In many ways the National 5 exams mark a milestone in in an adolescent`s life. Discounting the possibility of any earlier, precociously acquired accolades, the marks achieved in these exams will probably be the first academic qualifications that could potentially appear on their CV. In many students` minds their national qualification grades will be the first results that really matter; which can be daunting. They will have taken many tests before, indeed they will have been regularly graded and assessed for most of their time at school – however by the time of their national`s they will be mature enough to know just how important these exams are.
The transition from GCSE to 6th form means the beginning of specialization, a reduction of the number of subjects being studied. Most students will take 9 subjects for GCSE, but after this the academic range will narrow. Three subjects are the norm for a post GCSE student – their strengths and weaknesses will have been established, and they may well have an idea as to what they would like to study at university.
Even though highers / A-levels may be seen the expected route to take after national 5, there are a number of alternatives that may be more suitable. The three main options, apart from entering the workplace directly of course, are NVQs, BTECs, and apprenticeships.
National Vocational Qualification.
NVQ stands for National Vocational Qualifications, and they are work based certificates, which means they are specifically designed to help students gain `competency` in the workplace. One key feature of this qualification is that they do not have to be completed within a specific time frame. Because of this accommodating feature many students work on completing their NVQs while undertaking a part time job or a work placement. Many employers look favorably upon students undertaking NVQ`s, as it shows commitment and dedication to their chosen career.
BTEC stand for a `Business and Technology Education Council` qualification – they were introduced to the UK back in the 1930`s, and continue to be very popular. It is largely a coursework based assessment, and because of this many universities stipulate that students must also posses at least a single A-Level to gain admittance. From 2016 the proportion of coursework in the BTEC course has reduced, and exams now account for a larger proportion of the final grade.
Like NVQ`s, BTEC`s are designed to be specialist work-related qualifications – and as such they specifically cater to a whole range of different sectors, such as engineering, business, and ICT. The courses are available at a number of different levels – ranging from the Entry Level Skills for Working Life, through to professional qualifications of Level 7, which is actually equivalent to postgraduate study. Because BTEC`s are tailored to the workplace, and correspond to the myriad of different professions, there are an astonishing number of unique courses – well over 2000 different BTECs, each catering to a different workplace skill.
Another post national 5 qualification option is a apprenticeship. These are short courses which include work experience, and are designed to get a student ready for work or an apprenticeship. They last up to 6 months, and are primarily aimed at those who are qualified below Level 3, aged 16 to 24, along with those who are unemployed and have little or no work experience.
Most students who have completed their National 5 exams have chosen to continue studying into higher will already have decided upon the course they want to take. It can daunting indeed to be faced with such important choices as such a young age. I have often thought that it`s rather unfair that adolescents, barely into their teenage years, are compelled to make these life defining decisions. Looking back on my own career, I can see now how it was profoundly shaped and defined by the subjects I chose to study in my mid to late teens. Career advisers can certainly help – and of course the options available to the student will be constrained by their academic abilities. Ultimately though it will be up to the student which path they choose. If you choose to study further and need a helping hand click HERE to search for expert tutors in your area.