The extended essay is a mandatory core component of the IB Diploma Programme, ending with a 4000-word essay. It contributes to the 3 extra points apart from the cumulative subject score for the 6 chosen subjects.
This, combined with the TOK essay, is graded according to a TOK/EE matrix that determines how many points you will additionally obtain. With your extended essay, a viva voce will be conducted to test your knowledge and spontaneity of how much you have learned from writing your essay.
This showcases the students’ depth of understanding of the research carried out. The extended essay is an advantage not only for school but for an array of opportunities ahead of you. It provides an opportunity that helps in independent research whilst developing research skills, inquiry, open-mindedness and creativity along with many more of the IB learner profile traits.
Here are some key points to keep in mind before and while writing your extended essay:
1. Choose an interested subject and pick a topic
Choosing one subject from the various EE subjects IB has to offer is the first and vital step in writing the Extended essay. Considering a topic from a preferred subject would have you more involved through the course of this investigation because you will have to write 4000 words on it! A piece of additional advice would be to target a topic from a subject that would help you boost your university application.
For example, if you plan on studying pharmacy in university, you may want to consider researching medicinal drugs and the factors affecting its efficacy in a Chemistry Extended essay.
2. Lean towards picking an original topic
There is an extensive scope of investigation for each subject and vast subject areas that could interest you. Finding the right topic may be a challenge since you need to choose by keeping three factors in mind. It needs to be made sure that this topic could be wide enough to investigate for a 4000-word essay. There should also be ways to satisfy all the extended essay criteria for the topic.
Lastly, there should be enough room in your topic that allows you to experiment various aspects. This would not only make it more interesting but would also highlight your research and creativity skills that IB tends to look for in extended essays.
The more original and authentic your topic is, the greater the advantage you would have when your essay is graded.
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3. Read through the extended essay guidelines
Typically, the Extended essay rules and guidelines are not thoroughly read through, causing students not to meet the criteria required. There are specific requirements while picking your topic for certain subjects, such as Economics.
Therefore, revising the guidelines before beginning the 4000-word essay would provide more clarity. Knowing the extended essay criteria and fulfilling all the requirements while writing the essay could be time-efficient.
The IB provides a list of criteria that need to be satisfied, which allows you to question everything you write in the essay. This means that every piece of information you include turns into a question and the answer is mentioned right after. This avoids any confusion when the examiner reads through your essay.
Questioning everything you write is the key to producing a well-informed and thoroughly researched essay.
4. Plan the extended essay thoroughly
Structuring the extended essay is the next crucial step to writing it. Arranging all the components of the essay would provide clarity on what needs to be done in terms of writing the theory as well as performing the experiments.
In addition, IB extended essay samples could also aid in understanding the way in which the essay is carried out uniformly. This includes the order in which each section is explained in and also shows the importance of each section and how they should be written.
In certain instances, the examples may not follow the same order as your extended essay; however, it can still be used for guidance as to how each section is developed into the next.
On another note, an important piece of advice to consider is to have a timeline for your extended essay by the end of DP Year 1. Doing this will provide you with ample time to proceed with the extended essay in terms of experimentation and documentation in your second year.
This would lessen the workload and stress amongst the revisions that need to be done for your final board exam. An extended essay that is put together in a rush without following a certain timeline could cost you marks in the TOK/EE matrix, therefore lowering your score.
Another helpful tip is to plan your first draft to have a little over 4000 words and edit and cut down unimportant information, thus bringing it down to less than 4000 words.
5. Note down all of your references
Once you begin to write your extended essay, plenty of research needs to be done in order to explain your concepts and ideas. Therefore, being drowned in all the research could lead you to forget to save those links.
However, noting down all the sources from where you retrieve information is as important as using it. IB values honesty and is strictly against plagiarism. Therefore, if in any case the information that you use is obtained from another website, the link needs to be cited. This is applicable for not only text but images as well.
However, the images could instead be made by you rather than copied from another source wherever possible. Referencing the information is also another vital component when it comes to grading your extended essay since it reflects your skills as a researcher.
A consistent method of citing the references could be a bonus point for your extended essay overall.
6. Reflection is important
Reflecting on your extended essay shows your investigation process and how you face and overcome challenges that come your way. It also shows personal and true engagement since you take the extra effort to develop a solution.
Reflection is one of the key skills that IB looks for in a student because it would indicate that they learn from mistakes and find solutions rather than discarding them altogether. This mainly aids in your learning process throughout the course of this essay because you would be faced with various kinds of challenges, either be it experimentation or finding an alternate method for calculation.
7. Validation and Collection of method and data
Upon writing your extended essay, it is also important to ensure that you have sufficient evidence to support your methodology and data.
This secondary evidence can be gathered from research papers and/or other educational websites in the form of numerical and qualitative data or explanations for the given trend. Lacking this evidence for validity would mean that you have not fulfilled the extended essay criteria.
Furthermore, when secondary data is collected or an explanation for a concept for your primary data is included, the source from which you obtain the information must be reliable. Looking for reliable sources for information during research is a challenge many students face but can easily be overcome with time and practice.
I embarked on this challenge myself when it came to collecting sufficient data for my investigation. My Extended essay compared the effectiveness of implementing the odd even scheme in Anand Vihar, in 2016 and 2019.
This was done by analyzing PM 2.5 values collected before, during and post-implementation- a harmful component of air pollution. One of the major difficulties I faced was finding data for my research. As I was unavailable to collect primary data due to geographical differences, my research was based on secondary data entirely.
However, I tried to make use of that as much as possible and did various analyses, ranging from behavioral to statistical. This brings me to my next point, it is always important to discuss the various aspects of things to provide holistic analysis and evaluation in your essay.
In conclusion, writing your extended essay is a thorough learning process. As much as you are invested in finishing it, it is important to learn just as much and have fun during experimentation and documentation.
Combining the planning, researching and time management into your extended essay to satisfy all the criteria, writing this 4000-word essay can be very beneficial in the long run, especially when you have assignments in your university.
This core component and the TOK essay will exercise your brain to work in many different ways, which would later aid in various situations during university.
By writing your extended essay to satisfy the criteria and being able to manage your time effectively, you would have become entirely prepared to write lengthy essays and research papers at the university level, which is highly vital and beneficial.