What is EPQ

What is an EPQ? A Comprehensive Guide

EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) is an independent research project allowing students to delve deeper into a topic of interest. 

It is equivalent to half an A-level qualification and is highly recommended for students who want to develop their research skills and gain additional UCAS points.

A-Level Qualification

EPQ is an A-level qualification that allows students to conduct independent research, which can be an essay, report, artefact, presentation, or thesis. 

The research project is completed under the supervision of a tutor who provides guidance and support throughout the project.

EPQ Structure

The EPQ project comprises several stages: topic selection, research, planning, development, and evaluation. The project should be completed within a year, and the final product should be around 5,000 words or equivalent.

EPQ Topics

EPQ topics can be on any subject, but they are recommended to be relevant to the degree course or career path the student wishes to pursue. Some popular EPQ topics include art, English literature, music, short films, novels, and invention.

EPQ is an excellent opportunity for students to develop their research skills and gain additional UCAS points. It allows students to explore a topic of interest in depth and develop their critical thinking and analytical skills.

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The Value of EPQ

University Applications

EPQ is a valuable asset for university applications. It demonstrates that the student has the skills and commitment to work independently on a project. 

EPQ also shows that the student is passionate about a particular subject and willing to go above and beyond the standard curriculum to explore it further.

The EPQ is valued at a maximum of 28 UCAS points, equivalent to half of an A-level. This renders it a beneficial qualification for students to acquire.

Universities also consider EPQ when making offers; some even lower their entry requirements for students who have completed an EPQ.

EPQ can also be used to strengthen a student’s statement. It provides evidence of the student’s initiative, communication, and self-motivated attitude. It shows that the student is willing to take on challenges and can manage their time effectively.

Job Applications

EPQ is also valuable for job applications. It demonstrates that the student has the skills and commitment to work independently on a project. 

It shows that the student is passionate about a particular subject and willing to go above and beyond the standard requirements to explore it further.

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EPQ can be used to strengthen a student’s CV. It provides evidence of the student’s initiative, communication, and self-motivated attitude. It shows that the student is willing to take on challenges and can manage their time effectively.

Having an EPQ can distinguish a student in a competitive job market, as employers value the qualities it represents.

Conducting an EPQ

When conducting an EPQ, there are several vital steps to remember. These include planning and research, writing the EPQ, and presenting the EPQ. By following these steps, students can ensure that they can complete their project successfully and earn their qualifications.

Planning and Research

The first step in conducting an EPQ is to plan and conduct research. This involves developing a research question and conducting independent research to gather information and data. It is crucial to develop strong research skills during this stage, including evaluating sources and critically analyzing data.

Writing the EPQ

Once the research is complete, the next step is to write the EPQ. This involves organizing the information and data gathered during research into a well-structured essay or dissertation. It is essential to write in an academic style, using appropriate language and citing sources correctly.

Presenting the EPQ

Finally, students must present their EPQ clearly and engagingly. This may involve creating a presentation or delivering a speech, and it is crucial to effectively communicate the essential findings and conclusions of the project. Strong communication skills are necessary during this stage, as students must be able to convey their ideas and research to others.

Grading and Evaluation

Grade Requirements

EPQs are graded from A* to E, with A* being the highest grade. The grade boundaries differ from year to year and from exam board to exam board. For example, in 2019, the grade boundaries for the AQA EPQ were 45 for an A*, 40 for an A, 35 for a B, and so on.

To earn the top grades, students must show proficiency in the four evaluation criteria listed:

  • AO1: Manage
  • AO2: Use resources
  • AO3: Develop and realise
  • AO4: Review

Students must produce a production log, a written report, supplementary evidence, and a presentation. The production log should document the student’s progress throughout the project, and the written report should be around 5,000 words long.

Feedback and Revision

EPQ supervisors provide feedback on students’ work throughout the project. Students can use this feedback to revise their work and improve their grades. 

The revision process is an essential part of the EPQ cycle, and students should take advantage of the feedback they receive to make their work as strong as possible.

Challenges and Tips

Dealing with Anxiety

Undertaking an EPQ can be a daunting task, and it is common for students to experience anxiety and stress during the process. 

It’s normal to feel anxious. Just break your project into smaller, doable tasks to make things easier. This can make everything feel less overwhelming and more manageable.

Another way to manage anxiety is to set realistic goals and deadlines. This helps prevent procrastination and ensures that progress is being made. It is also essential to take breaks and practice self-care to avoid burnout.

EPQ Tips

When undertaking an EPQ, it is crucial to approach it with a clear plan and strategy. One helpful tip is to choose a topic of personal interest, as this can help maintain motivation and engagement throughout the project.

It is also essential to conduct thorough and independent research, using various sources to ensure a well-rounded understanding of the topic. Critical thinking skills are crucial when evaluating sources and forming arguments, so developing these skills throughout the project is vital.

It’s crucial to stay organized and monitor your progress during the project. You can achieve this by using calendars, to-do lists, and note-taking software to keep tabs on deadlines, tasks, and research.

Covid-19 Impact

The current COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges for EPQ students, including limited access to resources and difficulty conducting primary research. 

However, it has also created opportunities to explore emerging issues related to the pandemic, such as the impact on mental health or the effectiveness of government responses.

When conducting research during the pandemic, it is essential to be flexible and adaptable. This may include using online resources and conducting virtual interviews or surveys. 

It is also crucial to consider the limitations of the pandemic when setting goals and expectations and to communicate with supervisors and teachers to ensure that the project remains feasible and achievable.

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