The Ultimate IB Extended Essay Guide: Ideas, Topics, Examples

November 08, 2017 How To Write
The Ultimate IB Extended Essay Guide: Ideas, Topics, Examples

Looking for a more down to earth Extended Essay Guide? Then look no further. It is safe to assume that you are currently tackling the challenges of the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. Nonetheless, that does not mean that students are given all the necessary resources to address complex extended essay questions. Throughout this IB Extended Essay Guide, we will be exploring the most efficient methods to manage and complete such a challenging task.


Contents


What is an IB Extended Essay?

It is a well-known fact that the IB Diploma Programme is quite demanding as it includes multiple forms of assessment, one of which is the Extended Essay. It is designed for students aged between 16 to 19 to help prepare them for life's challenges. Overall it aims to do so by encouraging its participants to be independent thinkers that are knowledgeable, caring, compassionate as well as have an inquisitive nature about the world around them. One develops their intercultural understanding due to the methods used to teach the material, particularly the Extended Essay, and the multicultural learning environment that prepares students to approach issues from a multitude of viewpoints.

Visibly the IB programme is designed to empower students by allowing them to engage in higher level studies of their preferred subjects. Thus, the Extended Essay Topics will be based on one of the higher level subjects. In most cases, the IB Extended Essay is shortened to EE.

Regardless of what Extended Essay topics are being taken into consideration, the assignment itself cannot exceed 4000 words. The assignment must make use of a

  1. Cover Page/Title Page,
  2. Abstract,
  3. Table of Content,
  4. Main Body and a Bibliography.

This task should be structured as a mini- thesis written under the supervision of an academic supervisor, usually one of the IB teachers available at the school. The result obtained from students Extended Essay topics is counted towards the value of their IB Diploma. For those seeking a more detailed explanation of how it is tallied up, we will go over that in the sections to come.

The process itself requires one to have their Extended Essay topics approved by the IBO which is not as complicated as most expect it to be. After it has been accepted, it is time to decide whether one will make use of a typical research paper format, conduct some form of experiment or seek to solve a prominent problem. Most IB schools will allow their students to pick the advisor they want to provide them with various IB Extended Essay Guidelines.

How will the assignment be graded?

Usually, the advisors are required to provide students with a handout explaining the grading scheme for all Extended Essay questions. However if it is still unclear, we will go over it again in the section below. As stated by the official Extended Essay Guidelines, the assignment will be marked by a number of external examiners which have been appointed by the IB. The grading scale begins at 0, being the lowest, and ends at 36, being the highest. Nevertheless, despite having a range, there are still some subject-specific as well as general criteria applied to the Extended Essay format as well as content. Therefore, according to how many Rubric Assessment Points you obtain, a Description Letter will be allocated to indicate the final grade.

Extended Essay Example: Grading Scheme

grading scheme for extended essay

How does the Extended Essay impact my diploma?

As of 2014, since the first examination in May 2015, students who receive an E on their Extended Essay topics or Theory of Knowledge (TOK) will no longer be eligible to be awarded the prestigious IB diploma. These two grades are still being combined allowing students to receive up to 3 points towards their degree by completing both assignments successfully.

Specific Criteria

If you have been wondering how to get all those 36 points for your Extended Essay topics then here is the answer. Having mentioned several times that there are some rather rigorous strict criteria used to grade Extended Essay topics, we will now have a look at all of them individually explaining their relevance and role. We have included the maximum amount of points each of these sections carry to give pupils a better understanding of their worth, nonetheless despite their numerical value all are equally important.

A: Research Question [ 2 points Max ]

In most subjects, the purpose of the essay will be highlighted in the form of a question, which is why this criterion is called Research Question. Nonetheless, specific Extended Essay topics will allow and even encourage different approaches when defining them. With that in mind, the research question still has to be included on the title page, and an introduction of the Extended Essay format requires that.

B: Introduction [ 2 points Max ]

According to the IB Extended Essay Guidelines examiners must assess the degree to which pupil’s introduction highlights the relationship between the research question and background knowledge the individual already posses on the Extended Essay topic. Students should look to underline the significance and worth of this examination holistically. Overall the context of the chosen research question must be stated and examined.

C: Investigation [ 4 points Max ]

As indicated by the IB Extended Essay Guide our following criterion entails examining the degree to which students have planned their investigations. In essence, examiners are looking to see an extensive range of sources is taken into consideration, efficient use of data as well as implementing these elements in the right places. Overall make sure you collect ONLY relevant material that has been carefully selected as it must support the idea of the investigation.

D: Knowledge and Understanding of the Topic Studied [ 4 points Max ]

This criterion assesses the degree to which students are aware of the current state of affairs in the respective field they are investigating. Nonetheless, that statement has to be taken with a pinch of salt since it is referring to what a pre-university student can elaborate on and not a Masters graduate. Thus, our Extended Essay Guide encourages students to evidentiate their knowledge and understanding of the topic at hand by indicating how the investigation impacts this subject from their current academic perspective.

E: Reasoned Argument [ 4 points Max ]

Due to the title, it is somewhat straightforward what will be placed under assessment. The IB Extended Essay Guidelines explicitly require students to make good use of all the data or reading material collected to showcase their ideas coherently and logically. Thus, pupils may decide to argue against their research question or choose to find various ways of proving it. Keep in mind that the paper must succeed in proving or disproving the original hypothesis according to the IB Extended Essay Guide.

F: Application of Analytical and Evaluative Skills Appropriate to the Subject [ 4 points Max ]

Students display an appropriate use of their analytical and evaluative skills throughout each section included in their Extensive Essay structure.

G: Use of Language Appropriate to the Subject [ 4 Points Max ]

Appropriate use of academic terminology, language, grammar, etc. throughout the assignment. Overall the goal is to get one's ideas across to the public in a clear and concise manner.

H: Conclusion [ 2 points Max ]

The goal here is clearly to assess the impact of a student's conclusion. Relevancy and consistency throughout one's argument will play a significant role for examiners. Make sure not to leave any unanswered questions to tackle within the conclusion. Doing so can indicate the student's research was not thorough enough or the Extended Essay structure was not properly organized. The keys to success are to be consistent in the methods and evidence used to support one's argument as well as keeping things as clear and concise as possible without repeating the introduction.

I: Formal Presentation [ 4 points Max ]

As simple as it might sound at first, the following criterion concerns itself with the formal physical elements of the Extended Essay. It is utterly crucial that students are aware of these requirements depicted in any Extended Essay Guide. Again consistency is critical as students must adhere to the standard format described below in the IB Extended Essay Guidelines section. For more information on what these elements are, consult “What is an IB Extended Essay?” located at the start of our Extended Essay Guide. Sticking to a simple set of rules can end up awarding the student 4 points, which would be a shame to lose out on.

J: Abstract [ 2 points Max ]

Remember that regardless of what Extended Essay topics are being taken into consideration the abstract can never exceed 300 words as it will result in losing these 2 points. Make sure you include the research question being investigated, how the data or reading material will be collected as well as how one expects the investigation to conclude.

K: Holistic Judgement [ 4 points Max ]

The last criterion sets out to assess the qualities which distinguish an excellent Extended Essay from a fantastic one. In essence what it means is displaying a passionate intellectual initiative and a firm understanding of what the topic entails. It is highly recommended in any Extended Essay Guide that pupils seek to apply holistic judgment throughout the entire assignment.

IB Extended Essay Guidelines

Similar to all standardized testing systems the Extended Essay guidelines are based on common criteria, some interpreted in specific ways according to the subject. So let’s have a look at the most general ones:

  • The assignment is compulsory for all Diploma Programme students. Make sure to meet all the deadlines, including those for drafts.
  • It can be done in the form of an investigation or independent research on the Extended Essay topics that have been approved by the Diploma Programme.
  • Review the May 2017 Extended Essay structure requirements form in case things have changed.
  • According to the Extended Essay Guidelines, everything has to be typed up and double-spaced.
  • Most institutions will recommend that this process is undergone with the help of a supervisor.
  • Students should look to pick Extended Essay topics they are comfortable with since it is an opportunity to display one’s knowledge and understanding of the subject with lots of enthusiasm.
  • If the student is going to create their own topic, they have it approved by the IBO and their supervisor since it has to fit within the criteria.
  • It must be presented as a formal piece of academic writing having no more than 4,000 words.
  • The Extended Essay will be externally assessed alongside the TOK essay to determine how many points shall be contributed to the final grade.
  • Remember to acknowledge all sources used in solving any Extended Essay questions according to the approved academic requirements.
  • Overall it takes approximately 40 hours of work, depending on the student, and ends with a viva voce (voice interview which will be recorded) conducted by your chosen academic supervisor (recommended).

Such Extended Essay Guidelines should be given out to you by every IB institution. Nonetheless, they are quite lengthy and can take a while to get through. We hope that by reading a shortened and more succinct version of it, you will have saved some time, which you can now invest into perfecting one’s Extended Essay Outline.

What are the best Extended Essay Topics?

Before exploring where one might strike goals regarding their Extended Essay topics, it is essential to be aware of the examiner's expectations. The IB programme makes use of a complex system where everything is interconnected.

When first confronted with the Approaches to Teaching and Learning (ATL) available topics it can get a bit confusing due to how layered the system is. First off what ATL concerns itself with are planned strategies, skills and/or attitudes designed to suffuse one's teaching and learning environment. The goal behind ATL is to help students develop in five different areas, namely:

  1. Becoming an Independent Thinker
  2. Developing Self-Management Traits
  3. Encouraging Effective Communication
  4. Exploring Social Aspects
  5. Performing Fruitful Research

Thus, to help students in their grooming process and prepare them for writing some fantastic Extended Essay topics the curriculum is designed much like one of a university. Meaning each pupil must choose six courses from six distinct groups. Doing so gives one a taste of what everything entails so they may gauge what field is best suited for their Extended Essay questions. The groups go as follows:

  • The Arts [ Theater Arts, Visual Arts, Dancing, etc. ]
  • Individuals and Societies [ Previously known as Humanities involves: History, Geography, Economics, Business Management, Information Technology, etc.]
  • Sciences [ Physics, Biology, Chemistry, etc.]
  • Studies in language and literature [ English, German, French, Spanish as a Native Speaker]
  • Language Acquisition [ Learning a new language either from scratch or at a higher level, but less knowledgeable than a native speaker as they are not eligible]
  • Mathematics

In case you change your mind on what subjects fit best one has the option to change them up to a specific date. The date is established by each institution, in particular. Nevertheless, once the period has passed, it will be physically impossible for students to catch up with the material they have missed. With that being said, each must have at least three, with a maximum of four, higher level (HL) classes while taking the rest at the standard level (SL). The difference between those is straightforward: a higher level class will require 240 recommended teaching hours and standard level a total of 150 recommended teaching hours.

Now, since we have a basic idea of how the system works and what is expected of us, we can have a look at what makes Extended Essay topics shine. Most students tend to deviate from the given list of topics by adding their own unique spin to it. The best way to go about any Extended Essay questions is by having the topic based on one of your higher level subjects. Below we will provide an Extended Essay example for each of the six groups.

English A1 HL: How effective was Seamus Heaney’s response in “The Pen’s view of the Sword” to “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland as shown in “Wintering Out and North”?

History HL: A in-depth comparative study between Chinese and Japanese high school history textbooks depicting the acts of Japanese Aggression in China from 1935 to 1937.

Visual Arts HL: To what extent has Salvador Dali’s surrealist movement impacted our interpretation of modern artworks?

Physics HL: Deformation from free-falling - Investigating how the height from which we drop molten wax onto a water surface affect its size and shape.

Mathematics HL: An investigation into the relationship between Pascal's Triangle and the Fibonacci sequence.

Economics/Business Management HL: To what extent has the recession affected the consumption of demerit goods in China?

IB Extended Essay Example

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"What factors and processes have promoted the growth of Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC since the Tata Motors acquisition?" - IB Extended Essay Sample
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Secret Tips and Tricks To Tackle Any IB Extended Essay Questions

Phew, it has been quite a journey so far, and it’s not over yet. Since we have covered all the significant elements which need to include in your Extended Essay topics what else could be left? Well, below our talented paper writers have come up with some fantastic tips and tricks that students can put into practice quite quickly. This type of Extended Essay guide looks to get you going in the right direction so you don't have to spend countless hours correcting silly mistakes which can sometimes occur.

The following segment of the Extended Essay Guide is split into two distinct sections. One is a simple list of what to do and not to do while tackling this assignment as well as some fantastic tips and tricks to help you get it done in no time. So let’s have a look at each list of these Extended Essay tips carefully and understand how they will help us get it done in time.

The “Do’s and Don'ts” of Tackling Any Extended Essay Questions

Since the IB Extended Essay Topics are quite challenging here is a roadmap to help you understand what the examiners are looking for.

Extended Essay Dos:

  • Look to find a topic that you have a lot of background information on. This will not only reduce the number of research hours for the Extended Essay but also make it a lot easier to get one’s thoughts organized.
  • Get working on it as quickly as possible
  • Go over the assessment criteria for the Extended Essay format several times, since it would be a shame to lose points for small structural errors.
  • Maintaining a good relationship with the chosen academic supervisor is crucial.
  • Carefully consider what the best Extended Essay Research Question might be for the assignment
  • Try imagining the full finished essay before deciding on your final research question. Do not be shy to reconstruct the Extended Essay questions if needed entirely. However, if it involves a change in topics, then it must be resubmitted to get the IB Coordinator’s approval.
  • Instead of being overwhelmed by the sheer size of the Extended Essay format, one should look to start by completing the requirements such as the abstract, organizing their sources and table of content or perfecting the cover page
  • Create a schedule: Plan out the when, where and hows regarding the material needed. It should also include dates. These will be used to determine when the research period ends, when the actual writing of the Extended Essay begins, etc. Make sure to include some wiggle room just in case there are unforeseen delays.
  • Have a clear Extended Essay Structure. Meaning one should have it ready before they start writing. It will ensure the sources being used are well incorporated into the text.
  • Have multiple copies of the assignment on various platforms. E.g., On your PC, Laptop, Hard-Drive, Phone, Tablet, etc. This way if one piece of equipment breaks down there is a backup file.
  • Always double-check and proofread the final version multiple times.

Extended Essay Don’ts:

  • Avoid working with Extended Essay topics which are inappropriate. Meaning they should not be too vague, broad, narrow or too confusing to answer within the Extended Essay word count.
  • Remember this kind of assignment seeks to find questions worth investigating which students can explore passionately. Overall students should avoid Extended Essay questions that can be quickly answered as well.
  • Make sure all the data needed to develop the paper are readily available or can be made easily accessible. Without being able to interact with these resources, it is best to choose a different topic.
  • Avoid including irrelevant material and sources at all cost.
  • Do not ignore the Extended Essay Assessment Criteria and references your resources accordingly as to dodge the deadly bullet called plagiarism.
  • Do not turn the assignment into a summary or a simple report depicting a given set of facts. Construct it in such a way so that analyzing the Extended Essay Research Question remains the star of the show.
  • Stay clear of repeating the introduction in the conclusion as it is unacceptable for this particular assignment.
  • Never cite sources that are not included in the bibliography.

Secret Tips and Tricks:

Find The Perfect Balance For Your Extended Essay Research Question

Quite often students tend to struggle when trying to create their perfect Extended Essay questions. The issue arises due to the topics needing to be broad enough so writing 4,000 words for them is not an issue but at the same time make sure they are narrowed down to keep them from turning into books. A great example is history students who are passionate about World War II (WWII) seeking to create their topics. It is easily understood that choosing to write about the impact the war had on Europe is primarily a book in itself. Thus it is better to look at it from a different perspective. One can instead narrow it down to the impact WWII had on the performance of German military forces from 1945-1950.

As easy as it might sound in this Extended Essay guide, the best way to go about perfecting your topic is by brainstorming multiple alternatives which seem attractive. Some students work better with Extended Essay topics requiring pupils to make some sort of comparison. But how could one apply that in such a scenario? It is essential to keep in mind that if choosing to do so we must find a form of comparison tailored to enrich the context. Thus, in our case, we can take a look at how a country such as Britain saw the German military in the time period selected. Overall we would now have researched two different sources that come to offer opposing viewpoints in our Extended Essay Outline. For example, a German source would describe the militaries lack of strength as increasing local civil unrest instead of helping maintain peace. While on the other hand, the British source would illustrate how the state of the German military had to remain this way since they had proven to be a threat to the international security of Europe twice in less than 50 years.

Avoid using comparisons unless they are genuinely relevant to the Extended Essay Topics being developed. If you are still unsure whether a specific comparison can match your topic the best thing to do is to consult the academic advisor.

Avoid Picking Up Extravagant Topics, Stick To Writing About Something You Really Enjoy

So how does one go about finding their passion for writing a fantastic Extended Essay? Quite often the answer is staring us right in the face.

Despite how demanding the IB Diploma Programme can be, eventually, we all find a class that helps relieve some of the pressure since everything comes to you naturally. It is highly recommended throughout this Extended Essay Guide that students pursue their passions since they will end up spending a lot of time working on the assignment. An unexpected benefit which can come from writing an fantastic Extended Essay is obtaining a scholarship by using it as a term of reference in interviews.

Let’s assume that by now you’ve discovered the most suitable subject for your Extended Essay. If it is English A1 then apparently it will involve researching what books literal motifs can create a fascinating comparison. Start by brainstorming, as previously mentioned, to narrow it down to a manageable margin or list of possible options. Usually the fastest way to complete the Extended Essay outline is by looking at what your favorite chapters were in that book or course and why. However, try not to spend more than 2 hours on this process at most to obtain satisfactory results. If it seems to need more time then perhaps it is best to consider choosing a different Extended Essay topic.

Choose the Best Possible Academic Advisor:

When looking to pick an academic supervisor for your Extended Essay topic, it is essential to keep a few things in mind.

First off, you have to convince them to supervise your Extended Essay early on since other students might want to seek out this particular teacher as well. In a sense, it is first come, first served. Some might require candidates to submit an Extended Essay outline before being accepted, but it is always worth it. Doing so ensures one does not end up with a random supervisor who is not passionate about the Extended Essay topic itself. Another crucial thing to value is selecting a tutor who is willing to take the time to go through several Extended Essay drafts and include an extensive set of notes on what can be improved. However, with that being said the IBO states explicitly that while advisors are allowed to suggest improvements to students Extended Essay topics they can not directly engage in writing up changes for it. Thus, one can understand why there is such a high demand for a detailed Extended Essay Guide. Overall the academic advisor should spend between two to three hours with the candidate discussing the intricacies of their Extended Essay topic. In essence, the process makes the students choice quite crucial since if they pick a teacher they have no connection to, this individual might not push the student to their limits. Thus, that is why in this Extended Essay Guide we recommend pupils always select a teacher you have worked with before either in class or during an extracurricular activity.

So what are the keys to getting the best possible academic advisor for any Extended Essay Topics again?

  1. Pick an advisor that will motivate you and push you to the limit
  2. Make sure you get in touch with them early on, so they are not overburdened
  3. Submit an agreement form if necessary
  4. Always ask if they are willing to take the time and review multiple drafts
  5. Avoid choosing one's favorite teacher to be the advisor, UNLESS what they teach is directly related to the Extended Essay topic.

Starting Sooner Is Always Better Than Later

As dull as it might sound by now, it cannot be stressed enough by any Extended Essay Guide. But as evident as it might be there is always something a lot more fun to do in high school than coming up with Extended Essay topics. However, regardless of how confident one is in their academic skills and ability to write up assignments quickly, it is nearly impossible to produce a convincing 4,000-word essay in a week or less and expect a good grade. As previously mentioned in the Extended Essay Guide the task requires students to read multiple articles, books, plays or even watch several documentaries. Thus, the sooner one gets started the faster they can finish.

Despite the universal IBO curriculum, not all institutions have the same deadlines. Meaning some schools will want them handed in as early as November from their Senior year class while others will have to submit theirs by February at the latest. Usually, the task deadlines will be provided to you in advance during the student's Junior Year. Nonetheless, if this has not come up the best thing to do is talk to the IB coordinator and find a useful Extended Essay Guide.

Having mentioned it several times throughout this Extended Essay Guide, we will provide you with an ideal timetable which students can use to plan out this paper:

goal-deadline-for-extended-essay

*Note: The timeline is tailored, so everything is done in advance before everything is due to help relieve some of the pressure.

Establishing a clear structure is half the battle

Visibly the IB loves the use of an organized Extended Essay structure. A smart way to approach such a challenge, as indicated by our Extended Essay Guide, is to have a clear introduction (2 pages max), research question, main body (up to 18 pages max usually), conclusion (1 page) and a robust, reliable set of references (separate page). Steer clear of coming up with an ambiguous abstract confusing the examiner more rather than give them a good understanding of what is to come in the Extended Essay structure.

Since the Extended Essay Guide indicates the main body will take up the most space, it is best to split it up into several components or elements. This way it is easier to define one’s Extended Essay outline, especially if it is a comparison. However, for those looking to conduct various experiments, it is best to follow the scientific method style. Meaning the Extended Essay outline begins by explaining the research question, describing the research methods that will be used to collect data, present the data, analyze the data, present all the possible uncertainties the experiment carries and lastly evaluate the success of the research in the form of a conclusion.


As you can see a Extended Essay will take up a significant amount of time from the student, but it is vital to make sure it comes out perfect. So what are you waiting for? Get the best essay writing help from the Essay Service today.

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