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Should I take an EPQ to compensate for poor GCSEs? Watch

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    Hello, just joined here, after a while following posts and the like on here, so well met all.
    I have high, and slightly unrealistic ambitions of going to a Cambridge College for University, to study Law I am thinking, having achieved pretty unremarkable and disappointing GCSEs, is it worth taking an EPQ next year (I'm in year 12) to try and help compensate for my below-par GCSE performance?
    I achieved:
    Add. Science - C
    Applied History - B
    Core Science - C
    Eng. Language - A
    Eng. Literature - A
    History - A
    Maths - B
    Media Studies - L1D
    Religious Studies - A*
    And in D&T, an E. Enough said about that particular disgrace. It should be noted that I do intend to retake Maths this year though.
    I know incredibly little about EPQs, and any information about them would be appreciated, also any ideas on what I could, if I decide to do one, do it in.
    Furthermore, will a good EPQ in anyway help compensate my less than stellar GCSE performance?
    Thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings, have a good day.
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    Better take a fourth A-level than the EPQ, if you ask me. The EPQ does not really compensate for anything and cannot be retaken, though very good A-level grades can compensate for your GCSE performance and if you do not do as well as you would have liked, you can take the exams again.

    If you decide to take the EPQ, you will basically have to write a 5000 words long dissertation about a topic of your choice. Since you want to study law, it is recommended that your topic is related to law, though there is no harm done if you do it on, say, feminism or English literature.
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    I'd do the EPQ. It makes you stand out and can give you a talking point at interview
    It also shows commitment to your subject which Cambridge will like
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    (Original post by Eddie_747)
    Hello, just joined here, after a while following posts and the like on here, so well met all.
    I have high, and slightly unrealistic ambitions of going to a Cambridge College for University, to study Law I am thinking, having achieved pretty unremarkable and disappointing GCSEs, is it worth taking an EPQ next year (I'm in year 12) to try and help compensate for my below-par GCSE performance?
    I achieved:
    Add. Science - C
    Applied History - B
    Core Science - C
    Eng. Language - A
    Eng. Literature - A
    History - A
    Maths - B
    Media Studies - L1D
    Religious Studies - A*
    And in D&T, an E. Enough said about that particular disgrace. It should be noted that I do intend to retake Maths this year though.
    I know incredibly little about EPQs, and any information about them would be appreciated, also any ideas on what I could, if I decide to do one, do it in.
    Furthermore, will a good EPQ in anyway help compensate my less than stellar GCSE performance?
    Thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings, have a good day.
    You will need to be realistically on target to achieve A*AA to be competitive for Law at Cambridge. An EPQ is fine to do, but won't be a part of any offer from Cambridge.

    Also, taking an EPQ in Y13 means you won't even have the benefit of a good grade for your application.

    What A-levels are you doing? And how are you planning on academically "improving" from A*AAABCCE at GCSE to A*AA at A-level?

    Are you taking AS-levels in any of your subjects? It might be beneficial to do so if your school allows it.
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    (Original post by Eddie_747)
    Hello, just joined here, after a while following posts and the like on here, so well met all.
    I have high, and slightly unrealistic ambitions of going to a Cambridge College for University, to study Law I am thinking, having achieved pretty unremarkable and disappointing GCSEs, is it worth taking an EPQ next year (I'm in year 12) to try and help compensate for my below-par GCSE performance?
    I achieved:
    Add. Science - C
    Applied History - B
    Core Science - C
    Eng. Language - A
    Eng. Literature - A
    History - A
    Maths - B
    Media Studies - L1D
    Religious Studies - A*
    And in D&T, an E. Enough said about that particular disgrace. It should be noted that I do intend to retake Maths this year though.
    I know incredibly little about EPQs, and any information about them would be appreciated, also any ideas on what I could, if I decide to do one, do it in.
    Furthermore, will a good EPQ in anyway help compensate my less than stellar GCSE performance?
    Thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings, have a good day.
    Your GCSEs are, as you say, significantly below average for Cambridge - however luckily they don't count for all that much, there's a whole host of other things they also consider too, e.g. your A level predicted grades, AS grades if you have them, admissions tests, interviews, etc. Cambridge has no GCSE entry requirements (except possibly the usual Bs in English and Maths, but you've got those so no problem) and nor do most universities.

    That being said, your GCSE grades do suggest that you may struggle again with A level exams - so don't pin all your hopes on Cambridge, there are loads of other very good universities out there

    Regarding the who EPQ debate, I'd highly recommend it (and definitely over a fourth A level, which is what some other poster suggested instead...). Essentially, you write a 5000 word extended essay, or produce a project and submit a shorter (2000 words?) essay. It takes almost a year (well, you could do it in much less time, but if you dedicate say 3-5 hours a week to it for the academic year then that would probably be about right), and requires a lot of literature research, your own research (depending on your essay title), analysis, etc. - all very useful skills for when you have to write essays and your dissertation at uni Also it's a great way to demonstrate how passionate you are about Law if you write about a relevant topic - something you can mention in your personal statement and interview

    Another good thing about the EPQ is that some universities will offer you an alternative lower offer if you do well in the EPQ (e.g. "AAA in three A levels, or AAB with a b in the EPQ") - although it is (AFAIK) never an absolute requirement to do well in it, so no risk of missing your uni offer because of EPQ

    It is quite a reasonable time/ effort commitment though, so if you find yourself struggling at all with your workload this year I'd probably advise against it.
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    (Original post by jneill)
    You will need to be realistically on target to achieve A*AA to be competitive for Law at Cambridge. An EPQ is fine to do, but won't be a part of any offer from Cambridge.

    Also, taking an EPQ in Y13 means you won't even have the benefit of a good grade for your application.

    What A-levels are you doing? And how are you planning on academically "improving" from A*AAABCCE at GCSE to A*AA at A-level?

    Are you taking AS-levels in any of your subjects? It might be beneficial to do so if your school allows it.
    I take English Lit, History and RS at A level. I'm currently achieving around Bs in all of them, though of course I aim to improve this. I'm thinking of takins a gap year after A levels, possibly retaking a couple of GCSEs or whatever and then applying to Cambridge with my A levels already in the bag plus experience etc. For my GCSEs, i did little-no revision for any of them, was generally very lazy concerning them, and payed no attention, my attitude has evidently now changed, I am willing to put the time and effort into achieving the grades I want to achieve. Unfortunately none of my subjects are AS.
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    (Original post by dragonkeeper999)
    Your GCSEs are, as you say, significantly below average for Cambridge - however luckily they don't count for all that much, there's a whole host of other things they also consider too, e.g. your A level predicted grades, AS grades if you have them, admissions tests, interviews, etc. Cambridge has no GCSE entry requirements (except possibly the usual Bs in English and Maths, but you've got those so no problem) and nor do most universities.

    That being said, your GCSE grades do suggest that you may struggle again with A level exams - so don't pin all your hopes on Cambridge, there are loads of other very good universities out there

    Regarding the who EPQ debate, I'd highly recommend it (and definitely over a fourth A level, which is what some other poster suggested instead...). Essentially, you write a 5000 word extended essay, or produce a project and submit a shorter (2000 words?) essay. It takes almost a year (well, you could do it in much less time, but if you dedicate say 3-5 hours a week to it for the academic year then that would probably be about right), and requires a lot of literature research, your own research (depending on your essay title), analysis, etc. - all very useful skills for when you have to write essays and your dissertation at uni Also it's a great way to demonstrate how passionate you are about Law if you write about a relevant topic - something you can mention in your personal statement and interview

    Another good thing about the EPQ is that some universities will offer you an alternative lower offer if you do well in the EPQ (e.g. "AAA in three A levels, or AAB with a b in the EPQ" - although it is (AFAIK) never an absolute requirement to do well in it, so no risk of missing your uni offer because of EPQ

    It is quite a reasonable time/ effort commitment though, so if you find yourself struggling at all with your workload this year I'd probably advise against it.
    Thanks, this is very helpful. I don't find the workload this year particularly over the top, so it is likely I could cope with added work.
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    (Original post by Eddie_747)
    I take English Lit, History and RS at A level. I'm currently achieving around Bs in all of them, though of course I aim to improve this. I'm thinking of takins a gap year after A levels, possibly retaking a couple of GCSEs or whatever and then applying to Cambridge with my A levels already in the bag plus experience etc. For my GCSEs, i did little-no revision for any of them, was generally very lazy concerning them, and payed no attention, my attitude has evidently now changed, I am willing to put the time and effort into achieving the grades I want to achieve. Unfortunately none of my subjects are AS.
    There is no merit in retaking GCSEs if you meet the minimum requirements (which you do).

    And, more worryingly, if you are currently at a "B" level how are you going to get to an "A*/A" performance. That's not really demonstrating the necessary upward academic trajectory needed is it...

    You need to be realistic. Put Cambridge aside for now, and focus on doing as well as you can in your current studies. Then review things in Sept/October.

    (Original post by Eddie_747)
    I don't find the workload this year particularly over the top, so it is likely I could cope with added work.
    And yet you are getting B's... Not that a B is bad, just that it's not on target for your ambitions.
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    (Original post by Eddie_747)
    Thanks, this is very helpful. I don't find the workload this year particularly over the top, so it is likely I could cope with added work.
    In which case it sounds like the EPQ is a good idea Although better work on pulling those Bs up first...

    (Original post by Eddie_747)
    I take English Lit, History and RS at A level. I'm currently achieving around Bs in all of them, though of course I aim to improve this. I'm thinking of takins a gap year after A levels, possibly retaking a couple of GCSEs or whatever and then applying to Cambridge with my A levels already in the bag plus experience etc. For my GCSEs, i did little-no revision for any of them, was generally very lazy concerning them, and payed no attention, my attitude has evidently now changed, I am willing to put the time and effort into achieving the grades I want to achieve. Unfortunately none of my subjects are AS.
    Just to echo what jneill said above, no point retaking GCSEs if you already meet the requirements - spend your gap year doing something more useful instead like work experience, getting a job, travelling, online courses, extended reading, etc. Applying with your A level grades already confirmed is a great strategy if you have poor GCSE grades and no AS grades, since more recent academic performance will always be considered more important than some exams you took a few years ago
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    (Original post by jneill)
    There is no merit in retaking GCSEs if you meet the minimum requirements (which you do).

    And, more worryingly, if you are currently at a "B" level how are you going to get to an "A*/A" performance. That's not really demonstrating the necessary upward academic trajectory needed is it...

    You need to be realistic. Put Cambridge aside for now, and focus on doing as well as you can in your current studies. Then review things in Sept/October.



    And yet you are getting B's... Not that a B is bad, just that it's not on target for your ambitions.
    I meant B as in general, I have achieved A in the last 2 English essays, aswell as high B/low A in History and RS on a fairly regular basis.
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    (Original post by Eddie_747)
    I meant B as in general, I have achieved A in the last 2 English essays, aswell as high B/low A in History and RS on a fairly regular basis.
    Ok, but you need solid As across the board really. Cambridge is super competitive.

    The plan of applying post A-level is a good one, but even then don't put all you hopes in a Cambridge offer. Research all the other great universities too.

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    (Original post by jneill)
    You will need to be realistically on target to achieve A*AA to be competitive for Law at Cambridge. An EPQ is fine to do, but won't be a part of any offer from Cambridge.

    Also, taking an EPQ in Y13 means you won't even have the benefit of a good grade for your application.

    What A-levels are you doing? And how are you planning on academically "improving" from A*AAABCCE at GCSE to A*AA at A-level?

    Are you taking AS-levels in any of your subjects? It might be beneficial to do so if your school allows it.
    My School does AS. If I do well in it (AAA) than will that be beneficial. As AS is harder than GCSE hence it should show indication to Cambridge and other RG unis of GCSE improvement (mine was similar to OP)
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    (Original post by Blancosdos)
    My School does AS. If I do well in it (AAA) than will that be beneficial. As AS is harder than GCSE hence it should show indication to Cambridge and other RG unis of GCSE improvement (mine was similar to OP)
    Yes. Although, just to be clear, applicants are not disadvantaged if they don't sit any AS in Y12.
 
 
 
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