HE Exams Wiki

Extended Projects for Home Educators

Home-ed team at their stand for Project UroStars at Big Bang Fair.

Although the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is difficult to do from home education, there are some great alternatives which serve a similar purpose and which are ideal for home-educating families. Although schools usually offer the EPQ to run alongside A-levels, you can do the projects suggested on this page at any age.

Can you do the Extended Project Qualification from home education?

The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is a Level 3 qualification in England and Wales, and is equivalent to half an A-level.  It is an optional extra qualification taken by some A-level pupils.

EPQs are usually only taken by pupils enrolled in a school or college.  They are not generally available to external candidates.  The project has to be assessed by a teacher registered with the exam centre, and the exam board checks a sample of projects from that centre. 

While it may technically be possible to take the EPQ from home education, the cost and difficulty involved in arranging it means that it is not a realistic option for most. If you have a tutor who works with a local sixth form which offers the EPQ to its own pupils, the tutor may be able to persuade them to let you take it under their auspices. Alternatively, a dedicated commercial exam centre may be able to accommodate you.  Members of the HE Exams support groups are not aware of any home educators who have completed an EPQ, but some have found great alternative ways to gain recognition for similar work.  Please do add a comment to this page if you have arranged an EPQ from home education.

Alternatives to the EPQ

As an alternative to the EPQ, you could do extended project and have it assessed by an experienced tutor.  You can still mention your independent project on uni applications and offer to submit it to unis etc.  Some schools encourage their pupils to study an independent project and write an extended essay, rather than doing the formal EPQ:

"When my son was in the sixth form they encouraged them to spend the summer holiday between lower and upper sixth studying a particular topic which interested then and do a presentation about it back at school - it was run as a competition. They were then encouraged to write about it in their personal statement for UCAS, as evidence of interest in their subject. My son did one on time travel, and when he went for interview he was asked about it and discussed it a lot. He received and unconditional offer and scholarship form that uni, so it obviously worked for him. Nothing to stop anyone home edding from doing the same thing"


Home-ed team winning the national Intermediate science project category at the 2019 Big Bang Fair.


Examples of these competitions include:

Big Bang Science Competition

Google Science Competiton

Imperial Schools Science Competition

Mathematics of Planet Earth Competition

One home educator wrote:

"When my daughter was at that stage, I couldn’t find a way to do an EPQ as a private candidate. However, she wanted to study engineering, so she did an engineering project with a friend, they entered it into the Big Bang Fair and got through to the London finals. That gave them external validation for the quality of their project."

University essay competitions

Recognition in one of these competitions would be an excellent thing to put on a personal statement in the place of an EPQ. They require a well researched and argued response to a set question.

Trinity College Cambridge Linguistics Prize:

University of Sheffield Philosophy Essay Prize:

Trinity College Cambridge Philosophy Essay Prize

British Society for the History of Maths Essay Prize

Keble College Essay Competition for Thology and Religion

Girton College Humanities Competition

Newnham Essay Prizes in Computer Science, Psychological and Behavioural Science, Engineering, Biological Science, History, Medieval and Modern Languages, Philosophy and Music (Girls only)

Corpus Christi Biology Essay Prize

Fitzwilliam Ancient World Essay Competition

Peterhouse Essay Competitions- History Science and English

Trinity College History Prize

New College of the Humanities essay prizes in Art History, Economics, English, History, Law, Philosophy and Politics

Trust for Sustainable Living essays on the theme of sustainability (Primary 7-11 and secondary 11-17)

There are lots more as well.

Gold Arts Award

Designed for students aged 16 Plus, the gold arts award recognises considerable commitment to an arts related project including personal artistic development and arts leadership. It is a recognised level 3 qualification.

Trinity Gold Arts Award

For more on Arts Awards at all levels, see Art.

Gold CREST Award

Represents 70 hours of work on a science project (although in reality students will spend much longer than this) and suitable for students aged 16 plus. Students need to carry out a science investigation or communication project, complete a written report and submit a project review form.

Gold CREST award


What do universities say about the EPQ?

Should you do an EPQ or is it a waste of time?   The Guardian