Everything about the IBDP Extended Essay: Your Summer Cheat Sheet (Save & Print This and Thank Me Later)

As this wild and wacky ‘school year’ finally comes to a blessed end, IBDP Coordinators have one last trick up their sleeves: The Extended Essay (EE). 

That’s right, it’s time to start planning that pesky 4,000 word research essay, so you can get on with it this summer. Although the EE is, technically, due in March, schools in Hong Kong enjoy torturing students by making unreasonable Fall draft deadlines. This is comically insane, but it does help schools ‘red flag’ students who may need additional assistance. 

But, no worries! Even if you can’t get it right before Winter Break, you will be allowed to revise all the way up until March. In other words, don’t allow EE research to occupy your Fall Term too much. My advice? Make time for University Applications, the SAT/ACT/LNAT/IELTS, and interviews by creating a solid EE draft this summer. 

Here are a few essential tips to make sure you get that ‘A’ and ensure all 3 Points for your EE & TOK IBDP ‘combo.’ I’ll also provide some specific examples of how you might approach an essay for a few popular subjects. 

1. Know the Criteria

This is easy. Read up on how you will be scored and then do everything you can to get those points! Here, let me help: Click me to see the IBDP’s Official EE Rubric, you lazy bum. 

2. Understand the Format

No matter what subject you choose, you need to know how this thing needs (yes, formatting is required) to be formatted. 

  • 12-point font in Times New Roman or Calibri
  • Double-spacing throughout the entire essay
  • Page-numbering in the top-right corners
  • No candidate name or school name or supervisor name on the title page or headers

3. Include all the Require Elements

Here’s everything you need to have inside your EE:

  • Title Page
    • Title of the Essay
    • The Research Question
    • The Registered IBDP Subject of the Essay
    • The Word Count
  • Content Page
  • The Introduction
    • This should include your focus, scope of research, general reference to sources of knowledge, and a direction of argumentation (thesis)
  • Body Paragraphs
    • Research, Analysis, Evaluation, and Discussion
  • The Conclusion
    • Although you may have ‘mini-conclusions’ throughout the essay, this should be your summative assessment in response to the research question
  • Bibliography 

4. Choose your Subject Wisely and Have a Better Idea than Your Classmates (Real-Talk: Most Students Lie about Chemistry Lab Results)

You are allowed to write your EE on any IBDP subject you take; however, your school may have a limited number of supervisors in that area, because it’s popular. With this in mind, if you really want to write on a specific subject, propose an idea that’s better than everybody else’s to persuade your supervisor that you’re worth the coveted spot!

So, if you aren’t really that great at Chemistry, don’t. Just don’t. 

5. Come Up with a Research Topic that isn’t Cliche

English? Don’t even think about Shakespeare. Economics? Forget about supply and demand. In order to ensure a top score on your EE, do something that hasn’t been done before or, at least, hasn’t been done often – as it involves an emergent author, area, innovation, etc. 

6. Keep a Research Journal (Hint: Use Google Drive) 

Once you’ve chosen a topic, get on top of your research. While you could be super-hipster and keep an analog journal on bespoke paper, I highly recommend creating a Google Drive folder dedicated to your EE. What should you include?

  • Keywords/Terminology to sound smart
  • Source Hyperlinks to avoid the living hell of faking a bibliography
  • Thoughts and Reflections to focus your mind
  • Potential Research Questions to give yourself options
  • Potential Outlines for Body Paragraphs to stay organised 

Sample Outlines for Biology, Business, Dance, English, Geography, History, Physics, and Psychology

7. Start a Draft this Summer

At first 4,000 words sounds insane. That’s a lot. False. One of the major benefits of starting a summer draft is figuring out that you’re going to have too much stuff. Imagine:

  • Introduction
    • 300-500 Words
  • Body Paragraphs (x6)
    • 500-600 Words
  • Conclusion
    • 300-500 Words

Total: 3,600 – 4,600 Words

Although six Body Paragraphs can sound intimidating, that’s basically just saying you have only six things to talk about, only six points to make. That’s not too bad! More than likely, you’ll have to cut quite a bit. 

8. Edit, Edit, Edit, and then, Edit

Because your IBDP EE Supervisor will place early internal deadlines, you’ll have time to get feedback and improve everything about your essay. By completing a summer draft, you’ll give yourself plenty of time to slowly edit it down before Winter Break. 

Remember: You need to sound ‘academic.’ So, while your first draft might be a little more informal and conversational, your second or third draft may become more refined and formal in its language and tone. 

9. Read Other People’s EEs

Listen, you’ve probably never written a research essay this long. That’s OK! One way to ensure you’re doing the best you can is to check out how it’s been done in the past. 

Here’s a list of already assessed student EEs from every IBDP subject!

10. Dude, that’s it. You can do this! 

If you have any other questions, comments, etc., just let me know! Leave a reply below or stop by to talk about how to do your awesome EE this summer and into the school year. 

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