What are T-levels? A-level alternative open to post-GCSE pupils

GCSE receiving their results in August can pursue A-levels, T-levels, or an apprenticeship if they want to continue studying  (Getty Images)
GCSE receiving their results in August can pursue A-levels, T-levels, or an apprenticeship if they want to continue studying (Getty Images)

Teenagers across the UK are currently taking their GCSE exams, which are due to run until June 19.

While many students will just be trying to get through exam season, others may also be considering their next step in higher education, which could involve T-levels.

T-levels were first launched in 2020. The government will eventually remove funding for other vocational qualifications, such as BTECs and NVQs.

Find out what you need to know about T-levels below, including which courses are available.

What are T-levels?

T-levels are two-year courses that students in England can take after completing their GCSEs. They are aimed at 16 to 19-year-olds and focus on practical subjects rather than academic ones.

They’re equivalent to three A-levels but involve an industry placement of at least 315 hours or 45 days.

T-levels aim to prepare students for entry into skilled employment, an apprenticeship, or related technical study through further or higher education.

There is also the option of completing a T-level Transition Programme, which is a one-year course designed to help pupils to transition between GCSEs and a T-level course.

How are T-Levels different from apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships are more suited to people who are ready to enter the workforce at 16, as 80 per cent of an apprentice course is typically spent on the job, with the remaining 20 per cent in the classroom.

T-levels, on the other hand, prepare pupils for work, further training, or further study, with them spending time on an industry placement.

How do T-levels compare to A-levels?

Like A-levels, students will receive UCAS points for completing T-levels.

T-level pupils are awarded distinction*, distinction, merit, pass (C or above), and pass (D or E) grades.

These grades are awarded varying amounts of UCAS points, which are equivalent to three A-level grades.

For example, distinction* is worth 168 points, or the equivalent of AAA* at A-level. A merit is worth 120 points, or the equivalent of BBB at A-level. A pass (C or above) is worth 96 points, or CCC at A-level.

Dozens of universities across the UK accept T-levels as a suitable entry requirement for at least one course they offer.

Which T-level courses are available?

T-level pupils can choose from a range of subjects, including accountancy, digital business, finance, health care and manufacturing.

There are more than 20 T-level courses available to students, covering the following areas of study:

  • agriculture, environmental and animal care

  • business and administration

  • catering and hospitality

  • construction

  • craft and design

  • digital

  • education and early years

  • engineering and manufacturing

  • health and science

  • legal, finance, and accounting

  • sales, marketing and procurement

Craft and Design and Media, Broadcast and Production will be introduced in September 2024, while catering and marketing will be offered from September 2025.

A full list of courses, which have been introduced each September since 2020, is available here.

Where can pupils take T-levels?

T-levels are offered at selected colleges, schools, and other providers across England. To find your nearest T-level course, enter your postcode on the T-level finder website.