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Functional Skills: Do You Know Your Timings?

19th July 19

If you want to go to university, your end goal is likely to access a gated career that requires a certain level of training and education before you can get started in the role. It will take a set number of years to complete the work required, be it three, four or even longer for certain professions. But in the end, you will be rewarded with a challenging and stimulating career that typically pays you more for your efforts.

If university is a means to this end, then you will need (at least) a Level 2 qualification in English or Maths (the equivalent to GCSE grade 4/C). Now, if you don't have these qualifications, you may be thinking that you need to resit a GCSE to tick this English or Maths qualification box, but there is another option.

A Level 2 Functional Skills qualification could be the solution you are looking for. Regarded as GCSE grade equivalents when studied at Level 2 and an efficient way of equipping learners with the skills and knowledge to tackle everyday challenges in the workplace, more and more universities and employers are seeing the value and welcoming these alternative qualifications.

The Timeframe of Functional Skills Studies

Even though Functional Skills courses are more flexible than GCSEs, there are still some timings that you need to be aware of in order to successfully get your Functional Skills Level 2 qualification in time for your university application.

The great advantage of Functional Skills qualifications is that you can sit your exam on any date of your choosing. There is no set exam period which is ideal if you need a qualification in a hurry. With this being said, Functional Skills exam boards still need time to mark your paper, which can take up to 20 working days, and you will also need to work out how much time you can commit to your Functional Skills learning.

At learndirect, our Functional Skills qualifications have been designed to give you a well-rounded knowledge of your chosen subject (be it English and Maths, or ICT). So, you need to set aside around 45 hours of your time to learn everything and be ready for a Functional Skills exam.

To put this into perspective, if you think you will be able to study for an hour a day then it will take you around 45 days to complete the learning material of your Functional Skills English, Functional Skills Maths, or Functional Skills ICT course. If you think you might be able to commit 3 hours per day, then it will take you around 15 days to complete the Functional Skills learning material.

Depending on the Functional Skills course package you choose, you may also need to factor your tutorials and mock papers into your schedule, which can add further time to your study. Once you’ve sat your Functional Skills Level 2 exam, you also need to bear in mind that it can take up to 20 working days for the Functional Skills exam board to mark your exam and get the result to you. With this all in mind, let’s take a look at a couple of example learners:

Learner 1

Learner 1 is a standard Functional Skills learner and can commit 1 hour per day to their learning:


Total learning time (days)

Completing the online learning

45 days

Waiting for exam result

20 days

Total time

65 days

If this learner starts their Functional Skills course on the 1st of August, we would expect them to finish around the 4th of October if they stick to their commitment.

Learner 2

Learner 2 is a supported Functional Skills learner and can commit 3 hours per day to their learning:


Total learning time (days)

Complete the online learning

15 days

Complete tutorials and mock paper (including time for the tutor to return marked mock)

6 days

Waiting for exam result

20 days

Total time

41 days

If learner 2 starts their Functional Skills course on the 1st of August, we would expect them to finish around the 10th of September if they stick to their commitment.

Other Things to Consider...

There are also a couple of other factors you need to consider before choosing a Functional Skills course. Firstly, you need to decide whether you would prefer to sit your exam online at home, or within a nominated test centre. Secondly, if you don’t feel that you will have your Functional Skills Level 2 exam result in time for starting university in September, talk to your university.

Many universities will be happy to accept a results slip (this confirms a pass while you’re waiting for your certificate to arrive). Other universities may be content that you have started your Functional Skills and give you an extended deadline for providing your certificate. However, it is essential that you confirm this directly with your university before beginning your Functional Skills course in order to avoid disappointment. It is also important to check with your university that they will accept Functional Skills as a Level 2 equivalent.

If you would like to know more about any of our Functional Skills Level 2 courses or have any questions related to them you can contact us online. You can also call us on 01202 006 464.

Ready to get your qualification? Then head over to our website for more information about the different Functional Skills qualifications we offer in English, Mathematics and ICT.

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