Grade 11

Using your extended essay to help applications

In this section you can:

The Expert View

Putting rankings in their place

Read this to get the complete picture…


The IB Extended Essay. You’ve already heard about it, maybe you’re even done some preparation; perhaps you are wondering how you are going to produce a 4000-word essay when  the longest essay you’ve written so far was under 1000 words. Well don’t worry, Wigsbury is here to give you some tips, as well as showing you how valuable the Extended Essay is going to be.

Do not underestimate the importance of the Extended Essay, not only will it extend you academically it can, in conjunction with T0K, provide you with up to 3 bonus points. These points may make the difference between meeting the terms and conditions of your offer, or not.

Things to do:

  • Decide which subject area you want to write your Extended Essay in (preferably something linked to your university course).
  • Brainstorm your outline for an essay or essays.
  • Talk to your Extended Essay supervisor.
  • Decide on a title (You may need to tweak this later).
  • Make your timeline.
  • If you need help setting up an experiment, go and talk to the teacher and figure out when you can do this.
  • Set up regular meetings with your Extended Essay supervisor and ask for feedback.
  • Use citations. Create a bibliography.
  • And finally, proof read.

Tips & Tricks

tip 1:

Start early & seek advice

tip 2:

Prioritize Citations and Bibliography.

Quick, easy and professional looking. Put your essay into a Google doc, click on Tools, scroll down to ‘Citations’ and on the right, you will see ‘Add Citation Source’. Here you can also select ‘Add Bibliography’


The Extended Essay is a 4,000 word, independent, self-directed piece of research. It is excellent preparation for university level work.

What is the importance of the Extended Essay?

The extended essay provides:

  • practical preparation for undergraduate research

an opportunity for you to investigate a topic of personal interest which relates to one of the your 6 IBDP subjects, or you can take the interdisciplinary approach of a World Studies Extended Essay – world studies

Through the research process for the Extended Essay, you will develop skills in:
  • formulating an appropriate research question.
  • engaging in a personal exploration of the topic.
  • communicating ideas.
  • developing an argument. 
  • analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating knowledge.


How is the task of producing the Extended Essay structured?

You will be supported  and advised throughout the process of researching and writing by your supervisor; you will also be required to have three mandatory reflection sessions with your supervisor. The final session is in the form of a concluding interview.


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 34.

The score you receive 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.

As with any piece of work that is going to be submitted for your exam, it is useful to understand how the marks are awarded, this will help to focus your efforts and maximize your score.

Overview of marking – 34 marks

Criterion A: Focus and Method - 6 Marks
  1. Topic
  2. Research Question
  3. Methodology
Criterion C: Critical Thinking - 12 Marks
  1. Research
  2. Analysis
  3. Discussion and evaluation
Criterion B: Knowledge and Understanding - 6 Marks
  1. Context
  2. Subject-specific terminology and concepts
Criterion D: Presentation - 4 Marks
  1. Structure
  2. Layout
Criterion E: Engagement - 6 Marks
  1. Process
  2. Research Focus

Some critical questions that need to be asked

Sometimes the questions are more important than the answers.

question 1:

Which subject area interests me most?

question 3:

Where can I go for help and advice?

question 2:

What constitutes original research?

question 4:

Does my choice of Extended Essay title support my application to university?

So what are you going to write about!

Pick a subject area that interests you – pick a subject that links to your proposed course at university, this will be useful preparation for you and will enable you and your college counselor to flag up your interest and enthusiasm for this subject. This will be noticed and appreciated by the university admissions tutors. It’s a plus for you!

Brainstorm some possible subjects – you can fine tune the exact title later.

Think specifically about what you are interested in researching (a proposal). Remember, this is an independent research and writing process, not an assignment given by the teacher.

You can select from the IB subjects list or you can take an interdisciplinary approach

With an Extended Essay in World Studies, this gives you the opportunity to  undertake an interdisplinary study of an issue of contemporary global significance. You should identify an issue of global importance and develop a clear rationale for taking an interdisplinary approach.

 Extended Essays in World Studies must be registered in one of the following areas: 1) Conflict, Peace and Security 2) Culture, Language and Identity 3) Environmental and/or Economic Sustainability 4) Equality and inequality 5) Health and development 6) Science, Technology and Society.

Talk to your Extended Essay supervisor. You will have a teacher allocated to you and he/she will guide you through the process.

Clear Goals, please!

You will need to do some research, perhaps set up an experiment and analyze the results, maybe you’ll have to gather data from many published sources and analyze the results. Perhaps your need to generate the data yourself by conducting a survey.

You will need to set yourself a clear goal and simultaneously remain flexible as your data may move you in a new direction. You will hone your writing skills, learn how to attribute sources, use charts and diagrams upgrade your IT skills.

This will be the single most rigorous piece of academic work that you undertake during the IB diploma program and it is excellent preparation for the type of work that you will be doing at university. Many students come to university never having attempted such a task, you will be at an advantage.

Make sure the person who writes your recommendation for your university application is aware of the title of your Extended Essay; go and talk to him or her and discuss how this could be integrated into the academic recommendation letter. Some college counselors or teachers like  to write something along the lines of, ‘although talented in all areas of the IB diploma program, his/her passion clearly lies in the scientific field as is evidenced by his/her choice of Extended Essay. Quote EE title.


Writing the Extended Essay

Now that you have chosen the title, is it a hypothesis that needs proving/disapproving, or is it a more general title that can be examined/discussed?

You will need to gather together your materials, the results of your research and re-examine your original title in the light of these. You will need to stay flexible and possibly change your title to make it more closely fit the results of your research.

The normal pattern of essay writing:

Introduction – set out for your reader what it is you are attempting to achieve/prove.

Use paragraphs and transitions.

Conclusion – this is very important; be sure you make clear to the reader whether you have proved or disproved the hypothesis stated in your title.

Sample Extended Essays

And finally, a few sample essay titles drawn from a variety of subjects, just to give you an idea of the exciting variety of Extended Essay topics that IB Diploma students explore. 

  • ‘An analysis of costume as a source for understanding the inner life of the character.’ Theatre.
  • ‘A study of malnourished children in Sudan and the extent of their recovery after a period of supervised improved nutrition.’  Geography.
  • ‘The effects of sugar-free chewing gum on the pH of saliva in the mouth after a meal.’  Chemistry.
  • ‘To what extent has the fall in the exchange rate of the Turkish Lira affected the tourist industry in Antalya, Turkey?’  Economics.
  •  ‘What level of data compression in music files is acceptable to the human ear?’  Music.
  • ‘Why is herbal medicine used despite the presence of modern medicine in the modern age?’  Biology.
  • ‘How was persuasive language used in presidential debates between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in the 2020 elections?’  English.
  • ‘To what extent was Muhammad Ali Jinnah responsible for the partition of British india in 1947?’  History.
  • ‘How do visual elements help characterisation in the German Expressionist films – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) and Metropolis (1927)?’  Film.
  • ‘To what extent is using a combination of two biological treatments more effective than using these treatments separately to alleviate symptoms of dementia in Alzheimer’s patients?’  Psychology.
  • ‘To what extent were the consequences of the Yugoslav conflict impacted by the United Nations?’  World Studies.
  • ‘To what extent does the threshold hypothesis provide a sufficient explanation for the relationship between creativity and intelligence.’  Psychology.
  • ‘To what extent are gender differences biologically determined?’  Psychology.
  • ‘To what extent has the Italian AirBnB tax, introduced in 2017, achieved the goals of the Venice authorities?’  Economics.

‘How do the different demands of positions affect the diets of college football athletes?’ Sports, exercise and health science.

    • ‘To what extent does David Fincher’s 2011 “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” emulate the ideas of Hollywoodization?’  Film.
    • ‘To what extent has Bonn’s infrastructure changed as a result of migration across national borders and what factors influenced this?’  Geography.
    • ‘To What Extent Did Orwell’s Life and Political Belief Shape the Novel 1984 in Regards to the Themes of Leadership and Power?’  English.
    • ‘To what extent is tourism the cause of a change in housing conditions on the Croatian Adriatic Coast since 2015?’  Geography.
    • ‘To what extent are lithium-ion based energy storers an approach to meet the rising demand for global energy storage?’  World Studies.
    • ‘To what extent was the 1989 ban on international ivory trade by CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) successful in helping to conserve Loxodonta africana (African elephant) populations in Kenya’s savannah ecosystem?’  World studies.
    • ‘In what ways do the use of mass spectrometry methods differ in analysis of organic molecules and heavy metals in forensics science?’  Chemistry.
    • ‘What is the relationship between the wingspan of the spoiler and the time it takes for the car to travel a fixed distance and a corner of fixed radius?’  Physics.

Wigsbury Frequently asked questions

Quick answers to the important questions

Do I have to write my Extended Essay in one of my higher level subjects?

No, you are free to choose any subject.

I have absolutely no idea where to start. Help!

First select something that interests you and then go and talk to your supervisor.

I love music, but my parents made me take sciences in the IB. Can I still write my Extended Essay in the area of music?


When should I start writing my Extended Essay?

Your school will set deadlines, but it is a good idea to plan your essay while you’re in grade 11 and get most of it written during the summer holidays between grade 11 and grade 12. You will be very busy in grade 12, it will benefit you to get the Extended Essay out of the way as early as possible.

What are citations and bibliographies?

If you use someone else’s work e.g. something you found on the internet you’ll have to say where this has come from; you have to name the source. 

You will build up a bibliography of sources – books, websites etc. This will appear at the end of your Extended Essay. There are many different ways of approaching this, it’s best to check with your supervisor.


Another student in my class is going to write her Extended Essay in Psychology; I want to as well. Is it allowed to have two students from the same class/school write Extended Essays in the same subject?