The extended essay is a required component of the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP).
It is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper.
What is the significance of the extended essay?
The extended essay provides:
- practical preparation for undergraduate research
- an opportunity for students to investigate a topic of special interest to them, which is also related to one of the student's six DP subjects.
Through the research process for the extended essay, students develop skills in:
- formulating an appropriate research question
- engaging in a personal exploration of the topic
- communicating ideas
- developing an argument.
Participation in this process develops the capacity to analyse, synthesize and evaluate knowledge.
An extended essay can also be undertaken in world studies, where students carry out an in-depth interdisciplinary study of an issue of contemporary global significance, across two IB diploma disciplines.
How is study of the extended essay structured?
Students are supported throughout the process of researching and writing the extended essay, with advice and guidance from a supervisor who is usually a teacher at the school.
The IB recommends that students follow the completion of the written essay with a short, concluding interview with their supervisor. This is known as viva voce.
The extended essay and interview can be a valuable stimulus for discussion in countries where interviews are required prior to acceptance for employment or for a place at university.
How is the extended essay assessed?
All extended essays are externally assessed by examiners appointed by the IB. They are marked on a scale from 0 to 36.
The score a student receives relates to a band. The bands are:
- A – work of an excellent standard.
- B – work of a good standard.
- C –work of a satisfactory standard.
- D – work of a mediocre standard.
- E – work of an elementary standard.
Find out how points awarded for the extended essay contribute to a student’s overall diploma score.
Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge Assessment
What is Extended Essay (EE)?
The extended essay of approximately 4,000 words offers the opportunity for IB students to investigate a topic of special interest, usually one of the student’s six Diploma Programme subjects, and acquaints them with the independent research and writing skills expected at university. It is intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity—resulting in approximately 40 hours of work. It provides students with an opportunity to engage in personal research on a topic of choice, under the guidance of a supervisor. © International Baccalaureate Organization 2010
What is Theory of Knowledge (TOK)?
The interdisciplinary theory of knowledge course is designed to develop a coherent approach to learning that transcends and unifies the academic areas and encourages appreciation of other cultural perspectives.
The theory of knowledge course is in part intended to encourage students to reflect on the huge cultural shifts worldwide around the digital revolution and the information economy. The extent and impact of the changes vary greatly in different parts of the world, but everywhere their implications for knowledge are profound. Theory of knowledge encourages critical thinking about knowledge itself and aims to help young people make sense of what they encounter. Its core content focuses on questions such as the following.
- What counts as knowledge?
- How does it grow?
- What are its limits?
- Who owns knowledge?
- What is the value of knowledge?
- What are the implications of having, or not having, knowledge
© International Baccalaureate Organization 2010
How are these subjects Evaluated?
Letter grades are awarded for the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge based on achievement against published criteria.
The standards are:
A - Work of an excellent standard
B - Work of a good standard
C - Work of a satisfactory standard
D - Work of a mediocre standard
E - Work of an elementary standard
These grades are combined according to the matrix below to give the student a maximum of 3 points.
The Diploma Points Matrix
If a student gains an “E” in either component 28 points overall will be required to pass the IB Diploma (not 24 points as is usual). A grade “A” in one of the components earns an extra point even if the other is a grade “E”. An “E” grade in both the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge means an automatic failure of the IB Diploma.