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EPQ general advise needed

Hi, does anyone have an advise or experience with an EPQ. I'm thinking of doing it but before I make a start on it I think it would be useful to compare experiences, understanding and ideas on what to do it on.
Okay so I have just finished my EPQ (have 49/50 provisional marks), so I think I can offer some advice.

1. Know the specification - know what AQA (or whatever exam board) wants from you. This is not an essay competition, the process of doing the EPQ is worth considerably more marks than the essay itself. Make sure you put a good amount of effort into your production log

2. The title of your project needs to be something you can actually answer. Phrases like 'an assessment of' don't belong in an EPQ title. Other phrases like 'how far' you need to be careful with to ensure your project is precise and you can actually come to a definite answer. Having said this, your supervisor will cover all of this and coming up with a title is slightly later down the line. I would suggest just coming up with a general topic area in the last few days of the summer holidays

3. Work smarter, not harder. Some people I know spent like 5+ hours a week consistently on their EPQ and did not get A*. I spent more like 2 on a good week. Make a plan of what you want to achieve (e.g. have 5 sources in my reading log by the end of the week) and stick to it. Ideally, plan the sources you want to research the week before. I always had about 10 sources 'in reserve' (aka just hyperlinks to articles that I wanted to read) so that I did not need to waste loads of time finding sources. This way, you have, lets say, 30 mins a week dedicated to finding sources and 1.5 hours of actual reading instead of wasting the 1.5 hours of reading looking for sources (if that makes sense)

4. Treat deadlines as unchangeable and actually meet all of them. Your school might be lax on when you hand in first drafts or complete production log pages, but your life becomes so much easier if you just do them when asked, otherwise in the last few weeks you will have to do a mad rush to finish

There's probably more I could say lol but tbh it's not something to worry about now. I don't want to scare you - I am very glad I did the EPQ
Original post by juicygcse
Okay so I have just finished my EPQ (have 49/50 provisional marks), so I think I can offer some advice.

1. Know the specification - know what AQA (or whatever exam board) wants from you. This is not an essay competition, the process of doing the EPQ is worth considerably more marks than the essay itself. Make sure you put a good amount of effort into your production log

2. The title of your project needs to be something you can actually answer. Phrases like 'an assessment of' don't belong in an EPQ title. Other phrases like 'how far' you need to be careful with to ensure your project is precise and you can actually come to a definite answer. Having said this, your supervisor will cover all of this and coming up with a title is slightly later down the line. I would suggest just coming up with a general topic area in the last few days of the summer holidays

3. Work smarter, not harder. Some people I know spent like 5+ hours a week consistently on their EPQ and did not get A*. I spent more like 2 on a good week. Make a plan of what you want to achieve (e.g. have 5 sources in my reading log by the end of the week) and stick to it. Ideally, plan the sources you want to research the week before. I always had about 10 sources 'in reserve' (aka just hyperlinks to articles that I wanted to read) so that I did not need to waste loads of time finding sources. This way, you have, lets say, 30 mins a week dedicated to finding sources and 1.5 hours of actual reading instead of wasting the 1.5 hours of reading looking for sources (if that makes sense)

4. Treat deadlines as unchangeable and actually meet all of them. Your school might be lax on when you hand in first drafts or complete production log pages, but your life becomes so much easier if you just do them when asked, otherwise in the last few weeks you will have to do a mad rush to finish

There's probably more I could say lol but tbh it's not something to worry about now. I don't want to scare you - I am very glad I did the EPQ

Thank you so much! I'm thinking of doing mine on genetic engineering or editing shaved been brainstorming possible questions. Some of my ideas so far are:
To what extent genetic engineering is ethical.
To what extent is crispr genetic editing ethical.
To what extent genes can cure cancer

Would any of these be OK?
Be careful with doing heavily science based projects - you need to be able to understand what you are reading, which will be very hard if you are reading graduate level genetic engineering papers, and will likely suck most of your life away. Most of the people I know who started off with heavily scientific ones either change their title significantly or dropped the EPQ altogether. That's not to say it is impossible, just a lot more work than doing a more social science sort of thing. A quote from the 2019 examiner's report says: 'rare but extraordinary medical/scientific projects', which I think sums it up nicely, very difficult to do right but are amazing if done well.

I would also say it is pretty much impossible to come up with a research/evidence based conclusion on whether something is 'ethical' or not, as that is likely to be based off people's own opinions, rather than having solid facts that say either way. I guess you could talk about lives saved and so on, but it would be a very careful balancing act. Having said that, I think a title about ethics is a good starting point, and as the project progresses you will narrow it down (for example, discussing societal divisions between countries/groups in society who can and can't access genetic engineering or comparing different types of genetic engineering).

Overall, I think your titles are good starting points and I think its great you already have a good idea of what you want to do (I only signed up for EPQ a week before I started it lol). Don't stress too much about it beforehand, the research you do will guide your final title and it is bound to change throughout the process anyway. Besides, you get points for 'showing development' and all that, so changing your title is a good thing for your marks

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