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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 2025 (Due Dates and Assignments)

February – May, 2024


This timeline applies to students submitting Extended Essays or Senior Essays. Completion of an Extended Essay or Senior Essay is required for graduation from West Sound Academy.

EE grade for Semester 2, 2022-2023, is ¼ credit Pass/Fail grade.

February 2, 2024:

Juniors meet on Project Day for a half day on campus, to do beginning work on their Extended essays with EE Coordinator, 8:20 AM to 12:20 PM. Topics covered:

  • Definition of what an EE is
  • The available subjects
  • How to find a good topic
  • Steps to take to finish the EE
  • EE deadlines – for the writing and the reflections
  • Available resources: WSA Library Guides, NoodleTools, and Toddle
  • Using Toddle to submit components of your EE

Students will:

  • Note area(s) of interest
  • Pick an area (or areas) for exploration or as a topic
  • Find out what they need to know about their EE subject area specifically (Example: “My subject area asks me to consider & ethical/legal implications that are specific to my topic/subject”.)
  • Create a NoodleTools project for their EE, and share with EE Coordinator
  • Begin initial research on the topic of interest to identify potential sources
  • Question to ask: is this viable as a subject and topic choice?
  • Begin to create a bibliography using NoodleTools
March 12, 2024 - DUE: In Toddle, in the ‘Proposal’ section, complete these sections:
If the subject is ‘World Studies’, also fill in the boxes for WSEE - Subject 1, WSEE Subject 2 and WSEE Theme.
Biology is only available as a WSEE Subject, not as a standalone EE subject.
(3) REMARKS - Put down any additional ideas or thoughts you might have - for example, what made you interested in researching this topic? What research question do you think you’ll be investigating?


March 15, 2024:

Juniors meet on Project Day for a half day on campus, to do continue work on their Extended essays with EE Coordinator, 8:20 AM to 12:20 PM. Topics covered:

  • Assignment of supervisors
  • Tips for developing a good research question
  • How, and where, to do your research
  • Using the Researcher’s Reflection Space
  • Tips for writing reflections for the EE
  • Annotating sources in NoodleTools
  • Time to do research

April, 2024: Preliminary meeting(s) with your supervisor and initial research

May 13, 2024 - DUE: Annotated bibliography in NoodleTools AND exported as document and uploaded as post to Researcher’s Reflection Space (RRS) in Toddle
May 13, 2024 - DUE: Research question (added to the ‘Proposal’ section of Toddle)


May 27 - 31, 2024: Initial reflection session with supervisor

June 3, 2024: DUE: Initial reflection session added to RPPF section in Toddle

June 7, 2024: DUE: Plan for completing first complete draft over the summer. Use the 'Plan of Action' section in Toddle to indicate a week-by-week plan for work on your EE over the summer.


June - August, 2024


June - August 2024

Research and write the first complete draft.

September 2024 - February 2025


September 16, 2024 - DUE: First complete EE draft in Toddle


Draft must conform to IB Formal Presentation Requirements. 

  • Required components:
    • Title Page
    • Table of Contents
    • Introduction
    •  Body of Paper
    • Conclusion
    • In-text citations (MLA) or Footnotes (Chicago)
  • Required format:
    • Readable, 12-point font (for example, Arial or Calibri)
    • Double-spaced text
    • Numbered pages
    • Indented paragraphs
    • Appropriate margins (1" on all sides is acceptable)
  • Title page should include:
    • Title
    • Research question
    • IB Extended Essay subject
    • Word count

September 30 - October 18, 2024: Student has revision conference with supervisor - Supervisor provides comments on the first complete draft.

October 28 - November 8, 2024: Interim Reflection Session with supervisor

November 18, 2024 - DUE: Interim reflection added to RPPF section in Toddle


January 27, 2025 - DUE: Final draft submitted in Toddle. Must conform to presentation requirements as listed for First Complete Draft assignment.


February 3 - 14, 2025: Final Reflection Session  (Viva Voce) with supervisor

February 18, 2025 - DUE: Final reflection added to RPPF section in Toddle


EE grade for 2024-2025 is ¼ credit letter grade, and is posted to transcript in June, 2025.

Extended Essay Coordinator

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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 personal interest to them, which relates to one of the student's six DP subjects, or takes the interdisciplinary approach of a World Studies extended essay.

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.

An extended essay can also be undertaken in world studies, where students carry out an in-depth interdisciplinary study of an issue of contemporary global significance, across two IB diploma disciplines.

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. They are marked on a scale from 0 to 34.

The score a student receives relates to a band. The bands are:

  • A – work of an excellent standard.
  • B – work of a good standard.
  • C –work of a satisfactory standard.
  • D – work of a mediocre standard.
  • E – work of an elementary standard.

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.

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.


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 an 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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