What Courses can I study instead of A Levels

If you’re looking for alternatives to A Levels, there are several options available that can provide equivalent qualifications or cater to different learning styles and career goals. Here are some popular alternatives:

1. BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) Qualifications

  • BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma: Equivalent to three A Levels, covering subjects such as Business, Engineering, Health and Social Care, and Creative Media.
  • BTEC Level 3 National Diploma: Equivalent to two A Levels.
  • BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate: Equivalent to one A Level.

2. International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma

  • A rigorous program for students aged 16-19, recognized globally and valued by universities.
  • Includes six subjects (three at higher level and three at standard level), plus core components like the Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge, and CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service).

3. Cambridge Pre-U

  • An alternative qualification to A Levels, preparing students for university with an emphasis on independent study and critical thinking.
  • Includes Principal Subjects, Global Perspectives and Research (GPR), and Short Courses.

4. T Levels

  • New technical qualifications introduced in England, focusing on vocational skills.
  • Equivalent to three A Levels, with 80% classroom-based learning and 20% industry placement.
  • Available in subjects like Digital Production, Design and Development, Education, and Childcare.

5. Apprenticeships

  • Combine work and study, allowing you to gain hands-on experience while earning a qualification.
  • Available at various levels, including Intermediate (Level 2), Advanced (Level 3), and Higher (Levels 4-7).
  • Cover a wide range of industries such as Engineering, IT, Business, Healthcare, and Creative Arts.

6. NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications)

  • Competency-based qualifications that assess practical skills in specific job roles.
  • Available at different levels, from Level 1 (basic skills) to Level 5 (management skills).
  • Popular in fields like Health and Social Care, Childcare, and Construction.

7. Access to Higher Education Diplomas

  • Designed for adults returning to education, providing a route to university without A Levels.
  • Available in a variety of subjects such as Health, Science, Business, and Social Sciences.

8. Foundation Diplomas

  • Typically one-year programs offered by colleges and universities.
  • Provide a grounding in subjects like Art and Design, Performing Arts, and Media.
  • Often used as a stepping stone to higher education or specialist training.

9. Online and Distance Learning Courses

  • Flexible options for studying from home, often leading to qualifications equivalent to A Levels.
  • Providers like Open College, Alison, and FutureLearn offer courses in a wide range of subjects.

10. Technical and Professional Qualifications

  • Include qualifications like City & Guilds, which offer practical skills training in various trades and professions.
  • Popular in areas such as Plumbing, Electrical Installation, Hospitality, and Hairdressing.

Choosing the Right Course

When selecting an alternative to A Levels, consider the following factors:

  • Career Goals: Choose a qualification that aligns with your desired career path or higher education goals.
  • Learning Style: Consider whether you prefer hands-on, practical learning or a more academic approach.
  • Entry Requirements: Check the entry requirements for the courses or qualifications you are interested in.
  • Recognition: Ensure the qualification is recognized by employers and universities, especially if you plan to pursue higher education.


There are many viable alternatives to A Levels, each offering unique benefits and opportunities. Whether you’re looking for a more practical, hands-on learning experience or a different pathway to higher education, there are options available to suit your needs and aspirations.