T Levels – The ultimate guide

Choosing what to do after your GCSEs is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make (other than deciding how to spend your first study-free summer).

The traditional options are A Levels, an apprenticeship or a vocational qualification like performing arts, but it’s okay if you’re not inspired by any of them. 

Now, there’s a new option to consider: T Levels. Never heard of them? No problem, T Levels are very new. We’ll explain everything you need to know in this guide.

What are T Levels?

T Levels are a new qualification introduced in September 2020.

Each T Level is equivalent in size to three A Levels and takes two years to complete. During the T Level course, you’ll spend 80% of your time studying and 20% on an industry placement, which will last a minimum of 45 days. You can complete the industry placement in one block, on a day release or a mix of both. You can even split the placement between two employers. 

The government introduced T Levels to bridge the gap between study-focused A Levels and placement-focused apprenticeships. You’ll gain the skills and confidence you need to begin your career, and you can enjoy a balance of hands-on and academic work. 

What qualifications will I get with a T Level?

Although each T Level is equivalent in size to three A Levels, it’s worth noting that you won’t end up with A Level qualifications. You’ll get a T Level certificate that will have at least three different grades on it:

  1. Overall grade – This will be your overall grade for the T Level, and it’ll be marked as a pass, merit or distinction. The course provider will work this out based on your study and placement grades. 
  2. Study grade – The grade you achieved in the study component of your T Levels, which will be graded from A* to E.
  3. Placement grade – You’ll get a grade for each occupational specialism that you learn on the course, so future employers can clearly see your experience. This will also be a pass, merit or distinction rating.  

Oh, and there’s another awesome bonus – your T Level qualification will be worth the same number of UCAS points as three A Levels, so you can apply to uni when you’re done (if you want to, of course).

26 out of the top 50 universities in the UK accept T Levels so far, and many more are expected to follow in 2024. In fact there’s a handy chart that shows you exactly how many UCAS points you’ll earn. 

How are T Levels different from an apprenticeship?

Both apprenticeships and T Levels involve an industry placement, but they’re not the same.

Apprenticeship = 80% on-the-job placement, 20% study.

T Levels = 80% study, 20% on-the-job placement.

Career progression with a T Level qualification

Because you’ll earn UCAS points with your T Level qualification, you’ll be in a strong position to apply for university. If you’d prefer to stay in a workplace environment, you can begin an apprenticeship after your T Level to further your knowledge in a specific area or to retrain in a different subject. 

The T Level work placement will help you build relationships and experience within your industry of choice, you can jump straight into your dream career. 

How to apply for a T Level 

Download this list of all the current T Level providers, and keep an eye out for more courses that will be added in the future. So far, the government has announced T Level courses in a range of industries and subjects, including:

  • Management and Administration
  • Onsite Construction
  • Digital Production, Design and Development
  • Education and Childcare
  • Finance
  • Engineering, Manufacturing, Processing and Control

Entry requirements

You’ll need a Level 4 GCSE in English and maths to get accepted onto a T Level. If you’re not quite ready to begin a T Level after your GCSEs (for example, if you don’t get the required grades) don’t worry – you can complete the T Level Transition Programme. It’s a 1-year post-GCSE course that will help you further develop core skills in English, maths and IT. 

Extra tips

We’ve found some great resources to help you do some further research on T Levels:

Choose T Levels to build a solid career foundation

Even though T Levels are a new qualification, they’re becoming widely recognised in the worlds of work and education. More T Level subjects will be added in the future, so don’t worry if none of the courses suit you right now – your ideal course could be right around the corner. 

While you’re researching T Levels, don’t forget to take a look at apprenticeship opportunities too so you get a full scope of post-GCSE opportunities. Apprenticeships are available in every subject, from nursing to science and finance.