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Everything You Need to Know About the EPQ: Full FAQ

Contents

  1. What is the A-level extended project? 
  2. Does the extended project count as an A-level? 
  3. Is it hard to get an A in EPQ? 
  4. Is A-level 3 extended project an AS-level? 
  5. Do Unis care about EPQ? 
  6. Does Oxbridge care about EPQ? 
  7. Does the EPQ give UCAS points? And can you get an A* in EPQ? 
  8. Can you get into uni with 2 A-levels and an EPQ? And does EPQ lower entry requirements? 
  9. Can you fail an EPQ? 
  10. Is an EPQ harder than an AS-level? 
  11. Is an EPQ really worth it? Or is EPQ a waste of time? 
  12. How many UCAS points is A* A*A *? 
  13. What are good topics for EPQ? 
  14. What are the benefits of EPQ? 
  15. How many hours a week is EPQ? 
  16. Can you do EPQ in Year 13? 
  17. How many hours a week should I spend on my EPQ? 
  18. Do you have to write 5000 words for the EPQ?
  19. Can you write a book for EPQ? 
  20. Can you use first person in EPQ? 

 

The extended professional qualification (EPQ) is a brilliant opportunity for you to practice your ability to work independently and apply critical thinking. Both are highly valued by universities. The team at GoStudent have researched EPQs to give you the most comprehensive guide to answer all your questions.  EPQ: Full FAQ

What is the A-level extended project? 

 

The A-level extended project qualification (also known as the EPQ) is an A-level standard standalone qualification designed to develop a person’s abilities beyond what is offered by the A-levels syllabus. The EPQ aims to demonstrate skills which will help the candidate’s application for university or a job. 

The EPQ is worth up to 28 UCAS points (which is equivalent to half of an A-Level). 

The EPQ is an independent student-led project. This means that students get to plan and conduct their research however they like. The only condition is that the topic they choose can not be covered by their other qualifications. They need to think outside the box! 

Students will have to write an essay of 5,000 words or present an object, artefact or performance with a shorter report. 

According to the AQA website (AQA is one of the exam boards which offers the EPQ), the EPQ gives a student the chance to take responsibility for the choice, design and decision making of an individual project (or an individual role in a group project). Students: 

  • develop critical thinking and independent learning skills
  • demonstrate their creative and self-starter qualities
  • grow planning, research, and presentation skills
  • practice decision-making and problem-solving
  • advance technology expertise

Undertaking an EPQ can also deliver other benefits for students, such as:

  • improved A-level performance for students taking EPQ
  • increasing student motivation by allowing them to study topics of personal interest
  • enabling students to apply their new skills to other areas of study.

The OCR website provides an example EPQ project which might be useful to look at. 

 

Does the extended project count as an A-level? 

 

The EPQ counts as half of an A-level. This means that you get EPQ UCAS points. Doing an EPQ boosts your UCAS credits which means that you can apply for university even if your A-level grades are slightly below the university’s entry requirements. Don’t forget that sometimes retaking A-levels can be a winning solution

Instead of viewing the EPQ as an A-level, try and look at it like an A-level booster pack! If you get straight A*s then the EPQ can make you stand out against someone who hasn’t. 

 

Is it hard to get an A in EPQ? 

 

This question really depends on each student. Some people find it easy to get top marks in the EPQ and others find it more of a challenge. 

Take a look at the specifications of the EPQ very carefully. If you follow the marking scheme, it is much easier to know what to do to get top marks. This way you can also see if the EPQ is a good fit for you in terms of learning style. 

Remember that each exam board has different specifications for the EPQ. These are all the different exam boards’ EPQ specification guidelines in one place. 😇

Our GoStudent Tutors can help you prepare for your EPQ by giving you some one-to-one tutoring to target your topic and subject! 

 

Is a level 3 extended project an AS-level? 

 

If you want to make this a points system, technically an EPQ outranks an AS qualification. An A* in your EPQ will count as up to 28 UCAS points while an A* in an AS-level subject will only count for 20 UCAS points. 

An AS-level is the qualification you get below a full A-level. A full A-level counts for 56 UCAS points! 

If you want a full breakdown of what different qualifications are worth in terms of UCAS points, have a look at the UCAS points breakdown which includes the IB, BTEC, Scottish Highers, and Welsh Baccalaureate. 

 

Do Unis care about EPQ? 

 

One of the big questions people often have about anything extra-curricular is: do universities care? The answer is: yes, they do! 

Universities want good candidates. They want students who can think outside of the box, take the initiative, and people who have the motivation to work hard. The EPQ is designed to showcase all of these things and universities rate them very highly. 

It is important to say that some universities don’t value them as much as others. But, at the end of the day, having an extra qualification won’t ever work against you! 

As with all things, you have to balance what you gain against what it costs. There are many people who argue that the time and energy dedicated to doing an EPQ can be better spent elsewhere. But that is down to the individual and what they think they are capable of. 

If you’re thinking about which university to choose, have a look through our guide for choosing the right university for you. 

 

Does Oxbridge care about EPQ? 

 

Both the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford recognise the EPQ for undergraduate applications. The University of Oxford says:

“Where applicants have undertaken the EPQ, this will not be a condition of any offer but the University recognises that the EPQ will provide an applicant with the opportunity to develop research and academic skills relevant for study at Oxford. Candidates are encouraged to draw upon relevant EPQ experience when writing their personal statement.”

This means that your EPQ will not be ‘make or break’ for your university application, but it will benefit your application overall and you should definitely mention it in your personal statement

So Oxford is a kind of ‘yes’, but how does Cambridge (some argue the better uni) 😉 look at EPQ? The University of Cambridge says, 

“We welcome the EPQ and would encourage applicants to take one as it will help to develop independent study and research skills valuable for higher education.”

So both Oxbridge universities recognise and appreciate the EPQ. 🥳

If you are considering applying to Oxbridge, then we suggest you read our handy article on how to apply to Oxford and Cambridge

 

Does the EPQ give UCAS points? And can you get an A* in EPQ?

 

Yes, you get EPQ UCAS points. Your EPQ will be graded between A* - E. The higher the grade you get the more UCAS points your EPQ will be worth (which is the same for your A-level qualifications). 

Here is a breakdown of what EPQ grade is worth how many UCAS points: 

EPQ Grade

UCAS Points

A*

28

A

24

B

20

C

16

D

12

E

8

 

 

Can you get into uni with 2 A-levels and an EPQ? And does EPQ lower entry requirements? 

 

You can theoretically get into university with two A-levels and an EPQ, but it’s not advised. We suggest that you do all 3 A-levels and then do an EPQ on top of it. If you replace an A-level with an EPQ, then your number of UCAS points is impacted.

Remember, universities don’t just look at UCAS points. There are ways to get into uni without A-levels

If you didn’t quite meet your university’s entry requirements with A-levels alone, but you have some EPQ UCAS points, then that university may well take that into consideration.

If you need a bit of help with your A-levels studies, remember that it is never too late to sign up for some one-to-one tutoring with one of our specially selected GoStudent Tutors

 

Can you fail an EPQ? 

 

Sadly, as with most qualifications, you can indeed fail the EPQ.

If you do not meet the necessary criteria to get an E grade, you will be awarded a U, which stands for unclassified. This indicates the student has failed the EPQ. 

Follow our advice above and research the EPQ specification and mark scheme for your examination body. You will have a better understanding of what is required for success with an EPQ.

 

Is an EPQ harder than an AS-level? 

 

This depends on each student and where their academic strengths and motivations lie. Students that benefit from a structured learning approach may find the EPQ harder than an AS-level.

On the other hand, students who prefer to set their own learning goals and are comfortable with time management are more likely to find success with an EPQ.

 

Is an EPQ really worth it? Or is EPQ a waste of time? 

 

As with all qualifications, the EPQ is what you make of it. If you don’t work hard and you get a low score, then it may well feel like a waste of time. If you don’t choose to study something meaningful to you, it will be a long and arduous process. 

The idea behind the EPQ is that you get to choose something that you are passionate about, and you use that to showcase your ability to excel independently. 

According to an article in London Local, the long-term benefit of an EPQ is that it shows “future employers that you’re a self-motivated character with useful skills”.

This suggests that the value of the EPQ is not only in applying for university, but also in giving you experiences which will help you after uni. 

 

How many UCAS points is A* A* A*? 

 

An A* is worth 56 UCAS points, so if you manage to get an impressive three A*s at A-level, you have racked up a grand total of 168 UCAS points. 

If you got three A*s at A-level and also an A* in your EPQ you will have 196 UCAS points. That is a UCAS score universities can’t ignore. 😏

 

What are good topics for EPQ? 

 

There is a wide range of topics that are suitable for an EPQ. However, it all boils down to finding a topic that you are interested in, won’t get tired of, and you can delve into significant detail with. 

AQA advises that you ‘focus on a topic that's interesting and may not be available through other qualifications’.

It is also a good idea to consider a topic which bears some relation to what you want to study at university. 

Once you have chosen a general area that interests you, you need to focus even deeper on a specific part of that topic. The idea is that your EPQ should be unique and there shouldn’t be too many people writing about it. You will need to become an expert! 

 

What are the benefits of EPQ? 

 

There are many benefits to doing an EPQ. As well as gaining UCAS points, and having something to put on your personal statement, the EPQ gives you important transferable skills such as independent research and critical thinking. 

Ignoring UCAS and university applications, if you throw yourself into your EPQ, it can be an amazing experience. 

 

How many hours a week should I spend on my EPQ? 

 

You have around six months to complete your EPQ (that is around 130 week days). The AQA website suggests that students should spend 120 hours on their EPQ – this includes brainstorming, planning, researching, and writing. 

This means that, if you spend around an hour every working day on your EPQ, you’ll have more than enough time. Undertaking an EPQ is a big commitment. You will have a supervisor who you will probably meet with on a regular basis. 

It is very important that you plan ahead and don’t leave it all to the last minute. 

 

Can you do EPQ in Year 13? 

 

In theory, you can do your EPQ at any stage of your education. Usually, people begin thinking about it in year 12, and spend the summer before year 13 doing their preliminary research. 

If you want to do an EPQ in year 13, you should talk with your school beforehand to make sure they’re happy to support you with it.  

 

Do you have to write 5000 words for EPQ? 

 

Usually, people write 5,000 words for their EPQ. If you present an artefact, then your report should be a minimum of 1,000 words. 

Many people think that using an artefact is easier, but it can be just as challenging. If you have an artefact, you need to have a very clear and cohesive report which justifies your project.

 

Can you write a book for EPQ? 

 

Yes! You can write a book for your EPQ. The only thing that we advise before you embark on this mammoth task, is to acknowledge the scope of the project. You will need to be realistic about time requirements. Your book will count as your artefact and will still need a report to accompany it. 

 

Can you use first person in EPQ? 

 

Academia has become more inclusive of different writing styles. Most universities (including Cambridge), say that it is perfectly acceptable to write academic essays in the first person. So if it’s good enough for the University of Cambridge it is probably good enough for your EPQ. 

We hope that our article has given you some useful information on the EPQ and how you should approach it. Remember, our website is full of useful articles about A-levels published by our wonderful GoStudent experts. Check out the exams section of our blog for more A-level content. 

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