The IBDP requires students to complete the TOK assessments and the EE, which students can obtain up to 3 bonus points for their diploma.
The Extended Essay is a 4000-word essay on a specific subject. Most students choose a subject that they are interested in, and is relevant to the courses they would like to take at university so they can discuss their research experience in their university application essays/personal statement.
How to do well in the Extended Essay (EE)
Regardless of which topics chosen, there are some tips that students shall bear in mind to perform well in the EE:
Scope of research question - Set a research question that enables a focused discussion of methodology, theory, analysis and evaluation in 4000 words.
Data availability - Most research questions require primary data e.g. lab experiment, interviews etc. Students should consider whether primary data can realistically be collected before confirming the topic and research question.
Insights - After students have collected the data, students should focus on drawing insights from the data to answer the research question instead of focusing on describing the data.
How CANA coach students to do well in their EE
At CANA, we discuss with the you the suitability of the research question based on the word count constraint, data availability as well as potential insights that can be drawn. In addition, we discuss whether your methodology is effective e.g. whether the questions in the survey help collect relevant data. After data has been collected, we discuss the analysis to map out the possible insights that could be used to answer the research question. Given that each student has a different research question, the EE lessons are tailored to the specific needs of the students.
Research Questions Ideas
Here are some sample Biology EE research questions:
The effect of ethanol concentrations on the growth of Staphylococcus epidermidis
The effect of different antibiotics and Chinese herbal medicine on the growth of Escherichia coli
The effect of how an increase in the concentration of Terminalia chebula methanolic extract promotes antioxidant activity, and reduces the cellular response of Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Assessment of Rhino Horn as Traditional Medicine (Review of secondary data and cross topic with Economics as it involves discussion of species trade)
The effect of geographical factors on the prevalence of diabetes (Review of secondary data and cross topic with Geography as it involves discussion of geographical locations)
The effect of headphones usage habits on hearing of Homo sapiens
Here are some sample Business Management EE research questions:
To what extent has the usage of Guerilla Marketing affected the brand image of Supreme?
To what extent will the zero commission rate affect the profitability position of brokerage firm Charles Schwab?
To what extent can Oracle's success be attributed to its corporate culture and organizational structure?
What strategic changes should Tesla implement in its operation and marketing to increase their product consumption?
How successful has the application of lean production principles been to Chrysler?
To what extent has adopting digital promotion and distribution strategies contributed to ABC Entertainment’s continuous sales growth during the pandemic?
Here are some sample Chemistry EE research questions:
How does the use of electric cars help reduce air pollution and contribute to local and global economics? (cross topic Chem + Econ)
How does temperature and pH affect the rate of hydrolysis of aspirin?
How does salinity and temperature affect oxygen solubility in water by Winkler method?
How does concentration of acid, propanone and iodine affect the rate of iodination of propanone?
How does the intensity of UV light and pH affect the rate of decomposition of hydrogen peroxide?
Here are some sample Chinese A Literature and Chinese A Language and Literature EE research questions: (Please note that the Chinese A EE word limit is 4,800 instead of 4,000)
Here are some sample Chinese B EE research questions: (Please note that the Chinese A EE word limit is 4,800 instead of 4,000)
Here are some sample Economics EE research questions:
To what extent does the market structure of Jardine Crescent contributes to its nature of competition
A study on how market structure of the Hong Kong primary housing market contributed to the high house price in Hong Kong
To what extent does the first registration tax for electric vehicles impacted the market for private vehicles in Hong Kong
Which market structure best modelled the “Musical Instrument Street” Jinling Road in Shanghai?
Is the minimum mandatory wage effective in achieving its objectives in the foreign domestic workers market in Hong Kong?
Here are some sample English A Literature and English A Language and Literature EE research questions:
Analyzing the depiction of socio-economic class in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.
Analyzing the archetype of the Shakespearean fool in King Lear and As You Like It.
Comparing the themes of violence and revenge in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold and the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy.
Analyzing themes of identity and independence in the lyrics of Beyonce's Lemonade.
[Lang and Lit only] Analyzing the depiction of gender roles and norms surrounding sexuality in the films of Nora Ephron.
[Lang and Lit only] Analyzing the persuasive techniques employed by e-cigarette companies in the advertisement.
Here are some sample English B EE research questions:
Analyzing how the lyrics of Don McLean's song 'American Pie' reflect post-war attitudes toward the American Dream.
Analyzing how the television show The Office reflects British attitudes towards work.
Analyzing the language of discrimination in American news media.
Analyzing the use of symbolism and imagery in The Great Gatsby to understand American attitudes towards wealth and materialism.
Analyzing the techniques Sir Arthur Conan Doyle uses to create tension and suspense in his Sherlock Holmes detective stories.
Here are some sample Geography EE research questions:
How has the urban renewal project in the CBD of (a place) changed the land use pattern and living standard there? (Option G)
What are the varied impacts of climate change in (names of two distinctive places)? (Unit 2)
To what extent is sustainable tourism in (a special tourist destination or a city) successful? (Option E)
How far does the farm programmes in (a place) improve food supply there? (Option F)
To what extent does city development and coastal protection work in (a place) change the coastline there? (Option B)
Here are some sample History EE research questions:
To what extent did Harding and Coolidge's economic policies during the Roaring Twenties lead to the increase of women's social freedom?
To what extent did the Wall Street Crash contribute to Hitler’s rise in power up to January 1933?
To what extent were key aspects of the Meiji Restoration influenced by China’s defeat in the First Opium War?
How did the progression of the Vietnam War affect the relationship between the American government and its people in the period 1963-1973?
To what extent did Egypt initiate the Camp David Accords in 1978 for national interest rather than Arab-Israeli peace?
Here are some sample Maths AA or Maths AI EE research questions:
Texts Classification using Naive Bayesian Filters
Comparison of Fast Multiplication Algorithms
Artificial Neural Networks and Function Approximations
Economic Applications of Lagrange Multipliers
Generating Fractals using Matrices
How to make a world map?
Here are some sample Psychology EE research questions:
Research questions under Cognitive Psychology
To what extent long-term computer use can affect human memory?
To what extent child eye testimony is reliable in court?
Research question under Abnormal Psychology
To what extent the biological approach can explain OCD?
Research questions under Health Psychology
To what extent are current governmental measures effective in reducing obesity among school children?
Is mindfulness effective stress-coping?
Here are some sample Physics EE research questions:
How does the shape and dimension of an object affect the buoyant force experienced when submerged in liquid?
How does the shape and dimension of a container affect the speed of water ejected at the bottom level?
Investigate the dependence of speed of water wave on water depth
Investigate how liquid at different temperatures inside a container affects its rate of rolling down a fixed ramp
How mass distribution of a cylinder affects its rate of rolling down a fixed ramp
Students in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) must write an Extended Essay (EE) over the two year program in a subject of their choice. If you are in this position, it can be daunting to confront a 4000-word essay and you may not know where to start. Below are the basics to help you on your way.
What is the Extended Essay?
The Extended Essay (EE) is 4000 words of academic writing, and together with your Theory of Knowledge grade, contributes up to 3 points towards your total IBDP score. The EE is accompanied by a reflection form of no more than 500 words. In theory, an Extended Essay is meant to imitate the thesis writing process that you will likely encounter at university level.
Students should aim to accomplish the following when writing their EE:
Engage in independent research with intellectual initiative and rigour.
Develop skills in research, thinking, self-management and communication skills.
Be critical and analytical of their sources or data, to show they can draw conclusions that make sense, and make a coherent and convincing argument
Reflect on what has been learned throughout the research and writing process. IB emphasizes process reflection, which means tracking your decisions, your successes and challenges, the sources you find, and your research processes, rather than just commenting on the final finished essay.
Cite your sources correctly.
The EE is marked from grades A to E. You must achieve a D or higher in order to be awarded the IB Diploma. The essay is externally assessed.
Which subject should I pick?
We recommend that you pick a subject you truly feel passionate about. You will be conducting extended research and personal investigation into this topic, then drafting and redrafting a long piece of writing. If you dislike your topic, you will probably have a bad time and the act of continuing to work on it will become tortuorous. Additionally, the EE is meant to help you demonstrate your understanding of the subject, along with your creativity and originality. It is much easier to hit those requirements when you have a genuine interest in a topic, in place of seeing it as a chore.
Another approach is to consider your current subjects and workload. How much work can you handle? Some subjects, such as language A or B require less research and more analysis. Others, like chemistry or biology, require more data gathering and experiments conducted on weekends or after school, but involve less writing. Some subjects, such as history, require extensive research and synthesis of primary and secondary sources. Consider what you can handle, and play to your strengths.
Also, most students assume that they must choose an HL subject they are already studying. This is recommended because you will have deeper knowledge in these areas. However, it’s also perfectly fine to pick an SL subject for your Extended Essay, or even some subjects that you are not taking at all. That being said, we do recommend that you stick to the subjects you’re already studying to ensure familiarity.
Finally, it is useful to think about university applications. If you’re planning to major in a specific subject, it can potentially boost your application if you can boast that you wrote an EE on it.
What is the process like?
1. Choosing your topic and research question
After you’ve settled on a subject, you must choose your own topic and research question to explore. This may be a new experience since you are probably used to having clear-cut assignments set by your teachers. Use the opportunity to show your personal interest in a particular area of the subject, and try to avoid cliche, overdone topics. Another important element to consider is the development of a clear, focused, and arguable question centred around something you can research. Your aim is to create an argument, rather than just present an overview of existing facts and opinions.
Below are some examples of both adequate and unsatisfactory research questions provided by the International Baccalaureate, so that you may better prepare your own question.
Unclear, unfocused and unarguable research questions
Clear, focused, narrow research questions lending themselves to in-depth research
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?
What is the history of Chinese theatre?
How does the legacy of Mei Lan Fang contribute to modern Jingju?
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 can the US government’s spending policy be reformed?
To what extent did the rising COE prices affect the demand for new and used cars by the consumer population and hence affect the revenue generated by the Singaporean economy for the period 2012–16?
2. Communicating with your supervisor
Every student is assigned a supervisor who teaches the subject you have chosen. They will help you pick your topic, narrow the focus on your research question, and give you advice or feedback throughout your planning and writing process. You will also have formal reflection sessions with them in which you discuss your progress. However, they are primarily there to guide you, not instruct you. The total recommended supervision time is a limited 3-5 hours.
3. Conducting independent research and sourcing
No matter what topic you pursue, you will have to conduct independent research, either by gathering data yourself through conducting investigations or finding existing sources. It may be helpful to look at the resources offered by your school library - not only physical books and articles, but online databases where you can find relevant academic journals and primary sources. Examples of popular academic databases include JSTOR, Project Gutenberg, EBSCO, and Internet Archive to name a few. No matter your direction, aim to engage with your research in an analytical and evaluative way.
You will likely use a mixture of primary and secondary sources, even if your EE is experiment-based. A primary source is a source that engages directly with the original event you’re discussing, for example. first-hand accounts of a historical event, whereas a secondary source comments on the existing primary sources, like a scientist reviewing previous accounts of similar experiments.
The IB takes academic plagiarism very seriously, so make sure you take the time to cite your sources in your school’s recommended citation format. If you have copied someone else’s ideas without providing credit and the IB finds out, you risk jeopardizing your final grades.
4. Writing and editing
4000 words is intimidating if you think about writing it all at once, but the process is methodical and achievable when you break it down. Below are some steps to help guide you in this process.
Begin by ideas storming, and then narrow down what topic you want to pursue. Check in with your supervisor for guidance
Conduct the necessary research and note down what sources you need to cite
Plan your essay. This step is very important because plans are much easier to scrap and redo than entire written portions. You can also make sure your structure makes sense.
Write your essay in sections. Schedule regular periods to work on it, and spread them out so you avoid being overwhelmed.
Proofread and edit.
What are some tips to do well?
Lean on your supervisor. They are there to help and guide you, and they are usually much more familiar with the subject you are researching. Do not be afraid to ask for help if you feel you are struggling.
Do your citations all throughout the process, instead of leaving it for the end, as spending an extended period of time writing references and citations is quite tedious.
The EE is a test of your self management and time management skills. Try your best to meet internal deadlines, even if they are not officially set by the IB. Your school has these deadlines in place to ensure you are in a good place to submit a decent EE. Remember that the EE is a marathon, not a sprint. You want to work on this regularly and well in advance of the due date, so you’re not struggling to churn out 4000 words the night before the deadline.
The English A: Extended Essay may appeal to IBDP students who love literature and analysing stories, or those who feel more confident looking into texts with focus on language. Either way, it is excellent practice for those who hope to study humanities at university, or any subject that demands excellent writing skills. Here is what you need to know to write a good English EE.
The Extended Essay is externally assessed and, combined with your grades for Theory of Knowledge and fulfilled CAS requirements, contributes up to three points to your total score for the IBDP Diploma. It is a 4000 word piece of formal academic writing accompanied by a reflection form of 500 words. Students are expected to conduct independent research into a topic they have chosen themselves, imitating the thesis-writing process at university. You will also receive guidance from a supervisor who specialises in your chosen subject, and will have three mandatory reflection sessions with them. Click here for more on the general specifications of the Extended Essay.
For English A, there are three categories of EE you can choose from. All three are meant to promote advanced research, writing skills, intellectual discovery, and personal creativity.
Category 1: Literature in English
Studies of one or more literary works originally written in English. Choose this option especially if you’re interested in a writer’s technical choices or word choices, their style of storytelling, the way they phrase their sentences,or other such elements. You will be analysing the text exactly as it was expressed by the original author/s. This category can be comparative or you can stick to a deeper analysis of a single text.
An example of a research topic in category 1 is: The use of comic characters to explore serious issues in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure.
Category 2: Comparative literature in English and another language
Studies of a literary work or works originally written in English compared with one or more literary works originally written in another language. The work originally written in another language may be studied in translation. Choose this option if you are interested in comparing different literary traditions and the cultural contexts behind them. Where and how does the translated work intersect in themes, motifs, techniques, or other such elements with the English work? Compare how each text has achieved their purpose.
An example of a research topic in category 2 is: The importance of satire in the travels of the main characters in Huckleberry Finn and Candide.
Category 3: Language and Literature
Studies in language based on one or more texts originally produced in English. Texts can be compared with a translated text originally written in another language. This category encompasses more than literature, and can extend to photography, advertisement, film, television, and music to name but a few. Choose this option if you are interested in the language of mass communication or how language is influenced by social, cultural, political and historical contexts. If you focus on mass communication, you will consider the way language is used and produced in a medium. If you focus on cultural contexts, you will explore how language impacts the world and shapes individual and group identity.
An example of a research topic in category 3 isThe use of language and image by UK fashion and beauty magazines Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Look to construct a particular body image for women.
Please note, EEs submitted in studies in English A cannot be based on a text studied as part of your course. Students can base their essays on different texts by the same author.
Tips to success
Choose your text/s wisely
It’s important to select texts that you like. Many students get nervous about the EE and assume they must select literary classics or highbrow literature, or ask their supervisors to select their texts for them. Avoid falling into such a trap. If you’re sticking with a topic for 4000 words, make sure the source material is something you are passionate about. Also, try to avoid overdone, cliche, or very famous works - examiners have read too many EEs about these. Conversely, avoid super obscure texts, because you need to find at least a few secondary sources to support your arguments. Your supervisor will guide you away from unsuitable texts.
Have a focussed topic
If you are writing an English EE in categories A or B, make sure your topic focuses on a particular theme, idea, motif, or overarching technique. It is not enough to analyse how a text fits into a particular genre - this is too broad. Additionally, your research question should inquire into an intriguing and subjective aspect of the text/s, leading to a clear thesis statement or argument that you will link to throughout your essay.
Plan your structure
An English EE differs from a Maths, Science, or even History EE where you may use graphs, statistics, or visual aids. Your essay must be organised well to maintain your reader’s attention. You can begin by conceptualising the different sections of your essay and check in with your supervisor on how to structure them. Below are a few suggestions:
Explore a different theme or main point in each body paragraph, then order them in loose chronological order.
Same as above, but order in a way that illustrates your argument with best effect.
Explore a different usage of literary techniques in each body paragraph, always linking to effect.
Be aware of your text type options
For literature, you can choose drama and poetry as well as novels and prose. You can even write about non-fiction texts as long as they are written in a literary way, such as descriptive reports, creative travel writing, or detailed autobiographies.
For language, you can choose any mass media text types you like - newspapers, speeches, editorials, adverts, to name but a few - as long as there are enough substantial language choices to analyse.
Make sure to do your research and include secondary sources.
Remember that the English A: Extended Essay is different from the other pieces of writing you may complete as part of your IBDP English A: Literature or English A: Language and Literature studies. The most significant difference is the importance of secondary literature within your work. An essay that lacks in-depth research that is well applied to your text/s will not score well.
Secondary sources are generally considered scholarly works about an author’s life or their work, the genre in which a text is in, or more generic items regarding literary techniques. These sources may be found in the form of books, academic journal articles, essay collections in books, or even reviews, as long as they have a firm academic standing.
Your advisor should be able to point you in the direction of where to find such sources based on the accessibility options available at your school. However, it is good practice to use search engines such as Google Scholar to aid your research. Generally, when selecting secondary research to use, you should focus on two aspects, one being specificity (how close the secondary source is in topic to your own research) and the other being recency (how new an academic text is).
Finish with a flourish
In your conclusion, you have an opportunity to justify the importance of your EE. Answering one of the following questions can create a compelling ending:
Why should the reader care about your essay and the argument you proved?
What is so notable or unique about the results you’ve found?
What are the deeper implications you’ve found that made this topic so worth delving into?
What wider implications do your findings have for literature?
What wider implications do your findings have for the world, or for global issues?
Here at CANA Elite, we truly believe that every student is unique and has the potential to reach their goals with the right guidance. Academic excellence is derived from both passionate teachers and eager students. That is why we provide a unique learning experience tailored to each individual student. Named after the location of the first miracle in the Bible, we hope CANA elite can be the place of miracles for all our students, allowing them to achieve their dreams.