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Should dd drop EPQ?

(21 Posts)
QGMum Sun 05-Jan-20 11:13:24

Dd is in Y12 doing 4 A levels as she is doing maths and further maths. She is also doing an EPQ but is talking about dropping this. What are the benefits of doing an EPQ?

She has chosen her EPQ topic and is interested in it but is finding it hard to find time and motivation.

She does a lot of sport, is doing gold DofE and socialises a lot so doesn't have a lot of free time. Her other two A levels are essay type subjects. She is academically able and not struggling with any of her A levels at the moment.

She planned to work on the EPQ over Xmas but this hasn't happened. I don't know what the point or benefit of an EPQ is so have no idea if I should be encouraging her to continue or not. Help please!

OP’s posts: |
Ginfordinner Sun 05-Jan-20 11:15:46

Blimey. I'm impressed she can fit so much in. IMO she doesn't need an WOW as well. Although universities tend not to care either way about D of E.

TeenPlusTwenties Sun 05-Jan-20 11:54:37

I thought the two potential benefits of doing an EPQ are:
1) You might get lower offers, eg AAA or AAB+EPQ
2) You learn new skills which are then useful at university
But I have no personal experience on this.

Ginfordinner Sun 05-Jan-20 13:31:35

I think you are right Teen, but the OP's DD is doing a lot, and if she really is capable of getting 4 excellent A level grades anyway then I would ditch the EPQ, especially if it is going to affect the A level grades.

I understand from reading many higher education threads on here that universities take more notice of EOQs than D of E anyway. So maybe ditch the D of E instead of the EPQ?

It seems that EPQs have become much more popular just in the last couple of years. It wasn't offered at DD's school, and when we were looking at medical schools in 2017 the admissions tutors at every subject talk said that they wouldn't take EPQs into consideration as they realised that many schools didn't do them.

MillicentMartha Sun 05-Jan-20 13:58:12

I think it partly depends on what degree subject she’s likely to take and what universities she’s interested in. Some will take an EPQ into account. If she wants to do an essay heavy subject at university the EPQ will be good practice. If she wants to do maths at uni, it’s less useful. Is she continuing with 4 A levels in Y13? Some university offers will take 4 A levels into account, eg AABB instead of AAA etc, in which case the EPQ might be superfluous.

My DS in Y13 has dropped his EPQ. He wants to do maths and is concentrating (so he says!) on STEP instead as that is included in 2 of his offers and he’s more likely to do well in that than in an EPQ. He dropped down to 3 A levels after doing AS levels in Y12 so has an AS in his 4th subject. He’s doing maths, FM and computer science. As he’s wanting to do maths that’s not seen as too narrow a subject choice.

MillicentMartha Sun 05-Jan-20 14:00:29

STEP is the Cambridge entrance exam for maths, btw. DS isn’t applying to Cambridge but some other universities include it in their offer.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 05-Jan-20 14:04:27

My son had lower offers from 4 of his 5 universities if he got an A on the EPQ. It was nowhere near half the work required for his A level subjects, and to be honest mostly done last minute. It is the masterchef of qualifications - all about the journey - so comprehensive project plans and diaries etc. are more important than the quality of the finished dissertation/artefact. However, he was only doing three A levels.

ConfidingFish Sun 05-Jan-20 14:04:59

I agree with Gin that a uni will care more about an EPQ or at least the process of the EPQ and how you could take it further, than D of E.

Ds1 is in year 12 doing 4 A levels which includes maths, further maths, computer science and physics but his uni choice is computer science and all the info we have from the unis he has already looked at say they don't want an EPQ.

So if your DD knows roughly what she might be interested in look at the unis entry requirements. As Teen says it can result in a lower offer if you ace out the EPQ. So AAA becomes AAB with the highest grade possible on the EPQ, it can be a point of discussion in an uni interview too.

You have posted this in secondary but there is a futher education board for all sixth form/college talk over here

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/further_education

Stillabitemo Sun 05-Jan-20 14:05:11

I’m a fan of the EPQ because it develops the skills that students really struggle with at Uni.

I would suggest dropping Gold DoE and trying to find EPQ time from that

CrackedHeels2 Sun 05-Jan-20 14:17:39

I am an A level teacher (head of department), head of EPQ and a sixth form tutor.

As posters have mentioned SOME universities make lower offers if a student has attained A or A* in EPQ, therefore it is a positive strategy in some cases.

Absolutely no need to four A levels and a EPQ in my opinion - can result in lower overall grades due to having to spread time out so much.

Depending on likely universities that she is applying to consider dropping either the fourth A level or EPQ. Vast majority of offers are based on three A levels only. So four may not be of benefit if not Oxbridge or of that level.

I would say keep DofE - so many "soft skills" to mention in UCAS personal statement and examples of skills to back up statements. This will really help her to present as a well-rounded candidate. Also put all DofE on qualifications section of UCAS application.

Summary: drop either EPQ or fourth A level, no benefit / need in doing both.

Ginfordinner Sun 05-Jan-20 15:43:00

Interestingly DD's school were very pro D of E. All the subject talks we attended at various universities for medicine and biomedical sciences said that they weren't interested in D of E, and the biomed schools we looked at said that they only read the personal statement if the student's grades were borderline.

I found in many cases what the school though what universities wanted was different from what the universities said they wanted.

Aragog Sun 05-Jan-20 15:48:20

DD is in Y13 and has dropped EPQ, as have most people in her year who initially started it. Despite good talks the school weren't actually pro active in supporting students doing it. It was difficult to get appointments with the tutors assigned and most seemed to have little understanding of what was needed, and gave very little information. The proposed parent's guidance information about it never happened. We decided that as DD's other A levels all solved daily big coursework elements it was just one extra thing to add in and the benefits of it weren't high enough. The universities we visited weren't particularly bothered about in for her subject choices and they were all far more interested in her having relevant work experience etc instead.

titchy Sun 05-Jan-20 16:12:50

Do NOT drop the fourth A level - very poor advice that for a year 12 student doing FM - unless she is 100% certain on her degree choice. Definitely drop one at the end of year 12 though. Unis don't care about DofE - only mention on the PS if you need a filler. That said it's a nice thing to do if you're enjoying it.

EPQ - as others have said some unis drop the offer by a grade if the applicant gets an A in it. If she's not certain of an A, and it doesn't sound as if she is at the point in time, then drop it.

Ginfordinner Sun 05-Jan-20 16:26:13

We decided that as DD's other A levels all solved daily big coursework elements

DD had an NEA to do for her geography coursework. It involved research and ended up as a 6,000 word mini dissertation. I think it will be useful experience for university. In terms of what was required for her university course they made it very clear that they focussed on grades only.

whiteroseredrose Sun 05-Jan-20 16:28:21

Thank you for posting this OP as we are in the same situation.

After a lot of discussion I think that DD has decided to drop the EPQ. The consensus seems to be that 4 really good A Level grades are better than lower grades plus the EPQ.

DS did 4 A Levels and the EPQ (not D of E though) and felt that the EPQ was not worth the extra time. The research and essay itself were interesting but he found the reflective journal frustrating and a waste of time.

avocadochocolate Sun 05-Jan-20 19:45:59

I think what Teen says is pretty much right. My DD is in Y13 and handed in her EPQ in October. She is also doing 4 A Levels and did the Silver DofE and has a few hobbies. She had a very low offer from Bath Uni due to the EPQ. Since her EPQ was in the subject area she wants to do at uni, she was able to talk about it in her personal statement, which helped to make her PS very strong.

She has done real low points, including tears doing the EPQ. There were periods of weeks when she did no work on it at all. It is a difficult thing to do.

I helped my DD do a project plan when she was at her lowest and that really seemed to help. I would say sit down with your DD and discuss it calmly and logically. It can get overwhelming.

QGMum Sun 05-Jan-20 23:15:39

Thank you everyone for your replies. I feel better equipped now to support dd in making the decision whether to drop EPQ or not.

OP’s posts: |
Carla0 Sun 05-Jan-20 23:46:58

I think it depends on what she wants to do as her degree really.

For instance, if it’s maths, then obviously keep up the Further Maths.

But if it’s either if the essay-based subjects, or a combo of the two / related subject, the EPQ will give her the edge if it’s in a relevant topic.

At the school my eldest goes to, they very strongly push them to do EPQ over a fourth A-level. This is a “super selective” London independent with a very high Oxbridge / Ivy League rate. At the Open Evening for A-level, they showed the feedback they had from Oxbridge and other uni destinations, here and abroad, and the message was that the EPQ is now regarded as preferable over a fourth A-level because it demonstrates higher research skills / originality of thought etc, which are the skills they are looking for. In fact, the school strongly advise against a fourth A-level, unless it’s FM or a language (if the student is bilingual). They say there is no need these days whatsoever.

Is her EPQ relevant to her further study and will it give her something to discuss in an interview?

Purpledragon40 Mon 06-Jan-20 10:19:47

Depends what she wants to do a degree in and what the EPQ is about. If the EPQ is tangibly related to the degree like if the EPQ is about history and she wants to a history degree it's good because it shows you care about the subject. Universities want to see your passionate about the subject your applying for and a relevant EPQ shows that.

Don't do an EPQ which is entirely unrelated to future plans but also if she wants to drop an EPQ she should probably drop it because she won't do well on anything she doesn't want to do.

Needmoresleep Mon 06-Jan-20 11:49:16

I disagree with Carla. Keep the FM, especially if she is interested in Social Science. Double maths is a real advantage if applying for subjects like economics or psychology.

As for EPQ or DOE, both offer good life skills. Do whichever you like best. The experience of an EPQ could well help if she later has to complete some sort of dissertation. However there is a
lot more to life than pleasing University admissions departments and sport and DofE will give her plenty of soft skills.

WhyAmIPayingFees Wed 08-Jan-20 19:31:04

Doing too much - Keep the further maths and drop the DOfE. Nobody in a
University admissions team cares about DOFE. EPQ benefit depends on relevance to university course.

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