The UK Rules
What Qualification Levels Mean

What Different Qualification Levels Mean

Understanding the differences in qualification levels is important - and for several reasons. It shows employers and teachers what level of difficulty you have already mastered.

Information in this section explains the difficulty level of a qualification. It is useful for comparing qualifications across different countries.

Almost all qualifications contain a difficulty level. A higher level represents a qualification with a higher degree of difficulty.

As a result, there are several ways to determine the level of a qualification. For example, you can:

In fact, the whole range of exam qualifications is huge and varied. But, grouping them together into levels makes them easier to compare.

Nonetheless, it is important to be aware that the same qualification levels often cover different amounts - even in the same subject.

An Example:

You can learn about the same subject in AS levels and A levels (e.g. languages, mathematics, science). But, they are both classed as level 3 qualifications.

The difference between the two levels is the length of study time. So, you would study AS levels over a one (1) year period and A levels over a period of two (2) years.

So, you would learn significantly more about a particular subject when studying it as an A level qualification.

Contacting the Helplines

The National Careers Service helpline provides advice about qualification levels for learners who are studying in England. Use the different helplines for other parts of the United Kingdom:

9 Qualification Levels in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Entry Level Qualifications

Note: There are three sublevels for each entry level qualification (i.e. 1, 2, and 3) with entry level 3 being the most difficult to attain.

Level 1 Qualifications

Level 2 Qualifications

Level 3 Qualifications

Level 4 Qualifications

Level 5 Qualifications

Level 6 Qualifications

Level 7 Qualifications

Level 8 Qualifications

Qualification Level Systems in Other Countries


The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) supports people of all ages and circumstances while studying in Scotland.

You can check what different qualifications mean and compare qualifications in Scotland to the ones available in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Outside of the United Kingdom

What Qualification Levels Mean in the United Kingdom