Functional Skills Level 2 Equivalent to GCSEs? | learndirect (2023)

10th February 22

We need certain qualifications to access jobs, training opportunities and higher-level education courses. There’s no doubt that taking the time to study will pay off in dividends later on, but what if you don’t get the qualification or grade you needed the first time around?

Thankfully, there are newer forms of qualifications, such as Functional Skills, that have been introduced to the education sector, acting as equivalents to more traditional options. Not only do these provide you with an alternative option, but they can also get you qualified in much less time.

Functional Skills coursesare aimed both at people looking to brush up on certain skills for everyday life, but also for those looking for GCSE grade equivalents.

In this post, we shine the spotlight on Functional Skills courses so you can find out more about what they offer and exactly what level of qualification you will walk away with, whether you study Functional Skills Level 2 Maths, Functional Skills English, or Functional Skills ICT.

What Are Functional Skills?

Functional Skills are recognised GCSE alternative qualifications, with a Functional Skills Level 2 course being equivalent to a GCSE grade 4 (C), providing a clear answer for those wondering 'What is Level 2 equivalent to?'

Introduced in 2007 to boost the UK’s literacy and numeracy, Functional Skills qualifications were developed to upskill the nation’s workforce. Since then, NCFE Functional Skills qualifications have offered thousands of people the key skills they need for life.

Available in the core subjects of English, Maths and Functional SkillsICT, Functional Skills courses can help develop your understanding in a number of areas. They are also the perfect qualification for you if you didn’t achieve the GCSEs you wanted when you were younger, but now wish to develop essential life skills.

As GCSE grade equivalents, Functional Skills can benefit you professionally as well as personally. Functional Skills Level 2 qualifications are respected by employers and can help boost your employability. They can even set the foundation for further study too.

However, Functional Skills courses are not identical to GCSEs. So, if you’re looking to achieve English, Maths or IT qualifications later in life, there are some key things you need to know before you choose your programme of study.

Functional Skills Level 2 Equivalent to GCSEs? | learndirect (1)

What’s the Difference?

Although they both get you the same result – achieving a recognised qualification in English, Maths or ICT – there are key differences between GCSEs and Functional Skills. The time it takes to achieve your qualification is different, and so are the learning outcomes.

What You’ll Learn

Functional Skills are skills-based qualifications. Therefore, Functional Skills Level 2 courses offer students the opportunity to learn how to use English, Maths and ICT in everyday situations. GCSEs, on the other hand, are academic qualifications and equip learners with a strong theoretical knowledge base and skillset.

This affects the depth of the syllabus taught and the materials you will need to study. For example, a Functional Skills English Level 2 programme will focus on 3 key skill areas:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking, listening and communicating

Each unit will teach you how to apply these skills practically in real life.

Through this Functional Skills English course, you’ll learn how to write a compelling letter using correct spelling and grammar. You will also be taught how to talk with confidence over the phone and face to face.

These are all signs of good literacy and are important in the workplace and in your personal interactions, making Functional Skills English a beneficial course to take.

GCSE English Language is also concerned with your reading and writing comprehension. However, unlike Functional Skills English, the course provides greater academic material around these subjects.

You will explore the science behind the written and spoken word. This includes everything from analysing the syntax, morphology and phonology of the English language. You will also gain an insight into the themes and ideas discussed by writers, which will help you to become a better writer in turn.

Rather than developing skills for life, GCSE English courses will develop your understanding of the English language. You will build a solid foundation for further academic study of the subject. In a nutshell, Functional Skills equip you with life skills whilst GCSEs equip you with knowledge upon which you can build in the future.

Functional Skills Level 2 Equivalent to GCSEs? | learndirect (2)

Achieving Your Qualification

Functional Skills are known online qualifications, whereas GCSE courses are traditionally taught in a classroom environment. This means that you can only study at specific times during the week, at a certain location.

With traditional GCSEs, a Teacher dictates what you learn and when you learn it. As such, GCSE courses can take up to 2 years to complete in a traditional education setting.

However, thanks to distance learning, you don’t need to go back to school to gain your qualification. It is now possible to study online GCSE courses too, thereby reducing the time it takes to qualify.

With online learning, there are no timetables or restrictions. You’ll have 24/7 access to your learning resources so you can study whenever and for however long you like. You will have the freedom to set your pace and complete your qualification in your time. You can take 2 weeks or 2 years to do this.

Despite both GCSEs and Functional Skills being delivered online, it is quicker to gain your qualification via Functional Skills software online than it is via GCSE courses. This is largely down to the fact that there is less material to cover in a Functional Skills programme than in a GCSE one.

The average Functional Skills software programme requires 55 guided hours of study, whilst online GCSE courses demand at least 100 hours’ worth of study.

If you dedicate just 2 hours to your studies every day, whether you are studying Functional Skills Level 2 Maths or Functional Skills English, you could achieve your Functional Skills qualification in less than 4 weeks. This includes taking your exam online too. Studying for your GCSEs online at the same pace could take you 2 months or more, not including exam time.

Both GCSEs and Functional Skills, when studied online, will award you with a qualification more quickly than if you study them at a traditional college. However, Functional Skills software online courses are better for people who want to boost their skills quickly (perhaps in time for employment), whereas GCSE courses are ideal for individuals that want to dedicate more time to their studies.

Functional Skills Level 2 Equivalent to GCSEs? | learndirect (3)

GCSEs or Functional Skills?

GCSEs and Functional Skills qualifications are ideal for anyone who wants to get to grips with the basics of English, Maths and ICT. However, one may be more suitable for you than the other.

It all comes down to why you’re studying the qualification and what you wish to gain from it. If you want to evidence your literacy and numeracy skills to an employer or boost your confidence when working with words and numbers,Functional Skills online courses offer the perfect solution. Functional Skills Maths Level 2 and Functional Skills English will cover both bases.

This is similarly the case if you want to enhance your IT knowledge to help you become more efficient in the workplace, or even know how to use ratios to bake a cake. It’s not necessarily the qualification itself that is important in these cases, it’s having the skills and the know-how. Functional Skills ICT, Functional Skills English and Functional Skills Level 2 Maths courses enable you to have the ability to demonstrate your understanding in real-world situations.

Alternatively, if you require a qualification as evidence of your academic abilities and skills, GCSE courses are ideal. This is especially the case if you want to further your education at college or university, although some universities now accept Functional Skills in lieu of GCSEs.

GCSEs are benchmark qualifications that pave the way to higher education and are essential for entry into a number of skilled career paths. Functional Skills and GCSEs both have their merits, and neither is less valuable than the other. The value of any qualification is what you do with it.

Whether you build the foundations for your career as a professional or get to grips with calculating your finances without a calculator, Functional Skills and GCSE courses both offer you the same thing: the chance to upskill and succeed, no matter what the future holds.

Where to do Functional Skills Maths, English and ICT?

At learndirect, we offer a range of online GCSE courses and Functional Skills software packages to ensure that you find the right programme for you.

Our courses can all be studied online, so you can balance your studies with your home life without having to compromise on either. With easy and instant enrolments, you can also start learning whenever you’re ready to. There are no term dates to hold you back or restrict your learning.

Find out more about our Functional Skills online courses today by speaking with our Course Executives. They can run you through the different Functional Skills course packages we offer and how you can get started as an online student.

Call them now on 01202 006 464, reach out to us online or click to view these Functional Skills course options below.


What is level 2 functional skills English equivalent to GCSE? ›

What are level 2 functional skills equivalent to? Functional Skills Level 2 in maths and English is equivalent to a GCSE level 4 or grade C. Functional Skills level 2 qualifications are accepted by employers and universities as GCSE equivalents.

What GCSE grade is level 2 equivalent to? ›

Level 2 qualifications are: CSE - grade 1. GCSE - grades 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 or grades A*, A, B, C. intermediate apprenticeship.

Is level 2 functional skills easier than GCSE? ›

While Functional Skills Level 2 Maths and Functional Skills English are simpler and quicker to complete, their recognition as C/4 GCSE grade equivalents does mean you will be required to meet a certain level of subject proficiency to pass the Functional Skills exam.

What GCSE is equivalent to functional skills? ›

There are two main Functional Skills maths qualifications: Level 1 – roughly equal to GCSE 2-3 in England and Wales, the old grade E-D in England and Wales, the current grade E-D in Northern Ireland or National 4 in Scotland.

What is functional English Level 2 equivalent to? ›

The Functional Skills English Level 2 qualification is equivalent to a GCSE Grade C/Level 4. Therefore, many employers and course routes accept this as a qualification.

How many marks do you need to pass functional skills level 2 English? ›

Functional Skills English

Reading Level 2 assessments are designed to have a pass mark in the range of 13-15 marks. Writing Level 2 assessments are designed to have a pass mark in the range of 21-23 marks.

How many GCSEs is a Level 2 worth? ›

For example, a Level 2 BTEC First Diploma is worth the equivalent of 4 GCSEs grade A*-C. This means a student can do a Level 2 BTEC First independently alongside GCSEs, or work towards them both in the same subject area. These are Level 2 qualifications, the equivalent of traditional GCSEs grades A*- C.

Do universities accept functional skills level 2? ›

Functional Skills Maths and English qualifications at Level 2 demonstrate your ability and competence in Numeracy and Literacy and are considered equivalent to a GCSE C or above. The qualifications are now accepted by the majority of universities for a variety of courses.

What is a Level 2 equivalent to in college? ›

A level 2 qualification is similar to having GCSE grade equivalents at grade A*–C or 4-9. And also: NVQ level 2. GNVQ Intermediate.

Do I need GCSE if I have functional skills? ›

Functional Skills are a recognised alternative to GCSEs, with a Level 2 equivalent to a GCSE grade 9 to 4 or A* to C. Functional skills were introduced in the UK to develop the literacy and numeracy skills needed to kickstart work-life.

What is harder functional skills or GCSE? ›

Many people struggle to pass GCSE maths and English every year. What some people don't realise is that there is an alternative to GCSE that may be easier for them. Functional Skills qualifications are an equivalent to GCSE. They may be easier for those who are struggling with maths and English.

Is GCSE better than functional skills? ›

GCSEs are benchmark qualifications that pave the way to higher education and are essential for entry into a number of skilled career paths. Functional Skills and GCSEs both have their merits, and neither is less valuable than the other. The value of any qualification is what you do with it.

What is equivalent to GCSE? ›

The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is the qualification most equivalent to GCSEs. Just like GCSEs, it is a two-year programme students study with the result being certified by examinations.

What is English GCSE equivalent to? ›

Functional skills level 2 maths and English are considered to be the closest equivalents to GCSE's and nearly all universities and higher education providers accept these as do most employers.

What are GCSE numbers equivalent to? ›

The 'new' GCSE grades explained
  1. 1 = Lower F or G.
  2. 2 = Lower E or high F.
  3. 3 = D or high E.
  4. 4 = Lower C grade.
  5. 5 = Lower B or high C.
  6. 6 = High B grade.
  7. 7 = Lower A grade.
  8. 8 = Lower A* or high A.
Aug 25, 2022

What is the pass percentage for Level 2 functional skills maths? ›

Wondering if you are ready to pass your functional skills maths level 2? Why not take a pre-assessment test and see if you are ready to pass. Anything around 60% would be a pass.

What is the pass mark for level 2 functional skills maths? ›

The functional skills maths level 2 pass mark is usually around 50% to 55%. Yes, you can sign up to the free version of our level 2 courses, and get access to free resources, past papers and the pre-assessments for both maths and English. Yes, we offer City & Guilds functional skills resources and exams.

Is ESOL Level 2 equivalent to GCSE? ›

English – Essential Skills are a Functional Skills Qualifications, which cover basic English to level 2 qualifications (equivalent to GCSE). If English isn't your first language, courses for speakers of other languages (ESOL) will teach you essential skills in: reading.

What are GCSEs worth in America? ›

5 GCSE passes at grade C or higher are considered the rough equivalent of a US High School Diploma (without Honors or 'Advanced Placement' (AP) classes). This suffices to get into less selective colleges.

Is a 2 a pass in GCSE? ›

What do pupils need to pass their exams? Pupils will have needed a 4 for a "standard pass" and 5 for a "strong pass".

Is GCSE grade 2 a fail? ›

What is a Fail in GCSE? Anything below a 4 is a fail under the UK grading system, with U standing for 'ungraded', which was the same in the previous system.

Can you get into university without GCSE? ›

While universities usually require a passing grade in GCSE Maths and English, it's certainly possible to get in with no GCSEs. However, you will have to fill out your application with plenty of impressive-sounding skills and character traits.

Does functional skills level 2 expire? ›

No, Functional Skills Level 2 qualifications do not expire. So, once you have successfully passed your Functional Skills exam online, you should have your Functional Skills qualification for life, whether that is in Functional Skills Maths, Functional Skills English, or Functional Skills ICT Level 2.

Can I go to college with functional skills? ›

Level 2 Functional Skills are also more and more acceptable to Universities, depending upon what type of Higher Education course you want to do. They take less time to study than GCSE's. However, for some professions you will need GCSE's in English and Maths which are also offered at the College.

Is entry level 3 equivalent to GCSE? ›

Entry-level qualifications are equivalent to studying at a Foundation Diploma level. Level 1 qualifications are equivalent to GCSE grade D-G level. Level 2 qualifications are equivalent to GCSE grade A*-C level. Level 3 qualifications are equivalent to an A Level.

Can you go to university with a Level 2 diploma? ›

The short answer to this question, is yes! Although most people think the only way into uni is with A-Levels, this is no longer the case. More and more universities now are happy to welcome students onto Degree programmes who have Diploma qualifications instead of A-Levels.

What is GCSE vs A level? ›

The biggest difference between GCSE and A-level is the inclusion of some of the optional topics that are not covered at GCSE. These include Beliefs in Society, Global Development and Health. However, if they wish, students can avoid these topics at A-level and develop their knowledge of the topics they studied at GCSE.

What is essential skills level 2 equivalent to? ›

About numeracy essential skills qualifications:

Level 2 qualifications are equivalent to GCSEs.

Is functional skills level 3 equivalent to GCSE? ›

Functional Skills Maths Entry Level 3 is equivalent to a GCSE Maths grade 1 (G). It's a gateway qualification to Functional Skills Maths for adults and GCSE pupils who learn better with practical, real-life examples.

What is the easiest GCSE to take? ›

Top Ten Easiest GCSEs
  • GCSE Geography. The content of GCSE geography is simple, straightforward and easy to understand. ...
  • GCSE Film Studies. ...
  • GCSE Religious Studies. ...
  • GCSE Media Studies. ...
  • GCSE Hospitality and Catering. ...
  • GCSE Business studies. ...
  • GCSE Drama. ...
  • GCSE Physical Education.
Dec 23, 2022

What grades are functional skills equivalent to? ›

Functional Skills English Level 1 is equivalent to a GCSE English grade 1 to 3 (D to G). It's an alternative qualification to GCSE English for adults and GCSE pupils who learn better with practical, real-life examples.

Can you fail functional skills? ›

Functional skills assessments are graded either pass or fail, unlike GCSEs.

Are GCSEs worth it? ›

Your GCSE performance is usually a good indicator of how well you'll do in A-level or other advanced studies – in fact, it's the only real hard-and-fast evidence of your academic abilities a college has to go on.

What is a Grade 4 GCSE equivalent to? ›

What is a 4 grade GCSE? If you achieve a grade 4 in your GCSEs, then it is considered the same as the old grade C, under the GCSE grade equivalents. 3.

Is GCSE or A level more important? ›

For continuing into higher education, A-Levels will generally be more important than GCSEs. This is because at a minimum, universities will require you to have at least 2 A-Levels or an equivalent further education qualification. To learn more about this, check out this article by The Complete University Guide.

Is English Level 2 equivalent to GCSE? ›

Level 2 qualifications

Thus attaining a Level 2 qualification can be equivalent to achieving GCSE grades 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, or 4 previously graded A*, A, B, or C. Other examples of Level 2 qualifications include: O level (grades A, B, or C) Grade 1 as CSE level.

What is GCSE English equivalent to? ›

Functional skills level 2 maths and English are considered to be the closest equivalents to GCSE's and nearly all universities and higher education providers accept these as do most employers.

Is GCSE English equivalent to B2? ›

Further information about the CEFR can be found here.
Comparing Cambridge English exams to GCSE/A-Level English.
RQF LevelGCSE/A-LevelCambridge English Qualification
Level 2GCSE grades 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 or grades A*, A, B, CC1 Advanced
Level 1GCSE grades 3, 2, 1 or grades D, E, F, GB2 First
1 more row
Jan 11, 2013

Is a Level 2 certificate a GCSE? ›

The AQA L1/ L2 Certificates are the strict equivalent to a GCSE full course, taking 120-140 guided learning hours.

Is functional skills as good as GCSE? ›

Functional Skills are considered to be a GCSE equivalent qualification; however, Functional Skills are not identical to GCSEs. Functional Skills at Level 2 is equivalent to a GCSE grade 9 to 4 (A* to C in the old GCSE grading system).

What is GCSE called in America? ›

What is the American equivalent to GCSEs? The closest thing that would be considered an American equivalent to GCSEs is thought to be the high school diploma (although that isn't the exact equal).

What English should I pass for GCSE? ›

In terms of the skills that you will learn, both English Language and Literature are equally valuable. However, from an academic standpoint, it is important to know that it is compulsory that you pass GCSE English Language with a grade 4 or above. This does not apply to GCSE English Literature.

What is a 3 equivalent to in GCSE? ›

3. Is a 3 a pass in GCSE? No, the GCSE grade 3 equivalent is in between the traditional grades D and E.

Is B2 English enough? ›

Level B2 corresponds to a more advanced, more independent level than previous levels. A B2 user can communicate easily and spontaneously in a clear and detailed manner. This is not yet an experienced speaker, but a B2 user is able to understand and be understood in most situations.

What is GCSE international equivalent? ›

IGCSE stands for “International General Certificate of Secondary Education”. It is equivalent to the GCSE qualification which is taken by students in Year 10 – 11 in the UK to prepare them for further pre-university level study, such as A-levels.

Is GCSE English enough for British citizenship? ›

You might need to prove your knowledge of the English language if you're 18 or over and applying for citizenship or to settle in the UK (known as 'indefinite leave to remain'). You can prove it by having either: an English qualification at B1, B2, C1 or C2 level. a degree taught or researched in English.

Are functional skills exams easier than GCSE? ›

Functional Skills aren't necessarily easier. You'll still need to put in the hard work and revision. But, they can be better suited to students who have failed maths and English. The trouble with GCSE is that oftentimes, exam questions are not put into any context.


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