The crux of an EPQ is that it is there not only to test your skills in your chosen product (i.e. fluency, coherency, depth of analysis etc in a project where the product is an essay) but also to test many of the practical skills needed for university study, i.e. time management, ability to rethink, making suitable choices, research skills and evaluation of sources. Therefore it is extremely important that you show these practical skills. Here are some (but by no means all) ways that you can demonstrate these:
Time management - be sure to create a timetable at the very beginning and update it as you go along, retaining all versions. This is not only important for your own organisation but also to demonstrate this skill to the markers. I chose to colour code my time targets as I went, so that there was a visual explanation for how and why my projected timetable developed. Attaching brief comments as you go about any unforeseen difficulties and how this affected your timing not only demonstrates the flexibility expected, but provides you with material for writing your evaluation at the end.
Ability to rethink - This can be demonstrated both in your plans, and in your approach to your question. An EPQ question ought to be broad enough to ensure your work is not repetitive, but narrow enough that you are fully considering all aspects of the question. Your question should evolve as you go along, and making notes on why these changes were made is important.
TOP TIP: Making mistakes is not only natural, but for EPQ it is an important part of getting marks, as the examiners want to see how you learn from these mistakes! Be sure to reference them.
Research skills: Be sure to use a variety of methods of researching a topic, i.e. books from the library, newspaper articles, online articles from databases such as JSTOR, talks. Show an awareness of the variety of places you can source information from, and if you've learn a new skill i.e. search skills, be sure to talk about it in your evaluation. There are lots of websites that will be able to explain basic search skills to you if you haven't come across this topic before.
Evaluation of Sources - As you are coming across these sources, it is important to be selective about which ones you choose. This can be done through a variety of criteria, i.e.
- is the author an expert in their field
- how recently was this written - have new advances been made
- is this reliable i.e. do articles cite their sources or evidence to support their point.
To achieve marks in EPQ you need to demonstrate that you are using these criteria, which can be done implicitly by explaining why you chose these sources. However, another method is to list all sources you looked at, perhaps in a table format, and make comments on whether you used them or not, and how they met each of the criteria. This can also be useful in terms of recording bibliographical information, so that if you change your mind at a late stage and choose to include a source, you have the information to cite it correctly.
Therefore to summarise:
- Explain your thought process for most of what you do, process makes up about 3/4 of the marks in EPQ.
- Include mistakes and changes, you will not be penalised for this.
- Don't be disheartened or afraid of making changes, its all an expected part of the process.
- Enjoy it :)