The Extended Essay (EE) of the IB Diploma is not to be taken lightly. It is one of the most important pieces and it is definitely daunting to every IB student. These 4000 words may seem a lot at the beginning, but once you approach it with the right strategies, you may be able to handle it like a pro. Here are some top tips:
- Research the EE topic thoroughly before deciding on the research question
It may be tempting for some students to settle their research questions quickly so that they can start their essays promptly. However, without thorough research and brainstorming, students may soon realise that their research questions are not feasible, with reasons like the focus being too narrow or wide, or lack of credible sources on the topic. During your research, you must ensure that you can come up with arguments that are worthy of discussion, and provide a sufficient amount of articles and journals that can back up your claims. That said, don’t neglect your research!
2. Nail the structure
The structure and formatting of the essay are one of the easiest things to fix and perfect. It can easily score you 4 points out of the ‘Presentation’ category. Be sure to have the following items:
- Title page
- Table of contents
- Page numbers
- Section headings (where appropriate)
- Effective labelling of diagrams (tables, graphs, illustrations)
- Bibliography and referencing
On top of that, you are REQUIRED to use a font size of 12, with any formal fonts like Times New Roman or Arial, with double-line spacing. You cannot write your candidate or school name on any pages of the essay. It may not look like the cutest piece of assignment that you have created, but the formality of the essay is valued by the IBO. Hence, follow the formatting strictly.
For more information about the layout, you can refer to p.79 on IBO’s EE guide.
3. Incorporate secondary sources that are not limited to online articles
We are all guilty of using online articles as the main basis of our evidence. For example, articles that are written by Buzzfeed, Wikipedia, Men’s Health, etc. Though they may be easy to read and understand, you should still try your best to incorporate more advanced and credible sources like academic journals and research papers. You can look up specific keywords about your topic on Google Scholar, which allows you to find many thesis papers written on the topic. Keep in mind, that you may not understand the papers initially, hence you have to be very patient as you skim through the readings, and extract whatever quotes, or findings that may be useful in your essay. Integrating quotes written by a researcher can enable your essay to be more credible.
4. Set internal deadlines of specific tasks for yourself
The extended essay should be the most intensive piece of writing of all your other assignments. Not everyone is motivated to work every single moment of the day, but if you want to have an easier time, you need to be self-disciplined. For some schools, internal deadlines may already exist. Students may be required to hand in an essay plan, and drafts on a specific date. If your school doesn’t have internal deadlines, set some for yourself. Break it down to smaller and more specific tasks, i.e ‘finish the first argument by tomorrow’ or ‘research about XXX topic by tonight’, rather than ‘finish first draft by next Tuesday’. If you give yourself deadlines that are within a reasonable timeframe, then you will encounter a lot less stress throughout the 4000 words. Hence, plan ahead with dates and specific tasks, and follow it strictly.
5. Accept that the Extended Essay is not easy
It is perfectly fine to be stressed out and frustrated with the extended essay. Every IB student has had moments where they wanted to give up or question the purpose of the essay. As harsh as it can be, the EE is a requirement of the IB Diploma, and if done poorly, you may fail the diploma. On the bright side, it can also secure the 3 bonus marks of your IB score, along with the TOK Essay. Hence, whenever you hit a hurdle, talk to your friends, because every IB student can relate to #ibstruggles.
The Extended Essay is one of the final pieces of your IB Diploma (depending on your school’s deadlines). It is definitely not easy, but remember to put your best foot forward, and keep your head high. Good luck IB Fighters!
Bjorn achieved an IB score of 43/45 and a grade A in his Business HL Extended Essay. As an avid writer, he hopes to offer advice to current and prospective IB students.
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