What is Extended Essay?

One of the core components of our International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is the Extended Essay.

A requirement for all IB DP students, the Extended Essay is an independent research project culminating in a 4,000-word paper.

Intended as preparation for undergraduate research, the IB Extended Essay gives students the opportunity to explore topics that interest them. Students can pursue Extended Essay topics related to one of the six International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme subject groups, or take an interdisciplinary approach. The Extended Essay provides students with experience in:

  • Formulating research questions
  • Exploring topics
  • Communicating ideas
  • Developing arguments

The project focuses on a topic chosen by the student. Students complete the research under the guidance of a supervising teacher. However, students can choose the IB Extended Essay topics they want to research.

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How Do Students Prepare for the Extended Essay?

To guide you in formulating a research question, you can browse extended essay examples online. Prior learning from your IB coursework will help you direct your research, too.

As part of your preparation:

Choose an available DP subject for the essay.

Familiarise yourself with evaluation criteria and ethics guidelines

Choose a research topic and do background reading on it.

Develop a preliminary research question.

Create an outline and timeline for your research and writing.

Identify how and when to gather source material.

Identify a system of academic referencing to use.

Set realistic deadlines.

Select a structure for the essay.

Complete some preliminary reading related to your research question.

Conduct the research.

What is the Purpose of the Extended Essay?

The IB Extended Essay is intended to equip students with vital skills necessary for success in higher education, the workplace and other areas of life. These skills include:

English - First language

Human Sciences

Foreign Language





Co-ordinated Sciences

Natural Sciences


The Extended Essay also supports students' engagement with the academic disciplines. Helping students consider multiple viewpoints, the project fosters international mindedness and leadership skills.

What is the Significance of the Extended Essay?

A study conducted at the University of Virginia, USA, reported that Diploma Programme graduates felt more prepared to complete research-orientated coursework than their counterparts who took Advanced Placement courses. DP graduates also reported a greater likelihood to conduct subsequent research, citing it as critical to their future success.

According to DP graduates at two UK universities, completing the Extended Essay sharpened their critical and independent thinking skills. In Canada, IB graduates indicated higher ratings than their non-IB peers on self-managed inquiry-based learning. They also noted enhanced reading, writing, organisational and analytical skills.

What is the Format of the Extended Essay?

According to Extended Essay guidelines, students must spend 40 hours developing their projects. Many of our students are so enthusiastic about exploring topics of interest to them that they spend considerably more than the recommended time researching and reflecting on their topics.

Students need to complete several steps as part of the Extended Essay. Some of the important ones are:

Choosing a topic
Framing a research question
Planning the research process
Carrying out the research
Structuring and writing

Students must also participate in three mandatory reflection sessions with their supervisors. The final meeting, known as the viva voce, is a concluding interview. The viva voce is helpful career preparation, should students seek a position that requires an interview to be considered for employment.

How is the Extended Essay Graded?

The IB Extended Essay is graded by an IB-appointed independent evaluator according to established criteria. Papers are marked on a scale of 0-34, and the project can add up to 3 points to a student’s overall IB DP score when used in conjunction with the TOK grade. To complete the project successfully, students must receive a grade of D or higher. Other important evaluation criteria include:

Focus and method
Compare knowledge across disciplines
Critical thinking

Evaluators use subject-specific interpretations of these criteria to provide the most accurate assessments. The IB Extended Essay equips students with transferable skills and encourages open-mindedness and analytical thinking.

Learn more about IB Diploma at OWIS

IB DP Requirements

Theory of Knowledge

Theory of Knowledge

Creativity, Activity & Service

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