Comparing Qualfications

The following two areas are required for all RQF qualifications;


The Level descriptors are more outcomes-focused, covering both academic and vocational qualifications, and setting out the skills, knowledge and understanding that might typically be expected of someone with a qualification at that level.

RQF Levels range from entry 1 up to level 8. The RQF maps to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications and the European Qualifications Framework.


Total qualification time (TQT), determines the overall size of an RQF qualification. This indicates how long a ‘typical’ learner might take to study a qualification, this includes time spent on individual study and assessment. It includes Guided Learning (GL), which is the time spent being taught by an Assessor or under supervision. Learners study at different rates, so the TQT of the qualification is a guide.


TQT stands for ‘total qualification time’ and is an estimate of the total number of hours it would take an average learner to achieve and demonstrate the necessary level of attainment to be awarded with a qualification.

It is made up of two parts

  1. Guided learning (sometimes referred to as guided learning hours or GLH) refers to the amount of time it would take an typical learner to complete all the aspects of learning, study or assessment of a qualification while being taught, instructed by, or otherwise being under the immediate guidance or supervision of a tutor/assessor. This includes the activity of being assessed if the assessment takes place under immediate guidance, supervision or invigilation.
  2. The number of hours it would take an average learner to complete any other required learning, self-study, preparation and assessment of a qualification without being under the immediate supervision, guidance or invigilation of a tutor/assessor. For example, undertaking e-learning without the supervision of a tutor, completing homework or independent research. This figure is added to the guided learning figure to get the TQT figure.

Compare the content of qualifications

The content of regulated qualifications varies greatly. The title of the qualification gives a good indication of its content. More detailed information is set out in the specification for the qualification. Awarding organisations publish specifications for each of their regulated qualifications.

You can find information about each regulated qualifications on the Ofqual Register of Regulated Qualifications.

The Register will tell you the level of the qualification, its size and title.