Find out more about the profile of a typical BTEC First learner, what and how they learn, how they are assessed, and the progression opportunities on offer with a BTEC First. 

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BTEC International Level 2 qualifications

Learner profile

Developed in consultation with employers and teaching professionals, BTEC Firsts are designed for level 2 learners, and are equivalent to GCSEs.  

The majority of BTEC First students are likely to be in the 14-19 age group, although BTEC Firsts are suitable for learners of any age needing an engaging introduction to life and work in a vocational sector.  

A successful BTEC First learner demonstrates the high standards of knowledge, practical skills and understanding required for further study and employment.

What you learn

BTECs Firsts are divided into:

  • core or mandatory units
  • optional specialist units.

Each unit covers a specific area of knowledge, skills and understanding required by the sector.  

Every BTEC First learner will study the mandatory units, ensuring all students gain a solid foundation through a broad understanding and knowledge of the sector.  

The BTEC First teaching team then has the freedom to build a course to suit local needs and their learners’ interests and aspirations by selecting from a range of optional units and pathways that support progression to further study, an apprenticeship or into employment.

How you learn  

BTEC students develop their knowledge and understanding by applying their learning and skills in a work-related context.

The teaching team creates a series of assignments, which can be written or activity based. The format of the assignments varies to suit the needs of the subject area, and could include activities such as creating a film clip, planning and putting on a performance, or creating a business plan.

BTEC First assignments offer learners the opportunity to demonstrate their learning in a real-life context. Students work on assignments in a variety of ways; some they complete on their own, and for others they work as part of a team.

How you are assessed

All BTEC Firsts are assessed predominantly through teacher- or tutor-led internal assessment. Next generation BTEC Firsts are assessed through a combination of internal and external assessment.

Next generation BTEC Firsts (NQF) are assessed through a combination of:

  • teacher- or tutor-led internal assessment throughout the course using assignments (see 'How you learn' above)

  • up to 25% external assessment (a test set by the awarding organisation) which can be taken either during or at the end of the course.

The type of external assessment is tailored to the subject, and can be:

  • a paper-based test
  • a set task
  • an onscreen, on-demand test.

Together, these styles of assessment provide:

  • the opportunity to measure progress on a continuous basis (as you do in the workplace)
  • the rigour of external benchmarking expected by employers and higher education institutions.

BTEC Level 2 Firsts (QCF) are assessed through 100% internal assessment.

Progress with BTEC Firsts

Taken as part of a balanced curriculum, BTEC Firsts provide a tried-and-trusted progression route to further study, to an apprenticeship or into employment.

How to progress with BTEC Firsts