Types of Qualifications
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Types of Qualifications

Qualifications are important because they’re there to give you the opportunity to learn and work, but before you choose what you want to do in the future you need to decide what qualifications you would like to gain.

QualificationsThere are a range of qualifications on offer when going to sixth form or college. Every qualification is catered to suit every students needs so whatever your needs may be there is always a qualification out there to suit you.

Examples of qualifications include:

  • AS/A Levels
  • NVQs
  • HNC and HND
  • Apprenticeships
  • Diplomas

AS and A Levels

AS and A Levels are the most common qualification in schools and colleges and they are highly valued by employers. Universities also require most applicants to be qualified to this level.

AS and A Level qualifications normally take two years to complete and there are a range of subjects which you can choose to study. A Levels are spilt into two units and each part makes up 50% of the overall A Level grade.

AS Level

You study the AS units in the first year of your course. At the end of the AS year, you have two options:

  • Take the AS level qualification only


  • Go onto the second year and finish through to achieve the full A Level.

A2 Units

The A2 unit is the second level of the A Level, and it is not a separate qualification. Once you complete your AS level and A2 unit of your course you will receive your A Level qualification.


NVQ stands for National Vocational Qualification. It is an occupational qualification that develops the skills and knowledge that is needed in a specific job in a specific industry. There are over 1300 different NVQs to choose from including:

  • Business and management
  • Sales, marketing and distribution
  • Construction and property
  • Manufacturing, production and engineering
  • Food, catering and leisure services.

NVQs are seen as a great stepping stone for further learning and employment.


This stands for Vocationally Related Qualification. This type of qualification is offered by awarding bodies such as City & Guilds and BTEC Edexcel and can be taken at many different sizes and levels.

Vocational qualifications such as BTECs offer a mix of theory and practice as it is a work related qualification. Many forms of the BTEC have been designed in collaboration with the industry so that you are taught skills and knowledge that employers require.

HNCs and HNDs

HNCs (Higher National Certificates) and HNDs (Higher National Diplomas) are work-related vocational higher education qualifications. They are usually assessed through assignments and practical tasks.

If you plan on studying for an HNC or HND, you may be required to have on A level or equivalent.


Apprenticeships involve learning and working, therefore you have the advantage of earning money whilst you learn. Most apprenticeships last one to two years and will lead to an NVQ or BTEC qualification.


The Diploma is a new qualification that is available to 14-19 year olds in England which combines class work with hands on work experience. The Diploma has been designed to prepare the student for work or further study. There are three different levels of diplomas, ranging from Foundation to Advanced.

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