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Extended Essay: Extended Essay- The Basics

A guide to the research and writing process required for students completing the IB Extended Essay.

The Extended Essay - the Basics

This guide explains the process required to complete the IB Extended Essay - from the initial step of choosing a research topic, through effectively searching for information and organizing your sources to presenting your findings with accurate references and citations.

Extended Essay Timeline, Class of 2021 (REVISED for March - June, 2020)

Fall, 2019     Juniors in Advanced Music or Study Hall during 6th Period go to the Conference Room for five 
                     sessions with the EE Coordinator, Susan Trower.

                     Class time will be devoted to:

  • Introduction to Extended Essay (EE) and Senior Project (SP)
  • Introduction to WSA Library EE Guide, and IB documents:
    • IB Assessment Criteria for the EE
    • Relevant EE Subject Guide(s), including World Studies
    • IB's ethical guidelines related to academic honesty, citing and referencing, and (if applicable to your subject and topic) research and fieldwork, and use of animals
  • Introduction to EE Assessment criteria
  • Research methods, referencing skills, literature review skills
  • Generating research questions

Class sessions:

  • September 18, 2019
  • October 4, 2019
  • October 18, 2019
  • December 3, 2019
  • January 7, 2020

December 3, 2019

DUE:  By 12:30 PM on 12/3/2019 to Susan Trower 

'Student Undertaking Contract' signed by both student and parent

DUE:  'Proposed Subject and Topic Form' signed by student, with copy of NoodleTools Sources / Works Cited list (annotated), attached.  Include one or two proposals, each with:

EE subject, or WSEE theme and two IB subjects

Specific topic area or research question

Rationale for choosing this topic area

DUE:  By 2:00 PM (end of 6th Period) on 12/3/2019 to Susan Trower

Feasibility and Viability Assignment for one of your EE proposals:

Complete 5 Notecards in NoodleTools for at least 5 sources

Each Notecard:

should answer this question: What information does the source contain that is relevant to your project (i.e. some important details about the topic that you have learned about from this source)?

must include at least 10 bulleted notes on relevant factual data and include corresponding page numbers.

Goal is to prove viability of proposed research question

January 7, 2020     Extended Essay supervisors assigned

January 9 - 31, 2020

Schedule appointment with supervisor and meet for the first time (Initial Reflection Session)

As preparation for their first advisory session, students should be prepared to discuss the following:

  1. Criteria:  you should go over the subject-specific assessment criteria 
  2. Research question: work with your supervisor to narrow your topic/question down to a manageable scope (capable of being covered in 4,000 words); investigate the viability of your topic; if you have a wildly interesting but impractical question:  be prepared to heed the advice of your supervisor; know that it's up to you, and your supervisor will not prescribe or create a research question for you
  3. Exemplars:  ask for exemplars in your chosen subject from the EE coordinator or your supervisor.
  4. Library:  Be sure to check with the WSA Librarian for help in getting access to publications or online journals that would apply to your topic.
  5. Structure: Work with your supervisor to devise a plan as t how your research question could be structured or go to the session with a proposed structure you have in mind for review (chapter headings, for instance.)  MindMap® of ideas, flow charts, and other models could prove useful here to help you visualize your structure at this early stage.
  6. Time Management: If you are finding it difficult to plan your time due to other assessment pressures or extra-curricular demands, then it may be useful to speak to your supervisor with regards to creating a structured research timeline or more specific timetable to help you to see exactly what is required and when.

February 3, 2020

DUE:   'Research Readiness Form' to Susan Trower, signed by both student and supervisor
  • Turned in by 3:30 PM on 2/3/2020
  • Worth 50 points towards Second Semester EE grade
  • Late form = 0 points
DUE:   Initial reflection (150-175 words)  on 2/3/2020
  • Reflection must be emailed to Susan Trower by 3:30 PM on 2/3/2020
  • Worth 50 points towards Second Semester EE grade
  • Late reflection = 0 points
The timeline for March – June, 2020, has been modified due to remote learning requirements.


February - March, 2020     Meet with supervisor at least two more times (10-20 minute sessions) Due to school closure  and health authorities’ recommendations on social distancing, meetings after March 16 will need to be done remotely.

  • Discuss your plans for your Extended Essay Café presentation due April 20, 2020
  • Other issues to be prepared to discuss with your supervisor:
    • Passivity - If you haven't done as much as you had hoped for since your first meeting, discuss the reasons and causes for this with your supervisor and ways to overcome or avoid this in future sessions.
    • Reading - Discuss your reading and/or research.  What have you found out?  Any surprises? Any useful lines of thought or approaches to the question?
    • Notes - Do you have a workable note-taking system in place?
    • Essay plan - Go over how to best structure your essay.
    • Exemplars - Try marking up a pre-existing essay with the assessment criteria, then go over this with your supervisor.  This will allow you to write with the assessment criteria firmly in mind.
    • Time-management - Be prepared to adjust your normal routines to accommodate any delays or issues with your EE so far. Sticking to deadlines will ensure you get this done!
    • Writing - Commit to getting started on your writing!
    • Research question - Tweaking  at this point is OK, but not big changes to your topic area or question.
  • Continue to use your RRS (Researcher's reflection space) to record reflections on what you are reading, writing and thinking

April 20, 2020  Extended Essay Café presentations emailed to Supervisor and Susan Trower

PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation, 7 slides, using template provided by EE Coordinator
  • Slide 1: Introduction
  • Slide 2: Subject and Research Question
  • Slide 3: Background (what your EE is about)
  • Slide 4: Chapter Headings / Working Outline
  • Slide 5: Detailed summary of one or two chapters or sections
  • Slide 6: Problems encountered / Solutions found
  • Slide 7: Bibliography, accurately referenced with chosen citation style
  • Worth 100 points towards Second Semester EE grade
  • No presentation = 0 points

April 27, 2020   DUE: 'Writing Readiness Form' emailed to Susan Trower, initialed by student and supervisor, by 3:30 PM on 4/20/2020

  • Complete this form AFTER turning in the Extended Essay Presentation 
  • Students complete these parts of the form:  Student Name, Supervisor, IB Extended Essay Subject (or WSEE theme and subjects), Refined Research Question, Student Initials, and Date (date of last meeting)
  • Students send this form to the supervisor to complete
  • Supervisors email the forms to Susan Trower
  • Worth 50 points towards Second Semester EE Grade
  • Late form = 0 points

May 4-8, 2020

Meet with Supervisor (10-20 minute session)

  • The meeting may be held remotely
  • Discuss your plans for the first EE writing assignment due June 4

May 18, 2020

DUE:  'Extended Essay Progress Check Form' emailed to Susan Trower, initialed by student and  supervisor by 3:30 PM on 5/18/2020
  • Complete this form AFTER your meeting in the week of May 4-8
  • Students complete these parts of the form:  Student Name, Supervisor, IB Extended Essay Subject (or WSEE theme and subjects), Refined Research Question, Student Initials, and Date (date of last meeting)
  • Students send this form to the supervisor to complete
  • Supervisors email the forms to Susan Trower
  • Worth 50 points towards Second Semester EE grade
  • Late form = 0 points

June 4, 2020

DUE: 5 pages of writing due to Supervisor and Susan Trower
  • Document emailed to both Supervisor and Susan Trower  by 3:30 PM on 6/4/2020
  • Worth 100 points towards Second Semester EE grade
  • Late paper = 0 points
  • Options:
    • 5 pages of 'Body' of paper, based on the essay outline in the presentation turned in on April 20, OR
    • 5 pages of writing total, comprised of paragraphs analyzing the information from at least 5 of the primary and/or secondary sources to be used for the paper.  For this approach, Eric Bright's worksheets for analysis of historical primary and secondary sources can be used to help with deciding how to structure the writing.

June 8-11, 2020     Meet with Supervisor to discuss:

  • Quality of preliminary writing submitted on June 4
  • EE assessment criteria (Students would benefit from reading Chapter 7. Assessment [maximizing marks], in Oxford Extended Essay Course Companion, by Kosta Lekanides, ISBN 9780198377764, before this meeting)
  • Summer plans for completing writing on the EE
  • NOTE: The meeting may be held remotely

June - August, 2020     Students work on first draft of their Extended Essay

Summer Break

August 31, 2020

DUE: First 10 pages of draft due to Susan Trower and Supervisor: one printed copy and one digital copy
  • Document emailed to Susan Trower and Supervisor by 8:30 AM on 8/31/2020
  • One printed copy of document turned in to Susan Trower by 8:30 AM on 8/31/2020.  These will be used for a peer editing activity that day.
  • Worth 100 points towards First Semester EE grade
  • Late paper = 0 points

September 8-11, 2020


Meeting with Supervisor regarding the quality of preliminary draft (no editing)

As preparation for the interim reflection session, students should have:

  • Attempted to refine a focused and appropriate research question
  • Significantly deepened their research and recorded pertinent evidence, information or data in the Researcher’s reflection space
  • Reviewed and consolidated the methodologies they are using
  • Formulated arguments based on the evidence that they have collected
  • Added to the working bibliography for their research

September 14, 2020

DUE:    Interim reflection (150-175 words) due to Susan Trower 
  • Reflection emailed to Susan Trower by 3:30 PM on 9/14/2020
  • Worth 50 points towards First Semester EE grade
  • Late reflection = 0 points

October 19, 2020

DUE: Complete draft due to Susan Trower and Supervisor by 3:30 PM
  • Two (2) printed copies and a digital copy emailed to Susan Trower and Supervisor by 3:30 PM on 10/19/2019
  • Draft must conform to IB Formal Presentation Guidelines as provided to Candidate
    • Required components: Title Page, Table of Contents, Introduction, Body of Paper, Conclusion, Works Cited 
    • Required Format: Arial font, 12 point font size, double-spaced text, numbered pages, indented paragraphs, appropriate margins (1" on all sides is acceptable)
    • Acceptable file type: DOC, DOCX or PDF
  • Worth 100 points towards First Semester EE grade
  • Late paper = 0 points

Week of October 26-30, 2020

Mandatory draft (revision) conference with supervisor
  • Scheduled by student in advance at discretion of Supervisor     
  • Set aside minimum of one hour for meeting

November 30, 2020

 FINAL COPY DUE to Susan Trower and Supervisor by 3:30 PM
  • Digital copy emailed to Susan Trower and Supervisor by 3:30 PM on 11/30/2020
  • Final copy must conform to IB Formal Presentation Guidelines as provided to Candidate (see note above)
  • Worth 100 points towards First Semester EE grade
  • Late paper = 0 points

December 7-11, 2020


Final session with supervisor, scheduled by student in advance at discretion of Supervisor

Students should bring the following to this session:

  • extracts from their Researcher's Reflection Space (RRS) that illustrate how they have grown as learners through the process of reflection
  • a willingness to share their personal experience and to discuss the skills and development of conceptual understandings that they have acquired through the completion of the extended essay.

December 14, 2020

DUE:   Final reflection (150-175 words) due to Susan Trower
  • Reflection emailed to Susan Trower by 3:30 PM on 12/14/2020
  • Worth 50 points towards First Semester EE grade
  • Late reflection = 0 points

Extended Essay Forms, Contracts, Readings and Assignments - Class of 2021

Extended Essay Coordinator

Susan Trower's picture
Susan Trower
West Sound Academy
16571 Creative Drive NE
Poulsbo, WA 98370

What is the Extended Essay?

The extended essay is a required component of the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP). 

It is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper.

What is the significance of the extended essay?

The extended essay provides:

  • practical preparation for undergraduate research
  • an opportunity for students to investigate a topic of special interest to them, which is also related to one of the student's six DP subjects. 

Through the research process for the extended essay, students develop skills in:

  • formulating an appropriate research question
  • engaging in a personal exploration of the topic
  • communicating ideas
  • developing an argument. 

Participation in this process develops the capacity to analyze, synthesize and evaluate knowledge.

How is study of the extended essay structured?

Students are supported throughout the process of researching and writing the extended essay, with advice and guidance from a supervisor who is usually a teacher at the school.

The IB recommends that students follow the completion of the written essay with a short, concluding interview with their supervisor. This is known as viva voce.

The extended essay and interview can be a valuable stimulus for discussion in countries where interviews are required prior to acceptance for employment or for a place at university.

How is the extended essay assessed?

All extended essays are externally assessed by examiners appointed by the IB. The total marks available are 34.  However, when your supervisor marks your essay in order to arrive at a predicted grade, the grading will be based on the qualitative grade descriptors for the EE, not a translation of a number score into a letter grade.

Students are evaluated on five criterion:

  • Criterion A – focus and method.
  • Criterion B – knowledge and understanding.
  • Criterion C – critical thinking.
  • Criterion D – presentation.
  • Criterion E – engagement.

Find out how points awarded for the extended essay contribute to a student’s overall diploma score.

Source:   International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme website

Twelve-step Plan for Researching the Extended Essay

Open door with stairway - Britannica ImageQuestNeed tips on how to get started?  Follow these steps to get going on the research for your Extended Essay.

1.  Choose an available Diploma Programme subject for the extended essay for the session in question.

2.  Educate yourself. Read the following materials:  the assessment criteria, relevant subject-specific chapter of the Extended Essay guide, the IB's ethical guidelines and other associated policies where relevant, such as those relating to animal experiments

3. Set up the Researcher's Reflective Space (RRS) and use this as the key planning and reflection tool for the extended essay process.

4.  Choose a topic and undertake some background reading in it.

5.  Formulate a preliminary research question.  Try to incorporate an IB command term in the research question if possible.

6.  Draw up and outline plan for the research and writing process.  This should include a timeline.

7.  Begin to identify how and where you will gather source material for your research.

8.  Identify which system of academic referencing they will use, ensuring that this meets the minimum requirements for the IB.

9.  Set deadlines for yourself that are realistic and take into consideration WSA's internal EE deadlines.

10.  Plan a structure for the essay.  This may change as the research develops but it is useful to have a sense of direction from the start.

11.  Undertake some preparatory reading in light of the proposed research question.  NOTE:  If you discover that it will not be possible to obtain the evidence needed in the time available, the research question should be changed.  This is  better done sooner rather than later; do not lose time waiting and hoping that something will turn up.  Go back to step 3, 2, or 1, and choose a new research question that can be answered.

12.  Carry out the research.  The material collected should be assembled in a logical order, linked to the structure of the essay and clearly focused on the research question posed.  Only then will you know that you have enough evidence for each stage of the argument so that you can proceed to the next.  You should be prepared for things to occasionally go wrong.  Sometimes you may discover something later in the research that undermines what you thought had been established earlier.  If that happens, your research plan needs to be revised.

IB Extended Essay Guide (first exams 2018)

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