IB DP Survival Guide Part 2: The Extended Essay

The second part of the Quirky Quibbler’s “IB DP Survival Guide” covers the art of mastering your Extended Essay. As the 11th graders are about to begin their Extended Essays, these tips may be useful.

What is an Extended Essay?

The Extended Essay (EE) is a 4,000-word essay that every IB student needs to write in order to obtain their diploma. According to the IBO: “The extended essay is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper.” This piece of work gives students the opportunity to investigate and research a topic of their interest in great detail. When writing your EE, you create a research question which you discuss throughout your body paragraphs. It is written within one subject area (eg. Geography, Biology, Math, etc.) and every student is allocated a supervisor. The EE is a writing process that spans over more than a year of your time in the IB diploma program.

How and When To Begin

Students often procrastinate on their extended essays, leaving them with heaps of stress at the beginning of grade 12 when the Internal Assessments, Theory of Knowledge essay and presentation, and extended essay begin to pile up. This can definitely be avoided by using your free time in grade 11 to form a really solid research question in the first term. The second term should be used for creating a solid skeleton/ outline of your EE as well as gathering all the necessary research. Before summer starts, you should have at least an introduction finished. By having your research question, skeleton, research, and introduction finished, the writing process will go a lot smoother. By making a good summer plan (eg. writing two days a week for a few hours) your extended essay should be done by the end of summer so that you can use the beginning of grade 12 to get a head start on all of your Internal Assessments. 

Important Extended Essay tips

When choosing your extended essay research question, make sure it is something that really interests you. You are going to be working on your extended essay for more than a year, so your extended essay should really become your baby. If you choose a topic just because it seems easy, you won’t be motivated to work on it and do research on it. No matter how easy your topic seems, every extended essay requires a lot of time and effort, so why not pick something that really intrigues you?