IB Guide: Extended Essay
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Great Extended Essay Books
Subject Specific Guidance
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Group 1: studies in language and literature, group 2: language acquisition, including classical languages, group 3: individuals and societies, group 4: the sciences, group 5: mathematics, group 6: the arts, additional/other: interdisciplinary essays, extended essay: what write it, the extended essay provides:.
- practical preparation for undergraduate research
- an opportunity for students to investigate a topic of personal interest to them, which relates to one of the student's six DP subjects, or takes the interdisciplinary approach of a World Studies extended essay.
Through the research process for the extended essay, students develop skills in:
- formulating an appropriate research question
- engaging in a personal exploration of the topic
- communicating ideas
- developing an argument.
Participation in this process develops the capacity to analyze, synthesize and evaluate knowledge.
EE Reflection Process
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Extended Essay (IB): Choosing a subject and topic
- The Inquiry Process
- EE Seminar 1
- EE Seminar 2
- IT Workshop 1
- EE Investigation Days
- EE Writing Days
- Choosing a subject and topic
- Developing a line of inquiry
- Finding and selecting sources
- Working with ideas
- Expressing your ideas
- Using ManageBac
- Supervisor resources
- Who can help?
For your EE you have the freedom to focus on almost any topic and you will write your own question to answer. However, your topic must fit into a single DP subject (unless you choose to write an interdisciplinary essay, such as a World Studies EE that covers a topic “of contemporary global significance” and is likely to encompass two subject areas).
Given the academic challenge and level expected of an EE, you are strongly advised to choose a subject that you are currently studying, preferably at Higher Level.
Introduction to the Extended Essay
What is the Extended Essay?
- Compulsory element of the core, along with TOK and CAS
- Inquiry-based research project resulting in an essay of up to 4,000 words
- Topic of your choice, but must be based in a DP subject * and meet subject-specific requirements
- You are strongly encouraged to do your essay in one of your HL subjects
*It is possible, under certain circumstances, to combine two subjects and do a World Studies essay but we do not currently recommend this.
What do I need to do?
This guide is just to get your thinking started.
You are going to be spending nine months on your Extended Essay - it is very important to choose a topic that actually interests you, or it is going to be a very long nine months...
Good preparation is much more effective for finding inspiration than last minute panic!
CALVIN AND HOBBES © Watterson. Reprinted with permission of ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION. All rights reserved.
How do I choose a subject?
- Think about your interests outside the classroom then check whether they might fit into any IB subject areas.
- Think about your IB subjects, particularly your HL subjects. Which would (and wouldn't) you enjoy exploring in more depth?
- Make a list of the topics (for one or more different subject areas) that you have enjoyed in that subject area and a list of topics you haven’t covered but wish you had. You might want to chat to your teachers or have a look in your textbooks.
- Think about any career aspirations you might have, or any ideas for further study, and they could point you in a direction.
Now have a look at the Subject Group Overviews , below, to see what an EE in that group might involve. It is worth comparing a couple of different subject groups.
Subject Group Overviews
- Group 1: Studies in language and literature
- Group 2: Language acquisition (incl. Classical Languages)
- Group 3: Individuals and societies
- Group 4: Experimental sciences
- Group 5: Mathematics
- Group 6: The Arts
- Interdisciplinary essays
- Category 1 Studies of one or more literary works originally written in the language in which the essay is presented.
- Category 2 Studies of a literary work or works originally written in the language of the essay compared with one or more literary works originally written in another language. (The work originally written in another language may be studied in translation.)
- Category 3 Studies in language based on one or more texts originally produced in the language in which the essay is presented.
Students and teachers must indicate at the point of upload which category of essay they are submitting."
From: IBO (2020) Extended Essay: Studies in language and literature
Students working on a language acquisition EE must demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the language, culture and society or literature studied. This understanding must be shown in the form of:
- an analysis of a cultural context or a specific text OR
- an analysis of trends in the culture studied and the impact of a cultural change on the form or use of the language OR
- an analysis and comparison of literary texts.
For those undertaking a classical Greek or Latin EE, the focus is on demonstrating an understanding of a relevant or significant aspect of the language, literature and civilization of ancient Greece or Rome."
From: IBO (2020) Extended Essay: Language acquisition including classical languages
Note that you may not do your EE in a language you are studying at ab initio level .
The individuals and societies EE is intended to encourage the systematic and critical study of:
- human experience and behaviour
- physical, economic and social environments
- the history and development of social and cultural institutions.
Students’ choice of topic should enable them to recognize that the content and methodologies of the subjects are contestable and that their study requires critical thinking.
Students must have sufficient grounding in the subject under which they submit their essay: reading a textbook or consulting an encyclopedia while writing the EE will not compensate for a lack of proper background knowledge."
From: IBO (2020) Extended Essay: Individuals and societies
Note: The IB considers Environmental Systems and Societies EEs to be interdisciplinary, so materials for these can be found under the Interdisciplinary essays tab, above.
"An extended essay (EE) in the sciences gives students an opportunity to apply a range of skills while researching a topic of personal interest in the field. Students working on a science EE must demonstrate an in-depth analysis of the subject matter studied, be it biology, chemistry, computer science, design technology, physics or sports, exercise and health science. This understanding must be shown in the form of a research paper involving a wellformulated research question. Students should be advised that while there is overlap between the subjects, their study should reflect one specific science area. For example:
- biology—dealing with living organisms and life processes
- chemistry—dealing with the composition, characterization and transformation of substances
...The nature of the topic under investigation should be different for each subject area and students should be careful if they undertake essays that may blur the boundaries between two science subjects. For example, when studying the pH of a body of water, students may investigate the chemicals responsible for the observed pH (chemistry), or the effect of the pH on the biota (biology)."
From: IBO (2020) The Sciences: an introduction from Extended Essay: The sciences
- the applicability of mathematics to solve both real and abstract problems
- the beauty of mathematics, as in, for instance, geometry or fractal theory
- the elegance of mathematics in the proving of theorems as in, for example, number theory
- the origin and subsequent development of a branch of mathematics over a period of time, measured in tens, hundreds or thousands of years
- the links between different branches of mathematics, or the way that branch of mathematics has been born, or has flourished, as a result of technology.
Students should be advised on the importance of formulating logical and coherent reasons for selecting a particular topic for the EE, the need to identify a well-thought-out research question and the requirement to search for the mathematical problems that require a solution. Students must be advised that mathematical research is a long-term and open-ended exploration of a set of related mathematical problems that are based on personal observations. The answers to these problems connect to and build upon each other over time."
From: IBO (2020) Extended Essay: Mathematics
- a coherent analysis and interpretation of their chosen area in relation to a posed research question
- the testing and validation of the research and consideration of its effect on the practice of the investigated area of the arts
- development and exploration in a disciplined and imaginative way of an area of study specifically appropriate to the curriculum area chosen
- a link to a practical dimension.
Each subject area poses its own unique set of challenges. Therefore, the approach to the topic of investigation should reflect the particular methodology most appropriate to the arts subject being studied. Students should have logical and coherent reasons for selecting a particular topic for their essay, a well-thought out research question and an approach that allows them to develop a reasoned argument.
...While there may be overlap between the subjects in the arts and common approaches, the research topic must clearly relate to one specific arts area. If a student chooses a research area that blurs the boundaries between two arts subjects, they must ensure that their essay’s emphasis clearly lies within the arts subject for which they are submitting it. Crucially, the topic selected should reflect each student’s particular interest and enthusiasm within that subject area."
From: IBO (2020) Extended Essay: The arts
For example, in literature and performance, students focus on the nature of the relationships that occur between a chosen text and its adaptation for performance; in world studies an issue of contemporary global significance is explored through the lenses of two subjects ; and in environmental systems and societies the interaction and integration of natural environmental systems and human societies are explored
Students undertaking one of these options must demonstrate a solid understanding of their area of research, taking a fully integrated approach. This examination must be shown in the form of:
- a coherently written and structured essay that effectively addresses an area of research, taking an interdisciplinary approach
- bringing together concepts, methods and approaches from across different subjects
- the development and exploration of an area of study specifically appropriate to the interdisciplinary choice
The most critical stage in preparing for the EE is the formulation of a logical and coherent rationale for selecting a particular topic for the extended essay, a topic that offers enough scope to provide material for a substantial essay , and the development of ideas around the topic and research question that examine existing views and argue against them."
From: IBO (2020) Interdisciplinary essays: an introduction from Extended Essay: Interdisciplinary essays
We do not recommend undertaking an EE in World Studies. If you choose to do so anyway, make sure that you consider very carefully whether your topic would fit the requirements of a single subject discipline instead. It can be challenging to juggle the requirements of two different subjects while undertaking a piece of academic research like this for the first time, particularly if you do not currently study one or both of the subjects.
Note that the Treatment of the Topic section of the Subject Guide for World Studies says that:
"It is expected that students will have a good grounding in at least one of the Diploma Programme subjects used in the EE.
If they are unfamiliar with a discipline used, they must access its syllabus so that they can identify the concepts, terminology and modes of thinking required for their EE. (Many IB syllabuses contain lists of key concepts.)"
This means that whether or not you are currently studying either or both of the subject areas your World Studies EE is based in you will need to use DP Level concepts, terminology and modes of thinking appropriate to both subject areas.
Subject Specific Guidance
Use the links below to explore the Subject-Specific Guidance for your chosen subject. Note that it is very important to use the side navigation menu to make sure you have read ALL the relevant guidance (see example for Biology, below).
You MUST read the subject-specific guidance before completing your Supervisor Application Form, and reread it before completing your Research Proposal Log. You might find it helpful to take notes using the Using the Subject-Specific Guidelines table.
Electronic versions of these can be found at the top right hand side of this page (follow links). If you wish to submit your handwritten version to ManageBac, you may upload a (legible!) photograph.
You must address the IB ethical guidelines in your Research Proposal and follow them throughout the EE process. Some Subject Guides will contain specific ethical guidelines for that subject, but here are some general guides you might need to refer to:
Extended essays from previous years
It can be really useful at this stage to look at essays from previous Oakham students, to see what kinds of topics they investigated and what their final essays looked like. These are upstairs in the library and can be looked at while you are here.
- These are all the essays from past Oakhamians and they were awarded a range of grades (which are recorded on the contents pages). They are not a set of examples of 'good' essays or even 'good' titles.
- There have been several rule changes in the past, most notably in 2018, so make sure you are aware of the current rules.
You may take photographs of individual pages (such as the contents pages). You may not photograph or photocopy whole essays.
How do I choose a topic?
Go back to your brainstormed list of topics from the first session:
- Eliminate any that you don’t really want to write about and focus on the rest.
- Use the ideas on the mind map below to examine these topics and decide which might be worth further exploration. You might choose to make a mind map like this for some of your topics.
Before deciding on a topic you should do some preliminary research to see what information is out there. Make a few brief notes as you go.
- General internet browsing: You could begin with some freestyle internet searching on a broad topic that interests you. Search for your topic online, give yourself an hour to follow links and see where they take you – keeping an EE focus, of course!
- Subscription Databases : While you will almost certainly search the databases extensively for your research once you have chosen a topic, you can also browse them to help you to chose one. See the ' Browsing our subscription databases ' box below for advice on the best ones to choose for this. Using the subscription databases to help you to choose a topic also means that you are guaranteed to be able to find high quality information on that topic.
- Talk to your teachers, friends and family
Put your notes away, forget about what you have read for a few days, then see what you remember. This time and distance is important as it is likely that you will remember what is of most interest to you, and so the angle you should develop.
Aim to have three suggestions for topic areas you might like to explore for your EE to explore further before making a decision .
Browsing our subscription databases
You are likely to have used our databases in the past to search for information on specific topics, but many of them are also excellent when browsing for ideas. I have made some suggestions below. You will need to access them from the list on our Subscription Databases page (using the log in information given if you are not on the school network).
An excellent series of ebooks providing a short, academic introduction to a wide range of topics. Choose 'Browse by subject' from the menu bar to explore them (or use the excellent search facility if you know which topic you are interested in).
An online encyclopaedia that you can trust and cite! Choose 'Advanced' then 'Explore: Articles' to browse Britannica in a range of different subject areas.
Hodder Education Magazines
Although aimed at A-level students, browsing these Review magazines may be a good way to identify a broad topic of interest. After you log-in, you can choose to search the whole database or choose a specific subject and browse/search within it.
Other, subject-specific resources
- Art: Oxford Art
- Drama: Drama Online
- Economics: Financial Times and Gale Newspaper Collection
- English literature: Connell Guides, EBSCO Literary Reference Centre, emagazine and MASSOLIT (a video-based resource)
- Music: Naxos Music Library, Oxford Music
- Politics: Financial Times and Gale Newspaper Collection
Using the Subject Specific Guidelines
This table will help you work with the Subject-Specific Guidelines as you choose your topic. You are not required to submit this form to your supervisor, but you might find it helpful when filling in your Supervisor Application Form and Research Proposal.
This resource will help you to keep track of all the different sources you find. Once you start working with each source in more detail, you will also need a tool like the Investigative Journal to organise your notes.
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International Baccalaureate (IB)
IB students around the globe fear writing the Extended Essay, but it doesn't have to be a source of stress! In this article, I'll get you excited about writing your Extended Essay and provide you with the resources you need to get an A on it.
If you're reading this article, I'm going to assume you're an IB student getting ready to write your Extended Essay. If you're looking at this as a potential future IB student, I recommend reading our introductory IB articles first, including our guide to what the IB program is and our full coverage of the IB curriculum .
IB Extended Essay: Why Should You Trust My Advice?
I myself am a recipient of an IB Diploma, and I happened to receive an A on my IB Extended Essay. Don't believe me? The proof is in the IBO pudding:
If you're confused by what this report means, EE is short for Extended Essay , and English A1 is the subject that my Extended Essay topic coordinated with. In layman's terms, my IB Diploma was graded in May 2010, I wrote my Extended Essay in the English A1 category, and I received an A grade on it.
What Is the Extended Essay in the IB Diploma Programme?
The IB Extended Essay, or EE , is a mini-thesis you write under the supervision of an IB advisor (an IB teacher at your school), which counts toward your IB Diploma (learn more about the major IB Diploma requirements in our guide) . I will explain exactly how the EE affects your Diploma later in this article.
For the Extended Essay, you will choose a research question as a topic, conduct the research independently, then write an essay on your findings . The essay itself is a long one—although there's a cap of 4,000 words, most successful essays get very close to this limit.
Keep in mind that the IB requires this essay to be a "formal piece of academic writing," meaning you'll have to do outside research and cite additional sources.
The IB Extended Essay must include the following:
- A title page
- Contents page
- Body of the essay
- References and bibliography
Additionally, your research topic must fall into one of the six approved DP categories , or IB subject groups, which are as follows:
- Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature
- Group 2: Language Acquisition
- Group 3: Individuals and Societies
- Group 4: Sciences
- Group 5: Mathematics
- Group 6: The Arts
Once you figure out your category and have identified a potential research topic, it's time to pick your advisor, who is normally an IB teacher at your school (though you can also find one online ). This person will help direct your research, and they'll conduct the reflection sessions you'll have to do as part of your Extended Essay.
As of 2018, the IB requires a "reflection process" as part of your EE supervision process. To fulfill this requirement, you have to meet at least three times with your supervisor in what the IB calls "reflection sessions." These meetings are not only mandatory but are also part of the formal assessment of the EE and your research methods.
According to the IB, the purpose of these meetings is to "provide an opportunity for students to reflect on their engagement with the research process." Basically, these meetings give your supervisor the opportunity to offer feedback, push you to think differently, and encourage you to evaluate your research process.
The final reflection session is called the viva voce, and it's a short 10- to 15-minute interview between you and your advisor. This happens at the very end of the EE process, and it's designed to help your advisor write their report, which factors into your EE grade.
Here are the topics covered in your viva voce :
- A check on plagiarism and malpractice
- Your reflection on your project's successes and difficulties
- Your reflection on what you've learned during the EE process
Your completed Extended Essay, along with your supervisor's report, will then be sent to the IB to be graded. We'll cover the assessment criteria in just a moment.
We'll help you learn how to have those "lightbulb" moments...even on test day!
What Should You Write About in Your IB Extended Essay?
You can technically write about anything, so long as it falls within one of the approved categories listed above.
It's best to choose a topic that matches one of the IB courses , (such as Theatre, Film, Spanish, French, Math, Biology, etc.), which shouldn't be difficult because there are so many class subjects.
Here is a range of sample topics with the attached extended essay:
- Biology: The Effect of Age and Gender on the Photoreceptor Cells in the Human Retina
- Chemistry: How Does Reflux Time Affect the Yield and Purity of Ethyl Aminobenzoate (Benzocaine), and How Effective is Recrystallisation as a Purification Technique for This Compound?
- English: An Exploration of Jane Austen's Use of the Outdoors in Emma
- Geography: The Effect of Location on the Educational Attainment of Indigenous Secondary Students in Queensland, Australia
- Math: Alhazen's Billiard Problem
- Visual Arts: Can Luc Tuymans Be Classified as a Political Painter?
You can see from how varied the topics are that you have a lot of freedom when it comes to picking a topic . So how do you pick when the options are limitless?
How to Write a Stellar IB Extended Essay: 6 Essential Tips
Below are six key tips to keep in mind as you work on your Extended Essay for the IB DP. Follow these and you're sure to get an A!
#1: Write About Something You Enjoy
You can't expect to write a compelling essay if you're not a fan of the topic on which you're writing. For example, I just love British theatre and ended up writing my Extended Essay on a revolution in post-WWII British theatre. (Yes, I'm definitely a #TheatreNerd.)
I really encourage anyone who pursues an IB Diploma to take the Extended Essay seriously. I was fortunate enough to receive a full-tuition merit scholarship to USC's School of Dramatic Arts program. In my interview for the scholarship, I spoke passionately about my Extended Essay; thus, I genuinely think my Extended Essay helped me get my scholarship.
But how do you find a topic you're passionate about? Start by thinking about which classes you enjoy the most and why . Do you like math classes because you like to solve problems? Or do you enjoy English because you like to analyze literary texts?
Keep in mind that there's no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing your Extended Essay topic. You're not more likely to get high marks because you're writing about science, just like you're not doomed to failure because you've chosen to tackle the social sciences. The quality of what you produce—not the field you choose to research within—will determine your grade.
Once you've figured out your category, you should brainstorm more specific topics by putting pen to paper . What was your favorite chapter you learned in that class? Was it astrophysics or mechanics? What did you like about that specific chapter? Is there something you want to learn more about? I recommend spending a few hours on this type of brainstorming.
One last note: if you're truly stumped on what to research, pick a topic that will help you in your future major or career . That way you can use your Extended Essay as a talking point in your college essays (and it will prepare you for your studies to come too!).
#2: Select a Topic That Is Neither Too Broad nor Too Narrow
There's a fine line between broad and narrow. You need to write about something specific, but not so specific that you can't write 4,000 words on it.
You can't write about WWII because that would be a book's worth of material. You also don't want to write about what type of soup prisoners of war received behind enemy lines, because you probably won’t be able to come up with 4,000 words of material about it. However, you could possibly write about how the conditions in German POW camps—and the rations provided—were directly affected by the Nazis' successes and failures on the front, including the use of captured factories and prison labor in Eastern Europe to increase production. WWII military history might be a little overdone, but you get my point.
If you're really stuck trying to pinpoint a not-too-broad-or-too-narrow topic, I suggest trying to brainstorm a topic that uses a comparison. Once you begin looking through the list of sample essays below, you'll notice that many use comparisons to formulate their main arguments.
I also used a comparison in my EE, contrasting Harold Pinter's Party Time with John Osborne's Look Back in Anger in order to show a transition in British theatre. Topics with comparisons of two to three plays, books, and so on tend to be the sweet spot. You can analyze each item and then compare them with one another after doing some in-depth analysis of each individually. The ways these items compare and contrast will end up forming the thesis of your essay!
When choosing a comparative topic, the key is that the comparison should be significant. I compared two plays to illustrate the transition in British theatre, but you could compare the ways different regional dialects affect people's job prospects or how different temperatures may or may not affect the mating patterns of lightning bugs. The point here is that comparisons not only help you limit your topic, but they also help you build your argument.
Comparisons are not the only way to get a grade-A EE, though. If after brainstorming, you pick a non-comparison-based topic and are still unsure whether your topic is too broad or narrow, spend about 30 minutes doing some basic research and see how much material is out there.
If there are more than 1,000 books, articles, or documentaries out there on that exact topic, it may be too broad. But if there are only two books that have any connection to your topic, it may be too narrow. If you're still unsure, ask your advisor—it's what they're there for! Speaking of advisors...
Don't get stuck with a narrow topic!
#3: Choose an Advisor Who Is Familiar With Your Topic
If you're not certain of who you would like to be your advisor, create a list of your top three choices. Next, write down the pros and cons of each possibility (I know this sounds tedious, but it really helps!).
For example, Mr. Green is my favorite teacher and we get along really well, but he teaches English. For my EE, I want to conduct an experiment that compares the efficiency of American electric cars with foreign electric cars.
I had Ms. White a year ago. She teaches physics and enjoyed having me in her class. Unlike Mr. Green, Ms. White could help me design my experiment.
Based on my topic and what I need from my advisor, Ms. White would be a better fit for me than would Mr. Green (even though I like him a lot).
The moral of my story is this: do not just ask your favorite teacher to be your advisor . They might be a hindrance to you if they teach another subject. For example, I would not recommend asking your biology teacher to guide you in writing an English literature-based EE.
There can, of course, be exceptions to this rule. If you have a teacher who's passionate and knowledgeable about your topic (as my English teacher was about my theatre topic), you could ask that instructor. Consider all your options before you do this. There was no theatre teacher at my high school, so I couldn't find a theatre-specific advisor, but I chose the next best thing.
Before you approach a teacher to serve as your advisor, check with your high school to see what requirements they have for this process. Some IB high schools require your IB Extended Essay advisor to sign an Agreement Form , for instance.
Make sure that you ask your IB coordinator whether there is any required paperwork to fill out. If your school needs a specific form signed, bring it with you when you ask your teacher to be your EE advisor.
#4: Pick an Advisor Who Will Push You to Be Your Best
Some teachers might just take on students because they have to and aren't very passionate about reading drafts, only giving you minimal feedback. Choose a teacher who will take the time to read several drafts of your essay and give you extensive notes. I would not have gotten my A without being pushed to make my Extended Essay draft better.
Ask a teacher that you have experience with through class or an extracurricular activity. Do not ask a teacher that you have absolutely no connection to. If a teacher already knows you, that means they already know your strengths and weaknesses, so they know what to look for, where you need to improve, and how to encourage your best work.
Also, don't forget that your supervisor's assessment is part of your overall EE score . If you're meeting with someone who pushes you to do better—and you actually take their advice—they'll have more impressive things to say about you than a supervisor who doesn't know you well and isn't heavily involved in your research process.
Be aware that the IB only allows advisors to make suggestions and give constructive criticism. Your teacher cannot actually help you write your EE. The IB recommends that the supervisor spends approximately two to three hours in total with the candidate discussing the EE.
#5: Make Sure Your Essay Has a Clear Structure and Flow
The IB likes structure. Your EE needs a clear introduction (which should be one to two double-spaced pages), research question/focus (i.e., what you're investigating), a body, and a conclusion (about one double-spaced page). An essay with unclear organization will be graded poorly.
The body of your EE should make up the bulk of the essay. It should be about eight to 18 pages long (again, depending on your topic). Your body can be split into multiple parts. For example, if you were doing a comparison, you might have one third of your body as Novel A Analysis, another third as Novel B Analysis, and the final third as your comparison of Novels A and B.
If you're conducting an experiment or analyzing data, such as in this EE , your EE body should have a clear structure that aligns with the scientific method ; you should state the research question, discuss your method, present the data, analyze the data, explain any uncertainties, and draw a conclusion and/or evaluate the success of the experiment.
#6: Start Writing Sooner Rather Than Later!
You will not be able to crank out a 4,000-word essay in just a week and get an A on it. You'll be reading many, many articles (and, depending on your topic, possibly books and plays as well!). As such, it's imperative that you start your research as soon as possible.
Each school has a slightly different deadline for the Extended Essay. Some schools want them as soon as November of your senior year; others will take them as late as February. Your school will tell you what your deadline is. If they haven't mentioned it by February of your junior year, ask your IB coordinator about it.
Some high schools will provide you with a timeline of when you need to come up with a topic, when you need to meet with your advisor, and when certain drafts are due. Not all schools do this. Ask your IB coordinator if you are unsure whether you are on a specific timeline.
Below is my recommended EE timeline. While it's earlier than most schools, it'll save you a ton of heartache (trust me, I remember how hard this process was!):
- January/February of Junior Year: Come up with your final research topic (or at least your top three options).
- February of Junior Year: Approach a teacher about being your EE advisor. If they decline, keep asking others until you find one. See my notes above on how to pick an EE advisor.
- April/May of Junior Year: Submit an outline of your EE and a bibliography of potential research sources (I recommend at least seven to 10) to your EE advisor. Meet with your EE advisor to discuss your outline.
- Summer Between Junior and Senior Year: Complete your first full draft over the summer between your junior and senior year. I know, I know—no one wants to work during the summer, but trust me—this will save you so much stress come fall when you are busy with college applications and other internal assessments for your IB classes. You will want to have this first full draft done because you will want to complete a couple of draft cycles as you likely won't be able to get everything you want to say into 4,000 articulate words on the first attempt. Try to get this first draft into the best possible shape so you don't have to work on too many revisions during the school year on top of your homework, college applications, and extracurriculars.
- August/September of Senior Year: Turn in your first draft of your EE to your advisor and receive feedback. Work on incorporating their feedback into your essay. If they have a lot of suggestions for improvement, ask if they will read one more draft before the final draft.
- September/October of Senior Year: Submit the second draft of your EE to your advisor (if necessary) and look at their feedback. Work on creating the best possible final draft.
- November-February of Senior Year: Schedule your viva voce. Submit two copies of your final draft to your school to be sent off to the IB. You likely will not get your grade until after you graduate.
Remember that in the middle of these milestones, you'll need to schedule two other reflection sessions with your advisor . (Your teachers will actually take notes on these sessions on a form like this one , which then gets submitted to the IB.)
I recommend doing them when you get feedback on your drafts, but these meetings will ultimately be up to your supervisor. Just don't forget to do them!
The early bird DOES get the worm!
How Is the IB Extended Essay Graded?
Extended Essays are graded by examiners appointed by the IB on a scale of 0 to 34 . You'll be graded on five criteria, each with its own set of points. You can learn more about how EE scoring works by reading the IB guide to extended essays .
- Criterion A: Focus and Method (6 points maximum)
- Criterion B: Knowledge and Understanding (6 points maximum)
- Criterion C: Critical Thinking (12 points maximum)
- Criterion D: Presentation (4 points maximum)
- Criterion E: Engagement (6 points maximum)
How well you do on each of these criteria will determine the final letter grade you get for your EE. You must earn at least a D to be eligible to receive your IB Diploma.
Although each criterion has a point value, the IB explicitly states that graders are not converting point totals into grades; instead, they're using qualitative grade descriptors to determine the final grade of your Extended Essay . Grade descriptors are on pages 102-103 of this document .
Here's a rough estimate of how these different point values translate to letter grades based on previous scoring methods for the EE. This is just an estimate —you should read and understand the grade descriptors so you know exactly what the scorers are looking for.
Here is the breakdown of EE scores (from the May 2021 bulletin):
How Does the Extended Essay Grade Affect Your IB Diploma?
The Extended Essay grade is combined with your TOK (Theory of Knowledge) grade to determine how many points you get toward your IB Diploma.
To learn about Theory of Knowledge or how many points you need to receive an IB Diploma, read our complete guide to the IB program and our guide to the IB Diploma requirements .
This diagram shows how the two scores are combined to determine how many points you receive for your IB diploma (3 being the most, 0 being the least). In order to get your IB Diploma, you have to earn 24 points across both categories (the TOK and EE). The highest score anyone can earn is 45 points.
Let's say you get an A on your EE and a B on TOK. You will get 3 points toward your Diploma. As of 2014, a student who scores an E on either the extended essay or TOK essay will not be eligible to receive an IB Diploma .
Prior to the class of 2010, a Diploma candidate could receive a failing grade in either the Extended Essay or Theory of Knowledge and still be awarded a Diploma, but this is no longer true.
Figuring out how you're assessed can be a little tricky. Luckily, the IB breaks everything down here in this document . (The assessment information begins on page 219.)
40+ Sample Extended Essays for the IB Diploma Programme
In case you want a little more guidance on how to get an A on your EE, here are over 40 excellent (grade A) sample extended essays for your reading pleasure. Essays are grouped by IB subject.
- Business Management 1
- Chemistry 1
- Chemistry 2
- Chemistry 3
- Chemistry 4
- Chemistry 5
- Chemistry 6
- Chemistry 7
- Computer Science 1
- Economics 1
- Design Technology 1
- Design Technology 2
- Environmental Systems and Societies 1
- Geography 1
- Geography 2
- Geography 3
- Geography 4
- Geography 5
- Geography 6
- Literature and Performance 1
- Mathematics 1
- Mathematics 2
- Mathematics 3
- Mathematics 4
- Mathematics 5
- Philosophy 1
- Philosophy 2
- Philosophy 3
- Philosophy 4
- Philosophy 5
- Psychology 1
- Psychology 2
- Psychology 3
- Psychology 4
- Psychology 5
- Social and Cultural Anthropology 1
- Social and Cultural Anthropology 2
- Social and Cultural Anthropology 3
- Sports, Exercise and Health Science 1
- Sports, Exercise and Health Science 2
- Visual Arts 1
- Visual Arts 2
- Visual Arts 3
- Visual Arts 4
- Visual Arts 5
- World Religion 1
- World Religion 2
- World Religion 3
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