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The EPQ and your personal statement: top tips

Are you taking the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)? If so, it’s worth a mention in your personal statement. It may even help you bag some extra Ucas points…

The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is it a fantastic opportunity to experience university-style study and expand your knowledge in an area of interest.

First of all, what is an EPQ?

An EPQ is an additional qualification you can choose to take alongside your A-levels. It doesn't need to be related to a subject you're studying.

As part of an EPQ, you choose a topic or research question which you research in great depth. Assessment can either be via written report, brief oral presentation or creating a 'product' - this could be hosting an event or making a physical item like a piece of art or a video game.

An EPQ is an excellent taster of university-style learning and an opportunity to expand your knowledge in a particular area, as you focus on a specific subject or area of interest. It can be a great asset to your Ucas application too, especially if you're applying to a competitive course or university, and need everything you can to stand out.

Plus, if you're applying to a course with vocational or practical elements, the 'product' you create could be something you include in a portfolio or a way to demonstrate certain skills (e.g. if you host an event, organisation and team-work skills).


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Why mention the EPQ in your personal statement?

Whether you are just starting out on your project plan or some way down the line to completion, writing in an interesting (but concise!) way about your ideas, objectives, progress or initial findings can really help to make your personal statement stand out from the crowd. Especially so if it's directly relevant to the course you're applying for.

It's also a great way to demonstrate that you're someone who's really up for carrying out your own independent research - which, at the end of the day, is what university study is all about.  

How do universities view the EPQ? 

The general message from universities is that they really like the EPQ - a quick flick through online prospectuses confirms this:
  • University of Southampton: 'Students could use their project at interview stage and/or in their UCAS personal statement. Certain courses at the University will count 'A' grades achieved in the extended project towards their entry criteria.' 
  • University of Manchester: 'The skills that students develop through the Extended Project are excellent preparation for university-level study.'
  • University of Liverpool: 'We encourage candidates to draw upon their experience of undertaking the project when writing their personal statement.' 
University of York’s Admissions Administrator for English, Sheila Cosgrove, put this into sharper focus when she gave us her opinion on it: 'The EPQ is a definite strength in an application. It can create the heartland of a personal statement and give it depth and substance.'

How to write about the EPQ

Remember, as we say in all our other personal statement advice, make sure you write about your EPQ experiences in a specific way.

Just writing 'I am doing the extended project and it is improving my independent research skills' is too general and hundreds of other applicants will say exactly the same thing. In order to make it much more interesting and individual, write about it reflectively with several lines or a short paragraph explaining how!


If you're writing your personal statement right now, check out our top 10 things to include, as well as these personal statement pitfalls to avoid. 


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