Most students take 3 A-Levels at college, but some decide to take it to the next step. The question is, what will that next step be for you? A-Level Further Maths, or an EPQ?
In this article I’ll be taking a look at the benefits and drawbacks of taking either A-Level Maths or an EPQ alongside your normal A-Levels. If you need help figuring out what to choose, you’ve come to the right place.
For people wanting the short answer: A-Level Further Maths is a great A-Level to take to make your university application look a lot more appealing. It shows a deep understanding of maths, and a good level of resilience that universities love to see. If you want to go on to study a quantitative subject (like maths or economics) A-Level Further Maths is the way to go, but for anything else? I’d suggest going for an EPQ.
However, if you are wanting a more in-depth answer, I go into a lot more detail below.
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What Is An EPQ? – Just To Make Sure We Are On The Same Page…
An EPQ stands for a ‘Extended Product Qualification’, and it’s basically a large, independent project that you can add to your A-Levels. Most people decide to write an essay of around 5000 words, so you can see that it requires a lot of work.
You can do one of two things – write an long essay about a project and the research you did, or create something and write a slightly smaller essay. Both of these approaches work well, so it’s just up to you to decide what you want to do.
If you want some help deciding what to write your EPQ on, take a look at this list of 600+ EPQ ideas that guarantee an A*.
How Hard Is An EPQ Compared To A-Level Further Maths?
A-Level Further Maths is commonly referred to as the hardest A-Level you can do, but how does an EPQ compare?
Firstly, an EPQ is a lot less work than A-Level Further Maths. You only have to work for as long as it takes to create a product/write an essay, and this can be a short amount of time for some people.
In terms of difficulty of content, however, an EPQ can sometimes be harder than A-Level Further Maths. If you choose a topic that you don’t know much about and can’t find any research for, then you’ll find that an EPQ is much harder than it should be.
How Many UCAS Points Is An EPQ Worth Compared To A-Level Further Maths?
An EPQ can be worth half an A-Level, so 24 UCAS points (if you get an A). More and more students are starting to include an EPQ on their applications to universities, as it gives them an edge over other students.
A-Level Further Maths is worth double this (if you achieve an A grade) ranking at 48 UCAS points. Both of these totals increase slightly if you get an A* grade, but not significantly.
You can see from these totals that A-Level Further Maths is worth double the points, but takes double the amount of work. You just need to work out whether or not you’re prepared to go the extra mile for university.
What Do Universities Prefer?: A-Level Further Maths Or An EPQ?
Universities love both A-Level Further Maths and an EPQ, but there are different situations where one is better than the other.
For example, if you’re going on to do a quantitative subject such as maths, universities will want to see A-Level Further Maths. A-Level Further Maths shows universities your skill and independent ability, which is what they need to see.
However, an EPQ can be good too, if you’re going on to do a qualitative subject like english. An EPQ shows universities your initiative and resourcefulness, whilst also giving an indicator of your independent ability.
It’s for these reasons that universities will sometimes lower their offers specifically because you have an EPQ. If you achieve a good grade in your EPQ, you’ll have a higher chance of getting in to university.
What Looks Better On Your CV?: A-Level Further Maths or an EPQ?
Perhaps the most useful document you can have during and after education is your CV. It documents all your qualifications and achievements, but which looks better – an EPQ, or A-Level Further Maths?
A-Level Further Maths is a lot more prestigious than an EPQ, but will only work in the right situations. As I’ve said, quantitative opportunities make use of A-Level Further Maths more than an EPQ.
However, an EPQ will work in mostly any situation you find yourself in. Employers love to see EPQs, and more and more universities are starting to look for EPQs in applications.
In the end, it’s all about what you want to do after college. If you want to go on to study a maths related subject/work with numbers, A-Level Further Maths is probably the way to go.
Whereas if you’re more about words and maybe don’t want to have anything to do with maths after college, an EPQ might be your best shot.
Where Can An EPQ Take You?
An EPQ can be used for many things, as it shows other people your independent ability and resilience.
Most commonly, an EPQ will make it easier for you to get into university. Extra UCAS points are always appreciated by any university, especially when they come from an EPQ.
An EPQ isn’t only good for university, though. An EPQ can also get you better jobs, easier employment, and maybe even some apprenticeships, too.
Where Can A-Level Further Maths Take You?
A-Level Further Maths can take you similar places to an EPQ, but can be used in different circumstances.
A-Level Further Maths will make it easier for you to apply for quantitative activities. What this basically means is university courses related to maths, and jobs that are related to maths too.
Because of the extreme difficulty and reputation of A-Level Further Maths, it will make it a lot easier for you to get where you want to go. Employers and other peers respect A-Level Further Maths more than any other A-Level, provided you have the right grades.
Many students don’t know how difficult A-Level Further Maths really is, and this leads to many of them switching courses early in the academic year. Make sure you know what you’re getting into before you take this A-Level.
What Grades Do You Need To Be Able To Take A-Level Further Maths?
A-Level Further Maths is very difficult, and so you’ll need some pretty good maths grades to be able to take it.
The absolute minimum GCSE Maths grade you need to take A-Level Further Maths is a 7. This of course is alongside all your other GCSEs as well, because you need to pass English if you want to do any A-Levels.
Colleges require that you have these grades, because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to keep up with the course. A-Level Further Maths is a hard A-Level, and only the most able students can do it.