Now, I know you’re probably already raising your eyebrows at the very mention of BTEC because of the stigma surrounding the name and the act of studying for one.
However, despite having held the same opinion of BTECs when the possibility studying one was brought up, I can tell you for sure that I do not regret my choice one bit!
Once I got my GCSE results, I saw that I was 1 grade away from being able to take 3 A-Level sciences. Despite being disappointed, I spoke with the school and decided to change my options from A-Level Biology, Chemistry and Psychology to BTEC Applied Science.
Before moving on, I did some research on a BTEC science course and found that it was quite different to A-Level. BTEC involves a lot more coursework and fewer exams, meaning that assignments will be given throughout the course (basically internal exams) and only a few exams need to be taken to ensure a balance in course structure.
When my studies began, it definitely felt weird seeing the majority of my A-Level friends discussing how they were doing without me being able to relate to them. In spite of that, I soon realised that my BTEC shared all the content that was taught to those who take A-Level science. Even though it was a different experience, my friends and I were still able to talk about our classes together when we were all away from our desks.
What did stand out to me as different when our studies were compared were the ways in which we each approached our work. Essentially, A-Level students rely on textbook revision, cramming information into a short space of time for numerous exams. Instead, BTECs provide students with practical experience, preparing them for higher education and dealing with skills often overlooked during A-Level studies. For example, I found that my BTEC allowed me to become more proactive and independent with my work (assignments require you to be able to manage your time well), and I’ve also found that I am much more familiar with Health and Safety risk assessments than my A-Level peers.
Skills like the ones I’ve picked up are what Universities look for in students; I’m proud to be able to show important abilities like time management, independent research, being proactive and doing your own research into the new scopes of your subjects. BTEC in comparison to A-Level is much more meticulous as well, since you are carefully graded on your practical work as well as on your exams and assignments, not only on once specific exam at the end of the year (which definitely takes a weight off your shoulders). With this in mind, I’m confident that my learning is all done effectively and not heaped into one stressful week of revision.
Now, with the content out of the way, let’s address the stigma. From what I’ve heard, BTECs are supposedly designed for those who are incapable of taking A-Levels, granting them a lesser standard in the eyes of very many people. Contrary to what people assume, my studies have given me the same prospects as my friends who stayed at school, while also giving me the chance to study on my own terms. It is also important to understand that if you have a clear idea of what you want to do in the future, then a BTEC will provide you with research and independence skills which you may not develop by taking A-Levels.
If you wish to go into a field of research, or even complete a PhD, then taking BTEC won’t stop you from doing so. Your perspective is key when it comes to choosing the right subjects for you, and if you go forward with an open mind, then choices may be a lot easier for you. Now more than before, universities are leaning more towards BTEC-qualified applicants, since the courses they take prepare students with more practical skills and a better understanding of the workplace.
Hard work and dedication are all you need to be successful, so don’t let stigma get in the way of