The Extended Essay (EE) is an exhilarating yet challenging journey that every IB student embarks upon during the diploma. It is a culmination of years of hard work and dedication, an opportunity to delve into a subject you are passionate about, and a chance to demonstrate your research and writing skills. However, the path to completing an outstanding EE can be strewn with obstacles and pitfalls. Drawing from personal experience, I will share some valuable do’s and don’ts to guide you through your Extended Essay journey.
Utilize Your Supervisor
One of the greatest resources at your disposal is your EE supervisor. Regularly communicate with them, seek their guidance, and ask questions when you are unsure. A good rapport with your supervisor can make a significant difference in your EE experience.
Advocate for Yourself
If, like me, you find yourself shuffled through supervisors or encounter issues with your assigned supervisor, don’t hesitate to advocate for yourself. Request a change if necessary and ensure you have a supervisor who understands and supports your research goals.
Procrastination is a common pitfall in the EE process. Start your research and writing as early as possible. A well-structured timeline can help you manage your time effectively and reduce last-minute stress. Starting your EE journey with research rather than writing will allow you to understand the implications of your question and your writing process will be a lot smoother. Then the summer holiday between Y1 and Y2 of IB is the best time to get ahead in writing your EE, even if you only do a little, it’s still going to make the whole process during Y2 so much easier.
Choose Your Passion
Select a topic that genuinely excites you. Your EE is a substantial research project, and your passion for the subject matter will keep you motivated throughout the process. Plus, it will reflect in the quality of your work. This can also help in choosing a future area of study after the IB – who knows, maybe you could be on your way to a PhD in your EE area in the future.
When researching, it’s beneficial to engage in a wide variety of sources. When you’re researching make sure to read all perspectives on your matter, from the journal articles to documents, to news articles, and even people’s personal anecdotes. While you may not use all of these, you do need to get every countless perspective on an issue to make informed interpretations and back up your claims. This wide-range of research and engagement with your topic also makes you develop a deeper passion and brings fun to the process.
Draft and Redraft
Writing is a process that often requires multiple drafts. Don’t expect your first draft to be perfect. Edit and revise your work diligently, and seek feedback from peers and teachers to refine your essay.
Cite Sources Properly
Adhere to proper citation and referencing styles (such as MLA, APA, or Chicago). Plagiarism is a serious academic offense, and citing sources correctly is crucial to maintaining academic integrity. What is strongly advised by many IB schools is that the percentage of integrity – or TurnItIn score – should be under 20%, so citing and referencing is vital in all IB assignments.
As mentioned earlier, procrastination can be your worst enemy. Avoid putting off your EE tasks until the last minute. This can lead to rushed research, lower-quality work, and unnecessary stress.
Choose a Topic Solely for Its Ease
While it’s important to choose a subject you are passionate about, avoid selecting a topic solely because you think it will be easy. EE is about challenging yourself and exploring your academic boundaries.
Overcomplicate Your Topic
On the other hand, don’t choose a topic that is overly complex or beyond your current knowledge level. Striking the right balance between challenge and feasibility is essential.
When you receive feedback from your supervisor or peers, don’t dismiss it. Feedback is a valuable tool for improvement. Embrace constructive criticism and use it to refine your EE.
Neglect your Reflections
Your 3 reflections are worth 6 marks, which is a lot in terms of EE. If you know that you might forget to complete them, or won’t remember things to put in them, keep a document while you’re on your EE journey to keep track of all problems, solutions and lessons you’ve learnt – this will help you synthesize great reflections and help your future self.
The IB Extended Essay is a rigorous and rewarding endeavor that can shape your academic and personal growth. By following these do’s and don’ts, you can navigate the challenges and make the most of this unique opportunity. Remember to harness your passion, seek guidance from your supervisor, and start early to ensure a successful Extended Essay journey. Embrace the process, and you’ll emerge with not only a valuable piece of research but also a sense of accomplishment that will stay with you long after your IB days are over.