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EPQs, are they worth the extra work?

(32 Posts)
TinklyLittleLaugh Tue 19-Apr-16 20:00:07

Just this really. My DD quite fancies doing one but is it really a good use of her time? She will probably be going to a half decent Uni, but not an absolutely top tier difficult to get into one.

boys3 Tue 19-Apr-16 20:46:11

DS1 enjoyed doing his. Did not find it overly onerous and secured a high grade. Whether it made the slightest difference to how his applications were viewed is is impossible to tell. Only cautionary note would be for your DD to manage the topic she chooses and time spent on it - get the feeling from some on MN (and indeed in RL) that some DC end up turning it into a doctoral thesis - in terms of time spent on it, as opposed to quality of the end product

Haffdonga Tue 19-Apr-16 21:03:03

Ds1 did one and ds2 is doing one now. Be aware that the 'academic' unis don't take any notice of the UCAS points awarded from an EPQ. However it is very handy to have something they can talk about in their PS and interviews.

It is a lot of independent work, so they really have to be motivated to do it without a teacher telling them. Ds2 says more than half the students who started one in his year have dropped out. I actually think ds2 is spending more time than he should and it's detracting from AS revision.

Unless your dd wants to do a subject at uni that's partularly competitive or research based or she just loves studying for studying's sake, I'd be wary.

Leeds2 Tue 19-Apr-16 21:14:21

My DD didn't do one, nor do many at her school. I don't think it made the slightest difference to her uni applications, although I absolutely agree that if your DC are likely to be called for interview, it is something relevant to talk about.

365isalot Tue 19-Apr-16 21:38:40

Some of my DDs friends did EPQs, and i thouht she should too, but she didnt want to and refused. They are in year 13 now & all have all 5 offers from all their chosen Universities, all RG ones (fwiw) .EPQ didnt seem to make a difference. I know one of her friends was very stressed by the extra work & felt it got in the way of exam prep . So on balance im glad she didnt, they have enough to get on with as it is!

TinklyLittleLaugh Wed 20-Apr-16 10:07:44

Thanks for the replies. She is thinking of maybe an Art based EPQ as she is very reluctantly dropping Art A level next year. She wants to study Classics at Uni so maybe trying to do something about classical Art (backpacking round Italy in the summer so lots of visual research opportunities).

I don't think she is planning to apply anywhere that interviews, but as people have said, it is something she can mention in her personal statement. She will probably spend hours drawing anyway, so it might as well be something she gets some credit for I suppose.

samandcj Wed 20-Apr-16 10:45:33

My DD did a history EPQ. She honestly really enjoyed it!
She received 5 offers. Both Birmingham and Lancaster gave her lower offers linked to her getting an A for her EPQ......
Offer was AAB or ABB plus A in EPQ.
She feels it was definitely with it.

Eustace2016 Wed 20-Apr-16 11:09:09

My two are having to decide today if they do one. The other choices are a school's equivalent or entering an essay in a subject specific competition. One said he will probably do the EPQ and the other the competition and we certainly decided it was more to have something to talk about in interviews and to get used to long essays/dissertations and to pick something you are really interested in so can get into it and enjoy it than that it will make a material difference to university entrance (although their school thinks it is worth doing).

I will see what they decided tonight. If they do the EPQ option they have one "lesson" timetabled in it a week - which I think is just supervised getting on with it in school time.

Coconutty Thu 21-Apr-16 19:55:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

frocksnogandbusters Fri 22-Apr-16 16:38:46

My DD did one and my ds is halfway through his now. I think it has made a difference with unis.....she is doing physics at (hopefully) Lancaster. Entry requirements are AAA. Theybsaid depending on her EPQ they may be able to lower her entry requirements. She got A* in EPQ and offer was then made on AAB so has eased some pressure. Interestingly she also had interview at York (RG) and they weren't even the slightest bit interested and still asked for AAA at A level. I get the feeling that the 'rg' label makes the Unis feel that they can pick and choose the students. Interestingly though Lancaster is higher ranked for physics than York, does more research projects and has more funding for physics than York. It's then the old choice of a) RG uni but possibly not the leading uni in that subject or b) the higher regarded uni that doesn't have the RG label.....all personal choice but in DD case she was hardworking and diligent and this has paid off. But let's see what ds does with his....progress there is slow and difficult. Fwiw dd's does not relate to physics either, I think Lancaster just recognised the ability to self learn.

MarianneSolong Mon 25-Apr-16 10:52:35

My daughter did one. I'm not sure if it was suggested by her school. But I encouraged her to do it, as I felt the planning and research and work involved meant it would be a good preparation for the kind of independent study and essay writing that she'd go on to do at university.

AtiaoftheJulii Mon 25-Apr-16 11:00:46

I do think they help develop good independent study/research skills. Neither of my daughters have done one though! Those of Dd1's friends who enjoyed theirs the most were doing them about something they loved already, rather than out of a sense of duty.

hayita Mon 25-Apr-16 11:14:16

I think Lancaster just recognised the ability to self learn.

Hmm. I think it is more a recruitment strategy.

Physics is under-subscribed. Top ten courses were in clearing last year at rather low grades. In reality Lancaster, York etc are all going to be accepting AAB or ABB or lower in August. So the issue is whether they admit this to students ahead of time or try to pretend that they really want AAA. Lancaster have taken a more sensible approach, but I don't think this is a RG versus non-RG issue - this is about specific choices made by admissions teams.

In general EPQ is not particularly valued by physics departments. I suspect Lancaster has used it as a reason to give a lower offer to attract a strong female student - there is pressure to improve gender ratios in physics, and many universities are competing for female physics students. I know of at least one university which is higher ranked for Lancaster for physics which is planning to introduce differentiated offers for women and under-represented minorities.

Bearcatt Mon 25-Apr-16 21:15:27

DS2 did one in 2009.
All the Oxbridge candidates at his 6th form college were expected to do one.
He got an interview at Oxford but didn't get in & was asked absolutely nothing at interview about his EPQ. I would say that it wrecked his summer between 6.1 & 6.2, but he did get an A*!!!
It probably stood him in goodstead for independent writing at university and may well have helped him get his place at another very competitive university for his economics degree.

goingmadinthecountry Mon 25-Apr-16 23:08:08

Mine didn't bother and both had 5 reasonable offers - one for law, one for politics, pretty well all RG.

Lancaster has clearly moved itself up the ladder since I was in the 6th form!

Molio Tue 26-Apr-16 08:08:30

Five of my DC have done an EPQ and none did any work over the summer holidays as far as I know - or at least if they did do any reading for it, it clearly wasn't a holiday wrecker! (they also got A*s). I think it's a good exercise provided the topic is selected carefully, or a student will simply get bogged down and then the whole thing is a pain. An A* in the EPQ can help salvage an offer if the offer grades are just missed - perhaps not at every uni but certainly at some.

senua Tue 26-Apr-16 08:39:20

I think that the EPQ is like all these things: if you do it just to get UCAS brownie points then you are missing the point. If you do it for its own sake - because of the self-fulfillment and enjoyment - then it is a good thing.
Mine didn't do EPQ but did other time-consuming extra-curriculars. The primary reason they did it was because they wanted to, but both have had beneficial side-effects.

Bearcatt Tue 26-Apr-16 18:10:31

A comment regarding Molios post is that my son & others at his 6th form college were told to complete to a large extent the EPQ in the summer holidays for fear of it damaging their term time work towards hopefully excellent A' level results in the following year.
I think that to have done this in term time would have been very difficult on top of his other work doing 4 A' levels, not forgetting a part time waiting job.
It was an expectation for the students applying to Oxbridge to do it. I suppose it was a way of showing that you had gone beyond your A' level work & had done extra work reading around your subject.
It's hard & not for the faint hearted I'd say.

MarianneSolong Tue 26-Apr-16 18:16:34

My daughter's school encouraged the EPQ but discouraged her from doing the 4 A-Levels she originally had wanted to do. (Initially she hadn't wanting to drop one of her 4 AS subjects.) She ended up doing 4, but the 4th was Critical Thinking - which she just did a bit of independent study for with a mate. The school gave some support with the EPQ I think. Maybe 3 sessions in the autumn term?

Cherryburn Tue 26-Apr-16 18:50:04

My DD didn't do one (though many in her year have). She has continued with all 4 of her subjects at A level and I think felt that an EPQ on top might be a step too far. She did enter a Cambridge essay competition in Y12 and that required a lot of research/reading round her subject.

Molio Tue 26-Apr-16 20:08:45

Oh ok Bear fair enough. Mine only had to complete theirs by Feb or so and I don't think it impacted on their A2s to any significant extent even though the ones in question also worked for money too. I reckon your DS's school was just playing safe (but a bit too safe if it wrecked summer hols!).

serin Thu 28-Apr-16 21:56:35

DD loved doing hers on a subject that is dear to her heart. She learned such a lot about working independently.

RandomMess Thu 28-Apr-16 22:04:17

DD was required to do one in the subject she wanted to study by one of the unis she applied to because she hadn't studied that A-level.

I think she learned a lot from doing it and she enjoyed it.

whatwouldrondo Fri 29-Apr-16 01:49:18

My DD's school set a week aside in the summer term of AS year, after the exams, to do a research based project which they could choose to work up into an EPQ. As others have said it was invaluable in terms of learning skills that she is now using at uni, even basic things like referencing (which I know is the bane of first year tutor's lives and anyone who last went to uni in the twentieth century probably cannot appreciate the rigour now required) as well as something she could devote a paragraph of her EPQ to. Since she was predicted higher grades than stipulated for the courses she applied for I don't suppose it made a difference to the UCAS process but it has certainly made a difference to her uni experience, and I suspect, her ability to hit the ground running in terms of the marks and feedback she has been getting. She has certainly manifested the knowledge and ideas she developed in doing it in seminars . It also helped cement her enthusiasm for her subjects and for studying them at uni. At risk of appearing a helicopter parent, as per the discussion on other threads, having quite recently studied a related area at Masters I do discuss her academic work with her but I think the EPQ may well be the point where she started to manifest the fact that she is way cleverer, and much better at articulating theoretical approaches, than I am........

2rebecca Fri 29-Apr-16 22:45:49

No-one my children in Scotland know has done one. It was never mentioned at either of their schools. The info on it says it's worth half an A level so it's maybe a southern thing.

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