Should You Do An EPQ Or A-Level Further Maths?

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Written By Dr Shane McKeown

Are you a student trying to decide which qualification will best equip you for university or the workplace? If so, this article is for you.

We’ll be looking at two of the most popular qualifications: The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) and A-Level Further Maths.

Both are excellent options that can open up opportunities in higher education and beyond, but it’s important to consider which one suits your skillset and aspirations before making a decision.

We’ll look at the key differences between EPQs and A-Level Further Maths – helping you to understand their respective benefits and drawbacks, as well as providing guidance on selecting the right option for your needs.

Taking time to consider these choices now could give you invaluable freedom down the line.

Overview Of EPQs

An EPQ involves researching, planning and producing a single, large project on a topic of your choice.

This could be anything from developing new technology to exploring ethical implications of research. You’ll have guidance throughout the process but eventually need to produce a written dissertation or artefact.

The main benefit of undertaking an EPQ is that it shows employers that you're able to think independently, plan effectively and work autonomously - all key skills for any job role. 

Additionally, universities appreciate students who take on extra responsibilities like this as they demonstrate a passion for learning beyond course requirements. Many universities make lower A-level offers to students undertaking an EPQ, which can offset the significant uptick in work that results from choosing to do one.

Overview Of A-Level Further Maths

A-Level Further Maths is an excellent option for those who wish to expand their mathematical knowledge and skills.

It offers a wide range of topics such as geometry, algebra, calculus and statistics which will be invaluable when studying further subjects at university level. Time management and effective study skills are essential components to success in A-Level Further Maths.

To get the most out of this course it’s important to set aside enough time each week to dedicate to completing exercises and practice tests so that complex concepts become more familiar.

Advantages Of EPQs

Moving on from A-Level Further Maths, EPQs (Extended Project Qualifications) offer students a great opportunity to explore their interests and develop important skills while still being assessed.

They provide an invaluable time saving alternative for those who wish to gain further qualifications without the same commitment as A-Level courses require.

Not only do they save time but EPQs also allow students to build vital research and communication skills which can be used in many different aspects of life.

This project-based approach provides a unique platform for skill building by allowing learners to work independently at their own pace. As such, it is perfect for those looking to demonstrate their creativity, self-discipline and problem solving abilities beyond what may have been possible with traditional A-level coursework.

Given these advantages, EPQ’s are ideal for those seeking additional educational opportunities that don’t require long term commitments or regular timetables.

This allows them more freedom to pursue other activities and focus on specific areas of interest that cannot otherwise be gained through traditional education methods.

Ultimately, selecting an EPQ offers a way forward for those wishing to take control of their learning journey and make a success out of it!

Advantages Of A-Level Further Maths

If you’re considering studying A-Level Further Maths, you’re looking at an opportunity to broaden your knowledge.

It’ll not only deepen your understanding of Maths, but also give you improved problem solving skills.

You could even consider doing it in combination with an EPQ, as it can provide an excellent platform for further studies.

Ultimately, it can open up a range of career opportunities for you.

Compared to an EPQ, you could argue that A-level maths is more handheld, therefore requiring less independent effort and thinking to do well.

Broadened Knowledge

When considering the advantages of A-Level Further Maths for a student’s educational journey, one aspect that cannot be overlooked is broadened knowledge.

An A-Level in this subject affords students an opportunity to develop and broaden their understanding of mathematics beyond what they may have learned at GCSE or AS Level.

This can lead to greater confidence in problem solving, especially when faced with more complex problems like those found within university admissions tests.

Of course, there are cost implications associated with pursuing further maths as opposed to other qualifications such as EPQ – however these are generally outweighed by the educational benefits provided by taking on an advanced level qualification.

Understanding concepts from linear algebra, calculus and vectors will enable students to engage more effectively with mathematical processes at higher education level; ultimately giving them the edge over peers who do not possess this same level of expertise.

Improved Problem Solving Skills

Having a solid understanding of mathematics is widely recognised as an invaluable asset in many areas, and A-Level Further Maths can help students to hone their problem solving skills.

This subject area will teach pupils the fundamentals of mathematical processes which they may not have learnt at GCSE or AS Level – including linear algebra, calculus and vectors.

Those who take this qualification gain valuable experience when it comes to tackling more complex problems with ease; something that could be hugely beneficial during university admissions tests.

Although there is often a time commitment and financial cost associated with studying for an A-Level Further Maths course, these should be considered within the context of all the benefits that come from having these advanced problem solving abilities.

With practice and dedication, learners are sure to reap the rewards of improved problem solving skills that will serve them well beyond their educational journey.

Disadvantages Of EPQs

One potential issue with EPQs is that they can be time consuming and resource heavy. Writing a 5,000 word dissertation requires an immense amount of research and dedication to complete in a timely manner.

Furthermore, there may not be enough guidance available for students who are undertaking the project on their own; this could lead to decreased motivation or even the inability to finish it altogether.

The lack of structure associated with EPQs means that there is no guarantee that completing one will increase your grades significantly. Although the project itself has its benefits, such as being able to pursue your own interests, if you’re looking for something more concrete than A-Level Further Maths would likely be a better option.

Below is a list of points which summarise some of the drawbacks of doing an EPQ:

  • Time consuming process
  • Resource intensive
  • Lack of structure and support from teachers/tutors
  • Difficulty in finding a suitable topic

Disadvantages Of A-Level Further Maths

A-Level Further Maths can be an incredibly daunting prospect for any student. It is a near superhuman feat of endurance and concentration to master the subject in its entirety! The sheer magnitude of topics, equations and concepts that one must learn and understand before taking their exam has caused many students to buckle under pressure.

To make matters worse, A-Level exams are notoriously difficult; with only small margins separating success from failure. Without proper teacher guidance, it can become almost impossible to pass with flying colours.

The nature of A-Level Further Maths also requires plenty of independent study outside the classroom. This means that working on your own initiative becomes paramount in order to succeed at the highest level – something which some students find difficult due to lack of motivation or difficulty understanding certain aspects.

As such, there may be occasions where further support or assistance is required from external sources such as tutors or additional textbooks – making this type of qualification more expensive than other alternatives such as EPQs.


The decision between EPQs and A-Level Further Maths is a difficult one.

On the one hand, EPQs offer students an opportunity to explore their own interests in more depth than an A-Level course might allow for; on the other, further maths can provide invaluable skills that may be useful in future studies or careers, whilst being less of a work burden.

It’s almost like deciding which type of tool you need when embarking on a project; each has its advantages and disadvantages that must be weighed up carefully by the student before making a decision.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference: some people may find the freedom and creativity of an EPQ appealing whereas others will prefer the structured approach provided by further maths.

Whichever path you decide to take, make sure your choice is based on what best suits your needs – think of it as picking out just the right screwdriver from your toolbox!

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