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Varun Srinivasan
5 IB Guides

What is the IB Extended Essay?

What’s Covered:

 

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB or IBDP) is a curriculum with examinations and assessments to test students’ knowledge. Understanding IB as a curriculum is imperative to learning more about the extended essay (EE), the research paper required to earn the diploma. 

 

Overview of the IB Program

 

IB is scored out of a total of 45 attainable points, with 42 being from six subjects, each worth a maximum of seven points. Those seven points are attained from a combination of internal and external assessments and numerous papers for each subject. The remaining three points come from what IB calls its “core,” which is the extended essay, theory of knowledge, and CAS (creativity, activity, and service). Passing the core is essential to receiving the diploma, even if you have a good score without the extra three points. 

 

What is the Extended Essay (EE)?

 

The extended essay is a mandatory component of the core, but it’s more like a practical approach to undergraduate-level research papers, giving students a chance to research any of the six subjects they’ve selected in their IB journey to a greater degree. 

 

Students spend the first few weeks of their IB curriculum choosing a subject to write their EE on. For the sake of examples, let’s break down the EE in the perspective of a student who had chosen Chemistry HL (Higher Level). 

 

You’d start by choosing a topic to analyze for your EE. Topics should focus on a very specific application of knowledge, making the paper as detailed as possible. For example, a topic could be “The effects of sugar-free gum on the pH of saliva in the mouth.” The idea is to create a specific topic that allows you to not only stand out from other IB candidates, but to also help you explore something you’d personally want to invest time into. Your topic is also your title for the EE.

 

After creating a descriptive focal point for your EE, the next step is collecting data and carrying out the scientific process of forming a hypothesis just like any other research paper. Collecting data that is irrelevant to your experiment/research and goes unused is actually harmful to the scoring of your EE, so make sure you stay on track of what you need and don’t. 

 

After collecting data, compiling into the 4000 word essay is difficult but can be an enjoyable process if you let it be. Finding creative ways to present your findings using graphs and media can be not only great ways to earn extra points but also teach you more about how to create a quality research paper. After all, the point of the EE is to prepare you for college-level research paper writing. Make sure to structure the essay in a way where the body of the essay constitutes the majority, discussing and referencing back to a research question and your data throughout the paper.

 

For a better understanding of the timeline for your EE, refer to the following:



Note that this isn’t the only usable timeline, just an example, as there isn’t a due date set by the IB Board themselves. 

 

Phase Of IB Curriculum 

What you should be doing for your EE

January – Junior Year

Create a final research topic

February – Junior Year

Find a supervisor for the subject you’re writing on

April – Junior Year

Send any outlines that you might have to your EE supervisor to get started on your first draft

Summer – Junior Year

Use the summer to finish your first draft, aiming to hit 3,000 words and saving the rest after following up with your supervisor.

August – Senior Year

After feedback sessions with your supervisor, rework the draft or continue writing the 1,000 words left.

September – Senior Year

Submit the draft back to your supervisor for a final round of checks. Make any changes you deem required and get ready for a finalization draft. 

November – Senior Year

Prepare and schedule for the viva voce and set aside your final draft for the submission date. 

 

What is the Extended Essay Supervisor?

 

You’ll receive support and guidance from an appointed EE supervisor. This person is usually a teacher for the subject you’ve selected. In the case of our previous example, it’d be your chemistry teacher. There are also mandatory reflection sessions, where students log their progress in their work and prove gradual completion of their EE over time. 

 

Consistent checking for plagiarism is also done by the supervisor. The final session is called a viva voce and it’s an interview that will be recorded and sent to the IB Board for inspection. Your viva voce is considered when grading your EE. Your supervisor is someone you’ll be in constant, back and forth communication with, so choosing an advisor you know wants the best for you is important.

 

When is the Extended Essay Due?

 

The EE doesn’t come with an externally set due date from the Board. Instead, the school creates and sets it for students. It’s important to understand that IB takes and considers the school’s due date, so make sure to adhere to it. Failing to meet your school’s due date could result in an instant fail from the board. As for a school’s selection for the date, it varies, but you can use the timeline above and make sure to adjust relative to a planned due date and you’ll be fine! 

 

No matter the date, make sure to start as early as possible because IB consists of difficult and long tasks other than the EE, like theory of knowledge and even occasional internal exams. Starting early relieves you of stress in the long-term, and will definitely prove to be beneficial!

 

How is the Extended Essay Scored?

 

IB is scored out of a total of 34 points, with there being five letter grades attributed to a boundary. The following table details the boundaries as of 2021, but new boundaries may be released, so it’s important to refer to the IB board or your school for updates.

 

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

 

With the EE comes CAS and theory of knowledge, the other components of the core. Scoring well in the core’s three points is important to getting the diploma and passing IB as well, the following table details the scoring procedure for the core of IB. 

 

 

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

 

While IB scores are important to receive the diploma, it’s good to know your actual scores don’t determine your chances of college admissions as much as you might think. It’s actually more important to take the IB classes pertaining to your future major, and show work ethic by signing up for difficult courses. For more insight into college admissions and your chances, use CollegeVine’s admissions calculator!

 


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!