Whenever I reeled off the title of my Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) to my friends, family and peers, they were simultaneously surprised and impressed. The response I received was often along the lines of “Wow, that sounds really hard!” and, “How did you become interested in that?”
The title of my project was ‘To what extent have the Christian Evangelical right influenced the formation of US legislation in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century?’
The good news is that university admissions staff will react to the title of your EPQ in very much the same way.
What is an EPQ?
The EPQ is an opportunity to independently research a topic of your choice and produce an extended piece of work that presents your findings. Though most EPQs will consist of a 5000-word dissertation style essay, you can to produce a musical/dramatic composition, or even build an artefact. Not only are you free to study anything you want, the qualification is worth half an A Level and you can get up to 70 UCAS points for doing it. Take note, though: UCAS announced that in 2017 the EPQ will have a maximum 28 tariff points.
Why should I do an EPQ?
Three top Russell Group universities, Manchester, Southampton and Liverpool, have sections dedicated to the EPQ on their university admissions pages.
The University of Manchester states “The skills that students develop through the Extended Project are excellent preparation for university-level study. Students can refer to the Extended Project in their UCAS personal statements and at interview to demonstrate some of the qualities that universities are looking for.”
A student who completes an EPQ demonstrates impressive initiative alongside an ability to conduct independent learning and utilise self-discipline and time management to meet deadlines.
More specifically, an EPQ also demonstrates a deep passion for your subject. A Level exam board syllabuses are studied by thousands of students across the country every year, many of who will be achieving, or exceeding, your expected target grade. The truth is, it is these very students who will be your fiercest competition throughout the university application process.
It is now, more than ever, that you need to stand out from the crowd.
Undertaking an EPQ will allow you to study an unorthodox and unique topic that no other student will understand in as much depth or detail. The qualification will demonstrate your individual personality and a distinguished academic flare.
However, the EPQ is not without its criticisms.
Why should I not do an EPQ?
The main criticism leveled against the EPQ is that volunteering and work experience can demonstrate as much, if not more, independence, initiative and passion for a cause or subject.
Does this mean that we can’t have both work experience and an EPQ?
My personal statement was decorated with examples of work experience, from an internship in Parliament, to pressure group and charity involvement. Your summer holidays are the perfect time to gain some crucial work or voluntary experience that you can use to support your university application. And when the summer is over and term time begins, you can manage your time effectively and produce a stellar EPQ.
Completing an EPQ not only fuelled my love for American politics and history, it set me apart from the crowd, and led me to being accepted by two of the most competitive universities in the world: the London School of Economics and Durham University.
If you want to the chance to study something that you really love and have your personal statement sparkle in the sky-high pile of applications on the admissions desk of your dream university – you need to do an EPQ.
If you need any EPQ help with referencing, research or understanding complex content, please do not hesitate to contact a relevant MyTutorWeb tutor.
Written by Sophie Tulley
A MyTutor EPQ Tutor