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IB Extended Essay Ideas

What’s Covered:

 

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP or IB) is a rigorous high school program considered to be equivalent to the AP system, if not harder. Along with coursework and examinations in this two-year long program, there are expectations to write an in-depth essay on one subject of your selection, called the Extended Essay (EE). The following article is about the EE and presents ideas for topics to write about. 

 

What Is the IB Extended Essay?

 

The EE is an essay required to gain the IBDP and pass the course. It’s not like any regular essay, as it gives the student a chance to write a college-level research paper at an earlier point of their lives, giving them useful exposure for their future endeavors in further education. The essay is written in a single subject of your choosing, giving you six options to choose from. The EE is usually done in one of your HL classes, as it could have more scope to produce a more in-depth paper based on the increased amounts of coursework available in HL. 

 

The essay is expected to be around 4,000 words long, making it not only lengthy to read but time-intensive to produce. This means students must usually figure out which subject they’re writing for early, to give them time to start earlier. The process of planning a draft, along with your appointed EE supervisor, can take up most of your time in the first year of IB (11th grade). It’s common to not start the actual writing until our 2nd year, where you not only have learned enough coursework for the subject, but have also drafted enough to create a well-written essay. 

 

Choosing a topic for the EE can be difficult, but hopefully the ideas and examples in this article can give you some inspiration to create your own. 

 

Extended Essay Examples

 

Given there are 6 subject groups in IB, each with numerous options for those groups it would be nearly impossible to suggest examples for each subject, instead we will show examples for popular subjects. These examples can serve as blueprints for crafting your own ideas! 

 

Example EE Topic 1 – Math HL

 

Example Topic: Practical Applications and Implementations of the Golden Ratio

 

This idea takes advantage of one of mathematics most interesting concepts, the golden ratio, also referred to as the divine ratio, or golden mean. This greek mathematical concept is essentially the irrational number

This irrational number is often represented visually as such: 

 

 

This image contains fibonacci vectors, a visual representation of the golden ratio. It’s an interesting concept because it’s a shape/ratio that our brains are seemingly wired to prefer things to take form in, a subconscious level of attraction. Many architects and artists today use this ratio to produce visually appealing works of art, but what other practical applications have risen from this mathematical concept? An EE would be a great way to learn more about this and present it in an interesting manner! 

 

Example EE Topic 2 – Physics SL

 

Topic: Build Your Own Radio

 

This topic requires some fundamental understanding of circuitry and electronics, a big component of physics SL and HL. Building a radio requires thorough understanding of currents, resistances and circuit design aspects that are usually best understood through practical, hands-on learning. 

 

This project could also demonstrate your knowledge in waves, specifically radio and microwaves required to operate the radio. If documented right throughout the whole process, this could make for not only a very extensive and interesting EE, but fun as well! 

 

Example EE Topic 3 – English SL/HL

 

Topic: The Effects Of Shakespearean Literature On Modern English

 

English EE topics are a bit more difficult than other subjects because it may be the least objective class to write about. That being said, it can also be the most creative EE to write for, with this topic being an ideal example. 


Shakespeare contributed lots to literature and writing, especially in the form of plays and dramas, but how can these be observed in modern day literature? Focus on how forms of comedy from Shakespeare’s plays are implemented in modern comedy, or how some forms of artistic expression from that era could be considered problematic today. 

 

To make this better suited for HL, try going more in depth about other forms of literature that draw from Shakespearean influence, and more specific implementations of humor, such as slapstick (just an example of many). 

 

Talk about how literature personally influences you, because this EE is an opportunity to not only present information through research, but to also indulge the reader about yourself and your personality! 

 

How Is The EE Scored?

 

IB scores the EE out of 34 points, with 5 letter grades being assigned as boundaries:

 

A – Excellent

27 to 34

B – Good

21 to 26

C – Satisfactory

14 to 20

D – Mediocre

7 to 13

E – Elementary

0 to 6

 

EE and Theory of Knowledge (TOK) are graded together along with CAS, to form the “core” of IB which is worth a total of 3 out of 45 points. The following table details this:

 

 

Theory of Knowledge

Extended Essay

 

Excellent (A)

Good (B)

Satisfactory (C)

Mediocre 

(D)

Elementary (E)

Not Submitted

Excellent (A)

3

3

2

2

1 + Failing Condition

N

Good (B)

3

2

1

1

Failing Condition

N

Satisfactory (C)

2

1

1

0

Failing Condition

N

Mediocre (D)

2

1

0

0

Failing Condition

N

Elementary (E)

1 + Failing Condition

Failing Condition

Failing Condition

Failing Condition

Failing Condition

N

Not Submitted

N

N

N

N

N

N

 

How Does The Extended Essay Affect My Admission Chances?

 

The EE doesn’t have much direct influence on your chances of admission, but learning how to write a great essay through the EE can. The admissions process requires writing a great quality essay to showcase yourself to the office of admissions as best as you can. The EE not only teaches you how to write an informative essay, but a high quality one as well! More factors are also responsible for your chances of admission, and for more info on this check out CollegeVine’s admissions calculator! This intuitive tool uses your standardized test scores, GPA and more to calculate your chances of admission into a university of your choosing!

 


Short Bio
Varun is a junior at Arizona State University, Tempe. He aims to share his knowledge of college admissions and the IB Diploma Program with high school students. In his free time, he can be found making music or trying a new recipe!