Extended Project Qualification
What is an EPQ?
EPQ is short for Extended Project Qualification. It is an independent research project which involves writing an essay of 5000 words, or creating an artefact (which could be anything from a magazine through to an architectural model). You need to complete a production log to record each stage of the project and this also contributes to your project result. The third component of the project is an oral presentation.
How will I be taught?
There will be lessons on how to go about conducting your own research, as well as guidance to get you started. As your project progresses, you will meet with your Supervisor, who will help with planning and researching and presentation skills, and to keep you on track as you work through your chosen project.
There’s no set time limit for doing an EPQ, but most, if not all, of the work will be done in the Lower sixth year. It is a formal ‘Level 3’ qualification that attracts slightly higher UCAS Tariff points than a new AS-Level. We offer the EPQ provided by AQA.
Can I choose a topic on anything?
There’s no formal restriction on what you do the project on: That’s negotiated between you and your Supervisor, they will help you choose a topic you will enjoy and cope with.
The only stipulation is that your project must not be explicitly covered in your A Level courses. So, for example, you may want to research an area of History (e.g. the reign of Queen Victoria), but you would need to check that this is not included in your A Level History course.
What is the benefit of completing an EPQ?
EPQ teaches you some important high-level skills that A Level courses don’t always have time to include, and many students say it adds considerable interest to their sixth-form programme.
However, there are also several major benefits to completing an EPQ when it comes to applying to university. At its simplest, completing an EPQ helps you with UCAS points – it is valued at 50% of a full A Level in the UCAS Tariff. But perhaps its greatest advantage is in helping convince top universities to make you an offer.
The EPQ allows you to demonstrate that you are capable of undertaking independent research, and writing essays. These are vital skills for university, and it also provides evidence to admissions tutors that you have interests which go beyond the scope of your A Level subjects.
Additionally, an EPQ provides highly relevant material for your UCAS Personal Statement and for you to talk about in university interviews. Most top schools in the UK have made the completion of an EPQ (or an internal equivalent) compulsory for all Year 12 students.
What skills do I need to complete a successful EPQ?
First, an EPQ requires you to have a great interest in the research topic, and it is this interest that will motivate to keep you going deeper in order to answer a research question.
Second, the EPQ requires organisational skills: Planning the project and making sure that each stage is completed in time is essential to achieve the top grades for this course.
Thirdly, it requires good time-management skills. Making sure you spend enough time on the project each week, while juggling the demands of your A Levels, is key to a successful project.
Should I take the EPQ?
To decide if EPQ is right for you need good advice from teachers who know you well. If you are a top-grade student, you should enjoy and cope well with EPQ and it could make all the difference getting you into a top university. If your academic potential is more modest you may well benefit from EPQ, but it could also make demands on you which affect your main A Level work.
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