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Your Full Guide to the EPQ Watch

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    (Original post by kamilb)
    Whats the most important part of the project e.g. the quality of dissertation, log etc?
    Here are the assessment objective weightings, which I think will help you:
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    (Original post by Amefish)
    Here are the assessment objective weightings, which I think will help you:
    Thank you.
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    This is very useful thanks, makes me feel much more at ease for when I start my epq in September
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    (Original post by Amefish)


    There are an overwhelming amount of questions on the EPQ in the Study Help section:smartass: so I'm here to shed some light on some of these FAQ and give you all a full, comprehensive guide to the qualification, including what you can do right now to get started! :thumbsup:



    1. Picking the Perfect Title :fluffy:
    1.1 Choosing the Topic
    Choosing a topic and a title for your EPQ can be really overwhelming. A choice is good - but how do you choose when you have so many options? :dontknow:

    First of all, find something that you're really interested in! A good place to get started is by looking for potential university courses that you'd like to do and looking at their first-year modules. There've been some awesome stories about people who have already covered something they're going to be doing as a part of their university course, and received unconditional offers! While this isn't guaranteed, looking at these modules can give you some inspiration and could score you brownie points when you apply to university, showing your genuine interest in the course material :yep: just make sure that the topic you choose is not thoroughly covered in your A Level specifications - this is a big no-no!

    1.2 Choosing a Title
    Once you've chosen a topic you'd like to explore, you'll need to make sure it's specific enough. For example, rather than "how did the music scene in the 60s revolutionise music for years to come?", you could choose something more specific such as "how did The Beatles revolutionise music?". Choosing a more focused EPQ title ensures that you can set out a clear plan and make sure everything is covered. If the subject is too broad, your project will lack a clear focus and this can mean you lose marks :erm:

    It's also good to keep in mind that once you've chosen a topic, your initial title doesn't have to be the final title. You can change the title along the way to better reflect your research and aims once you begin to develop your project. You may also find that you need to change your title because you have come across limitations, such as unforeseen research limitations. Changing your title shows project development, which is positively marked for.


    2. Planning and Deadlines :puppyeyes:
    2.1 Planning
    Planning is one of the most important parts of the EPQ and gets you a lot of marks. It's vital to understand that you get marked on more than just your end product (more on this later...), so you need to optimise your marks on every single section! My greatest piece of advice would be to make plans for everything. They don't have to be tidy or look good in any sense; you can make spider diagrams, flow charts or even just simple lists! You can make them for everything from the research elements of your project to the structure of your report. Make sure you keep all of your plans because they can be used as evidence and placed into the back of your project when you hand it in. :smartass:

    As with your title, it's good to change and develop your plan as you go along - this can be done as a result of project limitations or opportunities, or just because you have decided to take your project down a slightly different route. You can discuss changes to your plans in your production log, where you can showcase your project development and new ideas. :grin:

    2.2 Artefact or Research Paper?
    One of the first parts of the planning process for your EPQ should be the contemplation of creating an artefact or just writing a research paper. The main difference is that a research paper must be approximately 5000 words, whereas if you're doing an artefact, you only have to write a 1000 word report (alongside your artefact)!

    So what makes an artefact?
    There's so much you can do! Just a couple of examples include creating a website, making a documentary, writing a magazine (or part of a magazine), artwork, and so much more! Let your creativity and passion wild! :fleurdelis: The thing is, you'll need to document and evidence your artefact creation. This can be through mediums as simple as photos and screenshots. You should make note of any difficulties and opportunities you have - you'll need to discuss this in your report. Research is also required for this option, but your artefact should take the centre stage.

    What about a research paper?
    For a research paper, you will need to do a lot more research, as the title suggests. Your report should be referenced thoroughly throughout and you should include evaluative comments, new ideas, arguments and counterarguments, and should take on a very factual and informative tone. Of course, the research paper is a lot longer than the report written alongside an artefact which can make it a lot more difficult for people who struggle to write a lot.

    2.3 Deadlines
    Deadlines are one of the most dreaded parts of the EPQ. Once you first start the project in September, no one really seems to be bothered about the deadlines and they're all taking it easy! :facepalm: Don't fall into this trap! Your school or college will have their own internal deadlines, mainly for updates on the production log, presentation, and final hand in. Ideally, you should make sure you do as much work on the EPQ as you can before Christmas. After this, your February and Easter half term holidays should be devoted to getting the project finished. The earlier you do it, the better. This is because you can get it out the way so you don't have to worry about it nearer to exam time! If you're working at a faster pace than the internal deadlines allow, then speak to your supervisor and project manager so you can get your production log done early, side-by-side with the work you're doing on your project. You should be aware of the external deadlines, but ideally get your project finished much before then!

    With each plan you make, you should make sure that you put deadlines next to each objective. This will help to make sure that you get everything done in time. You could try treating yourself for each objective you complete on time - incentives are always good to help you progress. My last tip here would be to ensure you set time aside, maybe every week, to work solely on the EPQ. If you do this, you will definitely see yourself progress quickly and you won't have to worry about procrastinating every week. This works best if your school or college have a quiet place you can go to where you can study.

    3. Research Sources :top2:
    3.1 Picking Sources
    Picking sources for your secondary research can be really overwhelming - where do you start? Books can always be a great place to start, especially for subjects such as history. The sources must be reputable and if the point you have found is a scientific claim or a statistic, you must make sure there is evidence of the research (e.g. details of a questionnaire/survey or of a scientific experiment). This is important because some sources materialise information to get readers (:unimpressed:) - tabloid newspapers such as The Sun have a terrible reputation for this so if you are referencing a newspaper, it's best to use widely trusted ones such as The Guardian and The Financial Times.

    A similar principle applies to finding reputable websites. Depending on your topic, the sources you want to use may differ drastically, but it's best to find websites that have official names on. Some of the most reputable sources include those such as the official UN website, the BBC (although this could be argued depending on the topic), or even the official websites of researchers. For example, I used Dr. G Fred Lee's official website because he is a profound specialist in my chosen topic area and has done a large amount of successful research.

    Research papers are one of the single most important sources, particularly for science EPQs. You can usually find a lot of these online with simple Google searches. Here's a tip: if you type some key words into Google, go onto settings > advanced search > file type > Adobe Acrobat PDF (.pdf), and try to search again. This will bring up loads of research papers corresponding to your key words because they're usually PDF documents and not necessarily web pages.

    Some videos or films, like documentaries, can also be used. If you find something in a documentary that is really relevant to your project, write it down, quote it, note down who said it - you'll need this for later.

    IMPORTANT: To get the highest marks you must use a variety of sources, so you shouldn't rely solely on websites for example - you need to make sure you use a few different sources of information to showcase your researching skills. It's also important that you note down all of your potential sources as you go along - you don't have to use them all, but it's always useful to remember where you got certain things from and it's no good when you find a really good source, don't note it down and then lose it (take it from me, it's frustrating ).

    Last of all, never put Wikipedia in your bibliography, but you can use references from Wikipedia.

    If you're stuck for sources and inspiration, this link is a good place to start :yep:

    3.2 Referencing
    There are different ways you can use referencing in your report. You can choose the method but you must reference to prove you have researched and to back up your claims. Referencing proves that you are acknowledging that it is someone else's work, ensuring nobody can accuse you of plagiarising. It's too easy to copy a piece of text or research and forget to reference, but this is seen as you claiming the work is your own and can get you in serious trouble. :doh:

    The most common referencing styles for EPQ projects are the numeric system and the Harvard system. This is a pretty good guide for the numeric system and this is a comprehensive guide for the Harvard system. Some websites can generate your bibliography reference if you struggle to do it yourself. Here are a couple: Cite This For Me and Neil's Toolbox. It's always good to check which styles your preferred university use - you can use the same one and then pop it in your personal statement to show you are already preparing and won't have to start from scratch once you start your degree

    A general rule of thumb is that you should reference everything that isn't common knowledge.

    4. The Report :woo:
    4.1 Structuring the Report
    There are a lot of different recommended structures on the internet, but it will probably vary slightly for each person depending on the topic they have chosen. I found one of the most stressful things was working out how to structure the first page, the truth is it is up to you! You can do a centred title with a relevant picture underneath - this is always a nice approach, but remember the project is your own. You can choose your own font, however the safest options are Arial and Times New Roman, which are clear, professional and easy to read. Always steer away from silly fonts like the dreaded Comic Sans if you have a serious tone. :boring:

    The first thing you need is an introduction,:hat2: which should introduce the topic and briefly go over your aims, the structure of your report, clarify key terms and mention a couple of the sources you will be using. This might be difficult to do right at the start of your report, so you can begin by writing a rough, simple introduction and then going back and editing it later on.

    Next, some people like to do a brief literature review. You should discuss the sources you used, whether you agreed with them, discuss the bias, etc. This should give the reader a taste of the research you have done to inform you on the topic. Not everyone does a literature review, you might like to do a methodology instead to discuss the primary research you did. This can include selecting people to take questionnaires or a description of your scientific research for example, and this part is particularly important if you are writing a report accompanying an artefact. This part could potentially include a brief explanation of why other research methods weren't used, or why your selected method was chosen over the rest.

    After this, you should go over the results of your research - what you found. Here you can present your data, this can be done using graphs, tables, charts - however you want. Following this, there should be an analysis of the results, which could include potential issues, things you find surprising and you could discuss any anomalies or atypical data. Generally, this should be the largest part of your report.

    Finally, you should write up any solutions to problems posed in the research. You could have a discussion about which solutions would be most suitable. If there were no problems in your data, for example if you were researching something historical, you could skip this step and go straight to concluding your findings.

    4.2 Presenting Your Data
    For questionnaires it might be best to present your data as a pie chart, which is good to show percentages, or a simple bar chart. For numerical data that is being observed over a period of time or a different variable such as concentration, scatter graphs or line diagrams might be the most appropriate option.

    Data presentation is an important part of bringing your primary research together and allows for comparisons and identification of anomalies.

    5. The Presentation! :clap2:
    5.1 A Summary
    Your presentation needs to be adapted to suit a non-specialist audience, and while you may be asked to do it in front of your whole group, you usually only need to do it in front of a minimum of 2 people, including your supervisor and one other person (AQA). The presentation can be done using any means, including posters, computer software (eg PowerPoint or Slideshare), flipcharts, and can even include some small video clips to illustrate your points. This is your chance to bring everything together and express what you have learnt throughout the course of the project.

    You should include:
    • What your project is about
    • Why you chose the topic (why you're interested in it)
    • Your aims and objects
    • The research you did and what you found
    • What you did well and what didn't go so well
    • Skills you've gained/how this has prepared you for further education or work


    You don't necessarily have to put all of these things into slides/posters, although admittedly it's harder for your supervisor to miss if you do include it in there. What a lot of people do is have a small amount of content on their slides and then have prompt cards to remind them what to say, or they might write in the "notes" section what they have said or are planning to say as evidence.

    Quick presentation tips! :thumbsup:
    Preparing:
    1. Keep in mind that the audience is non-specialist, so try to avoid using lots of specialist terms from your subject which the audience might not understand. If you do have to use specialist terms, make sure you explain them clearly! It's important to keep in mind that you will lose marks if your presentation isn't suitably adapted for a non-specialist audience!
    2. Don't use too much text on each slide - instead, put the key bits of information on the slides and use cue cards for reminding yourself of the detail.
    3. Practice giving your presentation - this helps build your confidence, gets you familiar with what you need to say and also makes you aware of your timing - does your presentation last the required 10-15 minutes? The more you practice, the more you'll know your points and you won't have to refer to your cue cards or notes as often



    Presenting:
    1. Speak slowly and clearly - try not to mumble, speak too quickly, or move onto the next slide before your audience has had a chance to read what it says! Some people like to print out their presentation and give everyone a copy, so no one is left behind :yep:
    2. Breathe deeply to keep yourself calm, and pause between each sentence to give the audience time to digest the what you've said.
    3. Remember to include a brief question and answer session at the end (this is to fulfil the criteria of having an interactive element, thereby engaging with the audience). You need to ensure that you have an interactive element, but if you don't want to do a question and answer, you can try other things. A good example is giving your audience a quick quiz at the start and asking for the answers.
    4. Keep a glass of water with you if you can - when you're nervous your mouth may go dry, making it difficult to speak clearly. A glass of water or other drink will help if this happens.



    If you still need help, you can see an example of an EPQ presentation here.


    And finally, a special thanks to Leviathan1741, PQ and littleswany for their contributions to the thread :grouphugs:
    My school said for me to research doing the summer... is this just taking notes from my sources???
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    (Original post by SuperHuman98)
    My school said for me to research doing the summer... is this just taking notes from my sources???
    Research at this stage could be as simple as collating sources that could be useful for later on. If you don't have your report sections planned out then it can be difficult to decide what information you actually need from your sources, but you could make notes to put in one of your introductory paragraphs

    Of course, if you come across anything really interesting or important, it's probably a good idea to note that down too!
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    Instead of this referencing malarkeyy, I have a grid in which I evaluate every single source i use with questions like 'when was it written' 'is the author reputable'. Is this okay? I can attach it to show what i mean!
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    (Original post by eviebrizzle)
    Instead of this referencing malarkeyy, I have a grid in which I evaluate every single source i use with questions like 'when was it written' 'is the author reputable'. Is this okay? I can attach it to show what i mean!
    It's good that you evaluate your sources - this makes up part of the marking criteria but you also need to reference within your report to ensure that you're acknowledging someone else's work and that you're not indirectly claiming it as your own. It's good practice for when you go to university
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    PQ As a PS reviewer, what would you say is the best way to write about the EPQ in PS?
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    (Original post by SuperHuman98)
    PQ As a PS reviewer, what would you say is the best way to write about the EPQ in PS?
    As with anything in a PS to talk about specifics.

    Details make it personal. What was interesting, what was difficult, what surprised you, what went smoothly, what would you do differently if you were starting again.

    You don't have to answer each of those questions in your ps but that's the sort of thing that will let your personality show.
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    Amefish I am doing EPQ on AQA, I have some forms and on one I write out my ideas,sources,comments/advice, and plans. But I am finding it really easy to write so much and I am handwriting this so ran out of space. I think I am just going to have to use the online form and type it up. Is this normal? Or is the space supposed to be enough?
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    (Original post by SuperHuman98)
    Amefish I am doing EPQ on AQA, I have some forms and on one I write out my ideas,sources,comments/advice, and plans. But I am finding it really easy to write so much and I am handwriting this so ran out of space. I think I am just going to have to use the online form and type it up. Is this normal? Or is the space supposed to be enough?
    You definitely don't have to hand-write it all on the official documents, you should be able to access editable documents. You can write so much more in that space when you're typing, I don't think I could have fit it all in if I had to write everything by hand! Just a tip though, it's best to write it out in a separate word document first and then transfer it over, because the official editable documents don't have the spelling & grammar checking facilities as far as I know!
 
 
 
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