It’s very common for IB students to struggle with time management since there are lots of assignments from their classroom, IA, CAS, and EE. On top of that, although there’s a supervisor to guide them, EE requires students’ own initiative for making an appointment, carrying out an experiment, and writing up the essay. So it’s very important to plan how much of the writing process should be done by each span of time, beforehand, and follow the plan. This post is for those who don’t know how to plan the EE writing process and those who are worried if they’re too behind with their work.
1. Average Time to Write the EE
Each IB school has a different schedule so the timing in which students start doing their research and writing their EE may vary depending on the school. But the information will probably let you find a pattern of when students start their EE and how long it usually takes to finish it.
Our team has collected data through an online questionnaire taken by IBDP graduates (28 respondents), and have found that many first started doing the research either in the second semester of their first year, during the summer break between the first and second year, or from the very beginning of the IB. You need to follow your IB coordinator’s instruction, but it’s not too early to start thinking about the EE on your own and get advice from teachers in the field your EE will focus on, even if your school hasn’t started the “EE season” yet. Once a supervisor is assigned to you, then you can discuss your ideas and your schedule with them.
Based on the above, it’s realistic to think it can take more than half a year to finish EE. The average months taken to finish the whole process of EE was 8.2 months according to the respondents of our questionnaire. But, some answered a year or a year and a half while a few answered a few months to finish their EE. If the experiment or the research takes too long or if you decide to re-write the whole EE, it could take longer than a year.
So, it’s best to schedule your “EE season” at the early stage of IB and have a safety margin to spend as much time as possible on your essay because you don’t want to rush it and compromise the quality of it.
2. Stages of the EE Writing Process
There are many things to do in the process of writing the EE, but it’s easy to finish the whole process once you know each step. The table below summarizes the steps set to finish within 6 months and you can either follow them or change some parts to suit your choice of topic or writing schedule (e.g. adding “experiment” between the steps).
|Stage||Step||Week||What to do|
|Research||1. Do research on possible topics||1~2||
|2. Read policies / assessment criteria of EE||2||
|3. Choose a subject / topic||3||
|4. Initial Reflection Session||3||
|Planning||5. Set Research Question(s)||3||
|6. More research||3~5||
|7. Make table of contents||6||
|8. Interim Reflection Session||6||
|Writing||9. Write the introduction||7||
|10. Write the body paragraphs||8~20||
|11. Write the conclusion||21||
|12. Create a bibliography||22||
|13. Submit the first draft to your supervisor||22||
|15. Final submission||25||
|16. Final Reflection Session (viva voce)||25||
3. Tips to Keep Up with Your Planning
3.1 List Everything You Need to Do
Those who can’t keep up with the plan tend to miss important tasks when they plan in the first place and they end up doing it at the last minute. This is the easiest part but take your time, make sure you have everything on the task list, and understand what you have to do from the start. Feel free to use the table we provided in the previous section and change or add necessary tasks to make it your original list.
3.2 Use a Planner Tool
There are various planning tools to organize your schedule. It can be a physical planner or an app. Find something you can get used to, put due dates of your tasks, and make sure you have enough time to finish it. By using a planning tool, you can visually see how much time you have for the tasks, as well as time to socialize, and to sleep. It also gives you consistency and you’ll find it satisfying to cross out the tasks you’ve finished.
3.3 Exercise between the Tasks
Whether you have many tasks or not, doing physical exercise frequently will help you clear your head. It can be very stressful to go through the writing process and sitting in front of your desk for hours is not healthy. So you might find taking a walk or doing a ten-minute workout refreshing. It’s also effective when you feel your productivity is not as high anymore. Having exercise in your daily schedule will help you decide whether you have to keep going or call it a day.
3.4 Be Flexible
As mentioned above, it’s also important to have the courage to call it a day when your brain isn’t working anymore because it won’t be productive. Carrying on with the task the next day might be better. When your task is not done by the day you planned to, it’s best to be flexible and reschedule it to another day. But, this doesn’t mean you can change the schedule anytime, it just means being flexible with your plan is one option you can have when you’re stuck with a certain task.