Ultimate Guide to the EPQ – Should I do the EPQ?

Welcome to the eighth and final part of this series on the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). Throughout this series, we have offered information, advice and insight into many different aspects of the exciting world of the EPQ. In the beginning, we focused on choosing a topic and understanding the qualities you need to show to be a successful candidate. After that, we looked at individual parts of the EPQ, namely the essay/product, crucial production log and final presentation. I also studied the roles of your EPQ supervisor and school’s centre coordinator.

In part 7, I made the case to parents on the benefits of the EPQ and what it can mean for you in the short and long term. The culmination of all this information now brings us here, to part 8, where we will help students to answer the all-important question:

Should I do the EPQ, or not?

First – Know that the EPQ is not for everyone

This sounds like a harsh statement, but it’s the truth. Some schools will have rules (perhaps unwritten, but certainly practised) on who can and can’t enter for the EPQ. Your centre coordinator knows better than anyone just how challenging a task it can be, and for some, it can prove to be too much.

If your EPQ centre coordinator and/or teachers recommend that you do not take part in the EPQ, we suggest that you follow that advice unless you have an excellent reason not to. They may make that recommendation based on any or all of the following:

  1. They believe the EPQ will negatively impact progress in your regular A-Level courses.
  2. You won’t have the time to dedicate to the EPQ. For example, if you are doing more than three full A-Level subjects, then your free time will be minimal.
  3. The EPQ won’t bring you a competitive advantage for your university admission.
  4. The coordinator or teacher believes that you are unable to achieve a high score for whatever reason.

Again, these may seem harsh, but if the school is making this kind of suggestion, they are doing so in your interest. Depending on the exact reasoning, however, you may still be able to proceed and prove them all wrong.

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Second – When is it right to choose the EPQ?

Taking all of the above into consideration, the question arises: When is it right to do the EPQ? In our view, the EPQ is perfect for any students for whom the following descriptions align well:

  1. You are completing a regular schedule of 3 full A-Levels in year 13 and have more time to dedicate to the project. After dropping one subject, you will have an increased number of free periods in your timetable. This is time you can use to work on your EPQ at school and arrange to meet with your Supervisor.
  2. You are applying to a competitive university in which you need an admissions edge. Some top universities may even lower their grade requirements for you because they were so impressed. The EPQ goes a long way to prove your competence, diligence and aptitude in a specific field.
  3. You want to explore a subject with a particular career path in mind. The EPQ is a unique opportunity for you to cover aspects of an issue that your classroom material doesn’t cover. This can help provide a window of insight into future careers, and either confirm or realign your long-term goals.
  4. You have a strong personal passion for a topic and wish to master independent study skills while exploring this topic in greater depth. For some, whether or not they do, the EPQ comes down to having a genuine interest in something and a desire to pursue it. No EPQ was ever completed successfully by someone just picking an arbitrary path.

Finally – Make your decision wisely.

Using the information that you’ve read in our series, as well as heeding the advice of your teachers and parents, you should be able to make the right decision as to whether or not the EPQ is right for you.

Don’t rush into the project rashly. Think about your unique circumstances, and whether or not you are truly ready and able to take on this process. If you do, it will be hard work, but the rewards are genuine and significant. If you do not, then it could be the best choice for you all the same.

The EPQ is not for everyone, and not doing it doesn’t mean you are at a significant disadvantage compared to your peers. We all of us walk our path, and there are always many roads to our final destination.

I hope you have enjoyed this series on the Extended Project Qualification. Look out for more article series right here on Primrose Kitten.