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How to Write an Extended Essay

15 Jun 2018

Although the idea of an extended essay might sound overwhelming, it is simply a piece of writing that takes a longer form than your usual papers but short of the length of an undergraduate dissertation. a

Writing an extended essay can be challenging even for expert writers with a good command of structure and knowledge of effective techniques. This is because this format is rarely required and not frequently discussed. Also, of essay samples available today, extended essay examples are one of the least available. Thus making it a daunting encounter for first-timers.

There are different reasons for which you might be required to write an extended essay. This includes the end of year assessments or university entrance applications.

What is an Extended Essay?

The International Baccalaureate Extended Essay is a four thousand word mini-thesis written under the guidance of an advisor. The IB Extended Essay, just like TOK (theory of knowledge) essay and presentation, as well as participation in service, action and creativity activities, is a major requirement for an International Baccalaureate diploma. This means a student would not be granted an IB diploma without a successfully written IB Extended Essay.

The success of a properly written extended essay largely depends on structure. Aside from choosing a topic, doing research and figuring out the main question, the structure you choose would greatly determine your level of success. The best way to find the structure that suits your style of writing is to look through some excellent extended essay examples. One recurring feature you might find in these examples is the breaking down of content into several sub-topics to make for easier reading.

Extended Essay Topics

Since such assignments embrace a large spectrum of ideas, you may choose to write on any topic of your choice as far as the IBO approves it. The topic you choose must align with one of the IB course categories (Math, Spanish, Film, Theatre, Biology, etc.). Choosing a topic shouldn’t be a challenge considering the number of class subjects.

Good Extended Essay Topics

Looking at the pool of subjects to pull ideas from, the options available for choosing a good topic are nearly limitless. However, this large pull can also be overwhelming. To be successful in picking and dealing with a good topic, consider the following tips:

  1. Choose a topic that allows you write about something you enjoy
  2. Choose a topic that is  neither too broad nor too narrow
  3. Choose an advisor who knows a great deal about your topic
  4. Choose an advisor who will push you out of your comfort zone
  5. Ensure your paper has a definite structure and flow

Easy Extended Essay Topics

Basically, an easy topic would be one that allows you to explore your interests. Writing an extended essay can be really demanding, and choosing a topic that does not align with your interests is sure to intensify the stress that accompanies the process. To identify an easy topic, explore your interests that fall in line with IB subjects. A topic that falls within the confines of your interests also allows for broad analysis, in-depth exploration and lengthy writing.

Extended Essay Structure

An extended essay usually consists of:

  1. A cover page

2.An abstract (which is a one-page summary of your essay)

3.A table of contents

  1. The 4,000-word main body, and
  2. A bibliography

How to Start an Extended Essay

One of the effective ways to start an extended essay is to brainstorm. You can make a mind map or simply jam write for several minutes, writing as much as you can. Your introduction should give your readers a glimpse of what is to come and what they should expect from your essay. You should also state (in clear terms), the main goal of your writing, as well as the scope of the study. Your introduction should portray the importance of your topic and state reasons why it is worth investigating. If you fail to state why the topic of your extended essay is worth investigating, you should not expect the reader to find it worth reading.

Since the introduction must be in tandem with the rest of your essay, it is not unusual for writers to complete the introduction after they have written the conclusion. This would help you maintain focus as well as a sense of direction.

Your introduction should also contain your research questions. You should apply caution in choosing your research questions as they can either set you up for success or failure. Although coming up with the right questions can be challenging, your supervisor can aid you in the process. Ensure you include questions that pique your interests. When looking for a good research question, you should make the following assessments:

  1. Scope: is it the right scope?
  2. Tools: You should be able to identify the course concepts you would use.
  3. Information: Is adequate information available?
  4. Utility: Will this topic help you?

Essay Body Paragraphs

The body of an extended essay usually consists of research analysis, discussion, and assessment. Perhaps the biggest feature of good body paragraphs is the unique breakdown of content into several sub-topics that make for easier reading.

In a bid to write an excellent piece, writers can get stuck in a rut where they are looking for the RIGHT WORDS. Although good structuring is vital, you should not focus on structuring your ideas at the start of your writing. However, the final piece should be polished, well-paced, and properly structured.

You can write as much as you can for your first draft, after which you can structure your ideas into logical arguments in a well-connected framework. Although you should take it a paragraph at a time, you don’t have to write in chronological order. Start with the sections you are most interested in. Also, if you find it easier to write first then type later, then ditch your laptop and get a pen.

How to End an Extended Essay

One of the biggest temptations in ending an extended essay is to write as many convoluted words as possible to meet the four thousand word limit faster. This is a surefire way of scoring average or low grades. To attain excellence, you must resist this temptation as much as you can.

You should end your essay with a recap of ideas that you had portrayed so far. However, do not include any new information.

Extended Essay Conclusion

Your conclusion avails you the opportunity to consolidate the arguments in your essay in one final holograph. Your conclusion should also point to unanswered questions as well as restrictions. The concluding paragraphs should also be based on the outcome of your study.

Extended Essay Outline

There are three popular outlines for extended essays:

  1. The Bullet-Point Outline: This is the most classic example of an essay outline. The idea is to start small then expand afterward.
  2. The Post-it Note Outline: This option is most suitable for those who struggle to come up with ideas at the start of writing. The idea is to play around with the various parts of the essay until you put them in the best order.
  3. The Spreadsheet Outline: If you are a structure freak, then this is the best method for you. The idea is to structure your essay into sections. With this method, you can easily make comparisons in terms of the content and length of paragraphs.

Extended Essay Rubric

The grading rubric of the International Baccalaureate for extended essays is as follows:

A – perfect level

B – good work

C – satisfied the main requirements

D – mediocre standard

E – elementary level

This evaluation is based on a scale of zero to 36.

Extended Essay Examples

You can find examples of extended essays on the International Baccalaureate website.

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