Do you want your UCAS application to stand out? Are you looking for a way to boost your grades? Or maybe you want a head start on useful skills that’ll help you through uni? An Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) could be just the thing for you.
What is an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)?
An EPQ is a qualification awarded to students who complete a particular type of research project, about a subject they’re really interested in. It gives students a chance to show they can manage independent research and project management, which looks pretty impressive to universities and employers!
In one recent year, over 33,000 students signed up to do an EPQ, in lots of different subject areas. The project can take around 120 hours to complete, and could be worth half an A level (up to 70 UCAS points), depending on your final grade. An EPQ can be completed during the summer holidays, so it doesn’t have to mess up your study schedule.
Benefits of Extended Project Qualifications (EPQs)
- More and more universities and employers are recognising EPQs when assessing applications, so it can boost your chances of getting to where you want to be.
- It helps develop skills like Critical thinking, Problem-solving, Presentation, and Creativity, which are all really useful not only for university studies, but also for the world of work.
- It gives you the chance to explore your passions, and become an expert in something that really interests you – this could potentially be something you’ve never had the chance to formally study.
- It increases your confidence, knowing your hard work has resulted in an extra qualification, expert knowledge, and skills and experience that you might not have otherwise had.
- It gives you something unique to talk about in interviews, which can be very handy if you’re running out of things to say! If it’s related to the uni course you’re applying for, even better.
- It could widen your options for funding – UEA’s Bright Spark Scholarship requires students to hold a research project qualification, such as an EPQ.
What does an EPQ involve?
You’ll need to pick a specific topic that you want to investigate, and then either write a report about it (of around 5000 words), or produce a ‘product’ (such as a website or musical recording) and a shorter report. After that you’ll be asked to round everything up into a short presentation to a group of people who are not specialists in your subject.
During the project you’ll be demonstrating your ability to search for information, plan a project, write academically, think critically, build and support arguments, and record and reflect critically on your progress. These are all skills you’ll need to use at university, so getting a head start could be a blessing in disguise!
Help with EPQs
You’ll have a project supervisor (usually a teacher) who will help you through the process, and you may even have access to other educational resources locally.
Getting started with EPQs
Speak to your college or school in the first instance, as you’ll need their support to do an EPQ - they can help you decide whether it's right for you, and where to start. Some schools may not yet have a formal process for supporting EPQs, but don't worry if this is the case, as universities recognise that not everyone has the option of completing an EPQ.
If you really want to explore a particular subject, or you enjoy developing your skills and knowledge, give it a go, and good luck!