Written By : Ranjika B.
For most, the Internal Assessments and Extended Essay are their first exposure to the nuances of academic writing. The IAs and EE are feared by many students, leading them to procrastinate on them and complete them at the very last second.
Newsflash – that is NOT A GOOD IDEA!
You should start thinking about your IAs and EE as early as possible, typically when you have covered some material in your subjects already. Yes, the first step in the process is STARTING EARLY. Now, that doesn’t mean you need to have a whole draft ready in your first semester. You need to plan and strategize.
Identify requirements and learning outcomes
First, understand what the assignment requires from you. This varies from subject to subject, but most IAs and EE are intended to sharpen the following skills →
- Knowledge and understanding
- Application and Analysis
- Synthesis and Evaluation
- Critical Thinking and Research
Understanding the requirements and expectations for the assessments is very important, as it helps you identify what is expected of you. Familiarize yourself with the marking criterion and learning outcomes early on.
Introspect to identify a topic
Next, ask yourself the following questions –
- What is my personal connection to the subject/what is my favourite topic under this subject?
- What kind of research can I conduct within this subject? (Keep in mind access to labs, subjects you may interview etc.)
- What are the possible areas that I can explore?
The answers to these questions will give you some sense of direction and form a starting step to the writing process.
Effective planning and scheduling
The process of writing an IA or an EE can seem extremely intimidating, but it can be made easier by planning effectively and creating a schedule. Break down the task to the sum of its parts – for example, drafting the research question, data collection, preliminary research, creating an outline, writing the introduction, exploration, analysis, discussion, conclusion etc. Give yourself fixed deadlines for the same, making sure to take into account the deadlines set by your schoolteachers as well. As stated by Parkinson’s Law, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” By giving yourself fixed deadlines and short amounts of time to complete each small task, you will accomplish a lot more and get ahead on the writing process.
Start reading and researching
Start general reading and research, to get some idea on the subject. Remember to be flexible, the first topic you think of won’t be what you end up writing your paper on at the end. Start by reading some EE and IA exemplars along with their marking criterion. Typically your teachers will share these with you. This is an important step to familiarize yourself with the requirements of the IA and EE. Now, start reading articles, books, research papers, etc. that give you a general idea of the topic.
TIP – Keep track of the articles you read in a separate document. This will help you with your citations and bibliography later in the process.
Speak to your teachers and coordinators
Schedule meetings with your teachers and coordinators. Discuss your plan and give a general overview of your ideas to them. They should guide you and help you understand if you are going in the right direction with your work. Once again, remember to remain flexible with your topic and change things in your plan if that is what you are guided to do.
To sum up, starting early and effective planning is the key to acing those internal assessments and extended essays. Remember to communicate your progress to your supervisors regularly and keep track of all the sources you reference right from the beginning. Don’t worry, nothing is as overwhelming as it appears!