How to Tackle the Extended Essay

About the Author: Birgitte J.

This week’s blog post is about the dreaded Extended Essay or EE. It is written by our outstanding tutor, Birgitte who is going to help you master the EE. If you’re still stuck, don’t worry, we have experienced tutors ready and waiting to help you succeed with your EE!

You Don’t Have To Do It Alone

The mere mention of a 4000-word research paper can make chills run down your spine. Where do you begin? What do you write? How do you organize all that you’ve learned into neat little paragraphs? How do you reference your sources in MLA, APA or Chicago? The process can feel daunting, and that’s why some instruction on how to do this goes a long way. Creating a road map for your research and writing is key to Extended Essay success. It may feel like punishment at first, but this is the exact same procedure you will follow for all your research papers in college, so knowing how to do this will prepare you well for university. To boot, a strong EE in a subject you want to pursue can serve as great discussion material for your college interview.

The Basics of the Extended Essay 

The IB Extended Essay is an 3500-4000 word research essay at the core of the IB Diploma Programme along with ToK and CAS. The essay is a requirement for achieving the Diploma and it is intended to be researched and completed independently by the student.

A subject area teacher from your IB school will serve as your supervisor and the help you receive can vary greatly depending on your individual supervisor’s workload, engagement and effort. Some schools assign a supervisor while in other schools the supervisor is recruited by the student. In either case, this is an important relationship and it is recommended that you check in with your supervisor regularly so you can receive all the help you will need.

The vast majority of IB schools assign a series of deadlines to facilitate the planning and writing process. For the May exam cohort, these deadlines commonly start in the Fall trimester of the Junior year and end with a complete final draft in the Spring of Senior year, leading up to the IB submission deadline in mid-February.

Most students go into the summer with a subject area, a research question, some research done, and perhaps a rough outline. The expectation is that you complete the written work over the summer and submit a thorough first draft upon return in your Senior year, including a citation system that emulates college-level research. The vast majority of IB students are not adequately prepared for this work going into the summer, which brings us to how IB Plus Plus Tutors can help at different stages of the process.

How Our IB Plus Plus Tutors Provide Guidance

  • Consultation on subject selection, how to approach, engage and work with your supervisor, develop the research question, identify, track, and occasionally provide reliable sources of information in the research and planning phase
  • Instruction on how to maintain a log of sources, annotations and quotes to facilitate citation and the writing phase
  • Develop a thesis, organize the essay into headings, sections and outline body paragraphs
  • Share strategies for how to avoid inadvertent plagiarism, understanding and implementing citation systems such as MLA, APA or Chicago, and how to use online citation sites and generators
  • Organize essay components such as the cover page, contents page, headings, inclusion of graphs and images in the body of the essay, the bibliography and appendices
  • Provide comments and suggestions on drafts, proofreading and copy editing
  • Provide a predicted grade on each criteria based on your essay
  • How to write reflections on the Progress and Planning Form
  • Consultation on the Viva Voce Interview with your EE Supervisor

Useful Links for tackling the EE

International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) General Guidance for the Extended Essay

This online version of the Extended Essay Guide is published by the IBO. The site is mainly intended for teachers and administrators but you can find all up-to-date materials that the IB has published to facilitate the Extended Essay in one place here.

IBO: The Extended Essay At a Glance

This is an overview of the research essay you are about to embark on, including a brief description of key components such as the subject choices, word count, reflections, and Viva Voce (interview).

Subject Specific Guidance (IBO)

The IB provides additional specific guidance within each subject area, including options for approaches towards the subject. The subject-specific guidance is a short description of options and expectations within the subject and is a must-read before you embark on the essay.

Subject Specific Graded Essay Samples (IBO) 

If you are unsure what an essay in a specific subject should read like, this link provides several examples of student-submitted essays, including grades awarded by the IB. Be sure to read at least one EE in the subject of your choice to have a good understanding of what the expectations are within your subject area.

Assessment Criteria Rubric (2021)

The essay is graded on 5 main criteria. This link contains the language describing the mark band for each criteria that the teacher will base the predicted grade on, and the examiner will provide the final IB grade on. Familiarize yourself with these criteria and review the language for the mark band before submitting your first draft.

Criteria A: Focus and method

This criterion focuses on the topic, the research question and the methodology. It assesses the explanation of the focus of the research (this includes the title and the research question), how the research will be undertaken, and how the focus is maintained throughout the essay.

Criteria B: Knowledge and Understanding

This criterion assesses the extent to which the research relates to the subject area/discipline used to explore the research question, or in the case of the world studies extended essay, the issue addressed and the two disciplinary perspectives applied, and additionally the way in which this knowledge and understanding is demonstrated through the use of appropriate terminology and concepts.

Criteria C: Critical thinking

This criterion assesses the extent to which critical thinking skills have been used to analyse and evaluate the research undertaken.

Criteria D: Presentation

This criterion assesses the extent to which the presentation follows the standard format expected for academic writing and the extent to which this aids effective communication.

Criteria E: Engagement

This criterion assesses the student’s engagement with their research focus and the research process. It will be applied by the examiner at the end of the assessment of the essay, after considering the student’s Reflections on planning and progress form.

Well done for making it to the end! Don’t forget our tutors are ready to help you master your EE with personalised online tuition!

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