Choosing A-levels can be a daunting task, and Hurst aims to provide all prospective Sixth Formers, both from within and outside the college, with as much support and information as possible about the opportunities that lie before them.
The college currently offers a large range of A-level subjects. To help with decision-making, prospective Sixth Formers and parents are invited to a Sixth Form Choices Morning, when the heads of every academic department deliver talks on their subjects and programmes of study.
Our advice to students is consistent – focus first on what you love. There are other considerations – students are offered guidance on required subjects for their higher education ambitions, and entrance requirements in the form of GCSE grades which need to be met – but the first and foremost consideration is passion. Young people should spend their Sixth Form years studying the subjects that fascinate them.
A-levels have changed considerably in the last few years, and the Hurst Sixth Form has changed to reflect that. The college does not enter Lower Sixth students for AS-levels, which do not contribute to final A-level grades, instead setting our own internal predicted grade exams at the end of the first year. This allows more time for students to develop the deeper conceptual understanding which is the key to A-level success.
Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)
The Level 3 Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is worth slightly more than half an A-level in UCAS points. It involves students choosing a topic, carrying out research, then creating either a 5,000 word report or an ‘artefact’ and a report of more than 1,000 words. In November students are required to give a presentation about their project, which is also assessed.
Year 12 students who are taking three A-levels are expected to undertake an EPQ or put together a proposal for another project that takes the equivalent amount of time (90 independent hours). Students undertaking more than three A-levels can choose to do an EPQ. The course runs from January to December, and students are taught skills such as researching, note-taking, referencing, time management and structuring academic reports, which will help them at university.
The qualification can also support students’ UCAS submissions as universities often give ‘dual offers’ (either A/A/A or A/A/B and an A in the EPQ).
Hurst’s EPQs are wonderfully diverse as an EPQ can be on almost any subject, as long as there is a research component.