The extended essay is an in-depth study of a focused topic chosen from the list of approved Diploma Programme subjects—normally one of the student’s six chosen subjects for the IB Diploma. It is intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity. It provides students with an opportunity to engage in personal research in a topic of their own choice, under the guidance of a supervisor (a teacher in the school). This leads to a major piece of formally presented, structured writing, in which ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned and coherent manner, appropriate to the subject chosen.
The extended essay is assessed against common criteria, interpreted in ways appropriate to each subject. The assessment considers both the essay itself and the student’s reflections on their planning and progress, recorded throughout the process.
The extended essay is:
- compulsory for all Diploma Programme students
- externally assessed and, in combination with the grade for theory of knowledge, contributes up to three points to the total score for the IB Diploma
- a piece of independent research/investigation on a topic chosen by the student in cooperation with supervisor in the school
- chosen from the list of approved Diploma Programme subjects
- presented as a formal piece of scholarship containing no more than 4,000 words
- the result of approximately 40 hours of work by the student
In the Diploma Programme, the extended essay is the prime example of a piece of work where the student has the opportunity to show knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm about a topic of his or her choice. In those countries where it is the norm for interviews to be required prior to acceptance for employment or for a place at university, the extended essay has often proved to be a valuable stimulus for discussion.
Students are closely guided through process by both the Extended Essay Coordinator and their individual supervisors. This guidance includes multiple group sessions, regular meetings with their supervisors and support with their final draft as part of the Year 13 field trip. The process begins towards the end of semester 1 of Year 12, with the final deadline being in late-September of Year 13.