Purpose of the Extended Essay
The extended essay is an in-depth study of a focused topic chosen from the list of approved Diploma Programme subjects—normally one of the student’s six chosen subjects for the IB diploma. It is intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity. It provides students with an opportunity to engage in personal research in a topic of their own choice, under the guidance of a supervisor (a teacher in the school). This leads to a major piece of formally presented, structured writing, in which ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned and coherent manner, appropriate to the subject chosen. It is recommended that completion of the written essay is followed by a short, concluding interview, or viva voce, with the supervisor. The extended essay is assessed against common criteria, interpreted in ways appropriate to each subject.
The extended essay is:
- Compulsory for all Diploma Programme students
- Externally assessed and, in combination with the grade for Theory of Knowledge, contributes up to three points to the total score for the IB diploma
- A piece of independent research/investigation on a topic chosen by the student in cooperation with a supervisor in the school
- Chosen from the list of approved Diploma Programme subjects, published in the Vade Mecum
- Presented as a formal work of scholarship that contains no more than 4,000 words
- The result of approximately 40 hours of work by the student concluded with a short interview, or viva voce, with the teacher mentor
In the Diploma Programme, the extended essay is the prime example of a project where the student has the opportunity to show knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm about a topic of his or her choice. In those countries where it is the norm for interviews to be required prior to acceptance for employment or for a place at university, the extended essay has often proved to be a valuable stimulus for discussion.
It is required that the supervisor:
- Provides the student with advice and guidance in the skills of undertaking research
- Encourages and supports the student throughout the research and writing of the extended essay
- Discusses the choice of topic with the student and, in particular, helps to formulate a well-focused research question
- Ensures that the chosen research question satisfies appropriate legal and ethical standards with regard to health and safety, confidentiality, human rights, animal welfare and environmental issues
- Is familiar with the regulations governing the extended essay and the assessment criteria, and gives copies of these to the student
- Reads and comments on the first draft only of the extended essay (but does not edit the draft)
- Monitors the progress of the extended essay to offer guidance and to ensure that the essay is the student’s own work; and reads the final version to confirm its authenticity
- Submits a predicted grade for the student’s extended essay to the IB coordinator
- Provides evidence or explanation in writing to validate the number of hours spent with the student in discussing the extended essay (Mentor Monitoring Record & Exit Interview Form)
- Completes the supervisor’s report.
- Writes a report and presents it to the school’s Diploma Programme coordinator if malpractice, such as plagiarism, is suspected in the final draft.
It is strongly recommended that the supervisor:
- reads recent extended essay reports for the subject (available online on the OCC)
- spends between three and five hours with each student, including the time spent on the viva voce
- ensures that the chosen research question is appropriate for the subject
- advises students on: access to appropriate resources (such as people, a library, a laboratory), techniques of information-/evidence-/data-/gather and analysis, writing an abstract, documenting sources.
The student may work with or consult external sources, but it remains the responsibility of the supervisor within the school to complete all the requirements described above.
Responsibilities of the Students
It is required that students:
- Choose a topic that fits into one of the subjects on the approved extended essay list (in the Vade Mecum)
- Observe the regulations relating to the extended essay
- Meet deadlines
- Acknowledge all sources of information and ideas in an approved academic manner
It is strongly recommended that students:
- Start work early
- Think very carefully about the research question for their essay
- Plan how, when and where they will find material for their essay
- Plan a schedule for both researching and writing the essay, including extra time for delays and unforeseen problems
- Record sources as their research progresses (rather than trying to reconstruct a list at the end)
- Have a clear structure for the essay itself before beginning to write
- Check and proofread the final version carefully
- Make sure that all basic requirements are met (for example, all students should get full marks for the abstract)
Key features of the EE
- The EE is compulsory for all students taking the Diploma and is an option for course students.
- A student must achieve a D grade or higher to be awarded the Diploma.
- The EE is externally assessed. Together with the grade for theory of knowledge, it contributes up to three points to the total score for the diploma.
- The EE process helps prepare students for university and other pathways beyond the Diploma Programme.
- Students must choose a subject for their essay from the list of Diploma Programme subjects in the Handbook of procedures for the Diploma Programme for the session in question.
- The EE is a piece of independent research on a topic chosen by the student in consultation with a supervisor in the school.
- It is presented as a formal piece of sustained academic writing (4,000 words maximum) accompanied by a reflection form (500 words maximum).
- It is the result of approximately 40 hours of work by the student.
- Students are supported by a supervision process recommended to last three to five hours in total, which includes three mandatory reflection sessions.
- The third and final mandatory reflection session is the viva voce, which is a concluding interview with the supervising teacher after the essay is completed.