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.
The International Baccalaureate® (IB) online curriculum centre (OCC), a key resource for educators at IB World Schools, includes several examples of extended essay titles.
These highlight the diverse range of topics covered by International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) students during their extended essays.
Some examples are:
- “An analysis of costume as a source for understanding the inner life of the character”
- “A study of malnourished children in Indonesia and the extent of their recovery after a period of supervised improved nutrition.”
- “Doing versus being: language and reality in the Mimamsa school of Indian philosophy.”
- “The effects of sugar-free chewing gum on the pH of saliva in the mouth after a meal.”
- “To what extent has the fall in the exchange rate of the US dollar affected the tourist industry in Carmel, California?”
- “What level of data compression in music files is acceptable to the human ear?”
Also available in the OCC, the Handbook of Procedures for the Diploma Programme has guidance on choosing a subject for the extended essay.
The OCC is only available to existing IB World Schools.
You can also purchase examples of essays in the IB Store. These essays fulfil the requirements for an ‘A’ grade in the extended essay.
If your school is not one already, learn how to become an IB World School in order to implement the DP.