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International Baccalaureate (IB)

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IB students around the globe fear writing the Extended Essay, but it doesn't have to be a source of stress! In this article, I'll get you excited about writing your Extended Essay and provide you with the resources you need to get an A on it.

If you're reading this article, I'm going to assume you're an IB student getting ready to write your Extended Essay. If you're looking at this as a potential future IB student, I recommend reading our introductory IB articles first, including our guide to what the IB program is and our full coverage of the IB curriculum .

IB Extended Essay: Why Should You Trust My Advice?

I myself am a recipient of an IB Diploma, and I happened to receive an A on my IB Extended Essay. Don't believe me? The proof is in the IBO pudding:

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If you're confused by what this report means, EE is short for Extended Essay , and English A1 is the subject that my Extended Essay topic coordinated with. In layman's terms, my IB Diploma was graded in May 2010, I wrote my Extended Essay in the English A1 category, and I received an A grade on it.

What Is the Extended Essay in the IB Diploma Programme?

The IB Extended Essay, or EE , is a mini-thesis you write under the supervision of an IB advisor (an IB teacher at your school), which counts toward your IB Diploma (learn more about the major IB Diploma requirements in our guide) . I will explain exactly how the EE affects your Diploma later in this article.

For the Extended Essay, you will choose a research question as a topic, conduct the research independently, then write an essay on your findings . The essay itself is a long one—although there's a cap of 4,000 words, most successful essays get very close to this limit.

Keep in mind that the IB requires this essay to be a "formal piece of academic writing," meaning you'll have to do outside research and cite additional sources.

The IB Extended Essay must include the following:

  • A title page
  • Contents page
  • Introduction
  • Body of the essay
  • References and bibliography

Additionally, your research topic must fall into one of the six approved DP categories , or IB subject groups, which are as follows:

  • Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature
  • Group 2: Language Acquisition
  • Group 3: Individuals and Societies
  • Group 4: Sciences
  • Group 5: Mathematics
  • Group 6: The Arts

Once you figure out your category and have identified a potential research topic, it's time to pick your advisor, who is normally an IB teacher at your school (though you can also find one online ). This person will help direct your research, and they'll conduct the reflection sessions you'll have to do as part of your Extended Essay.

As of 2018, the IB requires a "reflection process" as part of your EE supervision process. To fulfill this requirement, you have to meet at least three times with your supervisor in what the IB calls "reflection sessions." These meetings are not only mandatory but are also part of the formal assessment of the EE and your research methods.

According to the IB, the purpose of these meetings is to "provide an opportunity for students to reflect on their engagement with the research process." Basically, these meetings give your supervisor the opportunity to offer feedback, push you to think differently, and encourage you to evaluate your research process.

The final reflection session is called the viva voce, and it's a short 10- to 15-minute interview between you and your advisor. This happens at the very end of the EE process, and it's designed to help your advisor write their report, which factors into your EE grade.

Here are the topics covered in your viva voce :

  • A check on plagiarism and malpractice
  • Your reflection on your project's successes and difficulties
  • Your reflection on what you've learned during the EE process

Your completed Extended Essay, along with your supervisor's report, will then be sent to the IB to be graded. We'll cover the assessment criteria in just a moment.

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We'll help you learn how to have those "lightbulb" moments...even on test day!  

What Should You Write About in Your IB Extended Essay?

You can technically write about anything, so long as it falls within one of the approved categories listed above.

It's best to choose a topic that matches one of the IB courses , (such as Theatre, Film, Spanish, French, Math, Biology, etc.), which shouldn't be difficult because there are so many class subjects.

Here is a range of sample topics with the attached extended essay:

  • Biology: The Effect of Age and Gender on the Photoreceptor Cells in the Human Retina
  • Chemistry: How Does Reflux Time Affect the Yield and Purity of Ethyl Aminobenzoate (Benzocaine), and How Effective is Recrystallisation as a Purification Technique for This Compound?
  • English: An Exploration of Jane Austen's Use of the Outdoors in Emma
  • Geography: The Effect of Location on the Educational Attainment of Indigenous Secondary Students in Queensland, Australia
  • Math: Alhazen's Billiard Problem
  • Visual Arts: Can Luc Tuymans Be Classified as a Political Painter?

You can see from how varied the topics are that you have a lot of freedom when it comes to picking a topic . So how do you pick when the options are limitless?

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How to Write a Stellar IB Extended Essay: 6 Essential Tips

Below are six key tips to keep in mind as you work on your Extended Essay for the IB DP. Follow these and you're sure to get an A!

#1: Write About Something You Enjoy

You can't expect to write a compelling essay if you're not a fan of the topic on which you're writing. For example, I just love British theatre and ended up writing my Extended Essay on a revolution in post-WWII British theatre. (Yes, I'm definitely a #TheatreNerd.)

I really encourage anyone who pursues an IB Diploma to take the Extended Essay seriously. I was fortunate enough to receive a full-tuition merit scholarship to USC's School of Dramatic Arts program. In my interview for the scholarship, I spoke passionately about my Extended Essay; thus, I genuinely think my Extended Essay helped me get my scholarship.

But how do you find a topic you're passionate about? Start by thinking about which classes you enjoy the most and why . Do you like math classes because you like to solve problems? Or do you enjoy English because you like to analyze literary texts?

Keep in mind that there's no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing your Extended Essay topic. You're not more likely to get high marks because you're writing about science, just like you're not doomed to failure because you've chosen to tackle the social sciences. The quality of what you produce—not the field you choose to research within—will determine your grade.

Once you've figured out your category, you should brainstorm more specific topics by putting pen to paper . What was your favorite chapter you learned in that class? Was it astrophysics or mechanics? What did you like about that specific chapter? Is there something you want to learn more about? I recommend spending a few hours on this type of brainstorming.

One last note: if you're truly stumped on what to research, pick a topic that will help you in your future major or career . That way you can use your Extended Essay as a talking point in your college essays (and it will prepare you for your studies to come too!).

#2: Select a Topic That Is Neither Too Broad nor Too Narrow

There's a fine line between broad and narrow. You need to write about something specific, but not so specific that you can't write 4,000 words on it.

You can't write about WWII because that would be a book's worth of material. You also don't want to write about what type of soup prisoners of war received behind enemy lines, because you probably won’t be able to come up with 4,000 words of material about it. However, you could possibly write about how the conditions in German POW camps—and the rations provided—were directly affected by the Nazis' successes and failures on the front, including the use of captured factories and prison labor in Eastern Europe to increase production. WWII military history might be a little overdone, but you get my point.

If you're really stuck trying to pinpoint a not-too-broad-or-too-narrow topic, I suggest trying to brainstorm a topic that uses a comparison. Once you begin looking through the list of sample essays below, you'll notice that many use comparisons to formulate their main arguments.

I also used a comparison in my EE, contrasting Harold Pinter's Party Time with John Osborne's Look Back in Anger in order to show a transition in British theatre. Topics with comparisons of two to three plays, books, and so on tend to be the sweet spot. You can analyze each item and then compare them with one another after doing some in-depth analysis of each individually. The ways these items compare and contrast will end up forming the thesis of your essay!

When choosing a comparative topic, the key is that the comparison should be significant. I compared two plays to illustrate the transition in British theatre, but you could compare the ways different regional dialects affect people's job prospects or how different temperatures may or may not affect the mating patterns of lightning bugs. The point here is that comparisons not only help you limit your topic, but they also help you build your argument.

Comparisons are not the only way to get a grade-A EE, though. If after brainstorming, you pick a non-comparison-based topic and are still unsure whether your topic is too broad or narrow, spend about 30 minutes doing some basic research and see how much material is out there.

If there are more than 1,000 books, articles, or documentaries out there on that exact topic, it may be too broad. But if there are only two books that have any connection to your topic, it may be too narrow. If you're still unsure, ask your advisor—it's what they're there for! Speaking of advisors...

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Don't get stuck with a narrow topic!

#3: Choose an Advisor Who Is Familiar With Your Topic

If you're not certain of who you would like to be your advisor, create a list of your top three choices. Next, write down the pros and cons of each possibility (I know this sounds tedious, but it really helps!).

For example, Mr. Green is my favorite teacher and we get along really well, but he teaches English. For my EE, I want to conduct an experiment that compares the efficiency of American electric cars with foreign electric cars.

I had Ms. White a year ago. She teaches physics and enjoyed having me in her class. Unlike Mr. Green, Ms. White could help me design my experiment.

Based on my topic and what I need from my advisor, Ms. White would be a better fit for me than would Mr. Green (even though I like him a lot).

The moral of my story is this: do not just ask your favorite teacher to be your advisor . They might be a hindrance to you if they teach another subject. For example, I would not recommend asking your biology teacher to guide you in writing an English literature-based EE.

There can, of course, be exceptions to this rule. If you have a teacher who's passionate and knowledgeable about your topic (as my English teacher was about my theatre topic), you could ask that instructor. Consider all your options before you do this. There was no theatre teacher at my high school, so I couldn't find a theatre-specific advisor, but I chose the next best thing.

Before you approach a teacher to serve as your advisor, check with your high school to see what requirements they have for this process. Some IB high schools require your IB Extended Essay advisor to sign an Agreement Form , for instance.

Make sure that you ask your IB coordinator whether there is any required paperwork to fill out. If your school needs a specific form signed, bring it with you when you ask your teacher to be your EE advisor.

#4: Pick an Advisor Who Will Push You to Be Your Best

Some teachers might just take on students because they have to and aren't very passionate about reading drafts, only giving you minimal feedback. Choose a teacher who will take the time to read several drafts of your essay and give you extensive notes. I would not have gotten my A without being pushed to make my Extended Essay draft better.

Ask a teacher that you have experience with through class or an extracurricular activity. Do not ask a teacher that you have absolutely no connection to. If a teacher already knows you, that means they already know your strengths and weaknesses, so they know what to look for, where you need to improve, and how to encourage your best work.

Also, don't forget that your supervisor's assessment is part of your overall EE score . If you're meeting with someone who pushes you to do better—and you actually take their advice—they'll have more impressive things to say about you than a supervisor who doesn't know you well and isn't heavily involved in your research process.

Be aware that the IB only allows advisors to make suggestions and give constructive criticism. Your teacher cannot actually help you write your EE. The IB recommends that the supervisor spends approximately two to three hours in total with the candidate discussing the EE.

#5: Make Sure Your Essay Has a Clear Structure and Flow

The IB likes structure. Your EE needs a clear introduction (which should be one to two double-spaced pages), research question/focus (i.e., what you're investigating), a body, and a conclusion (about one double-spaced page). An essay with unclear organization will be graded poorly.

The body of your EE should make up the bulk of the essay. It should be about eight to 18 pages long (again, depending on your topic). Your body can be split into multiple parts. For example, if you were doing a comparison, you might have one third of your body as Novel A Analysis, another third as Novel B Analysis, and the final third as your comparison of Novels A and B.

If you're conducting an experiment or analyzing data, such as in this EE , your EE body should have a clear structure that aligns with the scientific method ; you should state the research question, discuss your method, present the data, analyze the data, explain any uncertainties, and draw a conclusion and/or evaluate the success of the experiment.

#6: Start Writing Sooner Rather Than Later!

You will not be able to crank out a 4,000-word essay in just a week and get an A on it. You'll be reading many, many articles (and, depending on your topic, possibly books and plays as well!). As such, it's imperative that you start your research as soon as possible.

Each school has a slightly different deadline for the Extended Essay. Some schools want them as soon as November of your senior year; others will take them as late as February. Your school will tell you what your deadline is. If they haven't mentioned it by February of your junior year, ask your IB coordinator about it.

Some high schools will provide you with a timeline of when you need to come up with a topic, when you need to meet with your advisor, and when certain drafts are due. Not all schools do this. Ask your IB coordinator if you are unsure whether you are on a specific timeline.

Below is my recommended EE timeline. While it's earlier than most schools, it'll save you a ton of heartache (trust me, I remember how hard this process was!):

  • January/February of Junior Year: Come up with your final research topic (or at least your top three options).
  • February of Junior Year: Approach a teacher about being your EE advisor. If they decline, keep asking others until you find one. See my notes above on how to pick an EE advisor.
  • April/May of Junior Year: Submit an outline of your EE and a bibliography of potential research sources (I recommend at least seven to 10) to your EE advisor. Meet with your EE advisor to discuss your outline.
  • Summer Between Junior and Senior Year: Complete your first full draft over the summer between your junior and senior year. I know, I know—no one wants to work during the summer, but trust me—this will save you so much stress come fall when you are busy with college applications and other internal assessments for your IB classes. You will want to have this first full draft done because you will want to complete a couple of draft cycles as you likely won't be able to get everything you want to say into 4,000 articulate words on the first attempt. Try to get this first draft into the best possible shape so you don't have to work on too many revisions during the school year on top of your homework, college applications, and extracurriculars.
  • August/September of Senior Year: Turn in your first draft of your EE to your advisor and receive feedback. Work on incorporating their feedback into your essay. If they have a lot of suggestions for improvement, ask if they will read one more draft before the final draft.
  • September/October of Senior Year: Submit the second draft of your EE to your advisor (if necessary) and look at their feedback. Work on creating the best possible final draft.
  • November-February of Senior Year: Schedule your viva voce. Submit two copies of your final draft to your school to be sent off to the IB. You likely will not get your grade until after you graduate.

Remember that in the middle of these milestones, you'll need to schedule two other reflection sessions with your advisor . (Your teachers will actually take notes on these sessions on a form like this one , which then gets submitted to the IB.)

I recommend doing them when you get feedback on your drafts, but these meetings will ultimately be up to your supervisor. Just don't forget to do them!

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The early bird DOES get the worm!

How Is the IB Extended Essay Graded?

Extended Essays are graded by examiners appointed by the IB on a scale of 0 to 34 . You'll be graded on five criteria, each with its own set of points. You can learn more about how EE scoring works by reading the IB guide to extended essays .

  • Criterion A: Focus and Method (6 points maximum)
  • Criterion B: Knowledge and Understanding (6 points maximum)
  • Criterion C: Critical Thinking (12 points maximum)
  • Criterion D: Presentation (4 points maximum)
  • Criterion E: Engagement (6 points maximum)

How well you do on each of these criteria will determine the final letter grade you get for your EE. You must earn at least a D to be eligible to receive your IB Diploma.

Although each criterion has a point value, the IB explicitly states that graders are not converting point totals into grades; instead, they're using qualitative grade descriptors to determine the final grade of your Extended Essay . Grade descriptors are on pages 102-103 of this document .

Here's a rough estimate of how these different point values translate to letter grades based on previous scoring methods for the EE. This is just an estimate —you should read and understand the grade descriptors so you know exactly what the scorers are looking for.

Here is the breakdown of EE scores (from the May 2021 bulletin):

How Does the Extended Essay Grade Affect Your IB Diploma?

The Extended Essay grade is combined with your TOK (Theory of Knowledge) grade to determine how many points you get toward your IB Diploma.

To learn about Theory of Knowledge or how many points you need to receive an IB Diploma, read our complete guide to the IB program and our guide to the IB Diploma requirements .

This diagram shows how the two scores are combined to determine how many points you receive for your IB diploma (3 being the most, 0 being the least). In order to get your IB Diploma, you have to earn 24 points across both categories (the TOK and EE). The highest score anyone can earn is 45 points.

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Let's say you get an A on your EE and a B on TOK. You will get 3 points toward your Diploma. As of 2014, a student who scores an E on either the extended essay or TOK essay will not be eligible to receive an IB Diploma .

Prior to the class of 2010, a Diploma candidate could receive a failing grade in either the Extended Essay or Theory of Knowledge and still be awarded a Diploma, but this is no longer true.

Figuring out how you're assessed can be a little tricky. Luckily, the IB breaks everything down here in this document . (The assessment information begins on page 219.)

40+ Sample Extended Essays for the IB Diploma Programme

In case you want a little more guidance on how to get an A on your EE, here are over 40 excellent (grade A) sample extended essays for your reading pleasure. Essays are grouped by IB subject.

  • Business Management 1
  • Chemistry 1
  • Chemistry 2
  • Chemistry 3
  • Chemistry 4
  • Chemistry 5
  • Chemistry 6
  • Chemistry 7
  • Computer Science 1
  • Economics 1
  • Design Technology 1
  • Design Technology 2
  • Environmental Systems and Societies 1
  • Geography 1
  • Geography 2
  • Geography 3
  • Geography 4
  • Geography 5
  • Geography 6
  • Literature and Performance 1
  • Mathematics 1
  • Mathematics 2
  • Mathematics 3
  • Mathematics 4
  • Mathematics 5
  • Philosophy 1
  • Philosophy 2
  • Philosophy 3
  • Philosophy 4
  • Philosophy 5
  • Psychology 1
  • Psychology 2
  • Psychology 3
  • Psychology 4
  • Psychology 5
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology 1
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology 2
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology 3
  • Sports, Exercise and Health Science 1
  • Sports, Exercise and Health Science 2
  • Visual Arts 1
  • Visual Arts 2
  • Visual Arts 3
  • Visual Arts 4
  • Visual Arts 5
  • World Religion 1
  • World Religion 2
  • World Religion 3

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The Extended Essay Step-By-Step Guide 4: The Question

Extended Essay Topic

Welcome back to our step-by-step guide to the Extended Essay! So far in this series, we’ve covered how to choose your topic and get on with your research . Here in Part 3, I want to talk all about how to make sure you have the perfect question.

I know. I’ve mentioned the question before. Some of you might have had a version of a question before you even started the research phase. But I want to go into more depth now because I think the research question is something that a lot of IB students underestimate.

It’s tempting to get excited at this point and to dive straight from the high, high ladder of research and into the pool of planning the essay. But how do you know you’re going to hit the water smoothly?

So let’s take this opportunity to pause, reassess, and make sure you’re absolutely, ABSOLUTELY certain your question will help you to sail all the way through to Extended Essay success.

1. To start: draft your question

“The title should provide a clear indication of the focus of the essay. It should be precise and not necessarily phrased in the form of a question” – Extended Essay Guide

The only way to work out if your question is good enough is to have a question to begin with. So if you haven’t yet tried to formulate your topic into a research question, do this now. Don’t worry about writing the perfect question down yet. Just think of it as a draft.

If you aren’t sure what a research question should look like, use the Guide and past examples of titles to help you. We can see from the way that the EE Guide defines the question that the important things to consider are:

b) precision

Examples of essay titles include:

How are the distribution and growth of lichens affected by sulfur dioxide and ozone levels in the atmosphere?

Will the recent policy of cutting bakery prices lead to increased revenue for the Safeway supermarket in Ryde, Sydney?

Themes and stylistic devices from Dante in T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and Four Quartets.

All of these are very specific, very detailed and very concise. In other words, clear and precise.

Exercise 1: draft three different versions of your question. If there are different angles you could take in the question and different words you could use to express it, write each option down. Keep these three options to hand throughout the rest of the process, but for now, just pick the one which you think is clearest and the most precise.

2. What is your question actually about?

“A good research question is one that asks something worth asking” – Extended Essay Guide

It can be easy, after digging through mountains of research and writing an elegantly worded question, to forget what the original point of your topic was. It’s also easy to let the research and information take you far away from your original intention. This is absolutely fine, and even to be expected; often in-depth research and thinking take us to a more interesting place than we ever could have reached originally. Except that it’s important to take a step back from all of that work and really question whether the place you have ended up is what you want to be writing about.

The first step is to know what your question is really about, beneath the fancy words and clever ideas.

The second step is to ask yourself if your question is truly interesting. Does it present a possibility that intrigues you?

If you either can’t pin down the point of your question, or you admit to yourself that actually that point is rather boring, it’s time to reassess. A good way to refine your question in a way that will solve this, without throwing away all the work that you have done, is to start picking the question apart.  Work out the different elements being addressed in the question so that you will be able to dig as deeply as you can into the situation being examined. If this feels like an effort, the thing to remember is that a good question will make it a lot easier to score points when you are answering the question in your essay.

Exercise 2:  take your draft question and pick out the keywords. Combined, do they make a good summary of your topic? More importantly, do they point towards just one topic? The keywords of your question should encompass all the main things you will address in your essay, so keep these to-hand throughout the writing process and use them as a guide for what you should and shouldn’t include in your plan.

3. Is your question specific enough?

“The Extended Essay is an in-depth study of a focused topic” – Extended Essay Guide

Your question should define its own limits. In other words, it should be specific enough that you can answer it in 4,000 words. And any IB graduate will tell you that 4,000 words are not a lot. It’s okay if some aspects of your question need further explanation, and in fact, the Guide itself recommends that you analyse your title during the essay. However the key is to choose which variables you leave open. There is no point in wasting time explaining a phrase or word in your essay when a simple change of word would solve everything. And if every word could mean two different things, this means there are two different essays you could be writing and the essay will feel unfocused as a result.

Different types of words that create ambiguities include:

Subjective words such as success, failure, influence, significant

Words that could refer to multiple things such as novels, lichens, lower-middle class

Words that you’ll need to define such as themes, soul, tradition

A good Extended Essay question should contain just a few of these ambiguities.

IB Ambiguity

Exercise 3:  Identify all the possible variables in your question, and write down all of the possible things that it could mean. Then, write down ways that you could eliminate some of the variables. For example, an analysis of reduced prices in a supermarket can be narrowed down to the reduced prices of bakery items only.

4. Can you answer your question?

“Structure a reasoned argument in response to the research question on the basis of the material gathered” – Extended Essay Guide

When writing the essay y

You’ll need to make sure that every idea you include links back to the question. You’ll need to show over and over again how each paragraph digs that little bit deeper into the question you laid out at the beginning. With that in mind, it’s a good idea, now you’ve done your research, to really make sure that the material, ideas, and information you will be using are still answering the question that you set out to answer.

For example, imagine that you’d originally wanted to compare the pH levels of rainwater in London and in Spain. Perhaps during your background research phase, you realised that there is very little second-hand information that could help you answer this question, but there is a ten-year-old study about the pH levels of rainwater in London compared with Scotland. A possible option could be that you change your investigation to look at whether the pH levels of rainwater throughout the UK has changed in the past ten years. Alternatively, maybe you have already begun your first-hand research but couldn’t collect any rainwater during your trip to Spain. In this scenario, a ‘plan B’ might be to compare the pH levels of rainwater in different parts of London.

Exercise 4 : Write down a super rough plan for what you will cover in your answer to the question. This isn’t the outline (I’ll go into way more depth on this in a later post) but just a way to make sure you know how the question will work. Write one sentence, or better yet one word, for every paragraph in your essay. Don’t worry about the order of the paragraphs yet, but do make sure that you have enough to talk about that relates directly to the question.

Essay Research

5. Will the IB examiner approve?

Your question can score up to 2 marks out of the total 36 points. This might sound like a lot, but consider that this is over 5% of your total score which you can earn before you write a single word of your essay. With this in mind it’s important to go back to the Extended Essay Guide to check that your question is doing everything that they want it to.

Exercise 5: Double-check that your question is fulfilling every criteria that it can. And to make this as easy as it can possibly be for you, we’ve made a handy checklist right here:

  • Is it specific?
  • Can you answer it?
  • Can you address any variables?
  • Can you justify any assumptions that it makes?
  • Do you have enough research to back up your investigation?
  • Is it interesting?

Once you’ve made certain your question is as brilliant as it can be, the next step is to start planning the essay itself! Watch this space for our next post in the series all about creating the perfect plan and structure.

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IB Extended Essay Research Question: The Complete Guide

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by  Antony W

September 2, 2023

ib extended essay research question

We’ve written dozens of EEs in the last 12 months. In our experience, the Extended Essay research question is the most important part of the project. Get this right and you’ll be on your way to completing an essay that earns you 34 points. 

The problem is:

Getting the research question right isn’t often as straightforward. Given that it’s the backbone of your research and the essay, it’s easy to feel the pressure that comes with the need to develop a research question that fits the scope of the project.

In this post, we give you some handy tips that can help you come up with a relevant research question for your Extended Essay project.

Key Takeaways

  • An Extended Essay research question is the question you intend to answer throughout the 4,000-word assignment.
  • You first have to choose a subject, select a topic, and then formulate your research question from the topic.
  • The research question must be concise, direct to the point, and fall within the scope of the Extended Essay assignment.

Tips for Extended Essay Research Question

Here are some useful tips to help you develop the most relevant research question for your Extended Essay assignment: 

1. Choose an Interesting Topic

The first step to coming up with a relevant research question for your Extended Essay is to choose an interesting topic.

Choosing an interesting topic – or an area you’ve always wanted to explore – means three things:

  • You’ll not look at or treat the EE as a burdensome task.
  • You’ll have an easy time developing your research question.
  • You’ll easily immerse yourself in the topic and easily crank up the 4,000 words in the shortest time possible.

By immersing yourself in the topic that intrigues you, your enthusiasm will also shine through in the final grade of your Extended Essay.

You need to understand that engagement is one of the grading criteria outlined in the IB EE Grade Descriptor Document.

Reflection is important to achieve the highest marks in this criterion. These reflections should convey a significant level of intellectual and personal engagement to the topic that you choose.

2. Develop Your Research Question

Now that you have an interesting topic already selected, it’s time to develop a research question for the Extended Essay.

Here’s how to do it:

Your research question should be more specific than you initially think.

For example:

The question “Why do only some people act aggressively?” is exceptionally broad. It would require more than 4,000 words to answer.

A more suitable research question for an extended essay can be something like “to what extent does the MAOA gene contribute to violent behavior?”

Narrowing down your focus requires thorough research. In our example, the only way you would arrive at the idea of investigating the MAOA gene is if you had conducted extensive research on the topic.

The ultimate goal is to eliminate ambiguity in your research question. When narrowing it down, you must provide precise definitions for each term used.

If you are exploring the philosophy in Albert Camus’ writings, it is essential to specify that you are investigating absurdist philosophy and clarify its meaning.

3. Focus on a Research Question You Can Answer

Many students struggle to write Extended Essays because of choosing the wrong topic and formulating the wrong research question.

Such mistakes are common, but you don’t want to fall into this trap because it can set you back in terms of time, resources, and effort.

Understand that thorough research is crucial to determine the availability of background information necessary to address your question.

Mechanisms can be challenging to grasp. In the case of your EE research question, you must dedicate time to find out whether there’s enough existing information on the mechanism you intended to explore.

If you notice that there isn’t enough information to warrant continuing with exploring the research question, you should consider something else altogether.

The last mistake you want to make is to write a paper that will veer into excessive theoretical speculation. Sometimes simply rephrasing the research question into something different can go a long way to make a huge difference. 

4. Avoid Making Assumptions

This primarily applies to subjects in the humanities.

Suppose you’re a history student planning to write an Extended Essay on Italy during World War 2.

After following the previous tips on how to write an Extended Essay research question, you may come up with a research question that looks something like this:

“How did Mussolini’s unethical policies weaken Italian morale during the Second World War?”

While this research question appears focused, it contains words like “unethical” and “weaken”. Here, we already assume the cruel nature and negative impact of Mussolini’s policies.

It would be more advantageous to maintain an objective and academic tone by avoiding such biased terms. A better starting point would be to ask whether Mussolini’s policies did or did not weaken morale.

5. Ask Someone to Proofread Your Research Question and Share Their Opinion

Did you happen to spot the typo in the research question provided earlier? If you did, it highlights the importance of having someone else review your work.

Having another person proofread your EE research question goes beyond simply correcting typos. They may also uncover hidden assumptions that you might have overlooked.

To receive the most valuable feedback on all aspects of your EE, consider asking someone with experience.

While your peers are a viable option, it would be even better to seek guidance from individuals who understand the requirements for achieving an A grade. Therefore, your teacher or former students from your school would be good choices.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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Extended Essay: Step 5. Draft a Research Question

  • Extended Essay- The Basics
  • Step 1. Choose a Subject
  • Step 2. Educate yourself!
  • Using Brainstorming and Mind Maps
  • Identify Keywords
  • Do Background Reading
  • Define Your Topic
  • Conduct Research in a Specific Discipline
  • Step 5. Draft a Research Question
  • Step 6. Create a Timeline
  • Find Articles
  • Find Primary Sources
  • Get Help from Experts
  • Search Engines, Repositories, & Directories
  • Databases and Websites by Subject Area
  • Create an Annotated Bibliography
  • Advice (and Warnings) from the IB
  • Chicago Citation Syle
  • MLA Works Cited & In-Text Citations
  • Step 9. Set Deadlines for Yourself
  • Step 10. Plan a structure for your essay
  • Evaluate & Select: the CRAAP Test
  • Conducting Secondary Research
  • Conducting Primary Research
  • Formal vs. Informal Writing
  • Presentation Requirements
  • Evaluating Your Work

RQ Resources

On this page you can find help with developing your preliminary research question.  See: 

Steps to Developing a Research Question

Sample research questions.

Practice Exercise:  Formulating Well-Focused Research Questions

IB Command Terms and Glossaries

  • Research Question Formats for History Extended Essays

You've chosen a subject and topic that interests you, and carried out some preliminary reading.  What are the next steps ?

Question mark sign - Britannica ImageQuest

Evaluate the question.   Once you have posed possible research questions you should evaluate them.  This evaluation should be based on whether the question is clear , focused , and arguable .

  • Clear  - Will the reader understand the nature of my research?  Will it direct the research being undertaken?
  • Focused - Will the research question be specific enough to allow for exploration within the scope of the task (that is, the number of words and time available)?
  • Arguable - Does the research question allow for analysis, evaluation and the development of a reasoned argument?

Consider research outcomes.   Once you have decided on a provisional research question you should start thinking about the direction your research might take.  You could do this by:

  • suggesting possible outcomes of your research
  • outlining the kind of argument you might make and how your research might support this
  • considering options if the research available is not sufficient to support a sustained argument

The table below gives some examples showing the difference between unclear and unfocused research questions and those that are appropriately clear and focused, lending themselves to in-depth research.  

Practice exercise: Formulating well-focused research questions

Twelve-step plan for researching the extended essay - step 5.

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

ib extended essay question

IB Command Terms & Glossaries

Command terms are the key terms and phrases used in examination questions for IB classes.  The lists below give the terms, and definitions, for specific IB subjects.

ib extended essay question

  These lists are glossaries of terms used in film and dance.

Students writing History Extended Essays can use these formats to help write research questions on their topics.

  • << Previous: Conduct Research in a Specific Discipline
  • Next: Step 6. Create a Timeline >>
  • Last Updated: Oct 25, 2023 12:07 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.westsoundacademy.org/ee

What is the extended essay

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

It is an independent piece of research, culminating 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.

Students are required to have three mandatory reflection sessions with their supervisors. The final session, a concluding interview, is also known as viva voce .

The extended essay and reflection sessions 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.

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

ib extended essay question

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ib extended essay question

IB Extended Essay: A Step-by-Step Guide

ib extended essay question

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Extended Essay is a substantial research project that challenges high school students to explore a topic of personal interest within one of the IB's six subject areas. This extended essay, typically around 4,000 words in length, allows students to engage in independent research and develop critical thinking and writing skills. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of completing your IB Extended Essay successfully.

1. Choose Your Subject Area and Topic

- Subject Area: First, select one of the six IB subject areas that you're passionate about and in which you have a strong academic background. These areas include Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies, Sciences, Mathematics, and the Arts.

- Topic: Narrow down your subject area to a specific topic or research question that genuinely interests you. Your topic should be neither too broad nor too narrow, allowing for in-depth exploration within the word limit.

2. Develop a Research Question

- Research Question: Create a clear and focused research question that guides your investigation. Your research question should be specific, open-ended, and relevant to your chosen subject area.

3. Conduct Preliminary Research

- Literature Review: Start with preliminary research to gain an understanding of the existing scholarship and literature related to your topic. This will help you refine your research question and identify gaps in the current knowledge.

4. Create a Research Plan

- Timeline: Develop a timeline that outlines key milestones and deadlines for your extended essay. This plan should include research, data collection (if applicable), writing, and revision phases.

5. Collect and Analyze Data (if applicable)

- If your extended essay requires data collection (e.g., experiments, surveys, interviews), conduct this research following ethical guidelines. Ensure that your data collection is well-documented and relevant to your research question.

6. Outline Your Essay

- Structure: Create a clear and organized outline for your extended essay. Typically, your essay will include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The body should be divided into sections or chapters that address different aspects of your research.

- Thesis Statement: Develop a strong thesis statement that presents your main argument or hypothesis.

7. Write Your Extended Essay

- Introduction: Start with a compelling introduction that introduces your research question and provides context for your study.

- Body: Present your research findings and analysis in a logical and structured manner. Ensure that each paragraph contributes to your argument and supports your thesis.

- Citations: Properly cite all sources using a consistent citation style (e.g., MLA, APA). Be diligent in avoiding plagiarism.

- Conclusion: Summarize your main findings, restate your thesis, and discuss the significance of your research.

8. Revise and Edit

- Review: Take time to review and revise your extended essay. Check for clarity, coherence, grammar, spelling, and formatting errors.

- Peer Review: Consider having a peer or teacher review your essay for feedback and suggestions.

9. Create Citations and Bibliography

- Generate a comprehensive bibliography that includes all the sources you used in your research. Ensure that your citations are accurate and properly formatted.

10. Submit Your Extended Essay

- Follow your school's guidelines for submission, including deadlines and formatting requirements.

11. Reflect on the Process

- After completing your extended essay, take some time to reflect on your research journey. Consider what you learned, the challenges you faced, and the skills you developed.

12. Celebrate Your Achievement

- Completing an IB Extended Essay is a significant accomplishment. Celebrate your hard work and the knowledge you've gained throughout the process.

The IB Extended Essay is an opportunity for high school students to engage in independent research and develop essential academic skills. By following this step-by-step guide and staying committed to your research and writing, you can successfully complete your extended essay and present a well-researched and well-structured project that demonstrates your academic abilities and passion for your chosen subject area.

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September 14, 2021

A Definitive Guide to the IB Extended Essay (EE)

The Extended Essay (EE) is an independent, self-directed academic research, presented in the form of a 4,000-word paper. One component of the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) core, the extended essay is mandatory for all students. The final work is given a grade from E to A, and makes up part of each student’s final IB score. These are our thoughts on how to do well in the EE:

Step 1: Choosing a Extended Essay (EE) topic

Choosing a good topic for your extended essay can make a huge difference on your final score. Firstly, you should always choose a topic that you are interested in! The writing process becomes much more engaging, and will also be good content you can write in your personal statement for your university applications.

Always be creative and original when choosing your research topic. Think about how you can make your research question and the way you communicate your academic research unique. In addition, if you wish to explore a multidisciplinary field , you could consider writing a World Studies extended essay . This research is analysed through at least two disciplines, encouraging students to apply their knowledge to a problem with global significance. For example, you may want to consider the effects of an electric vehicle subsidy on climate change. This is an exciting opportunity and provides a good insight to an interdisciplinary university degree such as PPE.

Step 2: Framing your research question

Once you know your extended essay subject, your next step is to choose a question. Often, questions will be framed as “To what extent does…”. Exploring multiple perspectives, and critically analysing each of these, are key to success. Therefore, try and shape your question so that more than one point of view can be explored.

Similarly, make sure your question is specific ! Having a focused question will guide your research and show that you can explore one area in detail. For example, here are 2 examples of Economics extended essay questions:

  • To what extent do smartphone companies compete with each other?
  • To what extent do Apple and Samsung operate in a duopoly in the global smartphone market?

The second research question is more focused, allowing for greater in-depth research into which areas they are competing over. You can use secondary data from both companies’ annual reports, competitor websites, and undertake primary research (such as through an Economic survey or personal interview) – Having a research question that allows you to explore a specific area critically will definitely help you to score highly.

ib extended essay question

Step 3: Meeting your supervisor to establish specific targets

We recommend meeting with your supervisor as early as possible to check whether your research question is appropriate. If it is, this is a great opportunity to explore potential avenues of research. For example, a Physics extended essay on the path of a bowling bowl may look to incorporate several different features, such as force, weight, and air resistance into a model. Whichever subject area you choose, your supervisor is usually your first port of call for any questions you have.

During the meeting, it will be good to establish a timeline for your extended essay. Although this may only be rough, this will give you deadlines to work towards (much like you will need to do for university essays). Similarly, setting specific targets for your next meeting, such as writing an introduction or doing your survey, will also give you definitive targets to meet. Make sure at the end of this meeting you have clear goals to achieve and by your next meeting.

Furthermore, make sure that you are keeping a record of all of your meetings with your extended essay supervisor. 6 of the 36 marks for the EE are from your Reflections on Planning and Progress Form (RPPF) where you reflect on the meetings you have had with your supervisor. These should show that you are engaged with your topic, so discuss the ideas you have considered in response to setbacks whilst writing your extended essay and make sure to use personal pronouns (I, my) to convey your engagement. Detail any changes you made to your research method and demonstrate how you have taken a creative approach to your topic, as these will highlight what you have done to stand out.

Step 4: Starting your EE research

Following the meeting with your supervisor, it is time to begin researching your topic! This does not have to be too detailed to begin with, and we recommend aiming to research enough to write an introduction to your essay. This introduction should outline the main themes you will explore and your line of argument. To reiterate, your main argument may change as your essay develops, so do not worry if it is not perfect when you begin.

Some useful sources of information are your school library or Jstor. Your school librarian may be able to suggest some good books or articles to start reading, whilst using academic sources like Jstor or Google scholar gives you access to a wide range of academic material. When reading books or journal articles, you do not have to read them cover to cover! In fact, you should only read the sections that are relevant to your topic, and reading the introduction and conclusion will often tell you whether a journal article is relevant.

When reading, consistently keep in mind your essay title as this will help you to focus your reading on key sections of texts. For instance, highlight the key sections of the texts to review later. Alternatively, you could make notes in a separate word document; such as Googledocs; or with pen and paper. It is useful to keep everything you do in the same format, however, so you can easily collate it.

Step 5: Writing the essay’s first draft

The most difficult part with the EE is getting the first draft down. Many students struggle o to write the perfect introduction and methodology, and get stuck for weeks in the process. Your introduction and first draft do not have to be perfect but should form the base of your essay moving forward. It is often good to form a plan from your research that contains the key elements of each paragraph. Once you are confident with this and have filled it in with more research, you can turn this into a fully operational first draft.

We recommend breaking down the writing stage into several paragraphs, setting yourself mini-goals to achieve. This will help you to move along faster and make the seemingly daunting task of a 4,000-word essay a lot simpler. Similarly, you should use the research you have to support your ideas. Your research might consist of facts to back up your analysis or other writers’ opinions that agree with your own. Furthermore, you can also use this research to explore multiple points of view, coming to a conclusion as to which one is most appropriate. However, save yourself time whilst doing this by including links to the original article, rather than full references, as it is likely you may change the content of your essay and the references you use as you progress.

Make sure you save your extended essay frequently and to an accessible platform such Dropbox or Google Drive so that if your computer were to crash your progress will be stored!

Step 6: Reviewing your first draft

Your aim when meeting with your supervisor this time is to look over your first draft to see which parts are excellent, which can be explored further and which need to be rethought. This can be split into a number of meetings; for example, I looked at my introduction, then at the 4 sections of my main body, and finally at my conclusion. This reshaped the goals that I had moving forward and gave me specific subsections to work on.

Whilst editing your first draft, do not be afraid to delete, reword or move some parts that you have written, as this will help you shape your extended essay into the finished article. You can, if needed, even slightly alter your question. I changed my question at the start of April, with a June deadline for my essay. However, changing my essay question did not leave me with a whole new essay to write, as I was able to use most of what I had already written, adapting it to focus on the new question. Whatever changes you have to make, they are all moving you towards a complete final version, so stay positive!

Step 7: Refining your Extended Essay

After your meeting, review the changes you have to make to your methodology and research process. You should consider whether you have critically investigated the variables in your RQ and whether it is backed up by a solid methodology. For instance, are there any counter arguments you have not considered? Does your research process flow? Always draw links to each paragraph, so that your essay has a logical flow from its introduction to its argument, counter arguments, responses, and conclusion.

When researching areas in more detail, make use of what you have learnt from your current research. For instance, look at the suggested reading or references in books that you have read or look at articles from the same journal. Furthermore, stay up to date with the news in case you can include new research in your extended essay.

When editing, it is useful to save a new copy of your extended essay (for example, EE draft 2) so that you can track any changes that you make. Also, if anything were to happen to your new copy, you always have the previous copy and notes from the meeting to re-do any changes. We recommend doing this on Googledocs whether changes are saved real-time on the servers so you don’t lose precious work if your computer crashes.

Step 8: Final Notes

Once you are done with your initial drafts, ensure that you have professional presentation, consistent formatting, and proper citations. Make sure that you have included page numbers and a bibliography (if required). Additionally, make the layout justified, font and size, as well as double spaced as per IB requirements. You have to include a cover page with a title, your research question, word count and subject. You also have to meet your supervisor the final time to fill out your viva voce (oral) section of the RPPF before the final submission.

Step 9: Final Submission

When submitting your extended essay, ensure that your name, candidate number and your school’s name are not on the document. This will ensure that your EE is marked fairly without prejudice. Your EE is electronically stamped and the IB can track who it belongs to, as is your RPPF.

We wish you the best of luck with your extended essay and hope you enjoy the process. If you would like help with your extended essay, please take a look at our courses or contact us for more information. We also offer IB tuition for various subjects and University applications mentoring and are more than happy to tailor our classes to your needs and requirements!

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The IB Extended Essay: Topic ideas and research Questions

  • Details of the EE
  • Topic ideas and research Questions
  • Subject Guides & documents you need
  • Writing a research paper
  • Check the list of available subjects  here
  • Read the IB's criteria for your subject
  • Read an exemplar essay in your subject
  • Decide on a topic within this subject
  • This means you will need to do some research!
  • During the first meeting with your advisor, discuss the research you've done, your ideas, and the requirements for your subject.
  • Your revised research question proposal is due May 16.

Adapted from O'Farrell, Finbar.  Approach your assessment the IB Way: Extended Essay.  pg. 13

Examples of marked EEs in all subjects

  • From the IB website Have a look at the specific subject you plan on writing your EE for a marked example. You will be able to identify what you need to be successful.

Design Technology

  • Guide on writing an EE in DT The pdf explains everything clearly and is full of ideas and topics to write about.

Question: Has the introduction of new materials improved the performance of modern racing bicycles?

  Question:  What are the most ethical and efficient methods--through current technologies--private organizations can use to make Mars habitable for Human life?

History or Geography

Question : In what ways did the Cold War impact American public education? Question:   To what extent have Maori non-violent struggles for their land been effective? Question: How could the UN intervention in the Rwandan genocide be justified?  Question :Is it politically possible for the US government to win the drugs war? (Politics)

Question:  How are the depictions of Marie Antoinette in politics and portraiture significant to the French revolution and the fall of the French Monarchy? 

Question:  To what extent was film able to further pro-Nazi sentiment in Germany during the early 1930s to mid 1940s?

Question:  To what extent were the Vietnam War and cultural shifts occurring in the 1960s and early 1970s vital factors in the development of the student activism on college campuses in the United States and abroad?

Question:  To what extent was Matthew Perry’s 1853 arrival in Edo Bay the leading motivator for Japan’s rapid modernization during the Meiji Restoration?

Question:  What made the Federal Theatre Project such a success when after only four years of operation it was disbanded by the House of un-American Activities Committee?

Question:  To what extent were Kepler’s scientific discoveries revolutionary and how did they impact the development of science in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries?   

Question:  In what ways did the Hitler Youth organization impact the youth of Nazi Germany?

Question:  How did the works of classical Greek philosophers influence the domestic policy of Thomas Jefferson?  

Question:  How did the Bushido Code influence the meaning of tattoos in Asian culture?

Question:  In what way did the Catholic Church affect politics in the Kingdom of Spain during the Dark Ages?

Question:  What are the impacts of melting ice in the North and South Poles on the coastlines of the continental United States?

English EEs - ideas for Language and Literature

The EE Guide says the following on p 112 (EE Guide 2018, revised Jan 2017) - remember EACH subject has their own EE guides too.

   Quote The EE may relate to work students have already completed during the course, but they must also demonstrate relevant wider reading and individual study. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that the topic of their EE does not overlap with any other work they are preparing for assessment in language A—for example, the written assignment in the literature course, or the written task in the language and literature course.   

Question:  How did Eugene Gladstone O'Neill express the themes of family relationship and sadness in his work Long Day's Journey Into Night?

Question:  How does the writing of Japanese horror artist and novelist Junji Ito contrast with the writing of American horror novelist Stephen King?

Question:  How do the final movies of the Harry Potter series compare to the final book? What has been changed or depicted differently in terms of characterization and storylines?

Sport Science

Question:  How does age affect the process of instant muscle reaction?

Economics or ITGS

Question:  What impact does public healthcare have on low income households in the United States compared to those in Canada?

Question:  To what extent has deforestation influenced Indonesia's economic and environmental growth?

Physics, Chemistry or Biology Ideas

Question:  How have climate change and forestry practices contributed to the spread of the mountain pine beetle in the Pacific Northwest in recent decades, and what does the outbreak show us about the ecological intricacies of climate change? 

Question:  What evidence is there to support the theory of life on Mars?

Question:  How does the DNA sequence of a transthyretin (TTR) gene affect whether Familial Amyloidotic Polyneuropathy (FAP), Familial Amyloidotic Cardiomyopathy (FAC) or Senile Systemic Amyloidosis (SSA) form?

Arts - Visual/Performing

Question : What female stereotypes did Brecht employ in his plays, and how can these be compared and contrasted in performance, based on an analysis of a selection of Brecht's plays? Question : Picasso: individual genius or cultural thief? 

Question:  How does Rachmaninoff apply thematic development in his composition, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini ?

Question:  How do the Peanuts comics, written by Charles Schultz, show visual language?

Question:  How did the casting of the leading lady in Cole Porter's Anything Goes affect each production on Broadway?

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US IB Extended Essay: Research Questions

  • Academic Writing
  • Researchers Reflective Space (RRS)
  • Research Questions
  • Databases & Web Resources (English & Spanish)
  • Bibliographies, References & Citations
  • Reflections
  • Subject Specific EE Resources

Choosing Your Topic

Your topic:

  • Must fall into one of the approved IB categories found in the IB Vade Mecum.
  • Must NOT be from a TOK subject area.
  • Should be something that interests you and that you have studied in your coursework.  Maybe an idea touched on in class that you would like to explore further, or perhaps you have wondered about connections between two ideas.
  • Should be an area in which there is data and material to support your research.
  • Should be managable!
  • Remember , this is a 4,000 word essay, which is meant to be completed within 40 hours of work.  
  • A good essay is one which poses a question worth answering, and is worth your time and effort.

DO NOT FORGET to read the specific guidelines for the subject area in which you are interested. Read through several sample essays if you want to have a feel for what has been successful.

Begin to formulate your topic question

A well-crafted and succinct research question is essential to a successful extended essay.  If too broad, it will be difficult to answer effectively in your essay, and if too narrow will limit the research available and thus your writing as well.  As you consider topics within your subject, keep in mind that you need to find a specific question to answer.

  • The novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Economic Depression in the 19th century
  • Bernini's Fountains of Rome

Good Questions:

  • History: The Spread of Vaccination Through 19 th Century Europe: Why was the spread of Vaccination so rapid in the early  years of the 19 th century despite the turmoil of the Napoleonic war?
  • English: How does Cormac McCarthy Portray Common Thematic Elements in No Country for Old Men and The Road ?
  • Economics:Market Form of the Retail Petroleum Supply Industry in Parklands

Do some background research

Time to begin researching your topic broadly.  You may already have a question in mind to write your essay about, but you have to survey the broad literature first to see what is available, how much you already know about the topic, and you might, in the process, discover new, intriquing ideas about it.

Beginning resources include:

  • The Internet, including Google, Wikipedia, and broad websites on the topic
  • Encyclopedias, indexes, and general reference books
  • Books on the topic in the library
  • Conversations with someone in the field

KEEP A RECORD OF WHAT RESOURCES YOU EXAMINE!  It is a common trap among high school students to think that they will later go back to find something that was interesting but have no record of where to find it, or waste time revisiting sources, especially electronically.  See the page on note-taking and organization for more details.

KEEP A LIST OF PERTINENT TERMS, CONCEPTS, AND KEYWORDS THAT APPEAR IN YOUR RESEARCH.  These will help you formulate your question and determine search terms for your research.  This is also the beginning of your acquisition of the vocabulary of a field in which you have some interest.

Developing Your Research Question

Refining your research question

As you begin your research, note the questions that occur to you.  You may do some preliminary investigation into several potential areas before you find the one you will choose.  Check to see if there is enough information to pursue a specific area, or if you might need to shift your queries somewhat to consider other elements.

Once you have determined your topic question, you can begin to refine your actual research question.  Start by asking basic general questions to establish certain facts: the Who, What, When questions.  Sketch those out loosely.  Then begin to ask more probing questions that break the topic down into components, or look for commonalities or differences, or for a problem that needs solving.  Don’t confuse having a topic with having a problem to solve.  Questions will help you determine what the focus of your work is.

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Extended Essay (IB): Choosing a subject and topic

  • The Inquiry Process
  • EE Seminar 1
  • EE Seminar 2
  • IT Workshop 1
  • EE Investigation Days
  • EE Writing Days
  • Choosing a subject and topic
  • Developing a line of inquiry
  • Finding and selecting sources
  • Working with ideas
  • Expressing your ideas
  • Using ManageBac
  • Supervisor resources
  • Who can help?

ib extended essay question

For your EE you have the freedom to focus on almost any topic and you will write your own question to answer.  However, your topic must fit into a single DP subject (unless you choose to write an interdisciplinary essay, such as a World Studies EE that covers a topic “of contemporary global significance” and is likely to encompass two subject areas).

Given the academic challenge and level expected of an EE, you are strongly advised to choose a subject that you are currently studying, preferably at Higher Level.

Introduction to the Extended Essay

ib extended essay question

What is the Extended Essay?

  • Compulsory element of the core, along with TOK and CAS
  • Inquiry-based research project resulting in an essay of up to 4,000 words
  • Topic of your choice, but must be based in a DP subject * and meet subject-specific requirements
  • You are strongly encouraged to do your essay in one of your HL subjects

*It is possible, under certain circumstances, to combine two subjects and do a World Studies essay but we do not currently recommend this.

What do I need to do?

ib extended essay question

This guide is just to get your thinking started.

You are going to be spending nine months on your Extended Essay - it is very important to choose a topic that actually interests you, or it is going to be a very long nine months...

Good preparation is much more effective for finding inspiration than last minute panic!

CALVIN AND HOBBES © Watterson. Reprinted with permission of ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION.  All rights reserved.

How do I choose a subject?

Thought bubble image

  • Think about your interests outside the classroom then check whether they might fit into any IB subject areas.
  • Think about your IB subjects, particularly your HL subjects. Which would (and wouldn't) you enjoy exploring in more depth?
  • Make a list of the topics (for one or more different subject areas) that you have enjoyed in that subject area and a list of topics you haven’t covered but wish you had. You might want to chat to your teachers or have a look in your textbooks.
  • Think about any career aspirations you might have, or any ideas for further study, and they could point you in a direction.

Now have a look at the Subject Group Overviews , below, to see what an EE in that group might involve. It is worth comparing a couple of different subject groups.

Subject Group Overviews

  • Group 1: Studies in language and literature
  • Group 2: Language acquisition (incl. Classical Languages)
  • Group 3: Individuals and societies
  • Group 4: Experimental sciences
  • Group 5: Mathematics
  • Group 6: The Arts
  • Interdisciplinary essays

ib extended essay question

  • Category 1 Studies of one or more literary works originally written in the language in which the essay is presented.
  • Category 2 Studies of a literary work or works originally written in the language of the essay compared with one or more literary works originally written in another language. (The work originally written in another language may be studied in translation.)
  • Category 3 Studies in language based on one or more texts originally produced in the language in which the essay is presented.

Students and teachers must indicate at the point of upload which category of essay they are submitting."

From: IBO (2020) Extended Essay: Studies in language and literature

MFL Books

Students working on a language acquisition EE must demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the language, culture and society or literature studied. This understanding must be shown in the form of:

  • an analysis of a cultural context or a specific text OR
  • an analysis of trends in the culture studied and the impact of a cultural change on the form or use of the language OR
  • an analysis and comparison of literary texts.

For those undertaking a classical Greek or Latin EE, the focus is on demonstrating an understanding of a relevant or significant aspect of the language, literature and civilization of ancient Greece or Rome."

From: IBO (2020) Extended Essay: Language acquisition including classical languages

Note that you may not do your EE in a language you are studying at ab initio level .

ib extended essay question

The individuals and societies EE is intended to encourage the systematic and critical study of:

  • human experience and behaviour
  • physical, economic and social environments
  • the history and development of social and cultural institutions.

Students’ choice of topic should enable them to recognize that the content and methodologies of the subjects are contestable and that their study requires critical thinking.

Students must have sufficient grounding in the subject under which they submit their essay: reading a textbook or consulting an encyclopedia while writing the EE will not compensate for a lack of proper background knowledge."

From: IBO (2020) Extended Essay: Individuals and societies

Note: The IB considers Environmental Systems and Societies EEs to be interdisciplinary, so materials for these can be found under the Interdisciplinary essays tab, above.

ib extended essay question

"An extended essay (EE) in the sciences gives students an opportunity to apply a range of skills while researching a topic of personal interest in the field. Students working on a science EE must demonstrate an in-depth analysis of the subject matter studied, be it biology, chemistry, computer science, design technology, physics or sports, exercise and health science. This understanding must be shown in the form of a research paper involving a wellformulated research question. Students should be advised that while there is overlap between the subjects, their study should reflect one specific science area. For example:

  • biology—dealing with living organisms and life processes
  • chemistry—dealing with the composition, characterization and transformation of substances

...The nature of the topic under investigation should be different for each subject area and students should be careful if they undertake essays that may blur the boundaries between two science subjects. For example, when studying the pH of a body of water, students may investigate the chemicals responsible for the observed pH (chemistry), or the effect of the pH on the biota (biology)."

From: IBO (2020) The Sciences: an introduction from Extended Essay: The sciences

ib extended essay question

  • the applicability of mathematics to solve both real and abstract problems
  • the beauty of mathematics, as in, for instance, geometry or fractal theory
  • the elegance of mathematics in the proving of theorems as in, for example, number theory
  • the origin and subsequent development of a branch of mathematics over a period of time, measured in tens, hundreds or thousands of years
  • the links between different branches of mathematics, or the way that branch of mathematics has been born, or has flourished, as a result of technology.

Students should be advised on the importance of formulating logical and coherent reasons for selecting a particular topic for the EE, the need to identify a well-thought-out research question and the requirement to search for the mathematical problems that require a solution. Students must be advised that mathematical research is a long-term and open-ended exploration of a set of related mathematical problems that are based on personal observations. The answers to these problems connect to and build upon each other over time."

From: IBO (2020) Extended Essay: Mathematics

ib extended essay question

  • a coherent analysis and interpretation of their chosen area in relation to a posed research question
  • the testing and validation of the research and consideration of its effect on the practice of the investigated area of the arts
  • development and exploration in a disciplined and imaginative way of an area of study specifically appropriate to the curriculum area chosen
  • a link to a practical dimension.

Each subject area poses its own unique set of challenges. Therefore, the approach to the topic of investigation should reflect the particular methodology most appropriate to the arts subject being studied. Students should have logical and coherent reasons for selecting a particular topic for their essay, a well-thought out research question and an approach that allows them to develop a reasoned argument.

...While there may be overlap between the subjects in the arts and common approaches, the research topic must clearly relate to one specific arts area. If a student chooses a research area that blurs the boundaries between two arts subjects, they must ensure that their essay’s emphasis clearly lies within the arts subject for which they are submitting it. Crucially, the topic selected should reflect each student’s particular interest and enthusiasm within that subject area."

From: IBO (2020) Extended Essay: The arts

ib extended essay question

For example, in literature and performance, students focus on the nature of the relationships that occur between a chosen text and its adaptation for performance; in world studies an issue of contemporary global significance is explored through the lenses of two subjects ; and in environmental systems and societies the interaction and integration of natural environmental systems and human societies are explored

Students undertaking one of these options must demonstrate a solid understanding of their area of research, taking a fully integrated approach. This examination must be shown in the form of:

  • a coherently written and structured essay that effectively addresses an area of research, taking an interdisciplinary approach
  • bringing together concepts, methods and approaches from across different subjects
  • the development and exploration of an area of study specifically appropriate to the interdisciplinary choice

The most critical stage in preparing for the EE is the formulation of a logical and coherent rationale for selecting a particular topic for the extended essay, a topic that offers enough scope to provide material for a substantial essay , and the development of ideas around the topic and research question that examine existing views and argue against them."

From: IBO (2020) Interdisciplinary essays: an introduction from Extended Essay: Interdisciplinary essays

We do not recommend undertaking an EE in World Studies. If you choose to do so anyway, make sure that you consider very carefully whether your topic would fit the requirements of a single subject discipline instead. It can be challenging to juggle the requirements of two different subjects while undertaking a piece of academic research like this for the first time, particularly if you do not currently study one or both of the subjects.

Note that the Treatment of the Topic section of the Subject Guide for World Studies says that:

"It is expected that students will have a good grounding in at least one of the Diploma Programme subjects used in the EE.

If they are unfamiliar with a discipline used, they must access its syllabus so that they can identify the concepts, terminology and modes of thinking required for their EE. (Many IB syllabuses contain lists of key concepts.)"

This means that whether or not you are currently studying either or both of the subject areas your World Studies EE is based in  you will need to use DP Level concepts, terminology and modes of thinking appropriate to both subject areas.

Subject Specific Guidance

Use the links below to explore the Subject-Specific Guidance for your chosen subject. Note that it is very important to use the side navigation menu to make sure you have read ALL the relevant guidance (see example for Biology, below).

ib extended essay question

You MUST read the subject-specific guidance before completing your Supervisor Application Form, and reread it before completing your Research Proposal Log. You might find it helpful to take notes using the Using the Subject-Specific Guidelines table.

Electronic versions of these can be found at the top right hand side of this page (follow links). If you wish to submit your handwritten version to ManageBac, you may upload a (legible!) photograph.

Ethical guidelines

You must address the IB ethical guidelines in your Research Proposal and follow them throughout the EE process. Some Subject Guides will contain specific ethical guidelines for that subject, but here are some general guides you might need to refer to:

Extended essays from previous years

Past essays

It can be really useful at this stage to look at essays from previous Oakham students, to see what kinds of topics they investigated and what their final essays looked like. These are upstairs in the library and can be looked at while you are here.

Please remember:

  • These are all the essays from past Oakhamians and they were awarded a range of grades (which are recorded on the contents pages). They are not a set of examples of 'good' essays or even 'good' titles.
  • There have been several rule changes in the past, most notably in 2018, so make sure you are aware of the current rules.

You may take photographs of individual pages (such as the contents pages). You may not photograph or photocopy whole essays.

How do I choose a topic?

Go back to your brainstormed list of topics from the first session:

  • Eliminate any that you don’t really want to write about and focus on the rest.
  • Use the ideas on the mind map below to examine these topics and decide which might be worth further exploration. You might choose to make a mind map like this for some of your topics.

ib extended essay question

Before deciding on a topic you should do some preliminary research to see what information is out there. Make a few brief notes as you go.

  • General internet browsing: You could begin with some freestyle internet searching on a broad topic that interests you. Search for your topic online, give yourself an hour to follow links and see where they take you – keeping an EE focus, of course!
  • Subscription Databases : While you will almost certainly search the databases extensively for your research once you have chosen a topic, you can also browse them to help you to chose one. See the ' Browsing our subscription databases ' box below for advice on the best ones to choose for this. Using the subscription databases to help you to choose a topic also means that you are guaranteed to be able to find high quality information on that topic.
  • Talk to your teachers, friends and family

Put your notes away, forget about what you have read for a few days, then see what you remember.  This time and distance is important as it is likely that you will remember what is of most interest to you, and so the angle you should develop.

Aim to have three suggestions for topic areas you might like to explore for your EE to explore further before making a decision .

Browsing our subscription databases

You are likely to have used our databases in the past to search for information on specific topics, but many of them are also excellent when browsing for ideas. I have made some suggestions below. You will need to access them from the list on our Subscription Databases page (using the log in information given if you are not on the school network).

ib extended essay question

An excellent series of ebooks providing a short, academic introduction to a wide range of topics. Choose 'Browse by subject' from the menu bar to explore them (or use the excellent search facility if you know which topic you are interested in).

ib extended essay question

An online encyclopaedia that you can trust and cite! Choose 'Advanced' then 'Explore: Articles' to browse Britannica in a range of different subject areas.

ib extended essay question

Hodder Education Magazines

Although aimed at A-level students, browsing these Review magazines may be a good way to identify a broad topic of interest. After you log-in, you can choose to search the whole database or choose a specific subject and browse/search within it.

ib extended essay question

Other, subject-specific resources

  • Art: Oxford Art
  • Drama: Drama Online
  • Economics: Financial Times and Gale Newspaper Collection
  • English literature: Connell Guides, EBSCO Literary Reference Centre, emagazine and MASSOLIT (a video-based resource)
  • Music: Naxos Music Library, Oxford Music
  • Politics: Financial Times and Gale Newspaper Collection 

Using the Subject Specific Guidelines

ib extended essay question

This table will help you work with the Subject-Specific Guidelines as you choose your topic. You are not required to submit this form to your supervisor, but you might find it helpful when filling in your Supervisor Application Form and Research Proposal.

Annotated bibliography

ib extended essay question

This resource will help you to keep track of all the different sources you find. Once you start working with each source in more detail, you will also need a tool like the Investigative Journal to organise your notes.

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What Is An Extended Essay & How to Write It?

Read this article for 5 tips to ace your IB Extended Essay. this article shows IB students how to write an Extended Essay for IB Diploma.

What Is An Extended Essay & How to Write It?

Table of content

What is ib extended essay, choosing your mentor, how to select your topic, the structure of ib extended essay, research question, table of contents, introduction , methodology, the main body, the conclusion, bibliography, ib extended essay checklist.

This article will reveal helpful information on what your IB Extended Essay (EE) requires. Consider this your IB Extended Essay Checklist, which covers everything you must know about your EE.

Hey! Make sure you listen to Ivy, who will explain what NOT to do on your EE.

These mountains you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb!

Understand that no warrior ever conquered the battlefield with an unhinged mind. We say this because, being past IB students, we have seen and faced what we are about to and have a good knowledge and acquired the ability to differentiate between more enormous beasts and smaller beasts.

IB Extended Essay  is a smaller beast considering that you give it enough time before it becomes more prominent. All you need to do is relax your mind, de-stress and follow a simple procedure explained further in the article. There is no need to panic. Trust us, listen to us, and be like us!

Moving ahead from punny insertions, let us tell you why the IB extended essay can be an easy and exciting mountain to climb:

  • Subject of your choice (Good practice to choose from your HLs)
  • Independence of choosing a topic  
  • Choice of choosing your mentor
  • Continuous feedback and support from your chosen mentor.

IB extended essay (IB EE) is another one of the mandatory requirements of the IB Diploma Programme. It is a mini-thesis that you write under the supervision of a mentor/advisor. Your mentor will be an IB teacher from your school. The students must conduct independent research on a topic of their choice, which must be at most the limit of 4000 words. You begin by choosing a research question as a topic that will be further approved by IBO. It is up to you to either do a typical research paper, conduct an experiment/solve a problem-type EE.

I can write too many paragraphs giving you unnecessary information but let’s cut to the chase and admit the heart wants what it wants. You will go with an advisor/mentor with whom you will connect the most. However, suppose your judgment is clouded between the advisor you want to choose solely because you click with them better and the mentor who is knowledgeable about your chosen topic and can help you improve your research work. In that case, the choice is pretty straightforward: listen to your brain. Get rid of your toxic love and make a wise decision to choose a knowledgeable mentor. If you are lucky, the mentor you connect with and the one with ample knowledge about your chosen topic will be the same person. On that note, consider only two things while choosing your advisor:

  • An advisor who is familiar with your topic 
  • An advisor who will push you to be your best

Before diving into the topic selection and the structure of your IB extended essay, refer to this table to get an insight into the grade breakdown table. This will be helpful in your planning phase.

Moving ahead towards essential aspects of this article. After choosing your mentor, the next step for ‘how to write an EE’ is choosing a topic with the help of your mentor’s input. It is as essential as our  TOK Essay  and  TOK presentation .

Keep the following in mind while selecting your topic:

  • Choose a topic that interests you.
  • A topic that has enough resources and material.
  • Choose a topic that is neither too narrow (so you have enough material) nor too broad (to avoid exceeding the word limit of 4000 words)

Before we dive into the structure, let us make one thing clear, there is a difference between the title and the research question. A title is different from your research question. Your research question is a clear and focused summative statement of your research. For instance, “The Effect of Gender and Age on the photoreceptor cells in the human retina” is a title whereas the following as the examples of research questions:

“Does the efficiency of Rods and cones decrease with age?

“What is the efficiency of L-cone vs M-cone vs S-cone?“

“To what extent are rod cells more efficient than the three cone cells?”

“Does the efficieny of rods and cones differ between genders?”

This will include the following:

  • Introduction

Quick Note: The content on this page will not be included in your essay word count.

NO ABSTRACT REQUIRED. The latest IB guide states that an abstract should not be included in EE anymore.

Introduce and elaborate topic that you are researching in your EE.

  • A crisp description of what you will explore and how you will do so. If you are aiming at a particular firm/industry, discuss the problems and your investigation method.
  • To provide context to your question, you must address the situation from where the question is coming.
  • State your research question and emphasize the importance of answering that question.
  • Please describe how your research is helpful and exciting and how it is valuable to your audience.

You should split this section into two major areas to cover all the essential aspects.

  • Section - 1 Explaining your sources
  • Section - 2 Related topics, theories, and arguments that you will use to explore

Quick Note: Ensure that besides giving the readers an insight into the theories, arguments, and resources you plan to use for your research, you also point out the weaknesses and limitations.

Section- 1: Sources

  • Describe each of your major sources of primary and secondary research.
  • Inform the readers how these sources are helpful.
  • To provide the readers with insight into each source's weaknesses or limitations. For example, there may have been room for bias or a limited scope of your research. Or there are other reasons why other data you used could be unreliable or invalid.
  • Some useful sources of secondary research are company annual reports, news articles, magazine articles, business textbooks, and encyclopedias.
  • Mention any adjustments (at least one) you made to your research as you progressed with your EE.

Section- 2: Related topics, theories, and arguments

  • Briefly explain the ideas you will use and why (what are you aiming to support by using these).
  • Address weaknesses or limitations of each addressed topic, theory, or related argument.
  • Mention any changes made to these as you progressed with your EE.

This part of your essay will be the most elaborate. It will concentrate on research, analysis, discussion, and evaluation.

To maintain the flow of your previous section, we suggest splitting this section into two parts, identical to the previous bifurcation, to showcase your understanding of the IB concepts learned in your business management class and the other addressing the insightful material outside of your course.

Section-1: Related arguments, theories, and topics form your course learning

  • Include 4 or 5 of these to help you answer your research question.
  • It is suggested that you include at least one financial element. Address your qualitative tools before the quantitative ones.

Section- 2: Beyond your Course

Take up this section as an opportunity for you to educate your reader/evaluator.

  • Review several related theories and concepts more extensively than the course does.
  • Impress your reader by giving the sense that you know how the particular industry works. Showcase your expertise or knowledge gained through expert opinions in several aspects of your question.
  • Please add some analytical insight in this section rather than just descriptive. Be careful to ensure that all of your theories in this section are really helping you answer your research question.
  • You can use a graph here, but it must link to the research question.
  • Use theories and supportive arguments that apply to your research and are beyond your course (if relevant).

Quick Note: Relate every paragraph to your research question.

This section is self-explanatory. It is time to bind all your areas together.

  • It would help if you concentrated on making your EE sections cohesive.
  • Please address what you have researched and how it helps answer your research question.
  • Keep everything new in your conclusion.
  • Shine through by including mini-conclusions to synthesize your essay.
  • You can include several evaluative insights as well, if applicable.
  • Mention some weaknesses and limitations of your research and their effect on your research. You can even address the inaccuracies these limitations may have caused and state the reason behind them.
  • Explain at least one thing that you would have done differently if you were to do it again.

Quick Note: Don’t include a recommendations section in your EE

This section gives the reader an insight into your research resources. It may include:

  • Books –textbooks, internet resources, journals, academic papers, competitor interviews, etc.
  • Primary Resource (if applicable) –Interview, data (focus group, survey, etc.).

Quick note: The content on this page will not be included in your essay word count.

Take this section as more of an essential formality of showcasing the process of hard work that you have put in.

  • Transcripts from your interviews,
  • The additional analysis you didn't fit in the body of your EE.
  • Any other exciting data which you would like to refer to in the body of your work.

With this, we come to the end of our article on what is an IB extended essay and how to write an extended essay. As we mentioned earlier, it is relatively easy. All you need is dedication, set timelines, and proper research. So, don't worry; no rabbits can pull out your hat today. If you want to score a 36 on 36 your Extended Essay, check out our  Extended Essay Guide , which offers '5 never heard before' tips to help you write a quality essay.

Make an IB Extended Essay Checklist! I cannot emphasize enough on this point. The submission for your EE happens simultaneously when you are expected to take your exams. There will be a million things that you would have to keep track of. There is a high chance of forgetting to make that final edit or perfecting your EE's introduction in the midst of it all. Therefore, an IB Extended Essay Checklist will ensure you do everything. IB Extended Essay Checklist will be your savior during the final submission days.

We want Nail IB to be your virtual companion to hustle through IB. We have many helpful blogs that will help you navigate your way through IB. Apart from our blogs, we offer a "Take A Test' module, which allows IB students to evaluate their level in the IB Program. Make sure to try a  test  and see your strengths and weaknesses. And finally, to ensure you have all the resources you might need to nail IB, we have curated special  student bundles  for your convenience.

IB Resources you will love!

Nan + free ib flashcards, -1 + free ia samples, nan + ib videos by experts, -1 + ib sample practice questions, ib resources for nan + subjects.

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Extended Essay: Language and Literature

  • Step 1 - Choosing a Subject
  • Step 2 - Choosing a Topic
  • Step 3 - Draft a Research Question
  • Step 4 - Finding Sources
  • Step 5 - Evaluating Information
  • Step 6 - Bibliography & Citation
  • Step 7 - Organizing Information
  • The Arts: Visual Arts
  • Individuals & Societies: Business Management
  • Individuals & Societies: History
  • Individuals & Societies: Psychology
  • Language Acquisition

Language and Literature

  • Sciences: Biology
  • Sciences: Sports, Exercise, and Health Sciences
  • Interdisciplinary Papers: World Studies
  • Assessment Criteria

Extended Essays in Language and Literature

Choosing a topic.

  • Categories 1 & 2

Categories 1 & 2

***Category 2 essays are the same as category 1, but they analyze works not written in English***

Language and Literature papers in categories 1 and 2 are focused on one or more literary works and can focus on original literary analysis, a particular literary topic, and/or established literary criticism.  

NB: When investigating a film in category 2, the film must be analyzed for its literary value, not filmic. Filmic analysis is allowed in category 3.

Category 3 papers also analyze works, however they are not restricted to literary works! Topics in Category 3 emphasize the production and reception of texts in social, historical and/or cultural contexts. Essays that simply offer a general overview of a topic are not appropriate.

Approaches to Research

Categories 1 and 2

**Category 2 essays are the same as category 1, but analyze works not written in English**

Primary research in Language and Literature may require close reading of one or more texts. Secondary research may also be necessary for information like historical context, biographical information,  and established literary criticism. Students should consider things like the effect of the work, the devices it uses, or the way it is written.

Students should give a focused analysis of the texts being considered. The approach should be balanced, coherently argued, use relevant examples to illustrated the point.

Examples of language in a cultural context

Examples of language and mass communication

Language and Literature Sources

Even students doing primary research will still need to reference secondary sources. These may include established literary interpretations or criticisms, biographical and/or historical information.

Essay Types

An extended essay in language and literature gives students an opportunity to do independent research into a topic of special interest to them within the subject. It is intended to promote advanced research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity.

The essay is open to students who are writing in a language that they would be capable of offering as a language A

Studies in language and literature EEs are divided into three categories:

Assessed Student Work

  • An exploration of an aspect of the narrative voice in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita
  • How did the World State government in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World impact the individuality of the citizens residing in it?
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What Is an IB Extended Essay and How to Write It?

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The IB extended essay is a paper of up to 4,000 words that is required for students enrolled in the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program. The extended essay allows students to engage in independent research on a topic within one of the available subject areas.

The extended essay should be an original piece of academic writing that demonstrates the following student's abilities:

  • Formulating a research question
  • Conductig independent investigation
  • Presenting key findings in a scholarly format.

Check out this article by StudyCrumb to discover how to write an IB extendend essay properly. We will give you a complete writing guide and critical tips you need for this essay type.

IB Extended Essay: What Is It?

An extended essay is independent research. Usually students choose a topic in consultation with a mentor. It is an integral part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) degree program. This means that you won't receive a degree without a successfully written paper. It requires 4,000-word study on a chosen narrow topic. To get a high score, you should meet all required structure and formatting standards. This is the result of approximately 40 working hours. Its purpose is giving you the opportunity to try independent research writing. It's approved that these skills are critical for student success at university. The following sections explain how to write an extended article with examples. So keep reading!  

Choosing a Mentor for Extended Essay

IB extended essay guidelines require supervisor meetings, totaling 3-5 hours. They include three critical reflections. A mentor won't write a paper instead of you but can help adjust it. So it is important to consult with them, but no one will proofread or correct actual research for you. In general, initially treat an essay as an exclusively individual work. So your role and contribution are maximal.

Extended Essay Outline

Let's take a look at how to write an extended essay outline. In this part, you organize yourself so that your work develops your idea. So we especially recommend you work out this step with your teacher. You can also find any outline example for essay . In your short sketch, plan a roadmap for your thoughts. Think through and prepare a summary of each paragraph. Then, expand annotation of each section with a couple more supporting evidence. Explain how specific examples illustrate key points. Make it more significant by using different opinions on general issues.  

Extended Essay: Getting Started

After you chose an extended essay topic and made an outline, it's time to start your research. Start with a complete Table of Contents and make a choice of a research question. Select the subject in which you feel most confident and which is most interesting for you. For example, if at school you are interested in natural science, focus on that. If you have difficulties choosing a research question, rely on our essay topic generator .

Extended Essay Introduction

In the introduction of an extended essay, present a thesis statement. But do it in such a way that your readers understand the importance of your research. State research question clearly. That is the central question that you are trying to answer while writing. Even your score depends on how you develop your particular research question. Therefore, it is essential to draw it up correctly. Gather all relevant information from relevant sources. Explain why this is worth exploring. Then provide a research plan, which you will disclose further.  

Extended Essay Methodology

In accordance with extended essay guidelines, it's mandatory to choose and clearly state a methodological approach. So, it will be apparent to your examiner how you answered your research question. Include your collection methods and tools you use for collection and analysis. Your strategies can be experimental or descriptive, quantitative or qualitative. Research collection tools include observations, questionnaires, interviews, or background knowledge.

Extended Essay Main Body

Well, here we come to the most voluminous part of the extended essay for IB! In every essay body paragraph , you reveal your research question and discuss your topic. Provide all details of your academic study. But stay focused and do it without dubious ideas. Use different sources of information to provide supporting arguments and substantial evidence. This will impress professors. For this section, 3 main paragraphs are enough. Discuss each idea or argument in a separate paragraph. You can even use supporting quotes where appropriate. But don't overcomplicate. Make your extended essay easy to read and logical. It's critical to stay concise, so if you aren't sure how to make your text readable, use our tool to get a readbility test . Following the plan you outlined earlier is very important. Analyze each fact before including it in your writing. And don't write unnecessary information.

Extended Essay Conclusion

Now let's move on to the final part of IB extended essay guidelines. In conclusion, focus on summarizing the main points you have made. No new ideas or information can be introduced in this part. Use conclusion as your last chance to impress your readers. Reframe your own strong thesis. Here you must show all key points. Do not repeat absolutely every argument. Better try to make this part unique. This will show that you have a clear understanding of the topic you have chosen. And even more professional will be recommendations of new areas for future research. One good paragraph may be enough here. Although in some cases, two or three paragraphs may be required.

Extended Essay Bibliography & Appendices

To write an impressive extended essay, you should focus on appropriate information. You must create a separate page for bibliography with all sources you used. Tip from us: start writing this page with the first quote you use. Don't write this part last or postpone. In turn, appendices are not an essential section. Examiners will not pay much attention to this part. Therefore, include all information directly related to analysis and argumentation in the main body. Include raw data in the appendix only if it is really urgently needed. Moreover, it is better not to refer to appendices in text itself. This can disrupt the narrative of the essay.  

Extended Essay Examples

We have prepared a good example of an extended essay. You can check it by downloading it for free. You can use it as a template. However, pay attention that your paper is required to be unique. Don't be afraid to present all the skills you gained during your IB.

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Final Thoughts on IB Extended Essay

In this article, we presented detailed IB extended essay guidelines. An extended essay is a daunting academic challenge to write. It is a research paper with a deep thematic analysis of information. But we have described several practical and straightforward tips. Therefore, we are sure that you will succeed!

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If topics seem too complex, turn to our top essay writers. They will accomplish any IB assignment in the best way your professor can evaluate it!  

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IB Extended Essay: Past Essays

  • Research Questions
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ib extended essay question

Check these CAREFULLY to be sure your topic fits with IB expectations!

  • Language & literature (language A)
  • Language acquisition (language B)
  • Mathematics
  • Visual Arts
  • World Studies

Business Management

English a & b ee examples.

  • English A EE Example
  • English A EE Example 1
  • English A EE Example 2
  • English A EE Example 3
  • English B EE Example
  • English B EE Example 1
  • English B EE Example 2
  • English B EE Example 3
  • English B EE Example 4
  • English B EE Example 5
  • English B EE Example 6

Philosophy EE Examples

  • Philosophy Example 1
  • Philosophy Example 2
  • Philosophy Example 3
  • Philosophy Example 4

Economics EE Examples

  • Econ Example 1
  • Econ Example 2
  • Econ Example 3
  • Econ Example 4
  • Econ Example 5
  • Econ Example 6
  • Econ Example 7
  • Econ Example 8

Review Past Papers

  • From the IB:  papers from other students and how they scored
  • Renaissance Library Past Essays :  Links to all subject area examples

Music EE Examples

  • Music EE Example 1
  • Music EE Example 2
  • Music EE Example 3
  • Music EE Example 4

Psychology EE Examples

  • Psych EE Example 1
  • Psych EE Example 2
  • Psych EE Example 3

Chinese EE Examples

  • Chinese EE Example 1
  • Chinese EE Example 2
  • Chinese EE Example 3
  • Chinese A EE Cat 1
  • Chinese A EE Cat 2
  • Chinese A EE Cat 3
  • Chinese B EE Example 1
  • Chinese B EE Example 2
  • Chinese B Example 3
  • Business EE Example 1
  • Business EE Example 2
  • Business EE Example 3

Visual Arts EE Examples

  • Visual Arts EE Example 1
  • Visual Arts EE Example 2
  • Visual Arts EE Example 3
  • Visual Arts EE Example 4

Film EE Examples

  • Film Example 1
  • Film Example 2

Chemistry EE Examples

  • Chemistry EE Example

Biology EE Examples

  • Biology EE Example
  • Biology EE Example 1
  • Biology EE Example 2
  • Biology EE Example 3

Physics EE Examples

  • Physics EE Example
  • Physics EE Example 1
  • Physics EE Example 2
  • Physics EE Example 3
  • Physics EE Example 4
  • Physics EE Example 5

Math EE Examples

  • Math EE Example 1
  • Math EE Example 2
  • Math EE Example 3
  • Math EE Example 4
  • Math EE Example 5
  • Math EE Example 6

World Studies EE Examples

  • World Studies Example 1
  • World Studies Example 2
  • World Studies Example 3
  • World Studies Example 4
  • World Studies Example 5
  • World Studies Example 6
  • World Studies Example 7
  • World Studies Example 8
  • World Studies Example 9
  • World Studies Example 10
  • World Studies Example 11
  • World Studies Example 12
  • World Studies Example 13
  • World Studies Example 14
  • World Studies Example 15
  • World Studies Example 16
  • World Studies Example 17
  • World Studies Example 18
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100+ IB extended essay topic ideas for your ease

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  • Writing Metier

The International Baccalaureate is an educational foundation that has reached all over the world. It was founded in the year 1968, and ever since, it offers several different educational programs to 1.4 billion IB students all over the world. One of the very important requirements of an IB diploma is the extended essay. This really helps bring up the total score. And one problem students face here is gathering ideas for their IB extended essay. Here is some guiding information that can help with extended essay topics.

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The first and the most important thing is to come up with an idea for it. When people come up with the right idea for it, they can work hard and make their way through this. The same with IA and EE – a good extended essay can only be written when the right topic is selected. If you do not select the right topic you want to focus on, the chances of failing your extended essay are way higher.

Once the topic is selected, further information can be gathered on it. However, the prompt that you are working o n should be one that you are very well aware of. Not just that, but you should also be extremely interested in the topic. Only then can you work very well on this topic.

IB Extended Essay Layout

There are mainly six elements in the essay layout. The first part is the title page. Here, the research question is written, along with the subject and the category. The total word count needs to also be mentioned here. The next part is the content page. This is the one that is right at the beginning. It has all the headings along with the page numbers as well.

Then, next comes the introduction. Here, the scope and focus of the research is written. Alongside that, the sources that are used and the main argument that is going to be presented is also written. Next comes the main part of the essay, which is the body of the essay. This is the part where the research and the analysis s done. The evaluation also comes here, where the student is supposed to give his own viewpoint here. The argument should be developed in a coherent fashion here. Everything should be in the right order as well here.

Meanwhile, if you are interested in writing IB extended essay, please check the article that describes in detail how long it takes to write an IB EE . And never forget that an extended essay should be up to 4000 words , around 14-15 pages of content.

After this is done, the conclusion part comes. Here, the argument is summarized. Not just that, but any limitations of the research and also any unsolved issues are highlighted here. Towards the end comes the bibliography of the essay. Once the student chooses the academic style of references, the references are written in the correct order.

Other sections that can be added in the essay include the methodology and the appendix. The appendix is where the extra material is written. The methodology is where the entire part of the essay that describes the way that information is gathered. According to the latest requirements , no abstract is needed.

IB Extended Essay Topics

good ee topics

Ready to get good EE topics? Here are a few ideas to work on, for all of those who are looking to get some inspiration for their IB extended essay topic.

Let’s begin with a few generic topic ideas that you can work on.

General EE topic ideas

  • What role does culture play in shaping norms in society?
  • How can we change the way we think and respond to different situations?
  • How can we move from being victims of circumstance to fighters?
  • What factors make great leaders?
  • What is the role that leaders play in the modern day and age in shaping the world?
  • What factors constitute good parenting?
  • What factors affect the value of knowledge in society?
  • How does knowledge make us better people?
  • How does our thinking affect the way that we view others?
  • What is the role that patriarchy plays in depriving women of their rights?
  • What countries have the highest living standards currently and why?
  • How can we make smooth progress in our careers?
  • What is the key to effective relationships?
  • What role does open communication play in our daily lives?
  • How can we become more effective listeners?
  • How can we motivate ourselves to work harder and do better?
  • How can managers create synergy in work groups?
  • What is the role of trust when it comes to team building?
  • What is the science behind habit building?
  • How does spirituality affect our relationship with ourselves?

Like we have mentioned previously with capstone project topics and ideas for comparison essays , here are a few specific examples of topics based on certain groups. I’ll be focusing on general IB groups of studies.

Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature Essay Topics

  • What are the factors that affect specific political campaigns?
  • How has the use of language been effective in feminist protests?
  • How has media shaped the view of female beauty?
  • How is American English different from British English?
  • How are gender roles seen in the novel Macbeth?
  • How are gender roles portrayed in the novel the Great Gatsby?
  • How is Shakespeare’s style of writing different from others?
  • How does William Wordsworth play with words?
  • How much of the English language is borrowed from other languages?
  • How has the portrayal of women in English literature evolved over time?

Group 2: Language acquisition, including classical languages Essay Topics

  • How rich is Mandarin in meaning?
  • What role does innovative technology play in the learning of new languages?
  • How are new teaching methods being used in different stages of education?
  • How should a modern foreign language essay work in high school?
  • How can teaching styles differ when we talk about non native students?
  • What can be done to make education more valuable for non native students?
  • How can the classroom become more inclusive for non native students?
  • What are the different teaching methods that can be used for foreign language classes?
  • What are the modern means of teaching Mandarin at universities these days?
  • How important is it to learn different foreign languages?

Group 3: Individuals and societies Essay Topics

  • How has the role of women changed in society?
  • How does mainstream society reflect patriarchy?
  • What can women do for social mobility and why?
  • How much of our sex affects our ability to achieve?
  • What can be done to overcome inequality in society?
  • What can be done to overcome corruption in society?
  • How has criminality affected societies in the modern day and age?
  • What are we as a society doing for sustainable development and how?
  • How has bullying in schools become a normal culture?
  • What measures can be taken to deal with corruption in society?

Check this article for those who are also interested in how to write an IB Environment System and Societies IA . Enjoy reading it, and now let’s get back to the article.

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Group 4: the sciences essay topics.

  • Can the climate affect the growth of plant X?
  • What effect does climate change have on the growth of plants?
  • Do iron intake diets differ in different countries?
  • How does brushing teeth affect the pH in the mouth?
  • Can caffeine in coffee be reduced?
  • Can caffeine in tea be reduced?
  • What are the factors that affect iodine values in cooking oils?
  • How does temperature affect the viscosity of Coke?
  • What role do antioxidants play in our bodies?
  • How does photosynthesis affect the climate?

Group 5: Mathematics Essay Topics

  • What mathematical equations are applied in the navigation of stars?
  • What role does geometry play in the navigation of stars?
  • How are exponential functions used in physics?
  • How are exponential functions used in geology?
  • How are exponential functions used in anthropology?
  • How are exponential functions used in demography?
  • How is Pythagoras’s theorem applied in real world situations?
  • How does the Pythagoras’s theorem help the construction world?
  • How is the exponential function used in age and growth?
  • How does Archimedes’ calculation of circular areas work?

Group 6: The Arts Essay Topics

  • How is technology used for different types of art forms?
  • What are the different artistic styles of modern art?
  • What does Picasso’s style of art say about him?
  • How do political cartoons reflect certain ideologies?
  • What role does globalization play in contemporary art?
  • How to analyze abstract paintings?
  • Do paintings really speak volumes about the painter?
  • How does modern art differ from traditional art?
  • How does art reflect a person’s ideology?
  • How is activism reflected in modern art?

Group 7: Interdisciplinary Essay Topics

  • How can dead languages be revived again?
  • What role does anthropology play in making us understand different languages?
  • How has our society evolved over time to become more progressive?
  • How deep rooted is masculinity in our society?
  • What role do gender roles play in shaping society?
  • How can we understand the science behind class differences?
  • Is there a relationship between human language and animal language?
  • How does bilingualism affect our understanding of things?
  • How can we learn living languages?
  • How can governments play a role in reducing the social burden in society?

Group 8: History Essay Topics

  • How can historians work on their ways of getting more authentic data?
  • Were Hitler’s ways of doing things highly effective?
  • How did Germany get transformed during the time of Hitler?
  • How can we check the reliability of historic information?
  • What are the reasons for world dominance in modern history?
  • What do old human settlements teach us about the ways that people lived earlier on in time?
  • What kind of a ruler was Mao Zedong?
  • How did the partition of the subcontinent happen?
  • Why should we rely on more than one source for historic information?
  • How can we tell if a historical source is biased?

These are a few topic ideas that you can choose from.

Choose your IB extended topic wisely

So, if you are in one of the certified IB schools , I wish you good luck with writing your IB EE. To write an effective extended essay , make sure that you are very passionate about the topic that you choose!

Oh, almost forgot – do not hesitate to contact our team, in case you need any sort of assistance from expert IB writers with it.

Free topic suggestions

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Vasyl Kafidoff is a co-founder and CEO at WritingMetier. He is interested in education and how modern technology makes it more accessible. He wants to bring awareness about new learning possibilities as an educational specialist. When Vasy is not working, he’s found behind a drum kit.

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ib extended essay question

About The Extended Essay

ib extended essay question

An extended essay is an independent research project typically undertaken by students during their final years of high school or the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. When it comes to selecting a topic for your extended essay, it’s essential to choose a subject that both interests you and allows for in-depth exploration. Since you mentioned “section,” I assume you are referring to a specific topic or theme related to sections of a larger context. However, without more context, it’s challenging to provide a specific topic.

Delivering a powerful continuum of student-centric learning for students aged 3-19 years.

The extended essay provides an excellent opportunity for students to develop and showcase their research, critical thinking, analytical, and writing skills..

The heart of the Extended Essay is the research question. Students must choose a clear, focused, and well-defined research question that is relevant to one of the IB subject areas they are studying. The research question should be neither too broad nor too narrow and should allow for in-depth analysis and exploration.

The Extended Essay can be written in various subject areas offered by the IB program, such as Language and Literature, History, Economics, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Visual Arts, and many more.

Students should select a topic that genuinely interests them and aligns with their chosen subject area.

ib extended essay question

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The IB offers four educational programmes to more than 1.95 million students aged 3 to 19 across the globe. Explore key facts and figures about the IB, our programmes and our impact developing tomorrow’s global citizens.     .

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Importance and benefits.

Completing the Extended Essay offers several benefits to students, including:

  • Developing essential research and academic skills.
  • Exploring a subject of personal interest in depth
  • Standing out in college applications
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  1. 15 Top Tips on Writing the IB Extended Essay (EE)

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  1. The Complete IB Extended Essay Guide: Examples, Topics, and Ideas

    The IB Extended Essay, or EE, is a mini-thesis you write under the supervision of an IB advisor (an IB teacher at your school), which counts toward your IB Diploma (learn more about the major IB Diploma requirements in our guide). I will explain exactly how the EE affects your Diploma later in this article.

  2. Extended essay

    Last updated: 12 September 2023 The extended essay is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper. One component of the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) core, the extended essay is mandatory for all students. Read about the extended essay in greater detail.

  3. Examples

    Example essays Last updated: 06 June 2023 The International Baccalaureate® (IB) programme resource centre, a key resource for educators at IB World Schools, includes several examples of extended essay titles.

  4. 100 IB Extended Essay Topic Ideas!

    1. Define the Topic and Draft the Research Question 2. Create a Timeline 3. Identify and gather Sources 4. Set Deadlines 5. Plan the structure according to the total word count 6. Evaluate 7. independent Research

  5. The Extended Essay Step-By-Step Guide 4: The Question

    IB Extended Essay Welcome back to our step-by-step guide to the Extended Essay! So far in this series, we've covered how to choose your topic and get on with your research. Here in Part 3, I want to talk all about how to make sure you have the perfect question. I know. I've mentioned the question before.

  6. IB Extended Essay Research Question: The Complete Guide

    1. Choose an Interesting Topic The first step to coming up with a relevant research question for your Extended Essay is to choose an interesting topic. Choosing an interesting topic - or an area you've always wanted to explore - means three things: You'll not look at or treat the EE as a burdensome task.

  7. Extended Essay: Step 5. Draft a Research Question

    A guide to the research and writing process required for students completing the IB Extended Essay. Formulate a preliminary research question. Try to incorporate an IB command term in the research question if possible.

  8. What is 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 ...

  9. IB Extended Essay: A Step-by-Step Guide from AP Guru

    The International Baccalaureate (IB) Extended Essay is a substantial research project that challenges high school students to explore a topic of personal interest within one of the IB's six subject areas.

  10. A Definitive Guide to the IB Extended Essay

    The Extended Essay (EE) is an independent, self-directed academic research, presented in the form of a 4,000-word paper. One component of the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) core, the extended essay is mandatory for all students. The final work is given a grade from E to A, and makes up part of each student's

  11. PDF Ib Extended Essay Guide

    IB mission statement The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

  12. The IB Extended Essay: Topic ideas and research Questions

    The IB Extended Essay: Topic ideas and research Questions How? How do I come up with a good research question? It isn't easy, but it is important! Decide on a subject in which to write the essay Check the list of available subjects here Read the IB's criteria for your subject Read an exemplar essay in your subject

  13. LibGuides: US IB Extended Essay: Research Questions

    A well-crafted and succinct research question is essential to a successful extended essay. If too broad, it will be difficult to answer effectively in your essay, and if too narrow will limit the research available and thus your writing as well. As you consider topics within your subject, keep in mind that you need to find a specific question ...

  14. Extended Essay (IB): Choosing a subject and topic

    The most critical stage in preparing for the EE is the formulation of a logical and coherent rationale for selecting a particular topic for the extended essay, a topic that offers enough scope to provide material for a substantial essay, and the development of ideas around the topic and research question that examine existing views and argue ...

  15. What Is An Extended Essay & How to Write It?

    IB Extended Essay is a smaller beast considering that you give it enough time before it becomes more prominent. All you need to do is relax your mind, de-stress and follow a simple procedure explained further in the article. There is no need to panic. Trust us, listen to us, and be like us!

  16. LibGuides: Extended Essay: Language and Literature

    Students can study a philosophical, political or social issue in a work of literature. However, the major focus of their essay should be the literary treatment of the issue. Students should not use the essay solely as a vehicle for their own thoughts on the issue. Students must focus first on their analysis of the presentation of the author's ...

  17. How to Write an Extended Essay • Structure + Examples

    The IB extended essay is a paper of up to 4,000 words that is required for students enrolled in the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program. The extended essay allows students to engage in independent research on a topic within one of the available subject areas.

  18. How to choose a research question for your IB Extended Essay

    Here are some tips: Combine your interests with the topics and questions of the existing research. Keep your research question broad enough to provide a comprehensive overview but still focused enough to explore the topic in-depth. Use words like "analyse", "investigate" and "compare" to open it up to more possibility.

  19. Past Essays

    IB Extended Essay: Past Essays. EE Home; Lessons Toggle Dropdown. Research Questions ; Past Essays ; Notes & Outlines ; Databases; Citation Toggle Dropdown. Works Cited Page ; In-Text Citations ; Assessment Criteria; Reflections; Supervisor Info; Net Valley Library This link opens in a new window;

  20. Home

    A clear focus is key. We'll assist in narrowing down and refining your research question, ensuring that your essay remains relevant and insightful." Crafting Original Content "Your voice, your ideas. We emphasize originality, helping you cite properly and express your unique perspective without the fear of unintentional plagiarism.

  21. IB Physics Extended Essay Topics for IB

    Vasy Kafidoff November 9th, 2023 IB Topics What's up, IB scholars? You're about to start writing your IB Physics Extended Essay, and I know you're searching for that killer topic that's going to stand out. Well, guess what? I've got over 100 extended essay topics and research questions ready for you.

  22. 100+ IB extended essay topic ideas for your ease

    100+ IB extended essay topic ideas for your ease What role does culture play in shaping norms in society? How can we change the way we think and respond to different situations? How can we move from being victims of circumstance to fighters? What factors make great leaders?

  23. About

    The heart of the Extended Essay is the research question. Students must choose a clear, focused, and well-defined research question that is relevant to one of the IB subject areas they are studying. The research question should be neither too broad nor too narrow and should allow for in-depth analysis and exploration. Subject Areas