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Extended Essay: Extended Essay

ASK ICSZ Secondary Library about the EXTENDED ESSAY!

Extended Essay
The Extended Essay (EE) is a mandatory core component of the IB Diploma Programme. It is a research paper of up to 4,000 words giving students an opportunity to conduct independent research or investigation on a topic that demonstrates their passion, enthusiasm, intellectual initiative and/or creative approach for their chosen topic. Like the theory of knowledge (ToK) essay, ToK presentation, and participation in the CAS (creativity, activity, service) activities, submitting an extended essay is a prerequisite to award of the Diploma.

EE in brief

Common EE terminologies

  • Topic: The topic of the extended essay is the subject, issue or theme that you are investigating within a specific DP subject or world studies area of study. 
  • Title:  A title of an EE is a clear, summative statement that specifically focuses the topic being researched. It appears on the title page. 
  • Research Question (RQ): A research question is a clear and focused question centred on a research topic. It derives from the title and is expressed as a question that is intended to be answered through researching and writing the EE (IB EE guide, pp. 74-75). 
  • Check-in sessions: Informal short meeting with a supervisor for about 10 minutes to discuss a timeline or clarification of a comment made by the supervisor (IB EE guide, p. 58).
  • Reflection sessions: These are the mandatory sessions that must be recorded on the Reflections on planning and progress form (RPPF). IB recommended that these sessions last 20–30 minutes (IB EE guide, p. 58).
  • RRS: The RRS is a personal learning environment that can be either a physical or virtual support tool.  It is like a daily diary or research or process journal in MYP Personal Project. 
  • RPPF: Reflections on planning and progress form is known as RPPF of which candidates write their formal reflections. Completing the Reflections on planning and progress form (RPPF) is a requirement for the submission of the extended essay. Note that the maximum total word limit for the three reflections on the RPPF is 500 and it must be completed in the language of the student’s extended essay submission. At ICS, candidates are encouraged to record their formal reflections on ManageBac. 
  • Supervisor: An appropriately qualified member of staff within the school which should be guided through the process of EE. 

What is the significance of the extended essay?

Ultimately, the point of the EE is to prepare you in a very practical, hands-on way for research and academic writing at college or university. In addition, it is an opportunity for students to investigate a topic of special interest to them, which is also related to one of the student’s six DP subjects.

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.

To sum, 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. For more information, see pages 360-369 in the Extended Essay Guide.

Further Information is on the IBO website

To determine the EE subject and topic, educate yourself with the following materials: 

The RRS is a personal learning environment that can be either a physical or virtual support tool. It is a space in which students are able to record reflections on what they are reading, writing and thinking like a  process journal in MYP Personal Project. Students can use the RRS to prepare for their reflection sessions with their supervisors. Moreover, in preparing for their reflection sessions students could use their RRS to:
• record their reflections
• respond to artifacts, such as photos, newspaper clippings, twitter feeds, blogs, and so on
• respond to prompts and questions that may arise in the students’ subject areas, TOK classes or other aspects of the Diploma Programme
• create MindMaps 
• record emerging questions etc.
The following exemplars are just a few of the ways in which students might use their RRS.
Choose a Subject Choose a Supervisor 

While no particular background is formally required to undertake the extended essay, students are strongly recommended to carry out research in a subject area they are currently studying in the Diploma Programme to ensure that they have sufficient subject knowledge to complete the task. We advise students they should write EEs on a subject they are taking, are personally interested in and knowledgeable at so they are motivated throughout the EE process. 

The subjects available at ICS, Zurich are:
Group 1: Language A: English, German
Group 2: Language B: English
Group 3: Individuals & societies: Economics, History, Geography
Group 4: Sciences: Chemistry, Physics, Biology
Group 5: Mathematics
Group 6: Visual arts, Theater

… as well as World Studies, an interdisciplinary topic combining two or more subjects from the Diploma Programme that explores one of the following global themes:

- Language, culture and identity
- Science, technology and society
- Equality and inequality
- Conflict, peace and security
- Economic and/or environmental sustainability
- Health and development

For more information, please see pages 360 - 369 in the IB Extended Essay Guide.

The supervisor-student working relationship is probably the most important one in the Extended Essay process. The EE supervisor will advise students during the entire process such as confirm research questions, read final draft and give comments for revising it and submit a predicted grade to the IBO. It is the student's responsibility to select the appropriate supervisor for their EEs. While selecting supervisor, students are advised to consider the following issues: S/he 

—must be a teacher at ICS (an external mentor can be hired but candidates still need to have an ICS supervisor)
—should be a teacher with whom you can work effectively
—is interested in the topic and available to work with 
—is available for mandatory reflections, check-in questions, write comments and submit a predicted grade


What supervisors can do: 

  • Confirm the research question (RQ)
  • Help to conduct research and write the extended essay
  • reads and comments on one completed draft only of the extended essay (but does not edit then draft)
  • reads the final version to confirm its authenticity

What supervisors cannot do: 

  • Correct spelling and punctuation.
  • Correct experimental work or mathematics.
  • Re-write any of the essays.
  • Indicate where whole sections of the essay would be better placed.
  • Proofread the essay for errors.
  • Correct bibliographies or citations.

Note: If students give their supervisor sections of their extended essay to read, this is permissible but the same section of work should not be looked at repeatedly by the supervisor, nor should it be heavily annotated or edited (IB EE guide, p. 64). 

Tips on choosing a supervisor...

Tip #1: Choose a supervisor who is familiar with your topic 

If you are not certain of who you would like to be your advisor, I would start by creating a list of your top three choices. Next, create a list of pros and cons (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, and I want to conduct an experiment to compare the efficiency of American Hybrid Cars to Foreign Hybrid Cars. Ms. White teaches Physics, I had her a year ago, and she liked me. She could help me design my experiment. I am going to ask Ms. White! 

Do NOT just ask your favorite teacher to be your advisor. They may be a hindrance to you if they teach another subject. I would not suggest asking your Biology teacher to guide you in writing your English EE.

EXCEPTION: If you have a teacher who is passionate and knowledgeable about your topic (as my English teacher was about my Theater topic), you can ask that instructor. Consider all of your options first before you do. There was no theater teacher at my school, so I could not find a theater-specific advisor, but I chose the next best thing.

Some IB high schools require your IB Extended Essay advisor to sign an Agreement Form. Make sure you ask your IB coordinator if there is any required paperwork. IBO does not require any paperwork. If your school needs a Form signed, make sure you bring it with you when you ask a teacher to be your EE advisor. 

Tip #2: Choose a supervisor who will push you to be your best

Some teachers may just take on students because they have to and may not be passionate about reading drafts and may not give you a lot of feedback. Choose a teacher who will take the time to read several drafts and give you extensive notes. I would not have gotten my A without being pushed to make the draft better.

Ask a teacher that you have experience with through class or an extracurricular activity. Do not ask a teacher that you have no connection to; a teacher who does not know you is unlikely to push you. 

Note: The IBO only allows advisors to suggest improvements to the EE, but they may not be engaged in writing the EE. The IBO recommends that the supervisor spends approximately 3-5 hours in total with the candidate discussing the EE.

Source: PrepScholar, available at 

After choosing the subject for your extended essay, the next step in the research process is to define what your research is going to focus on - the topic.

At this stage you need to explore:

  • What are your personal interests?
  • what are my possible topics?
  • what do I know about those topics?
  • which words would be good search terms and keywords?
  • What speakers have you heard that were interesting?
  • What novels are you reading?
  • What is in your CAS portfolio?
  • What scientific experiments have you heard of that interest you?
  • Are there any historical events that have caught your imagination?
  • Are there any innovations, phenomena or theorems you have heard of lately?

Your research topic:

  • Must fall into one of the approved IB categories
  • Must NOT be from a TOK subject area
  • Should be an area in which there is data and material to support your research
  • Should be manageable with 4,000 words within 40 hours of work.  

Tips to choose a research topic:

  • Preliminary reading of academic journals and reputable scholarly e-resources, e.g. conference papers, essays, book chapters or journal articles (school librarian can advise on this).
  • Read the local newspaper/magazine and identify any issues that interest you!
  • Do conversations with teachers, fellow students and librarians.


Details tips on how to choose a Research Topic

  • Find a subject area that interests and challenges you. You might have studied a certain topic in class that you would like to research further or you may be able to research and write about something you are particularly interested in. Writing about what you know can help you throughout the entire researching and writing process.
  • If you are having trouble finding a suitable topic that interests you, read through some current newspapers and magazines or you may search online. You might find a news story or a subject area that you would like to research further.
  • You can also use the Questia Topic Finder listing to help select your topic. You can also use Questia Topic Generator.
  • Once you have chosen a topic, decide whether you need to narrow or broaden its focus. If your topic is too broad, you might become overwhelmed by the number of resources available on the subject and your research paper may prove almost impossible to write. On the other hand, if your topic is too narrow, you might have trouble finding resources and your paper might not be long enough. For example, writing about the Internet is too broad. Writing about publishing on the Internet is narrower. Writing about one document published on the Internet might be too narrow!
  • Ask yourself some questions about the topic. These questions will help you to focus on a certain issue or problem. One of these questions will form your research question, which your thesis statement will answer. For example, if you chose to write about publishing on the Internet, your research question might be “Has the fact that it is so easy to publish on the Internet made it difficult for students to find reliable information?”


[Developing a Topic video by Oregon School Library Information System]

[“Writing a Research Paper.” World News Digest. Infobase Learning, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2017. ]

The research question (RQ) derives from the title and is expressed as a question that is intended to be answered through researching and writing the EE. It appears on the title page and could also be visible as a header throughout the essay. It should: 

• be clear and focused 

• provide a path through which you can undertake achievable research 

• use keywords that connect with the topic, the title, and the DP subject or world studies area of study 

• support the development of an argument

Qualities of a good research question:

1. Cannot Google the answer!

2. It should be broad enough to explore (40 hours) and narrow enough to be manageable (4000 words)

3. It does not repeat what is already known

4. It adds value to the existing knowledge

5. It expands on existing knowledge or frames it in a new context

Sample Research Questions 

Example of unclear, unfocused and unarguable research questions                                          Example of clear, focused and narrow research questions 
What is the history of Chinese theater?  How does the legacy of Mei Lan Fang contribute to modern Jingju?
What was the impact of Ho Chi Minh’s allegiance to Lenin? To what extent was nationalism the guiding factor in Ho Chi Minh’s adoption of Leninism in 1920?
How important is chlorophyll to plant life?  What is the effect of different concentrations of kinetin on leaves aging and the biosynthesis of chlorophyll?
How has grooming products changed over the time? How has the portrayal of men in male grooming products changed from the 1980s to date? 

Five steps to developing a research question 

1. Choose a topic within a subject that is of interest

  • Consider the following questions at this stage: 
    • what are my possible topics?
    • what do I know about those topics?
    • which words would be good search terms and keywords?

2. Carry out preliminary reading.

  • Questions must consider at this stage are: 
    • what has already been written about this topic?
    • was it easy to find sources of information?
    • is there a range of different sources available?
    • is there a range of views or perspectives on the topic?
    • what interesting questions have started to emerge from this reading? 

3. Consider the emerging questions

  •  These questions will usually be framed using the terms “how”, “why” or “to what extent”.

4. Evaluate the question

  • This evaluation should be based on whether the research 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?

5. Consider research outcomes

  • This could be in terms of:  
    • suggesting possible outcomes of the research
    • outlining the kind of argument they might make and how the research might support this
    • considering options if the research available is not sufficient to support a sustained argument

Note: Sometimes students may need to revise their research question; therefore, a research question should always be considered provisional until they have enough research data to make a reasoned argument. 

The following video and pictorial presentations may guide you on how to formulate a research question: 

Formulate a research topic & RQ

Lekanides, Kosta. Extended Essay Course Book: Oxford IB Diploma Programme. OUP, 2016.

Working on a specific area of research and engaging with different sources of information and data, you may expose to different and new perspectives on issues and topics. At this stage, you need to construct a resource Plan, identifying all the resources needed to complete the essay. You should also produce a schedule indicating when each resource will be used and note any assumptions and constraints made during the resource planning process. IB suggested that students should use both primary and secondary sources for their research. However, students should use secondary data as the basis of their EE, supported where appropriate by primary research. The sole use of secondary sources is permitted and will allow students access to all levels of the EE assessment criteria (IB EEG, p.146). 

Primary vs Secondary Sources

Whether conducting research in the social sciences, humanities (especially history), arts, or natural sciences, the ability to distinguish between primary and secondary source material is essential. 

Primary Source Secondary Source
Primary sources are materials that are direct or firsthand evidence about an event, object, person, or as close to the original source as possible. Secondary sources describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyze, evaluate, summarize, and process primary sources. analyzes based on primary sources.


  • historical and legal documents
  • eyewitness accounts
  • results of experiments
  • statistical data
  • diaries and letters 
  • pieces of creative writing
  • audio and video recordings
  • speeches, and art objects
  • Interviews
  • surveys
  • fieldwork, and
  • Internet communications via email, blogs, listservs, and newsgroups 
  • Scholarly Journal Articles
  • Magazines
  • Reports
  • Encyclopedias
  • Handbooks
  • Dictionaries
  • Documentaries
  • Newspapers
  • *Most books about a topic

*Please note that a book is simply a format.  You can find primary and secondary sources published in book form

Note: Often secondary and primary sources are relative concepts.  Typical secondary sources may be primary sources depending on the research topic.

  1. Intellectual history topics
    For example, although scholarly journal articles are usually considered secondary sources, if one's topic is the history of human rights, then journal articles on human rights will be primary sources in this instance.  Similarly, research on the thinking of a scholar will include her published journal articles as primary sources.

  2. Historical topics
    Magazine articles are secondary sources, but for someone researching the view of judicial punishment in the 1920s, magazines from that time period are primary sources.  Indeed, any older publication, such as those prior to the 20th century, is very often automatically considered a primary source.

  3. Newspapers may be either primary or secondary
    Most articles in newspapers are secondary, but reporters may be considered as witnesses to an event.  Any topic on the media coverage of an event or phenomenon would treat newspapers as a primary source.  There are so many articles and types of articles in newspapers that they can often be considered both primary and secondary.


How can I find and identify scholarly sources/resources?

Not very easy! but following some strategies/ methods, one can justify the scholarly resources. The following presentation may guide you on how to search and justify scholarly resources online!

Subscribed Databases at ICS, Zurich

It is recommended that the student sends their supervisor an outline of their research proposal ahead of the meeting in order to give the supervisor the opportunity to review their work. Therefore, plan a Research Outline is crucial for the EE...

  • The outline serves as a type of roadmap for your research project. It lists in order each of the main points you wish to argue in your paper. As you write your paper, it will serve as a reminder of the points you want to make and will help you avoid writing about irrelevant information.
  • Begin by reading through your notes. Then write your *thesis statement at the top of the page. Underneath the statement, write down each of the main points you want to make in your paper (leave some space between each point). Underneath each point, write down about three facts or pieces of information that support that point.
  • Examine the outline. Could some related points be grouped together? Do any of your points appear to be weak? If so, you may need to conduct some extra research on that point. Do the points support your thesis statement? If they do not, you may need to revise your statement.
  • Decide the order in which your points will be argued. Arrange your points in the way that best fits your research paper. Remember to include a sentence at the end of each point that shows how the point and facts or pieces of information support your thesis statement.

Steps to creating an outline

  • Organize your notes and research to group similar material together.
  • Review your thesis statement - is it still what you want to say? If not, change it.
  • Identify the main points of your arguments that support your thesis.
  • Identify the ideas that support your main points.
  • Match your research to your points.
  • Order your ideas in a logical flow.
  • Identify where you need more research, where your thoughts need more development, and where you have the information that is no longer needed.


*Your thesis statement is the foundation of your research paper and is an answer to the research question that you formulated. Your thesis statement is not the title of your paper; it is a single sentence that summarizes the argument you intend to make or the point you want to prove throughout your paper.

Students should use their chosen style of academic referencing as soon as they start writing. That way they are less likely to forget to include a citation. It is also easier than trying to add references at a later stage. Regardless of the reference style adopted by the student/school for a given subject, it is expected that the minimum information given includes (IB EEG, p.81):

• name of author

• date of publication

• title of source

• page numbers as applicable

• date of access (electronic sources)


Please, educate yourself with the IB Effective citing and referencing documents!

What to Cite and How to Cite

For the In-text citation and bibliography, follow the minimum requirements as summarized in this presentation. 


More resources

Commence Reading

It is important to adapt how you read to suit the material and your purpose for reading. Depending on what you are reading and why, you will find some of the following strategies useful. The following are the effective reading strategies adapted from Charles Darwin University: 

Skimming ( click and scroll down)


Keyword Spotting@Key information

Analytical Reading

Critical Reading

Reading Difficult Texts

Commence Research

If you are undertaking an Extended Essay on any subject you are required to complete some research. Research generally involves two different types: primary and secondary research.  Once students have identified their topic and written their research question, they can decide how to research their answer.  Consider your research goals, and whether they can be met by secondary research, or require primary research. The definition of “research” and terms such as “primary data” and “secondary data” varies from subject to subject. In some subjects, students must use both primary and secondary data. In others, students may, or even must, rely exclusively on secondary data.

Primary vs Secondary Research

Primary Research  Secondary Research

Primary research (field research) involves gathering new data that has not been collected before. 

It is based on raw data.

Secondary research (desk research) involves gathering existing data that has already been produced. 

It is based on analyzed and interpreted information.


  • Interviews (telephone or face-to-face)
  • Surveys (online or mail) 
  • Questionnaires (online or mail)
  • Focus groups
  • Visits to competitors' locations           


  • researching the internet, newspapers and company reports 
  • reading articles in magazines, trade journals and industry publications 
  • by visiting a reference library, and by contacting industry associations or trade organizations

 Considering the complexity of research, all students must carry out secondary research in terms of a literature review for their topic (IB, EEG, p. 111).  The purpose of secondary research is to: 

  • provide context for your own area of research within its wider discipline and/or issue
  • give you ideas for refining your proposed research topic and/or question
  • give you evidence of why your research is worthy of investigation
  • provide material you can use when you analyze and evaluate your research data

How to Conduct an Effective Research?

Use of Scholarly resources

It is also important that you consult relevant and reliable scholarly and peer-reviewed sources in your research. You need to evaluate all the sources that you use for your secondary research. The authority and credibility evident in scholarly sources will improve the quality of your paper or research project. Moreover, the use of scholarly sources is an expected attribute of academic coursework.

How can I tell if a source is scholarly?

Not very easy but following some strategies/ methods such as ABCDE, CRAAP, CRAB methods, one can justify the scholarly resources. The following presentation may guide you on how to search and justify scholarly resources online!

ABCDE source evaluation method

Research Skills Guide: Brought to you by...

Oregon School Library Information System@ Learn how to do Research 

State Library of Victoria@ Research Skills

Kentucky Virtual Library@ How to do Research

Writing the extended essay

The structure of the essay is very important. It helps students to organize the argument, making the best use of the evidence collected. Six required elements of the extended essay:

Title page
Contents page

Body of the essay
References and bibliography

Integrate others' ideas through Paraphrasing, Summarizing and Quieting

In academic writing, we have to incorporate other ideas and research findings to our research. Now the question is how do we do that? Quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing are the three main ways of integrating others’ ideas in your academic work.

Writing Tips: Brought to you by...

Purdue University-OWL@ Academic Writing

Cambridge Rindge & Latin School@ Writing an Introduction 

Cambridge Rindge & Latin School@ Writing a Conclusion

Plagiarism Tutorials: Brought to you by...

University of Sydney Library

Vaughan Memorial Library

Plagiarism Quizzes: Brought to you by...


Staffordshire University

You are highly encouraged to read the document "How to Write a Research Paper" at Research Guide. <>

The length of the extended essay

The extended essay should be written in a clear, correct and formal academic style, appropriate to the subject from which the topic is drawn. Given that the extended essay is a formally written research paper, it should strive to maintain a professional, academic look.

To help achieve this, the following formatting is suggested:

• the use of 12-point, readable font

• double spacing

• page numbering

• no candidate or school name on the title page or page headers

• the essay should be a maximum of 4000 words (the examiner won’t read anything past this cut off point!)

• the file size must not be more than 10 MB.

Note that the RPPF is uploaded separately and is not part of the overall file size of the essay!

Word counts

The upper limit is 4,000 words for all extended essays. Examiners are instructed not to read or assess any material in excess of the word limit. Please refer to the following guidance on what content should be included in the word count (IB EEG, pp. 82-83): 

Included in the word count Not included in the word count
The introduction The contents page
The main body Maps, charts, diagrams, annotated illustrations
The conclusion  Tables
Quotations Equations, formulas and calculations
Footnotes and/or endnotes that are not references Citations/references (whether parenthetical, numbered, footnotes or endnotes)
The bibliography, appendices, survey form
The Reflections on planning and progress form 

Exception: Students writing their extended essay in Japanese or Chinese should use the following conversions:

• Japanese: 1 word = approximately 2 Japanese characters (upper limit 8,000 characters)

• Chinese: 1 word = approximately 1.2 Chinese characters (upper limit 4,800 characters) 

There are two types of assessment identified by the IB:

Formative assessment informs both teaching and learning. It is concerned with providing accurate and helpful feedback to students and teachers on the kind of learning taking place and the nature of students’ strengths and weaknesses in order to help develop students’ understanding and capabilities. Formative assessment can also help to improve teaching quality, as it can provide information to monitor progress towards meeting the course aims and objectives.

Summative assessment gives an overview of previous learning and is concerned with measuring student achievement. 

Assessment of the extended essay is a combination of formative assessment (the Reflections on planning and progress form) and summative assessment (the extended essay itself). However, generic assessment criteria are used with subject-specific interpretations. 

What are the criteria to assess the Extended Essay?

There are five (A-E) criterion to assess the EE and each criterion is organized at three levels of information. Firstly, the markband, which relates to the mark range available; secondly, the strand, which relates to what is being assessed; and, thirdly, the indicators, which are the demonstration of the strands within a markband.

Criterion A: Focus and method – This criterion focuses on the topic, the research question and the methodology.
Criterion B: Knowledge and understanding – This criterion assesses the extent to which the research relates to the subject area/discipline used to explore the research question.
Criterion C: Critical thinking – This criterion assesses the extent to which critical-thinking skills have been used to analyse and evaluate the research undertaken.
Criterion D: Presentation – This criterion assesses the extent to which the presentation follows the standard format expected for academic writing and the extent to which this aids effective communication.
Criterion E: Engagement – This criterion assesses the student’s engagement with their research focus and the research process.


Overview of the Criteria

A. Focus and Method
 B: knowledge and understanding C: critical thinking  D: presentation E: engagement
Topic • Research question • Methodology Context • Subject-specific terminology and concepts Research • Analysis • Discussion and evaluation Structure • Layout Process • Research focus
Mark Mark Mark Mark Mark
6 6 12 4 6

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.

As the extended essay is an important component of the Diploma Programme, and a substantial piece of work, students need to ensure that they understand the expectations of the task and manage their time and workload effectively. The following suggestions are given as guidance to help with the process.

Students are strongly recommended to: 

• develop a Researcher’s reflection space as a planning tool

• use the Researcher’s reflection space to prepare for reflection sessions

• share excerpts from the Researcher’s reflection space with the supervisor during the reflection sessions

• choose a subject, followed by a topic, and then think carefully about the research question for their essay

• plan how, when and where they will find material and sources for their essay before deciding on the final topic and research question

• plan a schedule for both the researching and writing of their extended essay, including extra time for delays and unforeseen problems

• record sources as their research progress using their Researcher’s reflection space rather than trying to reconstruct a list at the end

• make the most of their supervision and reflection sessions by arriving prepared to discuss their work

• have a clear structure for the essay before beginning to write

• check and proofread the final version of their extended essay

• make sure that the version they submit for assessment is the final version with all sources correctly and consistently referenced

• ensure that all requirements are met

Adapted from IB EE Guide, pp.48-49.

At ICS, Zurich students are required to:

  • Observe the regulations related to the EE
  • write 3 Reflections (150+150+200) on ManageBac
  • meet internal school deadlines
  • treat your supervisor/EE coordinator appropriately according to IBO guidelines
  • read EE Libgides for EE direction or consult with the responsible Teacher-Librarians
  • attend the DP Core Lessons & EE Sessions


Supervisor's support: 

You should think of your EE supervisor as a resource for general feedback, but do not rely on them to hold your hand through this process. You must take the initiative on all fronts, from choosing your subject to writing a plan and setting internal deadlines for yourself so that you can meet school deadlines! You will edit your EE on your own; do not expect your EE Supervisor to read, edit, or mark up your drafts in any way.

Think of it this way: The IB’s general EE guidelines require you to spend at least forty hours researching and writing your Extended Essay. In contrast, your EE Supervisor should spend no more than about 3-5 hours advising your work along the way.

That said, your supervisor can be a valuable support to you through this process - someone to bounce ideas off, clarify your understanding and support your time-management. Make them your first point of call if you have difficulties…don't suffer in silence, they are there to help!

The supervisor-student working relationship is probably the most important one in the Extended Essay process. The EE supervisor will advise students during the entire process such as confirm research questions, read final draft and give comments for revising it and submit a predicted grade to the IBO. Supervisors must ensure that they understand the important role they play in supporting students in this process.

Supervisors are required to:

  • undertake three mandatory reflection sessions with each student they are supervising
  • initial and date each reflection summarized on the Reflections on planning and progress form and provide comments at the end of the process. If the form and essay are submitted via the eCoursework system, then it is deemed signed and authenticated. An RPPF that is blank, unsubmitted, or written in a language other than that of the essay, will be awarded a 0 for criterion E
  • provide students with advice and guidance in the skills of undertaking research
  • encourage and support students throughout the research and writing of the extended essay
  • discuss the choice of topic with each student and, in particular, help to formulate a well-focused research question which is suitable to the subject of registration and ensure that the chosen research question satisfies appropriate legal and ethical standards with regard to health and safety, confidentiality, human rights, animal welfare and environmental issues
  • familiar with the regulations governing the extended essay and the assessment criteria, and gives copies of these to students • monitor the progress of the extended essay to offer guidance and to ensure that the essay is the student’s own work (this may include presenting a section of the essay for supervisor comment)
  • read and comment on one draft only of the extended essay (but do not edit the draft); this should take place after the interim reflection session, but before the final reflection session, the viva voce
  • ensure that the final version of the essay is handed in before the final reflection session (viva voce) takes place, and that no changes are made to it subsequently
  • read the final version and, in conjunction with the viva voce, confirm its authenticity

Supervisors are strongly recommended to:

  • read recent extended essay reports for the subject
  • spend between three and five hours with each student, including the time spent on the three mandatory reflection sessions
  • encourage the development of a Researcher’s reflection space for students
  • set a clear schedule for the reflection sessions
  • ensure that the chosen research question is appropriate for the subject
  • advise students on:
    •  access to appropriate resources (such as people, a library, a laboratory)
    • research methods
    • how to cite and reference


Adapted from IB Extended Essay Guide, pp.46-47.

The following FREE online courses may guide you throughout your extended essay (click on the course image): 

1. Developing Your Research Project

Developing your research project


What topics will this course cover?

  • Academic research: principles and definition

  • Drafting and developing research proposals

  • Gathering information from literature and from findings

  • Research methods: choosing an appropriate methodology

  • Academic reading and note taking

  • Referencing, plagiarism, and academic integrity

  • Academic writing: organising sources, structuring essays

  • Academic writing: summarising a research project into an abstract

  • Academic presentations: preparation and delivery

2. Information & Digital Literacy for University Success

Information & Digital Literacy for University Success

What topics will this course cover?

  • Referencing, Incorporating Sources & Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Demonstrate awareness of ethical issues related to academic integrity surrounding the access and use of information
  • Know where to look for information from various sources 
  • Define the characteristics of different kinds of information
  • Develop a search strategy and filter large numbers of search results effectively 
  • Critically Evaluating, Filtering & Managing Information
  • Understand how to incorporate ideas from sources into your work

3. Research Writing: How to Do a Literature Review

Research Writing: How to Do a Literature Review

What topics will this course cover?

  • Understanding the literature review as a genre, and its fundamental role in all serious investigations and research projects
  • Developing a useful list of search terms and understanding where to use them to find the most relevant literature available
  • Developing a professional bibliography and annotating it with critical evaluations of readings
  • Asking good questions to guide the reading and writing process
  • Planning a critical discussion in response to specific questions and based on evidence from the published literature
  • Is it compulsory to write the extended essay? 

Yes. If you do not complete the extended essay (or it does not meet minimum standards) you will be deemed ineligible to receive your IB Diploma. 

  • Should my extended essay be written in one of my examination subjects?

No. However, it is strongly recommended that you select a topic from one of your Higher Level (HL) subjects. Other subject areas may be chosen; however, that will only be allowed if there is a qualified staff member to help so that you have every opportunity to do well in that area. If you are not currently enrolled in a course in the subject area from which you choose your EE topic, you must have a solid knowledge base in that subject area. In general, you are ‘wisest’ to choose a topic in an area that you are passionate about and currently studying at the HL.

  • I don’t understand. What is the Student / EE Supervisor relationship supposed to be?

Unlike most student/teacher relationships, for the Extended Essay, you are the one in the driver’s seat. Yes, there are deadlines and guidelines and you must meet them, but you choose your topic and you plan your research on your own and you write and edit the essay on your own. Your EE Supervisor is there as a resource if you need help, or if your essay is heading in the wrong direction or stalled. Think of your EE Supervisor as a backseat driver - you may hear “Watch out!” or “Go [write] faster!” but, ultimately, you are the one responsible for putting your foot on the pedal and making sure you are in good shape coming down the home stretch of the Extended Essay process.

  • Help! I’m used to teachers reading my drafts and telling me what to fix. What do I do for the Extended Essay?

Learning how to edit your own work is an invaluable skill, though it may be painful at first. Some tried-and-true tips for copy-editing as you go along:

  • Print out a draft and mark it up by hand, with colored pens or a pencil - write on your paper liberally. Circle phrases that just sound “funny”, put question marks or “awk” (short for awkward) when a sentence construction is particularly gawky, write “w.c.” when you need to reconsider your word choice, and play around with chopping sentences down in size (this one would be a good example!) or changing around the order of your paragraphs or arguments. For some reason, it is often a lot easier to see these mistakes and visualize changes when you are looking at a printed sheet of paper rather than scrolling down a computer screen.
  • When you think you have your final draft, print it out and read the entire thing out loud to yourself, pen in hand. Yes, this is tedious. But it is absolutely worth it! I guarantee you; you’ll hear subtle mistakes even when the same text you just read a moment ago appeared fine. It’s not just that your eyes may be tired… After all, punctuation in writing exists to imitate the natural inflections and intonation we have when speaking. Converting your essay back into oral form is the best litmus test for the integrity of your tone and grammar! Try it out!

  • I have no idea how to write an academic paper. Where do I start?

Relax. Many students are overly worried about writing academic papers simply because they may not be able to visualize what exactly an academic paper will entail, and how it differs from the school papers they have been writing in one form or another since elementary school.

Here is the quick definition: an academic paper is a piece of formal writing (i.e., unlike a conversational tone such as what I am using now, you will most likely be using the third person voice, and should avoid colloquialisms and unfounded generalizations). At the heart of most academic papers is the thesis statement, which describes what you believe and what you are trying to prove, out of all the research and analysis you have done. All the other points in the paper will go towards supporting your thesis statement.

You will write the Extended Essay to emulate an academic journal article. Because these journal articles are published, there is often a very strict methodology for how you go about writing them. This is great for you because it means there are a lot of resources, both online and off, available to teach you about these methodologies! Good luck, and happy writing!

  • What will I learn from writing the extended essay?

You will have the opportunity to explore an interesting self-selected topic in-depth. You will develop your research skills and, if applicable to your subject area, your investigative skills. As well, you will improve your presentation skills, as you will be required to use MLA/APA as a citation format and to prepare an annotated bibliography. These skills will be extremely useful in your post-secondary studies.

  • Is my extended essay ‘worth’ anything?

Yes! As noted above, if you do not submit an extended essay, or if your extended essay does not meet the minimum requirements, you will not receive your diploma. As well, your assessment on your extended essay and your ToK essay and project are combined into a point matrix. You may qualify for up to three additional points which are added to your total IB Diploma score. 


EE@Steps to follow...

Step -1: Read the key EE documents

Step -2: Record your thoughts@RRS

Step -3: Choose a subject & supervisor

Step -4: Confirm a research topic & title

Step -5: Formulate a research question

Step -6: Identify sources

Step -7: Plan a research outline

Step -8: Decide on reference style 

Step -9: Commence research/reading

Step -10: Writing the essay

*Write 3 reflections according to the ICS timeline

IB EE Poster


Susan Trower from West Sound Academy