Ariel view of apprentices working around a table

What is next for me after I have completed my GCSE’s?

There are several options you can choose after completing your GCSE’s and we recognise it can be hard to decide if you are unsure what to do next. This article gives you helpful information by explaining the options available to you and provides useful information about A Levels and Apprenticeships.

So, what are A Levels?

A-levels are qualifications for 16 to 18-year-olds and are the natural next step after GCSEs. A-level students remain in school or college for two more years studying three or four main subjects.

Students choose which A-level subjects they want to study when they are doing their GCSEs, and admission is usually dependent on your GCSE grades. You generally need at least five GCSEs at grades 4-9 / A*- C to be able to take A-level subjects. Sometimes you also need a 5 / B or above at GCSE in the subject you want to take.

A-level students do all their exams and coursework at the end of year 13. In year 12, you will start working towards your final exams. There are no compulsory subjects with A Levels. Instead, students are free to choose the topics that interest them the most or feel will benefit them for their future studies or careers.

Students typically study three subjects from any of the following: English Language & Literature, French, Maths, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, History, Geography, Psychology, Economics, Art, Information Technology and Modern Foreign Languages such as French, German, and Spanish. It is always best to check in advance which subjects the school or college you are considering offers as this does vary from school to school.

A-Level grades range from A* to E – with A* being the highest grade -  and you will receive ‘UCAS’ points depending on your grade for each subject. The UCAS point calculator is the easiest way of working out how many points you could acquire. UCAS stands for Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

Once you are in Year 13 or your second year at college, it is decision time: Will you do an apprenticeship or go to university?

Most students do A-levels because they want to go to university, but it is not the only way to get a degree.

The benefits of A-levels

  • The most traditional path to take if you want to go to University
  • You can study the GCSE subjects that you enjoyed and did well in at a more advanced level
  • A-levels are similar to GCSEs in style, so the transition from year 11 to year 12 is smooth
  • You may be able to stay at your school in familiar surroundings, providing your school have a sixth form
  • A-levels are widely respected and are always included in the entry requirements for university and jobs

So, what are Apprenticeships?

An apprenticeship combines professional training with on-the-job learning. You study for a recognised qualification and earn a wage, while gaining experience with an employer at the same time. Available for 16-24-year-olds, apprenticeships combine real work with academic learning.

There are apprenticeships in a variety of different industries and different apprenticeship pathways you can take. There are four different tiers of apprenticeship available. These are Intermediate (level 2), Advanced (level 3), Higher (level 4/5) and Degree (level 6/7).

Once you have completed your GCSEs, you’ll be eligible for intermediate and advanced level schemes, depending on your GCSE results.

The benefits of Apprenticeships:

  • Earn and learn, receive a wage and gain a qualification
  • Gain a nationally recognised qualification
  • Gain invaluable work and real-world experience
  • Become an essential part of a team
  • Improve your career prospects
  • Progress within your chosen industry
  • No debt

If you want to start working straight away, an apprenticeship is going to be a good option. It’s an opportunity to get real experience and qualifications and learn through practical work.

On the other hand, studying towards A-levels are probably the best option if you want to stay in school and prefer classroom learning. Remember, you can look at other sixth form colleges, you don’t have to stay in the same school.

If you want to go to university and get a degree, the traditional route is GCSEs, A-levels or BTEC Diploma, then university. However, keep in mind that you can still get a degree if you take the apprenticeship path.

If you decide to go for your A-levels but are not sure about university, it’s important to remember that the opportunity to do an apprenticeship hasn’t passed. If you want to start earning straight from Sixth Form or College - the apprenticeship will always be an option.

Doing your research is key, try and speak to a careers advisor in school if you can and there are lots of resources online. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

We offer apprenticeships, traineeships and courses in a wide range of career areas and levels. Browse the sectors we currently offer or call our team of advisors on 03333 222 666 who will be happy to answer all your questions.

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