Can you do a Btec and A-levels at the same time?
Choosing between A-levels vs Btecs doesn’t have to be your only option – if you’re struggling to decide, you could do both. Here’s what you need to know about taking a combination of A-levels and Btecs, with advice from students who’ve done it themselves.
What are the differences between Btecs and A-levels?Btecs and A-levels are both post-16 qualifications that provide paths to university or work. While A-levels remain the most popular choice, the amount of students taking vocational qualifications such as Btecs has been steadily increasing and more than 100,000 Btec students apply to university each year.
When it comes to the differences between the qualifications, A-levels are more academic and classroom-based, while Btecs are designed to teach industry-specific skills and tend to focus more on coursework or projects than exams.
This article takes an in-depth look at A-levels vs Btecs, and should give you a good idea of whether one or the other – or both – is better suited to your style of learning.
Our sister site, The Student Room has a Btec forum and an A-levels forum, where you can see what other students are saying about the qualifications.
Can you take A-levels and Btecs at the same time?Yes you can.
When deciding whether to take a combination of Btec and A-levels, you should think about how it might affect what you want to do in the future, particularly when it comes to university.
While most UK universities will accept students with Btec qualifications, they will all have their own particular entry requirements. You should be able to find these on the Ucas page for your course, or on the university’s own website.
- Read more: a quick guide to Btec qualifications
Will universities accept students who have taken Btecs and A-levels?Yes. Most universities and colleges in the UK – including the vast majority of those in the Russell Group – accept Btec students, especially if they have also taken a relevant A-level.
You should always check the course entry requirements for the university you’re interested in though, to make sure your qualifications will be accepted.
- Read more: can you get into university if you're studying Btecs, and which Russell Group unis accept the qualification?
How do students juggle taking A-levels and Btecs?Members of our sister site The Student Room have been sharing their experiences of taking Btecs and A-levels at the same time. Here are their tips for anyone thinking of doing the same.
Want to know more? Join in the conversation on The Student Room’s Btec forum
Keep track of your workKeeping track of your work may feel a bit trickier when you’re juggling two different types of qualification, but it’s important to make sure you’re not falling behind anywhere.
“Make sure you’re meeting the success criteria for all the pass, merit and distinction tasks [in a Btec]. Stay on top of the work and I promise you will succeed!” says Thepanda13.
“Buy a notepad and design it with tick boxes – write in any assignments to see what’s due and what’s not,” suggests lorena12.
Organise your time effectivelyOne key point that several students stressed is the importance of dividing your time equally between your Btec and A-level, so that you don’t wind up spending ages working on one qualification and accidentally neglecting the other.
“You need to have a revision timetable and you need to stick to it. On some days you could do your A-level revision and other days you could do your coursework or revision for a Btec exam,” says The Student Room member Aminah T, who is taking a Btec in health and social care alongside three A-levels in philosophy, psychology and sociology. “For me personally, I would do my revision for A-levels from Monday to Thursday and then complete some of my coursework and revise for the Btec exam from Friday to Sunday.”
Claguem01 shared their technique for staying on top of their Btec Level 3 National Foundation Diploma in Sport and A-levels in psychology and biology: “During summer I focused solely on Btec work pretty much solidly during weekend and school holidays.
“Essentially, I did the whole Btec course in six weeks and now have just two exam units in January, which are no hassle at all.”
Make loads of notes“Always make notes in class, even the ones the teachers say not to write – some of these notes [that they say not to write] provide lots of answers and help for assignments,” says lorena12.
Stay on top of your Btec coursework and any improvementsStaying on top of your Btec coursework and not letting it build up will make your A-level revision much easier to handle, say members of The Student Room.
“If you are doing coursework, don’t procrastinate. Try to complete the coursework modules as early as possible, so then you could focus on revision later on and also tweak your coursework if you have to,” says Aminah T.
“With Btec, you just have to keep on top of it. If it ever gets stressful, I take it one step at a time! On those days I just note down what needs to be done first (in terms of due dates etc),” says Mk1Vauxhall, who is taking an A-level in English Language and Btecs in Business and Health and Social Care. “I always make sure that my improvements for coursework are done as soon as possible, especially when you’re studying unit after unit for your A-level subjects/Btecs."
Ask your teachers for help if you need itYour teachers are there to help you, so don’t be scared to ask for a bit of extra support if you feel like you need it.
“With both my A-level and Btec, I make sure that I email teachers for any help needed. Also, always inform your teachers if you’re struggling on a certain unit or bit of coursework – I’ve found that they’re always willing to help,” says Mk1Vauxhall.
Don’t panic if you feel like you have loads of workBtec work tends to be spread out throughout the year, while A-levels are usually heavily focused on the summer exams. This means that anyone taking a combination of Btecs and A-levels might feel like they have a much heavier workload at certain points.
“The main tip for me is, don’t panic!" says Mk1Vauxhall. "Both my A-level and two Btecs have been very demanding at different points in the year."
“Just know it’s definitely manageable and once you’ve done [your Btec work] you’ll have way more time for your other subjects,” said Ha IoL, who is taking A-levels in Maths and Biology as well as a Business Btec.
“Once I’ve finished the [Btec exam] in January, I would have had only coursework left but I finished that already, meaning I have plenty of time for my two A-levels which definitely reduces stress."
Stay motivatedAny kind of studying can be tough at times - and a combination of A-levels and Btecs is no different. Motivation is key, say the students on The Student Room.
“What’s really motivating me now is that I’ve got a conditional offer from the university I applied to. Make sure there’s always a goal to work for, even if it’s just a deadline,” says Mk1Vauxhall.
“Just remember that there is an end goal and to not give up on it,” says Lshort17. “There will be some hard periods and there will be some easy – you just have to get into the right mindset and you should be able to grit your teeth and just go for it."