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Extended Essay Guide Chemistry Jokes

IB students around the globe fear writing the Extended Essay, but it doesn't have to be a source of stress! In this article, I'll get you excited about writing your Extended Essay and provide you with the resources to get an A.    

If you're reading this article, I assume you're an IB Student getting ready to write your Extended Essay. If you're looking at this as a potential future IB student, I recommend reading our other introductory IB articles first: What is the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program? and What is the IB Curriculum? What are IB Diploma Requirements?

 

Why Should You Trust My Advice?

I'm a recipient of an IB Diploma, and I happened to receive an A on my IB Extended Essay. If you don’t believe me, the proof is in the IBO pudding,

If you're confused by what this report means, EE is short for Extended Essay, and English A1 is the subject that my Extended Essay topic coordinated with. In layman’s terms, my IB Diploma was graded during May 2010, I wrote my Extended Essay in the English A1 category, and I received a grade A. 

 

What Is the Extended Essay?

The IB Extended Essay (or EE) is a 4,000 word structured mini-thesis that you write under the supervision of an advisor (an IB teacher at your school), which counts towards your IB Diploma (to learn about all of the IB diploma requirements, check out our other article). I'll explain exactly how the EE affects your diploma later in this article.

For the Extended Essay, you choose a research question as a topic; this topic needs to be approved by IBO (which is not very difficult). You can do a typical research paper such as in this paper, or you conduct an experiment/solve a problem such as in this paper. Most schools allow you to pick your advisor (an IB teacher preferably at your school, although you can also get access to one at another school through the Pamoja Education). I'll explain how to pick your IB EE advisor below. 

The IB Extended Essay must include: 

  • A cover page
  • An abstract (one-page synopsis of your essay)
  • A table of contents
  • The 4,000-word essay (which will range from 10-20 pages depending on whether your topic requires illustrations such as an experiment would)
  • A bibliography
Your completed Extended Essay will then sent to the IBO to be graded (I will go into more detail on grading below). 

 

 

What Should You Write About in Your Extended Essay?

You can technically write about anything, so long as the IBO approves it. However, you should choose a topic that falls into one of theIB Course Categories, (such as Theatre, Film, Spanish, French, Math, Biology, etc.) which shouldn’t be difficult because there are so many class subjects. Here is a range of sample topics with the attached extended essay: 

You can see from how varied the topics are that you have a lot of freedom when it comes to picking a topic. So, how do you pick when the options are limitless? I will help you with that next:

 

 

6 Tips for Writing a Grade A Extended Essay

Below are the six key tips you need to follow to write an outstanding Extended Essay.

 

Tip #1: Write About Something You Enjoy 

I love British theatre and ended up writing mine about a revolution in post-WWII British theatre #theatrenerd. I really encourage anyone who pursues an IB Diploma to take the Extended Essay seriously. I ended up receiving a full-tuition merit scholarship to USC’s School of Dramatic Arts program and in my interview for the scholarship, I spoke passionately about my Extended Essay. I genuinely think my Extended Essay helped me get my scholarship.   

How do you find a topic you are passionate about? Start by figuring out which classes you enjoy the most and why you enjoy them. Do you like Math because you like to problem solve? Or do you enjoy English because you like to analyze texts?

Once you have figured out a general subject area such as Physics, you should brainstorm more specific topics by putting pen to paper. What was your favorite chapter you learned in that class? Was it astrophysics or mechanics? What did you like about that specific chapter? Is there something you want to learn more about? I recommend spending an hour on this type of brainstorming. 

 

Tip #2: Chose a Topic That Is Not Too Broad or Too Narrow

This is a fine line. You need to write about something specific, but not so specific that you can’t write 4,000 words on it. You can’t write about WWII because that would be a book's worth of material. You don’t want to write about what type of soup prisoners of war received in POW camps because you probably can’t come up with 4000 words on it. However, you could possibly write about how the conditions in German POW camps were directly affected by the Nazis successes and failures. This may be too obvious of a topic, but you get my point.

If you're really stuck trying to find a not too broad or narrow topic, I recommend trying to brainstorm a topic that uses a comparison. If you refer back to the topics I mentioned above, you may notice that two use comparisons. 

I also used comparison in my EE, comparing Harold Pinter's Party Time to John Osborne's Look Back in Anger in order to show a transition in British Theatre. Topics with comparisons of 2-3 plays/books/diets/etc. tend to be in the sweet spot of not too narrow or broad because you can analyze each portion and after doing in-depth analysis on each, you compare and explain the significance of the comparison. The key here is that the comparison needs to be significant. I compared two plays to show a transition in British Theatre.

Comparisons are not the only way to get a grade A EE. If after brainstorming, you pick a non-comparison based topic and you are still unsure if a topic is too broad or narrow, spend 30 minutes doing some basic research and see how much material is out there. If there are over 1,000 books/articles/documentaries out there on the exact topic, it may be too broad. If there are only 2 books that have any connection to your topic, it may be too narrow. If you are still unsure, ask your advisor! Speaking of advisors:

 

Don't get stuck with a narrow topic!

 

 

Tip #3: Choose an Advisor 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 Theatre topic), you can ask that instructor. Consider all of your options first before you do. There was no theatre teacher at my school, so I could not find a theatre-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 #4: Choose an Advisor 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 two to three hours in total with the candidate discussing the EE.

 

Tip #5: Make Sure Your Essay Has a Clear Structure and Flow

IB likes structure. Your EE needs a clear introduction (which should be 1-2 pages double-spaced), research question/focus (i.e. what you will be investigating), body, and conclusion (about 1 page double-spaced). An essay that has unclear or poor organization will be graded poorly. Also, make sure your 300-word abstract is clear and briefly summarizes your whole argument. An ambiguous abstract will make it more challenging for the reader to follow your essay’s argument and will also hurt the grading of your EE. 

The body of your EE should make up the bulk of the essay. It should be about 8-18 pages double-spaced (again just depending on whether or not you include diagrams). Your body can be split into multiple parts. For example, if you are doing a comparison, you might have 1/3 of your body as Novel A Analysis, 1/3 as Novel B Analysis, and the last 1/3 as Comparison of Novel A and B Analysis.

If you are conducting an experiment or analyzing data such as in this EE, your EE body will have a clear and obvious parts following the scientific method: stating the research question, discussing your method, showing the data, analyzing the data, discussing uncertainties, and drawing a conclusion/evaluating the experiment.  

 

Tip #6: Start Writing Sooner Rather Than Later!

You will not be able to crank out a 4,000-word essay in a week and get an A. You will be reading many, many articles (and, depending on your topic, possibly books, plays, and watching movies). Start the research possible as soon as possible. 

Each school has a slightly different deadline for the Extended Essay. Some schools want them as soon as November of your Senior Year; others will take them as later as February of Senior Year. Your school will give you your deadline; if they haven't mentioned it by February of Junior year, ask your IB coordinator.

Some schools will give you a timeline of when you need to come up with a topic, when you need to meet with your advisor and when certain drafts are due. Not all schools do. Ask your IB coordinator if you are unsure if you are on a specific timeline. Here is my recommended timeline, it is earlier than most schools, but it will save you so much heartache (trust me, I remember):

  • January/February of Junior Year: Come up with your final research topic (or at least top 3). 
  • February of Junior Year: Approach a teacher about being your EE advisor (if he or she says no, keep asking others until you find one - see my notes above on how to pick an EE advisor). 
  • April/May of Junior Year: Submit an outline of your EE and a bibliography of potential research sources (I recommend at least 7-10) to your EE advisor. Meet with your EE advisor to discuss your outline. 
  • Summer between Junior and Senior Year: Complete your first full draft over the summer between Junior and Senior Year! I know, I know no one wants to work during the summer, but trust me this will save you so much stress come the fall when you are busy with college applications and other IB internal assessments for your IB classes. You will want to have this first full draft done because you will want to complete a couple of draft cycles as you likely won’t be able to get everything you want to say into 4000 articulate words the first time. Try to get this first draft into the best possible shape you can, so that you do not have to work on too many revisions during the school year on top of your homework/college applications/work/extracurriculars/etc.  
  • August/September of Senior Year: Turn in your first draft of your EE to your advisor and receive feedback. Work on incorporating their feedback into your essay. If they have a lot of suggestions for improvement, ask if they will read one more draft before the final draft. 
  • September/October of Senior Year: Submit second draft of EE to your advisor (if necessary) and receive their feedback. Work on creating the best possible final draft. 
  • November-February of Senior Year: Submit two copies of your final draft to your school to be sent off to IBO. You likely will not get your grade until after you graduate. 

 

The early bird DOES get the worm!

 

How’s the Extended Essay Graded?

Extended essays are marked by external assessors (examiners appointed by the IB) on a scale of 0 to 36. There are "general" and "subject-specific" criteria, at a ratio of 2:1 (24 possible marks for the general criteria and 12 marks for the subject-specific one). The total mark is converted into a grade from A to E, using the below parameters:

Rubric Assessment Points Earned Descriptor Letter
Grade 30 – 36Excellent: A
25 – 29Good: B
17 – 24Satisfactory: C
9 – 16Mediocre: D
0 - 8Elementary: E

Here is the typical breakdown of scores (from 2008):

% Awarded Grade

A

B

C

D

E

Extended Essay

10.59%

16.50%

38.88%

27.62%

6.41%

How Does the Extended Essay Grade Affect Your IB Diploma?

The Extended Essay grade is combined with your TOK (Theory of Knowledge) grade to determine how many points you get towards your IB Diploma. To learn about Theory of Knowledge or how many points you need to receive your IB Diploma, read our other articles on What is the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program? or IB Diploma Requirements. This diagram shows how the two scores are combined to determine how many points you receive for your IB diploma (3 being the most, 0 being the least). 

 


 

So, let’s say you get an A on your EE and a B on TOK, you will get 3 points towards your diploma. Note: this chart is slightly outdated. Prior to the class of 2010, a diploma candidate could receive a failing grade in either the extended essay or theory of knowledge and still be awarded a diploma. However, as of 2014 (for the first examination in May 2015), a student who scores an E on either the extended essay or TOK essay will not be eligible to receive an IB diploma.

 

Sample Extended Essays

In case you want a little more guidance on how to get an A EE. Here are 50 Excellent (grade A) sample extended essays for your reading pleasure:  

 

What’s Next?

Trying to figure out what extracurricular you should do? Learn more about participating in Science Olympiad, starting a club, doing volunteer work, and joining Student Government. 

Studying for the SAT? Check out our complete guide to the SAT. Taking the SAT in the next month? Check out our guide to cramming. 

Not sure where you want to go to college? Check out our guide to finding your target school. Also, figure out your target SAT score or target ACT score.

 

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

 

The Easter Break is nearly upon us. Ten years ago this might have been a cue to eat more chocolate than you can handle. But if you’re in DP1 of the IB that small thing called the Extended Essay will be hovering on the horizon. You know that you should think about it over the break, but whether you do or not might depend on how much Netflix you have to catch up on. To start the research or not to start?

If you read our first post in this step-by-step guide, on choosing an Extended Essay topic, you’ll know that we think you should definitely start as soon as you can.

So what do I mean by research? I’m talking about the intense stuff. The in-depth exploration that will inform your essay, and which you will be able to use later on in your Bibliography. Good research is the key to making everything easy for you during the writing stage. If you’ve done the research properly, then the essay structure, the case study, or the experiment will practically plan itself.

But how do you do the research so that it is as effective as possible without taking over your entire Easter break?

1. Know WHAT you’ll need

Read the Extended Essay Guide for your subject (yes I am going to recommend that in every part of this guide, so you may as well do it now!). For all subjects it will tell you whether you need primary research, secondary data, or a combination. Work out whether ‘research’ for you means gathering data compiled by someone else, creating your own data, reading other people’s opinions, or digging out hard facts. Depending on what your subject and topic is, your research might be the crux of your entire essay, or it might simply give you ideas to enhance your own thoughts.

Use the Guide to define the limits of your research. Your Extended Essay has to focus on your chosen subject as defined by the IBO (and World Studies has its own definition and requirements). That means you must define your subject in the same way, e.g. “Biology is the science that deals with living organisms and life processes”. Use this to work out where your research should take you. And don’t waste time doing research that takes you into another subject area, E.g. Medicine.

Work out how recent your research needs to be. Again, this is a way to save time! Economics, for example, shouldn’t be historical. That means your information needs to be recent! Equally research in the Sciences goes out of date very quickly so stick within the last couple decades, and newer is better! (as long as it’s reliable… I’ll get onto that). For Literature and History, it’s less important that your sources are new, although it’s easier than you might think to quote what sounds like a very insightful idea only to realise it was first written in the 1920s!

Exercise 1: Read the guidelines for your subject and write down what kind of research you’ll be doing. Is it Primary or Secondary? Will you conduct your own experiment or use data from someone else’s? Are you looking for factual information or theories? What window of time do you want your research to have come from? 2013-2016, or 1980-2016? Write it down now because later you can check your progress against this to make sure you’re staying on track.

2. Know WHERE you’ll find it

For the Extended Essay you’ll need to go beyond Google and beyond the shelves of your library. A good Extended Essay Bibliography should be a varied pick and mix selection* of online and off-line sources, modern dates, and obscure and established publications. Remember those 40 hours the IB recommends you spend on your Extended Essay? Your Bibliography is proof that you have been working hard!

But how do you get all those sources? Ask your teachers. If you don’t have a supervisor yet, I can guarantee you that your librarian knows more about what you have access to than you realise. Find out what subscriptions your school has, both online and off. If your library doesn’t have a book in stock it might be able to order a book in for you. Find this out.

For Science, it’s vital that your research is up to date. That means your material will probably come from journals, (reliable) websites, and studies by other scientists. Consider approaching universities and other academics who may be able to point you in the right direction.

On the other hand for something such as Literature your primary research should mean reading your chosen texts, whether they are novels, plays or poems. Consider supplementing this with other first-hand materials such as journal entries, letters or essays by the author or their contemporaries. Finally secondary research encompasses the ideas of other academics, although the Guide states that these should not replace your own analysis and ideas.

It’s not too hard to work out whether a source is reliable or not. Most of the time it’s common sense; can you name the author? Do they have experience in what they’re talking about or might they know less than you? It’s okay to use sources that may have a bias or might be ignorant of one thing or another, but the key is to be aware of this and make it clear in your essay that you are aware of it.

Here are some good online places to go for information:

Google Scholar: Basically Google except that it will show you only the academic resources related to your search: articles, essays and legal documents. In other words, all of the stuff here should be fair game to put in a Bibliography.

Google Books: Free books! Lots of them! And the best part is you don’t have to admit you used Google; for all the examiner knows you dug through the dusty shelves of a library yourself. Even for books which only have a preview this is useful to work out if a hard copy of the book would be useful to you.

JSTOR: If your school has a subscription to this, use it! A database of hundreds of academic journals which make for great background research. However be aware it doesn’t include the latest research, so make sure what you find here will stick within the dates you defined earlier on.

Public Library of Science (PLOS): An open access online library of scientific literature. Includes science-related journals.

www.online-literature.com A website full of poetry, short stories and novels of almost every ‘classic’ author whose work is out of copyright. When it comes to referencing later, it will probably look better to go and dig out a hard copy of the work purely for reference purposes, but this is handy for initial browsing.

Wikipedia: Didn’t think I’d put this on here, did you? This is obviously not good as a source in itself, however if you scroll to the bottom of most Wikipedia pages you’ll often find a pretty comprehensive list of sources that are directly relevant to the topic and which you could use as a starting point for your own research.

Exercise 2: Make a list of the resources you think will be useful for your essay, and which you know you have access to. And remember that different search engines are useful for different subjects.

*

3. Know HOW you’ll get it

Believe it or not, research requires research. It won’t happen by accident and takes careful planning in order to get the most out of the sources that you use.

After you know where you might find useful sources, do some initial digging to find out what’s out there that will be specifically useful for your chosen topic. As I mentioned, Wikipedia could be a starting place for this. Or you might need to do a quick search through the database of your school and local libraries and place orders for books. Whatever you do, keep a list of everything you find that might be useful to you, and use it as a checklist. You won’t have time to read it all at once.

Plan out your research time in blocks to make sure that it happens. And think about what you can do in different places. It goes without saying that you’ll be able to do your online research at home, but think about what articles you could download to read when you don’t have internet. If you take a book out of a library you will be able to read that when you don’t have a laptop in front of you.

Finally, think about when the research will be most useful to you. Is there information you need to know before you undertake a lab investigation? What about data that will make more sense after you’ve done some initial reading? Thinking about all of these things will make sure that your research is as effective as it can be.

Exercise 3: Make a plan of attack (also known as a schedule) for what you’re going to do in what order, and how long it will take. For example (this one is for English A):

4. Keep track of everything!

You’ll need a reference for anything you use that you didn’t pluck out of your own head. This applies to:

  • Quotes
  • Ideas and Summaries
  • Data
  • Images

By ideas and summaries I mean any theory or idea that is not common knowledge. So you don’t need to reference the fact the spinach is green but you might need to reference what green food colouring is made of.

There is no set referencing system that you need to use in your Extended Essay, but you do get marked on how you use it. So make sure that whatever you choose, you use it consistently. Ask your supervisor which one they would recommend, and it’s useful at this stage to have a skim of what information you need to keep track of as you go along. Guides for the different systems are easily accessible online on websites like this one:

Anytime you read something that might be useful, make a note of all the information you’ll need to include in a Bibliography later. That will usually include the author name, title, the publisher, the year and place it was published, and the page numbers.

Keep track of your research by extracting the key material onto your own document. Whether that means copy and pasting the vital quotes, summarising the idea or saving an image you might want to use, make it as accessible for yourself as possible! Don’t just keep a document of links to articles you found interesting! When you want to plan your essay I promise you that you won’t remember what it says. This:

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=q4uEZnTJJIsC&pg=PA143&dq=virginia+woolf+mrs+dalloway+freedom&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=virginia%20woolf%20mrs%20dalloway%20freedom&f=false

Is much less useful than this:

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=q4uEZnTJJIsC&pg=PA143&dq=virginia+woolf+mrs+dalloway+freedom&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=virginia%20woolf%20mrs%20dalloway%20freedom&f=false

“When beginning Mrs Dalloway, Woolf intended to write “six or seven” grouped short texts” p. 143, Wild Outbursts of Freedom: Reading Virginia Woolf’s Short Fiction, Nena Skrbic (2004), Praeger Publishers, Westport, CT

Exercise 4: decide how you will organise your research:

  • Create a EE research folder on your laptop and create blank documents inside it, labelled depending on what you might need, e.g. journal articles, primary research, hard copy books.
  • Assign a physical EE folder for any handwritten notes that you make, whether in a library or just out and about.
  • Choose your referencing system.

Got that? Okay… I think you’re ready!

Read Part 3: The Question

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