BTEC FAQs

As a BTEC student, you might have lots of questions about the University. Here are some of the most common questions and some helpful answers.

What will I gain from going to university?

Going to university could benefit you in many ways. Firstly, it gives you the chance to study your chosen subject in more depth and detail than before. Moreover, gaining a degree is necessary for several careers, and greatly increases your chances of getting into many more, thus boosting your lifetime earnings potential on average by over £168,000 for men, and by £252,000 for women (Department of Business, Innovation and Skills 2013). You can also experience a rich cultural and social scene, meeting a wide range of people and having access to a multitude of social and leisure opportunities.

What is so good about the University of Birmingham?

The University of Birmingham is The Times and Sunday Times University of the Year for Graduate Employment for 2016, and was University of the Year in 2013-4. It is one of the top research universities in the country, and a member of the prestigious Russell Group of universities, which means you will often by taught by staff who are at the cutting edge of their subjects. Based on a beautiful historic campus in a busy and vibrant city, the University consistently appears in the top twenty in higher education league tables, and has a comprehensive range of specialist support services.

Can I get onto a degree at Birmingham with a BTEC Extended Diploma?

We have a range of courses where we welcome applications from students with a BTEC Extended Diploma. These include Sport, Nursing, Accounting and Finance, Business Management, Social Work, Education, and Engineering. Search our undergraduate courses for the course you are interested in.

I am doing a mixture of BTECs and A levels. Does the University accept this combination of courses?

We also have a range of courses which welcome a mixture of qualifications. Search our undergraduate courses for the course you are interested in.

How will studying at the University of Birmingham be different to studying BTEC?

Life as an undergraduate at the University is exciting and challenging, but also very different to studying at school or college. Not only might you be getting used to living away from home for the first time, but the way you study will be different too. When students enter higher education, they must start to prepare themselves for more independent learning, including more self-directed study, and different forms of assessment. As a BTEC student, you are unlikely to have had exams during your course, and for many courses at the University, this is one of the ways in which you will be assessed. You will also need to develop your skills in areas such as academic writing and note taking. Watch this video to see how some of our students who did BTEC have found this transition. 

To practice some of these skills, go to the Skills4Uni tool.

Can the A2B scheme help me as a BTEC student?

Yes, if you are eligible. The Access to Birmingham (A2B) scheme is designed to help students from families and communities in the West Midlands, who have little or no experience of Higher Education, find out about what studying at university involves. 

I will be tested on my Maths skills as part of my entry requirements for the Engineering degree I want to do. How can I prepare?

For courses in Civil, Electrical/Electronic and Mechanical Engineering, applicants who receive offers will also have to complete a Maths aptitude test to assess suitability for the course. The test could include:

  • Simple use of numbers in calculations
  • Fractions
  • Rearranging equation to find x
  • Expanding brackets and rearranging equation
  • Simplifying algebraic expressions
  • Multiplying out brackets. Indices.
  • Equations of lines on graphs.
  • Pythagoras theorem
  • Rearranging and simplifying algebraic fractions
  • Simultaneous equations
  • Quadratic equations
  • Applying differentiation/integration to graphs
  • Differentiation – integer powers
  • Integration – integer powers
  • Differentiation – fractional powers
  • Integration – fractional powers

We would advise you to brush up on these topics in advance, and you can find free revision resources online such as Math Tutor and Math Centre.

To practice some of these skills, go to the Skills4Uni tool.

I have an interview for my place at the University. Do you have any advice?

Many of our courses do not have interviews, but for those that do, the kind of interview you will have will depend on what subject you have applied for. In some, they help the University decide whether you would be successful here, and you will need to perform well to receive an offer of a place; others are an opportunity to find out more about the course you have applied for before you receive an offer.

For all interviews, it is important to prepare in advance so that you can show yourself and your skills in the best possible light. It is quite normal to be nervous for an interview, but good preparation will help with this. You should:

  • Be prepared to talk about your why you want to study the subject you have applied for, and why you are really interested in it.
  • Ensure that you have read all you can about the course, and be able to explain why this particular university appeals to you
  • If you are applying for a vocational course that leads to a particular career, research the career thoroughly and think about what personal and professional qualities employers would be looking for
  • Be aware of any topical issues relevant to your course as you may be asked to discuss them
  • Read your personal statement again; you could be asked about anything in it

In the interview, try to:

  • Maintain good eye contact and appropriate body language so that you look alert , engaged and interested
  • Listen carefully to the question. Allow yourself time to think about it if necessary and ask for clarification if any aspect of the question is unclear to you
  • Ask any questions you have about the course. The interview is your opportunity to find out what you want about the course
  • Bear in mind what the interviewers are looking for; your ability to think independently, to explain your ideas, to apply your knowledge and to show that you can see all sides of an argument.

If you have opportunities to engage in practice interviews at school, college or through the University, then we would encourage you to take these up.

Good luck!

I know that I will need to do more work outside my timetabled hours than I do at the moment, how much time should I allow?

As a university student, studying independently outside of lectures and seminars is a key element of your course. This is one of the main differences you will find between university level study and school or college. The amount will vary according to your course and the time of year, but will amount to several hours per week. We recommend that you do no more than sixteen hours part-time work per week, to allow enough time for your studies.

My degree course will include some Maths. Is there any way I can develop my Maths skills before I start at the university?

Yes. As well as Engineering courses (see information above) many other degrees at the University will require you to be up to speed with your Maths skills when you arrive. For example, in Business and Accountancy courses, you will need to be comfortable in algebra in particular, and also percentage, ratio and other basic areas covered in GCSE. As well as the websites referred to previously, My Maths can be a useful revision tool. Once you are at the University, you can access further help through the Mathematics Support Centre.

To practice some of these skills, go to the Skills4Uni tool.

Going into big lectures will be new to me. Where can I get advice about note-taking?

This is an important skill to master quickly and will help you settle into university life. Please take a look at the section on note taking in the Academic Skills Gateway to help prepare yourself.

To practice some of these skills, go to the Skills4Uni tool.

I've heard a lot about 'critical thinking' skills. Can you tell me more about what this means?

Critical thinking means not taking things at face value, but considering the source of a message and the validity of the evidence used to support it. It involves thinking independently and rationally to objectively evaluate. It is a key skill in many academic disciplines, and further information about it can be found in the Academic Skills Gateway.

To practice some of these skills, go to the Skills4Uni tool.

I know that university students have to do a lot more of their own research than sixth form and college students. How do I approach that?

There are many aspects to learning how to research effectively, and learning these skills will boost your chances of success in your degree significantly. The Academic Skills Gateway has useful tips to help with your research skills.

To practice some of these skills, go to the Skills4Uni tool.

I haven't done any exams for two years. How can I prepare for exams at university?

First, it is always wise to find out how the degree courses you are considering will be assessed, as the amount of exams you do can vary a great deal. This film gives you some basic tips on how to approach exams. There are a lot more useful resources available in the Academic Skills Gateway.

If I need help with study skills at the University, is there an online resource I can use? Or is there anyone who can help?

The University has developed the Academic Skills Gateway which is a comprehensive skills resources portal. If you need some suggestions with how to tackle your university work, start here. The Academic Skills Centre offers support to students on all aspects of study.

To practice some of these skills, go to the Skills4Uni tool.

What other support services are in place at the University?

The University has a wide range of support to enable you to make the very best of your time at Birmingham and support you in every aspect of your student life. These include the Careers Network, Counselling and Wellbeing, Disability Support and Financial Support.