First and foremost, congratulations on making it through the first year of IBDP! Enjoy the holidays and get the rest you deserve after working tirelessly to keep on with the workflow. Nonetheless, you should be mindful of finishing a presentable first draft of the Extended Essay (EE) before starting Year 2. Trust me, your future self will thank you.
When it comes to Group 4 subjects i.e. Sciences EE, the holidays are a crucial moment. It is the perfect time to conduct your experiments in the school lab (if you’re doing an experiment-based project)! You don’t have to worry about balance hours of classes and extracurriculars all together. I did an experiment-based Biology EE about the effect of controlling the extra- and intercellular conditions of human cells by analysing the proliferative rate of a cell line. To approach this topic, I focused on recollecting enough sources during the school year (Year 1). I then spent the summer writing the first draft from ground up, as advised by my supervisor and IB coordinator. This is what I advise to submit, stress-free, the first draft of the EE by the first week of IBDP2.
1. Communication with your EE supervisor is key
Ask your supervisor for their availability over the summer! Try to establish deadlines and consultation dates with your supervisor before the holidays. Primarily because your supervisors aren’t obliged to reply to your emails once the academic year has ended. Moreover, two-way communication is fundamental to carry on writing and researching over the summer!
My Tip: Get all your initial questions solved before the year ends. Consequently, you are guaranteed to leave for vacations with an answer and a headstart on your work. I scheduled a meeting with my supervisor before the end of Year 2. They told me to submit my methodology and ‘results’ sections of the EE by the end of August, motivating me to finish them by pressure.
2. Set yourself up for trial and error throughout the EE process
If you have an experiment-based EE, you know how important is it to have results that allow for a discussion of your hypothesis. Even after hours of research to craft the perfect methodology, changes are unpredictable! You must have enough time to fix misshapes during and after conducting your experiments. Make sure that you leave enough time to think and plan every step of your EE throughout, highlighting the experimental section of this assessment. Having said that, get your planning done ASAP!
Once I got into the lab, I realised that there were some parts of the protocol I gathered from research that couldn’t be done given the material I had available. This was due to under planning and the lack of communication with my supervisor since they could have told me the resources available at the high school laboratory if I had only asked them. Without a protocol to follow, the first sessions were unproductive and rather stressful times at the lab, since I had no detailed outline to follow on my own.
3. Use your free time wisely
The main challenge of writing an EE over the summer is being consistent with the process of writing your first draft. In order to stay on track during the whole summer, use various time management methods! Some of my favourites involve the Pomodoro and Time Blocking techniques. Although you may have used them to stay focused for long periods of time during the school year, I want you to squeeze these techniques in your daily routine to achieve a balance between a light workflow and a lively social life. Staying organised also makes you more likely to be motivated, beating procrastination and getting stuff done little but steady.
4. Remember to rest
Balance is key, that’s why holidays exist in the first place. Aim at having a lower workflow than during the academic year, so you don’t find yourself stuck in a writer’s block or depriving yourself from the activities you enjoy doing the most. Set yourself some boundaries and respect them for your own sanity: you really don’t want to burn out during the most relaxing time of the year, do you?
Lastly, look at your extended essay as the addition of mini sprints rather than a marathon, where each section is a milestone achieved. This will make your writing process so much more rewarding. I wish someone had told me these tips when I was writing my EE. I hope you learnt from this article post! Happy holidays!