation for employment, higher education, higher apprenticeship or other training.
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*
- Subsidiary Diploma: P, M, D, D*
- 90-credit 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*
Note: the D* grade was first introduced in results issued for QCF qualifications in 2012 (and for CPLD in 2014).
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.
Providers wishing to run BTEC Nationals require approval from Pearson Education Ltd.
All units of QCF BTEC Nationals are internally assessed. 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
All assessment is criterion-referenced, based on the achievement of specified learning outcomes. Each unit in a qualification has specified assessment and grading criteria.
Assessment and grading are subject to external moderation. 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.
Applicants holding interim-reformed Applied General qualifications may not have had experience of external or synoptic assessment.
The 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 Pearson BTEC Level 3 Nationals qualifications that do not meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:
- The 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.
- 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.
- These qualifications are fundamentally different to the fully-reformed versions 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. HEPs may also wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications, and any differences should be clearly articulated.
Read the qualification specifications on the Pearson website