Stepping into sixth form, many students are striving to achieve a competitive edge over other university applicants. An EPQ is often taken alongside their chosen A-level subjects for the purpose of strengthening their applications, but do universities actually care about it?
EPQs are definitely time-consuming and challenging, however, when completed well, all universities are very likely to consider this qualification when considering your application. Not only does it provide evidence for universities that you hold the skills of conducting independent research, but it also demonstrates a passion for your subjects. So, in short, ALL universities like EPQs, and will highly encourage students to take part in gaining an EPQ. Many will even lower your grade requirements if you hold an EPQ.
Through this article, you will be able to gain insight into general thoughts on EPQ by universities and how it can potentially benefit your application process for universities.
What is an EPQ?
The EPQ (also known as ‘Extended Project Qualification’) is essentially an independent research project, that requires massive amount of writing, planning and self-motivation. It earns you a maximum of 28 UCAS points (which is equivalent to half an A- level), depending on the grade you achieve.
There are two types of EPQ- A 5000-word dissertation and an ‘artefact’. Both enable research on practically anything and any topic of your choice.
The first type of EPQ predominantly includes a 5000-word essay, completion of a pretty long paperwork along with a final presentation on your research.
The second type of EPQ is to create an ‘artefact’, which could be considered as producing a physical product, such as an artwork, a film or even a fashion show!
You will also have to write a short essay accompanying your artefact. Simply describing your artefact and the process you’ve taken to produce it.
In most cases, the chance to undertake an EPQ is provided as soon as you enter sixth form in year 12 and should be completed before your December mocks in year 13. Depending on your sixth form college, you would be given guidance and support, but a high proportion of it should be finished in your own time.
Therefore, completing an EPQ does require high commitment and proper planning skills to schedule it around your studies for other subjects.
What are Some University Testimonials on the EPQ Qualification?
It is obvious that all universities will appreciate an EPQ, but to what extent?
Although all universities recognise EPQ as a great opportunity for applicants to develop their research and academic skills, not all universities place EPQ as an integral part of their decision for accepting applicants, specifically in terms of becoming a condition in offers.
Whilst all universities across the UK do acknowledge the value of EPQ and its ability to prepare applicants for independent study, not all universities will offer Dual EPQ offer, as mentioned above.
G5 universities, including University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, London School of Economics, University of Oxford, University College London, will not consider EPQ as any part of a formal conditional offer for any courses. Nevertheless, they still encourage applicants to ‘draw upon relevant EPQ experience when writing their personal statement’, as mentioned on University of Oxford’s website.
Although, if you are planning to apply to other universities in the Russel Group, it is likely you would be able to obtain an alternative offer that includes EPQ from most of them. Such as in University of Southampton, which states ‘eligible applicants may receive two offers- our usual offer plus an offer of an A in the EPQ and one grade lower in their A level subjects’. Click here to read more.
Even with these testimonials from different universities, deciding on whether you would like to complete an EPQ may still be very difficult, given the number of factors you would have to consider, such as whether it’s worth it and whether you have the time to do it. Click here to read an article dedicated to whether you should do an EPQ.
How Could Having an EPQ Potentially Affect Your University Offers?
We know that EPQ can be worth as much as half of an A-level, then, could it potentially set a lower grade boundary for applicants with conditional offers?
Depending on the course and university you attend, some do actually put alternative offers for candidates that hold an EPQ. However, this usually does not apply to clinical programmes (like Medicine or Dentistry).
From student’s past experience, universities could give dual EPQ offers. For example, in Queen Mary University of London, if a course requires ABB from three A-levels, it’s possible for alternative conditions to be made, where grade requirements will be lowered to BBB and A in EPQ.
Dual EPQ offers are often given, as long as you fulfil a list of requirements, such as being predicted grade A in your EPQ. For more information, you could go to Queen Mary University of London’s page on EPQ.
Many Russel Group universities offer dual EPQ offers across a range of courses, from finance to psychology. However, it seems that this does not apply to Oxbridge colleges if you are planning to apply to them. Click here to find out more about applying to Oxbridge.
Even so, EPQ is still highly valued by them and could potentially be asked about during interviews!
How Can an EPQ Potentially Affect Your University Interview Experience?
Not all degrees will require an interview with applicants, but it is usually the most competitive courses that require one, like professional training degrees (Nursing, education) and talent-based degrees (music, acting). No doubt, the interview will play a big part in whether you are accepted.
Sometimes, questions related to your EPQ can be asked and if so, how will it play into your interview experience?
An EPQ provides you an advantage during interviews, particularly because you will pretty much know everything about the questions being asked. As mentioned, EPQ requires lots of research and takes up more than half of the time in your A-level course, meaning you would have sufficient knowledge of it. It will simply be recalling what you have done since sixth form started.
Compared to interview questions that you can’t prepare for, describing and explaining your EPQ will be much easier. This will minimise the chances of facing a ‘mind blank’ or incoherent information being spoken because you are nervous, potentially putting a bad impression on yourself.
Another issue that can be avoided by being able to talk about your EPQ during an interview, could be reducing the time for unknown questions being asked. Usually, interviews do have a limited time, so being able to talk more about your EPQ will lessen the time for questions you may not know being asked.
By describing your motivation, approach and reflection for your EPQ, you can physically tell and persuade the interviewer on why you fully demonstrate the qualities that the degree and university will be looking for. Adding more points to your application!
What Effect Will Having an EPQ Have on Your University Application?
EPQ will be listed within your application for universities, so would having an EPQ benefit your university applications?
Yes, definitely! Considering the competition amongst students is extremely high these days, universities will be looking for uniqueness in their applicants. Purely owning good grades will not get you into top universities, as many people get these grades. You need to prove that you are different.
EPQ will certainly provide this for you, as you are given the chance to showcase your project planning skills that can’t be determined through test papers, as well as your interests in topics beyond your textbook.
An EPQ tells universities that you hold a wider skill set than other average students. Given that EPQ requires an intense number of preparations, time management is the essence to gaining this qualification. Therefore, EPQ holds the evidence that you will be suited to university life which also consists of substantially more workload than in sixth form.
It also displays a wider understanding and passion for your subject. In the case where your EPQ topic is related to the prospective degree you want to study; your project can be used to indicate your keenness and enthusiasm towards it.
Moreover, EPQ is evidence to your extensive reading and research, which universities (especially top universities) really look for in applicants!
Even though, EPQ is looked at by all universities for all subjects to an extent, they are likely to give more considerations in subjects that are more research based, and in degrees with the knowledge that A-level subjects do not focus on.
For example, Medicine and Classics are popular degrees that would like to see EPQ in their applicants, because they are broad topics that aren’t anywhere covered in A-level subjects such as Biology, English literature, and history.
Whereas in degrees like Math, a fourth subject (like further math) may have more impact on your application in comparison to EPQ. For more information, you could head on over to this article whether you should take A-Level Further maths or an EPQ here.