Quick guide to qualifications

Students getting their exam resultsUse this guide to find out ...

  • about the level and names of qualifications
  • what qualifications you can study full-time or part-time.


  • that you will have to study English and maths to Level 2, which is equal to GCSE grade 5/4 (or grade C) if you haven't got them yet
  • whatever level you choose you can move up to the next level if you get the grades.

Qualifications and entry requirements explained

Entry Level Entry Level 1, 2 and 3
Level 1 Grade E (new grades Grade 3) GCSEs, NVQs/VQs, awards/certificates/diplomas
Level 2 GCSEs, NVQs/VQsawards/certificates/diplomas
Level 3 A levels, T levelsNVQs/VQs, awards/certificates/diplomas and other qualifications
Levels 4 to 6 Higher education – certificates/diplomas, NVQs/VQsfoundation degrees, degrees
Levels 7 to 8 Postgraduate and professional – Masters, PhD

Remember to check GOV.UK to find out which schools, colleges and training providers offer courses leading to these qualifications and take a look at the short UCAS qualification reform videos for an introduction to some of the changes discussed in the links above.

Think about ...

  • your predicted grades
  • the way you learn – do you like exams, prefer course work, want to study part-time
  • doing a range of subjects or specialising in one or two
  • the type of qualification that's right for you AND what you are thinking of doing.

Unsure about what you want to do? Check job and course entry requirements and choose subjects that work together.

More to explore

GOV.UK - compare different qualification levels
UK NARIC - overseas qualifications and UK comparisons

UK exam boards - including replacement certificates

Ofqual - the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulations
Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) - find an English qualication

Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)
Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF)
European Qualifications

Page updated November 2018

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