Entry level qualifications

If you want to gain a qualification that is recognised across the UK, but don't feel ready for GCSEs or equal qualifications, or you haven't studied in a long time, an Entry Level qualification could be for you. They are available in a wide range of subjects.

What entry level qualifications are

Entry level qualifications can help you build skills, increase your knowledge and boost your confidence. They are known as 'certificates' or 'awards', and are open to anyone interested in gaining a recognised qualification. There are no entry requirements.

Subjects you can take

There are over 100 Entry Level Certificates to choose from. These include:

  • English, science and maths and other traditional subjects
  • literacy, numeracy, life skills and other skills
  • hairdressing or office practice and other specific vocational subjects that tell you about a particular area of work
  • general vocational subjects that give you a broad introduction to the world of work

When and where you can take them

You can study Entry Level Certificates at a pace that suits you. If you choose to do them at school, you will complete them in Years 11 and 12 (ages 14 to 16).

They may also be available in:

  • Further Education colleges
  • the workplace
  • community settings through voluntary work
  • prisons and young offenders' institutions
  • residential or daycare settings

How you are assessed

Entry Level qualifications are made up of a number of separately assessed units so your achievements are recognised as you complete each unit. You are assessed on a combination of tests, assignments and tasks which can be written, oral or practical.

You will also have to produce a portfolio that shows evidence of what you have achieved. It can contain things like witness statements which are a written or oral account of your performance, video, audio and photographs that are assessed by your teachers.

Different subjects and courses will vary in structure, content and the number of units. When you complete all the units, you get the full certificate.

There are three different entry levels, which are broadly the same as the National Curriculum levels 1, 2 and 3.

Retakes and appeals

If you're not happy with your result in a particular unit, speak to your teacher. If you're still not satisfied, you can contact the organisation which is offering the certificate you are taking. You can choose to retake individual units at any time.

Where they can lead

You can progress from one entry level to the next. At entry 3, the qualifications are designed to help you move on to further qualifications, such as:

  • GCSEs
  • Key Skills
  • Skills for Life
  • NVQs
  • BTEC Introductory or Level 1 BTEC Awards, Certificates or Diplomas

They can also lead to work-based learning, like an apprenticeship, or straight to a job.

Help and advice

Speak to your teacher or contact your local FE college about the range of entry level qualifications on offer. You can also contact your local careers adviser or the Council for the Curriculum Examinations and Assessment.

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