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Guide to choosing courses

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As Aquinas College offers around 50 A level/Level 3 courses it is essential we provide students with courses that will enable them to achieve their full potential. Our students gain excellent results because of their hard work and the time we spend making sure students are on the right courses for them. This is a key reason why students are highly successful.

General advice on choosing courses

Students now take three A levels/Level 3 courses from the following groups:

A Levels

These are available to students who have gained at least six GCSEs at grade 4 (including Maths and English Language) though each subject also has additional Subject Entry Requirements (see later).
All A levels are now two year courses with final examinations at the end of the second year. In many subjects students now need to be able to learn and remember 2 years’ worth of information and apply it to two, three hour exams at the end of the course. This method of study is more suited to those students who have gained at least grade 6s in their GCSEs. Some A level courses also have a small amount of coursework, which is completed in the second year.

Vocational Courses (BTECs)

These courses are more appropriate for students who might not be suited to learning and remembering two years’ worth of information and applying it to two, three hour exams at the end of the course.
These courses have the same value as A levels but are assessed mainly by students producing regular coursework throughout the two years, with an external assessment/exam at the end of the second year. Many students now realise they are much more suited to this method of assessment. They also benefit from gaining a qualification in the first year as well as in the second so they gain a qualification at the end of each year of the course.

A levels or Vocational qualifications (or both)?

Many of our students now take at least one Vocational course as it creates the best programme of study and enables them to achieve the best results possible. So students might take:

  • 3 A levels, or
  • 2 A levels and 1 Vocational course, or
  • 1 A level and 2 Vocational courses, or
  • 3 Vocational courses

Many students today gain much better results from their Vocational courses than they would from an A level. This is because the method of learning and assessment (regular coursework production) suits them more. This then gains students more UCAS points and in many cases, enables them to get a place at University.

So, please do some research; A levels and Vocational courses all gain UCAS points. If you are considering a particular career or are thinking of going to University to study a particular degree course, look at the entry requirements on the University website as most Universities now accept UCAS points from Vocational courses.

Please now go to Sixth Form Courses for more detail about all of the qualifications available at Aquinas.

Level 1 and 2 courses

We only offer a small number of Level 1 and Level 2 courses, mainly for students who have not yet achieved GCSE grade 4 in Maths and/or English Language. If students have gained some GCSEs at grade 4 or above, there are some Vocational courses that might be appropriate. See more detailed information later.

Student GCSE results and Types of Study Programme

College and Individual Subject Entry Requirements

Subject Entry Requirements 2023

At Aquinas we aim to  maximise your potential to progress onto higher education and/or skilled employment by giving you all the right skills and qualifications.

We have many programmes available that will compliment your studies and will help you achieve your goals.

What Should I Do Next?

Your GCSE grades are very important. Working hard to gain the best grades you are capable of will give you more choices at Aquinas and beyond. Gaining the best GCSE grades you can will also strengthen your chances of gaining the highest grades at college (A*, A, B and Distinction*). Universities and employers will look closely at your GCSE grades, alongside A Level and BTEC qualifications, before offering you a place.
Here are some practical things you can be doing to make sure that you are fully prepared for enrolment and that your transition to college is as smooth as possible:

  • Carefully research the subjects you want to take at Aquinas. You will eventually need to pick three subjects that you will study for two years. Be aware that many subjects at A level are not the same as at GCSE.
  • Research careers or particular Universities you may be aiming for and list any specific requirements they have. Are particular subjects or combinations of subjects or qualifications (BTEC/A Level) expected or do certain courses expect you to have work experience?
  • Make a list of your current GCSE predicted grades and compare these against the Subject Entry Requirements for these courses at Aquinas.
  • Identify the subject areas you need to improve (if you have any) and list the things you can do between now and your final GCSE exams to achieve this
  • Work hard in preparation for your GCSE exams and good luck! Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions at