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Extended Essay

Nature of the Extended Essay 

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. It is recommended that completion of the written essay is followed by a short, concluding interview, or viva voce, with the supervisor.

The extended essay is assessed against common criteria, interpreted in ways appropriate to each subject. 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 asupervisor in the school
  • chosen from the list of approved Diploma Programme subjects, published in the Handbook of procedures for the Diploma Programme
  • 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
  •  concluded with a short interview, or viva voce, with the supervising teacher (recommended).

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 atuniversity, the extended essay has often proved to be a valuable stimulus for discussion.


The aims of the extended essay are to provide students with the opportunity to:

  • pursue independent research on a focused topic
  • develop research and communication skills
  • develop the skills of creative and critical thinking
  • engage in a systematic process of research appropriate to the subject
  • experience the excitement of intellectual discovery.


In working on the extended essay, students are expected to:

  1. plan and pursue a research project with intellectual initiative and insight 
  2. formulate a precise research question
  3. gather and interpret material from sources appropriate to the research question 
  4. structure a reasoned argument in response to the research question on the basis of the material gathered 
  5. present their extended essay in a format appropriate to the subject, acknowledging sources in one of the established academic ways 
  6. use the terminology and language appropriate to the subject with skill and understanding 
  7. apply analytical and evaluative skills appropriate to the subject, with an understanding of theimplications and the context of their research.

Note: “material” has different meanings in different subjects. It may be data or information; it may bearguments or evidence.




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