Does the Extended Project Qualification enhance students’ GCE A-level performance?

The skills nurtured by, and engendered through, the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) are clearly stipulated, and have led to its becoming an increasingly popular qualification with all its stakeholders: students, colleges, employers and higher education. Future research is planned regarding the value that the EPQ adds to students’ subsequent performances at higher education, but the aim of this brief paper is to describe a statistical analysis of whether, and how much, the EPQ appears to have supplementary effects on students’ performance in their GCE A-levels. In other words, are the skills required of the EPQ transferable to more curriculum-embedded qualifications?

Only AQA A-level and EPQ data were used in the analyses, although permission was granted to use students’ mean GCSE prior attainment scores. Since two thirds of the national EPQ entry is currently with AQA, the results of the analyses can fairly confidently be considered to be generalisable.

Those results indicate that, after controlling for other available explanatory variables – of which mean GCSE prior attainment score is the most critical – taking the EPQ enhances the odds of achieving a higher grade A-level (A*-B) by 29 per cent. For each incremental grade achieved in the EPQ, the chances of being awarded a higher grade A-level increases by 7 per cent.

However, the effects were not uniform across A-level subject types. In most cases the impact was similar to the above figure, yet for mathematics and languages, there was no effect.

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