extended essay

This started out as a post for the IB, but I realised it can be applied generally as well.

General Tips:

  • If you get to choose your topic, choose one that you find genuinely interesting, as you will be much more motivated. It should also be a topic that you’re fairly familiar with. If you’re really stuck for ideas, look at example essays online (but don’t steal!).
  • Have a specific focus.
  • Keep a log of all of your references. Make sure that you’re referencing in the correct format.
  • Find out if there are any competitions or scholarship contests that you could submit your essay to.


  • Try starting your essay with a claim related to the title/question.
  • Have a sentence which defines your whole essay; give the reader and idea of what you’re going to be arguing. Try to get the reader interested in your essay so that they’re motivated to read.
  • Don’t use “I” or “My” (we were always warned against this).
  • Know what conclusion you’re coming to at the end.
  • Think of essay introductions as covering what/why/how:
  • What the question is about – explain your interpretation of the question and what it is asking you to do.
  • Why the question is important – put the question into context and identify the main issues that are raised by the question.
  • How you are going to answer it – let the reader know what you are going to cover in your essay in order to answer the question.


  • Provide example to prove your thesis write or wrong.
  • Develop the idas and arguments outlined in your introduction.
  • Each paragraph should have a topic sentence, which acts like a mini introduction. This should clarify what you’re going to discuss in that paragraph. If your topic sentence doesn’t match what you discuss in the paragraph then it will read confused.
  • Think of each paragraph like a small essay.
  • Keep your essay question/title in front of you while you’re writing; it will help you stay focused.
  • Don’t be too general.
  • Keep your paragraphs well structured. Don’t jump from one idea to the next; there should be a link between the paragraphs, they should be consecutive. Try to show the flow of your though. Again, if this goes wrong, your essay will appear confused. This is something that I found online about how to structure a paragraph (included as a photo for the colour coding):
  • Don’t just state your ideas; have evidence, analysis, and comments. Remember, you’re trying to convince the reader that you’re right!


  • Reread your essay, and conclude your ideas; all of your points should lead logically to this conclusion.
  • Your conclusion should capture the essence of your essay. Summarise your main points, and relate them back to the question. Think about what the reader knows now that they didn’t know when they began reading.
  • Don’t introduce any new information.
  • Don’t include apologies about the incompleteness of your argument (e.g. If I had more time….) although you can include some limitations.
  • Don’t end your conclusion with a rhetorical question; it leaves the reader unsatisfied.

For tips about other aspects of essay writing, see:

9/21/15-Extended essay research
My focus has been off since the semester started and it’s extremely frustrating. Working my butt off too keep my mind on what’s important right now.
It does feels good to know you’re all fighting with me, though. I hope you’re having a better, more effective Monday than I am.

How to: Extended Essay

So you’ve been told to write 4,000 words. What now? 
Some schools are great about preparing candidates on how to write this paper, while others not so much.  For many of you, this will be the most intense paper you have to write until grad school. It is not for the faint of heart, and while most of us IB grads have/know of amusing EE stories, you really shouldn’t procrastinate on this. Procrastinate on all your other IB homework by working on your EE. 

Because this topic is huge and crazy and literally took multiple hour lectures back when I was in school to fully go over, for brevity’s sake I’m going to try and be a bit selective. I found a world school that has an awesome EE website which should answer most of your questions in detail. <Click Here> If there’s anything I don’t cover - either comment on this post or leave me an ask.

  1. Choose a subject. Please pick a subject you are actually taking. A good idea is to pick one of your HLs if at all possible. Some larger schools have rules and policies concerning how to pick a subject - check with a teacher. For example, I choose History.
  2. Choose a topic. Please pick something which could show up on an exam (ie something from the syllabus). For example, I choose American History, specifically the Roosevelt Corollary.
  3. Choose a research question. Spend a lot of time making sure your question is very narrow and direct. It should give your research focus and direction. You should also be able to answer it at the end of your research, so while you might be really passionate about this battle which occured in this one little town in Europe where your family is from, you need to make sure there is going to be enough research and scholarly sources for you to cite. 
  4. Get your preliminary research done. Go read a wikipedia article. Basic web searches. Make sure theres enough scholarly sources on your question. Make sure you understand the basics of your concept backwards and forwards.
  5. Get real research done. You should find 10-20 good sources. They need to be VERY relevant and from reputable sources. Academic journals, newspaper articles, documentaries, books. Websites are okay, as long as you are very careful: government or educational pages are one thing - random blogs shouldn’t be trusted.
  6. Read the subject guide for you subject.
  7. Make an outline for your EE incorporating your topic/question with the skeleton of your subject guide.
  8. If you are doing a science EE - plan time to actually do your proposed experiment.
  9. In all other subjects - keep track of all citations while doing research. Create your works cited page as you go. Pick a citation style which suits your subject and stick with it.
  10. I recommend writing a sample intro, the bulk of your paper, then rewrite the intro, then the conclusion. But this is personal preference and you should do what works best for you.
  11. The abstract should be the last thing you write. Keep it short and sweet.
  12. Proof for spelling and grammar. Don’t trust Word or whatever you use to type this up. Proof yourself.
  13. Get your teacher, a friend, family members - anyone you can bully into reading your EE and check it makes sense/no grammar and spelling errors.
  14. Viola! you are done.

This is very general, and unsurprisingly a lot like the How to’s for most other long essays. Mostly because each subject area has its own quirks. Just get your hands on a subject guide and follow it to the letter. 

The EE is huge but entirely worth it. Make something you can be proud of and maybe build off of in university. Good luck!

June 20th {26/100}

Day 26 of my 100 days of productivity! I’m trying to get somewhere with my extended essay, as I’ve had a couple of months to get started on it but haven’t really done anything. My goal is to have a concrete plan and rough outline by the end of the school year. 

Considering becoming an IB? Starting IB for the first time? Or are you already a Year 1 or Year 2 student? This masterpost is a compilation of curriculum guides, textbooks, past papers (and more!) to help you survive (and succeed!) in the Diploma Programme.

Disclaimer: Please be cautious when downloading any internet materials (i.e. software, past papers or textbooks in zip folders) because some of them may contain malicious software (I have did my best in compiling the most trustworthy resources but I am not taking all available 100+ courses so some of these may have gone untested). Always follow your instincts and use protective software whenever you can to protect your devices from unwanted downloads.


  1. International Bacculaureate: The Diploma Programme
  2. Ib what? explaining ib in all of its acronym-loving glory
  3. An introduction to the IB Diploma Programme for those who have no idea what they’re getting into
  4. A beginner’s guide to the international baccalaureate program
  5. A quick guide to the differences between the ap and ib programs
  6. How do the ap and ib programs differ?


  1. IB Portal (Student-run compilation of resources)
  2. Reddit Thread (/r/IBO)
  3. The Prospect - IB tag (Great articles about the program)

Curriculum Guides

  1. IB Resources (Syllabi and data booklets)
  2. DP Subject Briefs

Pro-tip: Looking for a specific course curriculum guide not included in the above resources? Google the name of your course (i.e. Physics) and your level (i.e. SL or HL) with the word “guide” and you’ll be able to access the curriculum guides used for the publication of textbooks and as teaching notes for IB instructors! 

Disclaimer: Remember that the IB likes to stay on top of things and updates their curriculum every few years! Make sure you are selecting the most recent publication to study the exact material that will end up on your exams!

General Resources (Textbooks, videos and more!)

  1. IB Resources (via /r/IBOMaterial)
  2. IB Guides - study guides, notes and videos
  3. 10 youtube channels to help you study for ap and ib exams

Pro-tip: Remember that disclaimer from the previous category? Guess what? It also applies to textbooks too, so please pay attention the publication dates and curriculum information (i.e. From the 2010 curriculum) before studying this material!

Pro-tip #2: Still can’t find what you’re looking for? The IB Portal (here’s a shortcut link) has a huge collection of textbooks in addition to those from /r/IBOMaterial

Past Papers (Including mark schemes and the last updated level breakdowns!)

  1. Past Papers + Mark Schemes 
  2. May 2016 Grade Boundaries 
  3. Question Banks (Version 3)

Pro-tip: Can’t find what you’re looking for? Each past paper has a code listed at the top of the document. If you are looking for specific exam sets not already included manipulate that code and a quick Google search can probably help you find what you’re looking for! 

Please let me know if any of the previous links no longer work and I will try to help you out. ;) Many of the previously mentioned can also be purchased in the IBO store, if my mind serves me correctly. 

Disclaimer: Notice the italics on the title. I will do my best to keep this updated, but if I can’t find or access any later grade boundaries I can’t include them. (Pop me an anonymous ask or a message if you have a copy and I will be sure to include it!) 

Extended Essay

  1. The dreaded ib extended essay
  2. The Complete IB Extended Essay Guide: Examples, Topics, and Ideas
  3. Sample Extended Essay guidelines
  4. International Baccalaureate/Extended Essay Tips
  5. Extended essay reports

Disclaimer: I don’t have access to the extended essay reports (I’m so sorry for leaving you guys link-less!). It is possible to get them from your IB coordinator, or (I think) from the IBO store(Pop me an anonymous ask or a message if you have a copy of them and I will be sure to include it!)

Theory of Knowledge

  1. theoryofknowledge.net
  2. Theory of knowledge guide (First assessment 2015)

Pro-tip: Textbooks for this can be found in the previously listed “General” category.

Creativity, Action, Service

  1. Tp’s guide to the ib cas requirement 
  3. ManageBac

Pro-tip: *gasp* Another UN-linked post? If you are familiar with the world of IBO DP, you should be familiar with the beautiful website that is ManageBac. On your school’s page, there should be some resources at your disposal to give you ideas. Or, you can always just contact your IB or CAS Coordinator for more information.

Additional Resources

  1. Tagged IB content

(my school gives out an ee checklist right before the deadline, so i figured i might as well share with the despairing ib and ee tags…)

- title of the essay
- subject in which the essay is registered
- word count
- name of the author
- candidate number of the author
- title page has no number

- placed immediately after title page
- page has no number
- research question is clearly stated
- research question is highlighted (underlined, italicised, bolded, etc)
- clear explanation of how research was undertaken
- conclusion is clearly stated
- abstract does not exceed 300 words

- neatly laid out
- page numbers correspond with headings
- first item is introduction
- does not include title page, abstract, and table of contents

- research question is clearly stated
- research question is highlighted (underlined, italicised, bolded, etc)
- research question is set into context
- significance of the topic is clearly explained

- conclusion is clearly separated from body of the essay
- conclusion is clearly labelled 
- conclusion is clearly stated
- conclusion is relevant to the research question
- conclusion is consistent with evidence in the body of the essay

6. APPENDICES (if applicable)
- all appendices are neatly presented
- all appendices are clearly labelled
- appendices are clearly referenced in the body of the essay

- consistently follows one citation style (eg. MLA)
- contains only sources referred to in the essay
- arranged alphabetically
- date of access and URLs are clearly indicated for all web sources

- all sources used (both quoted and paraphrased) are clearly documented through footnotes or in brackets
- the essay does not exceed 4000 words

basically if you can check all of these off you should at least have all the formalities down for a good extended essay :)

IB Internal Assessments, Written Tasks and other coursework

I was clearing out IB related stuff from my computer (should’ve done so ages ago lol) but I just couldn’t let go of some of the work I spent not hours and days, but weeks and months on. I decided to upload the final versions of the work on Scribd and link them here for any IB students that would like to see a pro’s work  are stuck and want some help on getting started.

My HLs:

  • Biology:
  1. IA: Osmosis (The effect of increasing sucrose concentration on the mass of potato chips)
  2. IA: Enzymes and Inhibition (The effect of copper (II) sulphate on the activity of catalase.)
  • Chemistry:
  1. IA: Energetics (Calculating the enthalpy of combustion for the first five alcohols.)
  2. IA: Kinetics (To determine whether H+ ions in HCl act as a catalyst in the reaction between hydrochloric acid and sodium thiosulfate.)
  • English A: Language and Literature
  1. WT 1: Language and Culture (A blog post discussing Palestinian identity, resistance and other themes that was made in response to an “Israeli hummus” ad.)
  2. WT 2: How and why is a social group presented in a particular way? (An essay on the piece of crap that is Conrad’s Heart of Darkness)
  3. WT 1: Language and Mass Communication (not sent, it’s a talk show script discussing feminism, first ever work in IB so wasn’t my best)
  4. Further Oral Activity (Lang and Culture)  (Prezi about tobacco advertising past and present. My partner and I did most of the work verbally so it may not be very helpful but this was fun)
  5. Further Oral Activity (Lang and Media) (Hated doing this so so much. The god-awful Madeleine McCann case that our school in Oman made us analyze for no reason)
  6. Individual oral was on Carol Ann Duffy's Havisham but I don’t have a copy of that.

My SLs

  • Economics:
  1. Microeconomics commentary (market failure in relation to cigarette consumption, specifically negative externalities of consumption and whether tobacco tax works as a possible solution)
  2. Macroeconomics commentary (discusses the causes and some solutions to recent unemployment in Spain)
  3. International economics commentary (tariffs and protectionism, evaluation, other solutions, etc)
  • Français B: 
  1. Travail écrit (un appel basé sur des articles est des chansons concernant la thème de violence aux femmes et la resistance feministe)
  2. Orale individuel sur les adverse effets de tabagisme et orale interactif sur l'identité Omanaise mais ceux-ci ne sont pas disponibles
  • Mathematics:
  1. Exploration (using differential calculus to model the spread of epidemics, FUN)


  • Extended Essay in Biology (Research Question: To what extent is Miswak more effective than toothpaste in reducing certain colonies of oral bacteria, as observed by inoculation of pre and post usage oral swabs? ~ Spent over a 100 solid hours on this excruciating task. 2 marks off an A but it was still worth it.) 
  • Theory of Knowledge
  1. Essay (response to prescribed title no. 5 in May 2014 examinations:“The historian’s task is to understand the past; the human scientist, by contrast, is looking to change the future.” To what extent is this true in these areas of knowledge.)
  2. Presentation (Main knowledge issue: To what extent do prejudice and belief play into people’s resistance of new scientific knowledge?~ got 20/20 with my brilliant partner ildoctora like hell yeah but most of the work was done verbally so idk if this is any help. Pro tip tho: don’t write too much on presentations)
  • CAS evaluations
  1. Model United Nations (creativity)
  2. Sailing (action)
  3. Tutoring (mostly service)


Please note:

  • None of this work is perfect. I got 6s and 7s in most of these but undoubtedly there are hundreds of other approaches you could take (and should take).
  • This is intended to be used as a guide or as a way to help you plan your work. If you take out chunks of text or ideas directly it would be considered plagiarism (everyone knows this but just putting it out here)
  • This was written/presented in line with the specific requirements of the syllabi up to 2014 examinations. The IA criteria change often, make sure you use the subject guide for the examinations in your year. (Subject guide is your best friend tbh. It’s a better aid than myself, other IB students and even your teachers.)

You can send me a message if you have any queries regarding this or other IB stuff and I’d be happy to help if I can.

April 6th {8/100}

Day 8 of my 100 days of productivity! I decided to finally start working on my extended essay. We have to hand in our proposal form by next week and I’m still not 100% about what I’m going to do. 

How To Write An Extended Essay

A) Subject
Decide from which subject your EE will be on. It is most advisable that its from one of the subjects you’re studying.

B) Topic
Which area in the subject you’ve chosen are you interested in?
E.g: History: Cold War
E.g: English: Pride and Prejudice
E.g: Chemistry: Acids and Bases

C) Research
Tres important mes aimies! It’s through research you will find out what you do like, and what you don’t like.
E.g: I rather like World War Two, but I do not like the involvement of the US. This means I will not focus on US involvement in WWII.
Gather as many resources which are relevant, even if it’s just a sentence. You never know when your EE focus point might change.

D) Question
The focus point of your essay. In most cases, it continues to change slightly, until a pinpoint focus in a topic is found and liked by both the supervisor and student.

E) Planning
Decide on the relevant subtopics.
Are diagrams needed?
Gather resources.
A basic dot-pointed list of what will be included in the essay for each sub-topic

F) Drafting
Place butt on suitable surface and type/write. There are two ways to go about this:
i) Set a goal and write an amount of words every ‘session’.
ii) Type/write until you can no more!
At this point it is the introduction, background information abour the topic and the body of the essay which is being written.

G) The First Complete Draft
4000+ words have been put to paper. This is an Accomplishment. Reread it and edit. Then show your supervisor, who will provide you with feedback. Do not ignore the feedback (unless your supervisor is clueless and has no hell of an idea what you’re doing- which is very bad). It is not necessary that a conclusion and an abstract are written, since they come at the end.

H) Continual drafting
Edit and rewrite and improve your essay as much as you can. Keep track of ALL sources used. The correct presentation of the essay (formatting, font, etc…) can be implemented at this point.

I) The Final Draft
viva voce (oh, the IBO and its fancy Latin!is conducted. This is an interview with your supervisor regarding any more changes which can be made. Your supervisor actually records points they’ve noticed about your essay and other notes about the interview. The essay is checked for plagiarism.

Your EE component is done and dusted. The IB warlocks will give you a mark. This mark, along with your TOK essay will contribute your final IB diploma mark, with a maximum of three.
Here are a few much more thorough guides regarding the Extended Essay (in order of usefulness)
IBO official Extended Essay Guide (click on the other pages listed on the right hand side of the page to view criteria, regulations, presentation guidelines, etc…)

City Honours School EE guide
IB Survival EE for Dummies

  • Looks like a cinnamon roll but could actually kill you:Theory of Knowledge
  • Looks like they could kill you but is actually a cinnamon roll:Extended Essay
  • Looks like a cinnamon roll and is actually a cinnamon roll:Caffeine
  • Looks like they could kill you and could actually kill you:CAS
  • The Sinammon roll:your IB coordinator