1. Format of Extended Essay

1.1 Word Count

Students must write the extended essay within 4,000 words. Once it exceeds the word count examiners will stop reading, so it’s important that you have all the elements of the essay within the word count. But it doesn’t mean your essay can be short and it usually has to have at least 80% of the word count (3,200 words for the EE). And there are some elements that are not included in the word count as following.

  • Maps, charts, diagrams, tables, drawings with annotations
  • Equations, formulas, calculations
  • Reference and bibliography, citations, annotations, appendices
  • Table of contents

1.2 Structure of the Extended Essay

By having a robust structure of the essay and following it, you can easily write your own EE with logical development. You are recommended to write the following key elements of EE as headings first and then start writing under each heading.

  • Title page – only includes the title of the essay, research question(s), the subject of your EE, and word count
  • Table of contents – must have all pages in your EE
  • Introduction – e.g. the background of the investigation, history, definition of keywords, and why you chose the topic
  • Body paragraphs – usually have 3 to 4 chapters
  • Conclusion – e.g. explanation of the investigation and why you got your results, and what you learned through writing the EE.
  • References and bibliography – use MLA or APA to correctly cite the references.

2. Relationship with a Supervisor

Each student will have a supervisor from the subject of their EE and they will support the student by advising. So it’s important to have a good relationship with your supervisor. Especially when you start writing your EE, try to have as much time as you need with your supervisor to make sure you choose the right topic and you understand the criteria of the EE. However, supervisors are not allowed to give you an excessive amount of comments or advice in order to let you do the work on your own. So it’s best that you prepare your questions before the meetings. And if you are not sure if you are a good match with your supervisor, go to your friends or IB graduates to ask for help because you won’t be able to change your supervisor.

3. Choosing Research Questions and Topics

3.1 For Group 1 (First Language) Subjects

Students can use literary works used in the class, but it’s better to choose other works on your own to add originality to your EE. Those works are not restricted to the ones IBO recommends but make sure they have depth in literary aspects.

There are three categories to choose from if you decide to write the EE in group 1 subjects.

  1. Study in one or more literary works originally written in the language of the essay
  2. Comparison of literary works: one of which is originally written in the language of the essay, and the other in another language
  3. Study in language based on one or more texts produced in the language of the essay

In category 1 and 2, students usually focus on comparing literary works in terms of how the literary elements are presented. In category 3, students are expected to analyze the relationships between the language of the essay and cultures in the area where the language is spoken. Be careful not to focus too much on culture and talk less about language in category 3!

Here are some examples of research questions for essays in group 1 subjects.

  • How has the author’s perception of religion changed based on the comparison of two pieces of literature? (category 1)
  • To what extent do expressions and portrayals in the translated version of the literary work A differ depending on the translators? (category 1)
  • To what extent do expressions and portrayals in the translated version of the literary work A differ from the original version? (category 2)
  • How was the language used to express different opinions toward incident A in newspapers? (category 3)

3.2 For Group 3 (Humanity) Subjects


Try not to talk a lot from historic aspects but focus more on economic impacts! Students can use both primary research and secondary research but don’t have to use both, so choose how you collect your data wisely. Make sure you follow the five years rule, meaning economic information, policies, events, and outcomes need to be a maximum of five years old. Otherwise, the highest grade you will be able to get for criteria C (critical thinking) is a 6 out of 12.


Make sure your topic is more than 10 years old because events that happened in the last 10 years are not considered as “historic events”. Another thing you need to be careful of is that you remain neutral when writing your opinions. But other than that, you can choose any historic events as your topic. It doesn’t have to be something you learned in the course either.


It’s easier for students to get better scores by carrying out an investigation at the local level (e.g. focusing on the area you live in). So, try to give as much originality to your EE as possible by doing research on your local area.

3.3 For Group 4 (Science) Subjects

Students can choose any topic that is related to the subject of their choice but try to focus on the aspect of your subject if you choose an interdisciplinary topic. For example, if students choose the topic of human disease and write their EE in biology, they have to write from biological views and not from other views such as medical science, economics, and sociology. In this case, examiners will only assess the parts of your report that are related to biology.

Students can carry out experiments on their own or analyze existing works to write an EE.

Try not to make your topic too broad by choosing specific target of your investigation.

4. How to Find a Resource

Using academic resources is a key to get a better score so here are some popular websites that allow you to explore different kinds of academic papers. Some papers are only available for subscribed users but you can still look or even download some academic journals. Most importantly, don’t forget to cite everything you use for your EE!