Does an EPQ Count as an A-Level?

In A-Level, General by Think Student Editor1 Comment

Going into sixth form is an exciting time, getting to pick new subjects and try things that were not an option before. One of the most exciting options for many students is the EPQ or extended project. It involves writing an extended dissertation or creating an artefact, which can be a lot of work. Therefore, many students want to know what it will be worth to their future, including what an EPQ is classed as.

In this article, we will explain what an EPQ is equivalent to in comparison to A-Levels, as well as BTEC and other key qualifications. We will also explain the process behind an EPQ, and what benefits it can have when applying to university.

An EPQ does not count as an A-Level. However, it can be taken at sixth form or college and alongside other further education qualifications, such as A-Levels or BTECs. In terms of UCAS points, it is roughly worth half of an A-Level with 28 UCAS points for an A*, compared to 56 UCAS points for an A* in an A-Level. In this way, it is also roughly equivalent to an AS-Level.

While this should have given you a short answer to your question, please read on for more information why an EPQ isn’t counted as an A-Level. This article will tell you about what’s involved in an EPQ, including key details about UCAS points and how it compares to A-Levels.

What is an EPQ?

An EPQ is a qualification which can be taken at sixth form or college, alongside qualifications such as A-Levels and BTECs. Many exam boards offer it, but all have the same core components and assessment objectives. It is graded from A*-E, the same as other A-Levels. To find out more about EPQs check out this Think Student article.

The EPQ involves creating a design, performance, dissertation (essay), or artefact, on a topic or theme of your choice in an area of interest. You also have to produce a production log, a written report, and a presentation.

Many people choose to do their EPQ in an area relevant to the subject they want to study at university. It can be very valuable to have this in-depth subject experience, especially if you need interviews for your courses.

If you need inspiration check out this Think Student article that provides 1400+ EPQ ideas.

EQPs are assessed on project management, use of resources including data analysis, the development and creation of your project, including problem-solving skills, and your review of the project through your project log.

Doing an EPQ will help you show project management skills, as well as practise extended writing. These are hugely helpful skills in university, as well as employment.

See the heading below about why you should choose EPQ for more details on the value of this qualification. More details on universities and EPQ can be found here from Think Student.

What is an EPQ equivalent to?

An EPQ is equivalent to half an A-Level, or 28 UCAS points approximately, if you get a top grade. More information on UCAS points can be found in the heading below.

In terms of time spent, most students take around 120 hours, and this is what is recommended by exam boards. This time includes 30 hours of taught skills from your school or college, which will guide you on how to research and write academically, as well as instruction on creating a log for your progress. However, most of your time on EPQ is spent working independently.

This means that, despite being worth half an A-Level, many students find that it takes more intensive work than some of their other courses. However, it is still incredibly valuable to complete. The time you invest will not only be useful to your EPQ, but also to your other subjects, by improving your essay skills and giving you detailed knowledge of a subject you are passionate about.

For example, I spent around 150 hours on my EPQ, the extra time being due to my topic being rarer, so there being less pre-existing research around it. However, I have found the experience has allowed me to really understand areas in my A-Levels in much more depth, actually saving time from revision later on.

Another way that EPQ differs from other qualifications is that it is entirely independent. You choose the subject area and topic, as well as the form you want your qualification to take.

There is no specification and no required content to learn, only a guide of how your piece will be marked. Therefore, the EPQ is not equivalent to any other course available at sixth form or college, as nothing else has the same self-directed approach to learning.

The Good Schools Guide has a great article which explains the requirements of an EPQ in detail, including the number of hours expected, and can be found here. The website for the exam board your school takes for EPQ will also have the most accurate and relevant information for you about requirements and marking.

Is an EPQ equivalent to an AS-Level?

While the EPQ carries around the same number of UCAS points as an AS-Level qualification, it is not the same qualification. It does not count as an AS-Level and is assessed in a completely different way. However, both are level 3 qualifications, which means that they are studied in sixth form or college and can be used to gain UCAS points.

AS-Levels are very similar to A-Levels, as they are mostly tested through exams and structured coursework, with a set syllabus and specification. However, as discussed above, and EPQ works in a completely different way to AS-Levels, with independent work and skills being the focus of the qualification, and students setting their own topic and brief to complete throughout the project.

The UCAS page for EPQ has much more detail on EPQ and the requirements of the project, which is really helpful. It can be found here.

How many UCAS points is an EPQ?

The number of UCAS points you get for an EPQ of course depends on what grade you achieve. However, it is roughly equivalent to half of the number of points gained from the same grade in an A-Level, marked A*-E.

You can do an EPQ alongside almost any qualification at college or sixth form, and they are a really valuable way to broaden your studies, while getting a deep insight into something you are interested in.

Below is a table showing the UCAS points gained from a few different qualifications, and how they compare.

Grade EPQ points A-Level points BTEC points T-Level points
A* 28 56 56 (distinction*) 168
A 24 48 48 (distinction) 144
B 20 40   120
C 16 32 32 (merit) 96
D 12 24   72
E 8 16 16 (pass) N/A

The information in this table is taken from the UCAS website, specifically the grade tariff calculator, which can be found here.

What is the difference between an HPQ and EPQ?

An HPQ is the same as an EPQ, but at GCSE level. They are rare, and few schools offer them, but if you get the chance an HPQ is a really valuable way to broaden your learning at this level.

HPQ is marked in the same way as EPQ, with a similar mark scheme and requirements, but is a shorter project with generally more guidance from your teacher, to reflect the fact that younger students typically take it.

HPQs are expected to take around 60 hours and are marked A* to C or 9- 4. Many schools use them as part of a gifted and talented programme, to stretch students’ skills. UCAS has some helpful information on HPQs on their page, which can be found here.

The HPQ does not give UCAS points, but it will give you a brilliant background of skills that you may need at A-Level, as well as a background of knowledge which you can later apply to an EPQ, or even university study.

If you are questioning whether to take an EPQ, Think Student has a helpful guide which will take you through key considerations and questions to help you make the right choice. It is available on this link.

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8 months ago

thank you for the support