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IB Extended Essay – 10 Steps, Dos, Don’ts and Examples

The IB Extended Essay (EE) is a vital component of the IB Diploma Programme, serving as a challenging but rewarding opportunity for students to conduct in-depth research on a topic of their choice. This 4,000-word essay is a significant undertaking that not only contributes to the IB diploma but also prepares students for future academic endeavours.

At its core, the EE is an essential academic task that allows IB students to explore a question that fascinates them, while developing university-level research and writing skills. It’s a rigorous process that can significantly impact your final diploma score, making it a crucial step for those aiming to excel in the IB curriculum.

Tip For Success – IB Mentor For Guidance 

If you’re feeling stuck on deciding your research topic, question or just struggling with writing your essay, it might be best to seek assistance from an IB advisor – be it a teacher or a private tutor 

Your IB advisor, alongside your IB teacher, plays a pivotal role in the EE process. These mentors guide you through the complexities of the EE, from initial topic selection to the final stages of writing. They are there to help you refine your research question, structure your argument, and ensure that you stay on track with the EE timeline.

What is The Best Subject for EE?

If you’ve also had this question and pondered which subject to choose for your essay, here you can see which ones are chosen most often, as well as how they’re ultimately graded.

Source: IB Diploma Programme

Writing the Extended Essay Step-by-Step

Step 1 – What is IB Extended Essay and What’s the Purpose of the EE

Before you begin, it’s essential to grasp what the EE entails. It’s an independent, self-directed piece of research, culminating in a 4,000-word paper. The EE is an opportunity to explore a topic of interest related to one of the subjects you are studying.

Step 2 – Choosing Your Topic Wisely

Select a topic that aligns with one of the IB subjects you are studying. Your topic should be narrow enough to be manageable but broad enough to facilitate in-depth research. Consult with your IB advisor or IB teacher to ensure your chosen topic meets IB criteria.  

📌 For example, if you’re studying IB Biology, a well-structured topic could be “The Effects of Urbanisation on Local Bee Populations”. This topic is specific to the biology field, offering a clear focus for research while remaining broad enough to explore environmental impacts, species adaptation, and conservation strategies..

Step 3 – Formulating Your Research Question

Your research question guides your investigation and writing. Make it focused, precise, and open to analytical debate. An effective research question often leads to a more successful EE.

📌 Building on the previous topic, a strong research question might be, “How has urban development in the past decade impacted the diversity and population density of bee species in the Greater London Area?” This question is tailored to invite a thorough examination of changes over time, allowing for analysis and debate of urbanisation’s role in biodiversity.

Step 4 – Researching and Gathering Data

Start your research early, utilising a variety of sources such as books, academic journals, and credible websites. Keep meticulous records of your sources to aid with citations and ensure your research is well-rounded.

Step 5 – Creating an Outline

Organise your findings into an outline. This should include an introduction, body sections divided by subtopics or arguments, and a conclusion. A structured outline keeps your writing focused and ensures you cover all aspects of your research question.

Step 6 – The Writing Process

Begin writing your EE, expanding on each section of your outline. Ensure each paragraph introduces a clear idea and is supported with evidence. Stay on track with your research question and thesis, avoiding tangents or unnecessary information.

Step 7 – Reflection

The IB requires three reflection sessions after certain milestones in your EE process. These reflections are critical for the ‘Reflections on Planning and Progress Form’ and encourage you to consider the successes and challenges of your research journey.

Step 8 – Reviewing and Revising

After completing your first draft, take the time to revise. Check for clarity, coherence, and academic rigour. Ask for feedback from your IB advisor or peers, and be ready to make substantial edits for improvement.

Step 9 – Finalising Your Essay

Incorporate the feedback you’ve received, correct any errors, and ensure your essay meets the IB extended essay structure. Pay special attention to the required components such as the title page, abstract, and contents page.

Step 10 – Proofreading and Submission

Before submitting, check your essay against the IB’s formal presentation guidelines to ensure proper formatting. Verify that your word count is within the limit and that all sources are correctly cited.

Ensure you understand the submission deadline for the IB Extended Essay, typically around the end of the first term of the final year. Submit your EE via the IB’s required method, and ensure you have a submission confirmation.

Do’s and Don’ts When Writing the IB Extended Essay

Do’s

  1. ✔️ Choose a Topic You’re Passionate About
  2. ✔️ Plan Your Time Wisely
  3. ✔️ Conduct Thorough Research
  4. ✔️ Create a Detailed Outline
  5. ✔️ Write Clear and Coherent Arguments 
  6. ✔️ Use Subject-Specific Language
  7. ✔️ Cite Your Sources Properly
  8. ✔️ Adhere to IB Guidelines
  9. ✔️ Seek Feedback

Don’t

  1. ❌ Procrastinate
  2. ❌ Be Too General
  3. ❌ Neglect the Essay Structure
  4. ❌ Ignore the Word Count
  5. ❌ Use Informal Language
  6. ❌ Plagiarise
  7. ❌ Overlook the Importance of Reflections
  8. ❌ Submit Without Proofreading
  9. ❌ Disregard the Formatting Guidelines

Phrases to Use

– “This essay seeks to explore…”

– “The research question being investigated…”

– “A critical analysis of [topic] reveals…”

– “The evidence suggests that…”

– “Consequently, it can be argued…”

– “The data indicates…”

– “In light of these findings…”

Phrases to Avoid

– “I think…” or “I believe…” (instead, present evidence to support your claims)

– “This essay will cover everything about…” (be specific about what you will discuss)

– “Everybody knows that…” (avoid assumptions and generalisations)

– “In my opinion…” (the essay should be analytical rather than personal)

– “It is obvious that…” (make a case for your argument instead of assuming it is self-evident)

– “Stuff,” “things,” etc. (use precise and academic vocabulary)

– “In conclusion, this is a complex topic…” (your conclusion should summarise your specific findings, not restate the complexity of the topic) 

Remember – The Extended Essay is a formal academic piece, so maintaining a formal tone, adhering to a structured format, and demonstrating a high level of analysis are key to achieving a good grade.

IB Extended Essay Grading

The EE Assessment Criteria

The IB Extended Essay is evaluated using a set of criteria that focus on different aspects of writing and research. These include:

1. Focus and Method (6 points) – This criterion assesses the clarity and purpose of the research question, the appropriateness of the methodology, and how well these align with the chosen topic.

2. Knowledge and Understanding (6 points) – Here, the essay is evaluated for the demonstration of knowledge and understanding of the topic studied, including the context and significance of the research question.

3. Critical Thinking (12 points) – Critical thinking is key, and this section reviews the extent to which the essay uses analysis, evaluation, and synthesis of knowledge to support the argument.

4. Presentation (4 points) – The structure and presentation of the essay, including adherence to guidelines on word count, formatting, and clear, coherent use of language, are assessed.

5. Engagement (6 points) – This criterion considers the student’s reflection on their research process, the challenges encountered, and the skills and insights gained.

The EE Grading Scale

The Extended Essay is graded on a scale from A to E, with A being the highest and E being the lowest. Here’s how the points contribute to the final grade:

A (Excellent)29-34 Points
B (Good)23-28 Points
C (Satisfactory)16-22 Points
D (Mediocre)8-15 Points
E (Elementary)0-7 Points
EE Grading Scale

Award of the IB Diploma

The Extended Essay contributes to the total score of the IB Diploma in tandem with the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) through a points system. Students can earn up to three additional points based on their performance in these two core components.

Both the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge are evaluated according to specific assessment criteria that measure the quality of work. The performance of the student in each component is graded within one of the five bands that have been outlined previously.

The cumulative points awarded for the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge are derived from a matrix that correlates the levels achieved in both components. This matrix decides the number of additional points that will be added to the student’s overall diploma score, reflecting the interconnectedness of knowledge and research within the IB framework.

Analysing IB Extended Essay Example

IB Extended Essay Examples

If you still need some guidance on how to get an A in your EE, here are some examples by subjects:

Biology

Chemistry

English

Geography

History

ITGS

Mathematics

Music

Philosophy

Physics

Politics

Psychology

Social and Cultural Anthropology

Visual Arts

World Religion

Closing Thoughts

For aspiring IB students, the journey of crafting your Extended Essay is both a challenge and an extraordinary opportunity for intellectual development. Embrace this venture with enthusiasm, knowing that it is a unique chance to explore your academic interests in depth.

If you feel like you might need some extra assistance during this difficult process that is writing your IB Extensive Essay, don’t hesitate to reach out to IB tutors from Edumentors – a platform where they truly care for your success.

As we conclude, I extend my best wishes to all students embarking on this rigorous but rewarding endeavour. May your Extended Essay not only be a gateway to academic success but also a fulfilling learning experience that stays with you long after your IB journey has ended.


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