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Extended essay

The extended essay forms the core requirement of the IB Diploma programme. Together with the TOK essay and the Creativity, Action and Service program, it forms the essential triad of the diploma programme that is compulsory for each and every student. To get the IBO diploma, passing in he Extended Essay is a pre-requisite. The Extended Essay is placed at the core of the Diploma Programme along with the other two activities as it reflects the IBO’s mission profile of creating responsible students, sensitive to the needs of today’s world and appreciating other people and their cultures. It is basically a descriptive essay that is based on one of the IBO’S approved subject list. By engaging in the Extended Essay, the student gets acquainted with formal essay writing skills, research skills, creative skills and critical analysis of matters.


What is unique about the Extended Essay is that the students are encouraged to work independently which makes learning and assimilation of new things in a better way. The students might initially find a topic to be too tough but slowly and gradually as they grind their brains on the topic, the topic becomes easier to write upon. Due to the strict grading and marking system, a student has to ensure that he or she complies with all the key requirements and that the essay is written in the best possible manner. The essay is both challenging as well as mentally and intellectual stimulating too. In writing a good essay not only the essential criterions need to be followed but certain other things also need to be kept in mind by the student like balance of thoughts and judgment, open-mindedness and fairness. These three are the essential qualities and prerequisites of any good essay.


Another important feature associated with the IB Extended Essay is that it has certain relation with another compulsory essay – the TOK or Theory of Knowledge. This explains the logic of the IBO in putting the Extended Essay along with the TOK essay in the core of the Hexagon diagram. Just like the TOK seeks evidence, reasoning and argument along with the origin and validity of the source of knowledge, the Extended Essay seeks to answer the questions related to the nature of knowledge and the origin of knowledge.


The students are free to choose and select the subject or topic that matches their interests most as this is left to the discretion of the student. However the topic of research is guided and supervised by a teacher or supervisor of the school.

The Essay needs to be presented in a well laid formal structure in which all the points, facts, data, idea, figures, diagrams, tables, appendixes, etc, are placed in a proper coherent manner. This essay is assessed externally by an external IBO supervisor.


The essay cannot exceed the stipulated word limit which is of 4000 words. This is in addition to a 300 words Abstract that is to be written before the start of the essay. So in total the essay should be within 4300 words which includes both the abstract and the essay. The abstract is something that should be written in third person narrative. It is a type of formal synopsis for the essay. It seeks to explain the essay in a brief way by highlighting the research question and highlights some part of the conclusion. The sequence of the abstract should be such that it comes immediately after the Contents page but it should be above the introduction page.

Further all the pages of the essay should be numbered and the numbering should be put in a legible way – either in the centre or the right hand bottom corner of the page. It should start from the second page, i.e., after the title page itself.


The table of contents page should come immediately after the title page. It should have all the topics and headings neatly differentiated from each other like Abstract, Introduction, Main Essay/Body, Conclusion, Bibliography and references, appendixes or illustrations, if any, etc. Care should be taken by the student so that the page numbers mentioned in the table of contents and the essay pages should tally with each other. Each and every section and sub section should be clearly marked for easy identification by the teacher or reader so that they could be identified easily.


After the Table of Contents Page the next page that should appear in sequence is the Introduction of the essay. The words INTRODUCTION should be clearly and specifically mentioned as a heading in bold or capitalized form. The topic should be introduced here in this section. Also it should be ensured by the student that all the relevant information about the topic should be mentioned in a coherent way. Further another mandatory requirement of any extended essay is the Research Question. The student should explicitly mention the research question in the Introduction section by summarizing the topic and the scope of the essay in the end or conclusion part of the Introduction. The research question is of importance to the essay as it seeks to answer the theme or the objective of the essay – it questions the motives as to why the essay is being written by the student.


The research question forms an important part of the extended essay and serves as a compass to the direction of the essay. If the research question is not mentioned or not followed or is loosely structured then there are chances that the essay will loose its orientation and effectiveness and such an essay will loose marks easily. For example if the Essay is based on Biology and a student is thinking on writing the essay on the topic of cancer and radiation therapy then a good research question would be like: The role of radiation therapy in the control and treatment of cancer and future projections. Now the student has clearly mentioned his intention here and the scope and focus of the essay is narrowed down to radiation therapy and it’s use in treatment and control of cancer. The last part of the research question deals with future trends and possibilities of radiation therapy. If the student focuses well on the research question then it is very likely that he or she will score a good mark in the essay as the essay would be clear, precise and to the point. However if the research question is not followed closely during the composition of the essay then the student has a high chance of loosing good number of marks that will jeopardize his or her chances of getting a diploma. For example if the student rises maximum on cancer and it’s causes, etc without highlighting other areas of the research question, then the essay will loose significance as per IBO guidelines and criteria. Similarly if the attention is put too much on radiation therapy and it’s benefits and drawbacks without giving due attention on other parts of the research question, then also marks are going to be lost.


So it is imperative that the student first researches well enough on the topic and the research question and when he or she is fully satisfied and confident of them, then there should be an attempt on writing the essay. Structuring the research question in a well organized logical way will also lead to similar treatment of the main essay which will help the student to keep track of the essay in a right and proper manner with the right direction.


After the research question, the last part of the Introduction should have a thesis part which is basically constructing an argument which is further based on the evidence so that the thesis could be justified by the student.


After the thesis part the main part of the essay which comes in the order of sequence is the Body part that has the maximum amount of words in it. The answer to the research question, arguments, counter arguments, analysis, interpretation of evidences, evaluation of sources etc., should be placed in this section. This section can have the following elements (not a comprehensive list): Tables, graphs, charts, diagrams, figures, illustrations, data, evidence, sources, etc.,


The body is followed by a conclusion which seeks to summarise the entire essay in the end of the essay. It should be clearly mentioned with clarity of thoughts and expression as it is only a concluding statement and not the main or body of the essay. So it should be somewhat brief, concise, clear and logical. The research question and the topic are evaluated finally here and the student needs to mention here explicitly what has been the outcome of the essay and whether it answered the research question comprehensively or fulfilled it only partially.


After the conclusion part the other parts might be added to the essay but they don’t count the word limit even if they are placed in the body section: charts, data, illustrations, graphs, figures, diagrams, surveys, questionnaires, appendixes, etc.

Finally the last section should have a bibliography and reference part where all the sources of information related to the essay should be properly put in. All referencing should be essentially in internationally accepted formats like APA, Chicago, MLA/Harvard. The bibliography must be alphabetically arranged with the author’s surname being the criteria for such an arrangement. Footnotes and other in-text form of referencing are also another requirement in the final documentation and they should be done in the Chicago style of referencing.


Some other key points that need to be kept in mind by the student in writing the essay are: use of commonly used professional document fonts like Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri with 12 points; double spaced (2.0); proper margin (1 inch), indentation and layout of body; providing title, table of contents, introduction, body, conclusion, bibliographic information in sequential manner with proper headings,


The extended essay could be written in the following subjects by the student:

English/Literature, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Environmental System and Societies, Geography, History, Mathematics, Music, Peace & Conflict Studies, Philosophy, Physics, Politics, Psychology, Theater Arts, Visual Arts and World Religions.


Care should be taken so as the word limit does not exceed the 4000 word count. This word count does not include abstract, charts, tables, illustrations, appendixes, diagrams, bibliography, etc., but the main essay itself. The grading of an extended essay is done from A to E levels where A is for excellent, B for good, C for satisfactory, D for mediocre and E for elementary.


We had helped numerous students achieve excellence in their IBO Extended Essay as we have the requisite infrastructure and excellent teachers to help and guide you in your extended essay – right from the selection of your research question to making the final draft or the final essay itself, complete with every thing needed like charts, illustrations, diagrams, figures, tables, graphs, appendixes, etc.


All the students who had taken help from us for their extended essay have scored either A or B in their respective essays. We too can help you make score high in your extended essay within A or B marking range. Just call/mail us for any query or doubts on your extended essay and our expert teachers will help you in no time with guaranteed results. See the difference in your scores and have a high score in your overall diploma points.