Debate: Is the perception of BTECs Valid or Outdated?

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thatcollegegirl
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With all the changes to A Levels and BTEC qualifications since 2017, I thought it would be interesting to discuss whether the view that BTECs are the 'easy option' is still valid or is outdated.

My view is that, yes they are easier, however it all just depends on how you best learn. With a BTEC you progress and are working towards your grade the whole time with assignments and coursework where A Levels are studying and then your grade is based upon exams at the end of 2 years. With the reformed BTECs, there are exams incorporated so there is an added element of exam preparation/revision. They're not as much of a 'walk in the park' as people seem to think and certainly not as much as they used to be. I'm not saying BTECs are as hard as A Levels; I'm arguing that they aren't as easy 'cop-outs' as they were pre 2015/17.

What are your thoughts? Is the 'easy-peasy' perception valid or outdated with the new partly exam-based BTECs?
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amy.iris
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I did a year of A-levels before I decided to do a Level 3 BTEC (which is equivalent to 3 A-levels) and I think that it really depends on how you define “easy”. With A-levels there is a huge amount of content and it is very academic so on the one hand you could argue it is harder. You have to be able to memorise large amounts of information and be able to write out essays in a pressuring and time limited environment. However, the content of A-levels is basically spoon fed to you by teachers. You don’t actually need to understand the information as long as you can memorise it and write it down in a certain way (which the teachers also tell you how to do). Furthermore, I would argue that most students are so stressed and focused on A-levels that they aren’t able to develop other important skills which you are given the opportunity to do in a BTEC. It is undeniable that there is less content in a BTEC and it is far more relaxed and I suppose some people would therefore call it easier. Me and my friends who are doing BTECs are far less stressed out and have more free time than my friends doing A-levels. However, to do a BTEC you must be able to handle doing a lot of learning and research without the help of a teacher. Not to mention the assignments are often long and hard to understand, my last assignment came to almost 20,000 words which is more than some university dissertations. Many aspects of BTECs are similar to those of university degrees and so definitely not “easy”. As well as this, you must do work placement and this often takes a lot of confidence and ‘real world’ skills that you don’t need in A-levels. While I was doing A-levels I managed to get As and Bs in all my mocks despite barely trying because I am lucky to have a good memory, I dropped out because my mental health was being affected by the pressure. I am finding that with my BTEC I have to stay engaged throughout the course, I can’t get away with cramming before the exam like I did with A-levels. I may be biased but I don’t think BTECs are easier, they are just more relaxed. With BTECs, the learning is in the hands of the student and there is no pressure to get top grades if you don’t want them. That being said, A-levels would definitely be harder if you can’t memorise information well and it is easy to fall behind on the workload or become overwhelmed with the pressure like I did. Anyway, i’ll stop my rant here but I should probably mention what subjects I did and am currently doing as my opinion would definitely differ if I was doing different subjects. I did A-level sociology, psychology and politics and I am currently doing BTEC level 3 Health and Social Care.
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thatcollegegirl
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(Original post by amy.iris)
I did a year of A-levels before I decided to do a Level 3 BTEC (which is equivalent to 3 A-levels) and I think that it really depends on how you define “easy”. With A-levels there is a huge amount of content and it is very academic so on the one hand you could argue it is harder. You have to be able to memorise large amounts of information and be able to write out essays in a pressuring and time limited environment. However, the content of A-levels is basically spoon fed to you by teachers. You don’t actually need to understand the information as long as you can memorise it and write it down in a certain way (which the teachers also tell you how to do). Furthermore, I would argue that most students are so stressed and focused on A-levels that they aren’t able to develop other important skills which you are given the opportunity to do in a BTEC. It is undeniable that there is less content in a BTEC and it is far more relaxed and I suppose some people would therefore call it easier. Me and my friends who are doing BTECs are far less stressed out and have more free time than my friends doing A-levels. However, to do a BTEC you must be able to handle doing a lot of learning and research without the help of a teacher. Not to mention the assignments are often long and hard to understand, my last assignment came to almost 20,000 words which is more than some university dissertations. Many aspects of BTECs are similar to those of university degrees and so definitely not “easy”. As well as this, you must do work placement and this often takes a lot of confidence and ‘real world’ skills that you don’t need in A-levels. While I was doing A-levels I managed to get As and Bs in all my mocks despite barely trying because I am lucky to have a good memory, I dropped out because my mental health was being affected by the pressure. I am finding that with my BTEC I have to stay engaged throughout the course, I can’t get away with cramming before the exam like I did with A-levels. I may be biased but I don’t think BTECs are easier, they are just more relaxed. With BTECs, the learning is in the hands of the student and there is no pressure to get top grades if you don’t want them. That being said, A-levels would definitely be harder if you can’t memorise information well and it is easy to fall behind on the workload or become overwhelmed with the pressure like I did. Anyway, i’ll stop my rant here but I should probably mention what subjects I did and am currently doing as my opinion would definitely differ if I was doing different subjects. I did A-level sociology, psychology and politics and I am currently doing BTEC level 3 Health and Social Care.
This kind of answer is exactly what I was looking for in the sense that you have actually given an answer not just a rude comment or something. I completely agree with you as I was previously doing A Level maths before being able to switch to BTEC Applied Law in late October. I also take A Level history and government and politics. While it wasn't necessarily a choice to change to BTEC Applied Law, I was seriously struggling with maths and the Law class and teacher chose to take me on because I didn't have too much to catch up on and it would fit in well with my other subjects. I'm currently in year 12 and have been set my first law assignment, we had our exam first week back in January and the assignment has been so thorough with all the references I've included as part of my research and report. I agree with you saying the assignments aren't 'spoon-fed' and found it hard to suss what we had to do at first but I was glad when I figured it out myself. It's due on next Wednesday but the teacher wants it for this Friday so she can offer us a re-submission period if we're early. That kind of thing
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amy.iris
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(Original post by thatcollegegirl)
This kind of answer is exactly what I was looking for in the sense that you have actually given an answer not just a rude comment or something. I completely agree with you as I was previously doing A Level maths before being able to switch to BTEC Applied Law in late October. I also take A Level history and government and politics. While it wasn't necessarily a choice to change to BTEC Applied Law, I was seriously struggling with maths and the Law class and teacher chose to take me on because I didn't have too much to catch up on and it would fit in well with my other subjects. I'm currently in year 12 and have been set my first law assignment, we had our exam first week back in January and the assignment has been so thorough with all the references I've included as part of my research and report. I agree with you saying the assignments aren't 'spoon-fed' and found it hard to suss what we had to do at first but I was glad when I figured it out myself. It's due on next Wednesday but the teacher wants it for this Friday so she can offer us a re-submission period if we're early. That kind of thing
It’s a shame so many people still see BTECs as something only done by people not smart enough for A-levels but I think things are changing. goodluck with you assignment and all your exams!
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thatcollegegirl
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(Original post by amy.iris)
It’s a shame so many people still see BTECs as something only done by people not smart enough for A-levels but I think things are changing. goodluck with you assignment and all your exams!
You too! Are you in your first year of H&S then?
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amy.iris
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(Original post by thatcollegegirl)
You too! Are you in your first year of H&S then?
yep, i’m really enjoying it although i don’t think it’s what i want to do as a career
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thatcollegegirl
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(Original post by amy.iris)
yep, i’m really enjoying it although i don’t think it’s what i want to do as a career
Luckily you can always keep your options open! Good luck xx
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