Academic EE

Tips for choosing an EE subject

The subject you choose for your Extended Essay can make or break your EE grade. While 4,000 words might seem like a daunting task to a student, choosing the correct subject can help alleviate some stress when working on the essay in the future. Here are a few tips to help you choose your EE subject.

1. Make a list of all your possibilities

Get out a piece of paper and make a list of the IB subjects you take (6 for most people). If your school allows you to do an EE in a subject you don’t take, you can additionally add 1 or 2 other subjects you might be interested to do an EE in. 

As you narrow down the list of subjects you’d want to do your EE on, cross them off the list you made! This will give you some motivation to proceed further with choosing your EE subject because you’ll feel accomplished. 

2. Look at the EE subject guide and statistic bulletins

Read through the EE guide. It offers detailed guidance upon each IB subject EE (as well as the categories for Group 1 and 2). Certain EE subjects might have certain restrictions like the ‘animal experimentation policy’ in Group 4, so you must look over these before choosing a particular EE subject. Also, the guide provides example research questions and analysis of the criteria for each group which will be extremely helpful after choosing a subject.
Statistic bulletins are a great tool to find out the grade distributions per each EE group. Ultimately you should be choosing a subject that you’re most passionate about. However, if you want to know which subject groups get the highest percentage of A’s, this is where you can obtain such information.

3. Create a list of subtopics through mind maps

Utilising mind maps are a great way to visually depict information, and are especially useful for the EE to help organise your thoughts. For each of the EE subjects you are deciding on, create a mind map of what subtopics in that subject you enjoy.

Examples of mindmaps I made, which helped me choose an EE subject.

By doing this, you can see what subtopics of a certain subject might interest you more, making it a lot easier in choosing an EE subject. This is also important in the future once you try to choose a specific topic for the EE.

4. Consider doing a World Studies EE

If your school allows it, a world studies EE is an interdisciplinary option that allows you to combine two IB subjects to study a particular global issue. If you are having trouble choosing between two EE subjects, this is an excellent option provided the topic can be connected to both subjects and an area of study listed in the guide. To learn more about the World Studies EE, click here.

5. Think about your future major and constraints

The EE is a great way to see whether you want to explore a subject further in college as a major. For example, doing an EE in Biology can see if you would be fit doing laboratory-based experiments, an essential component of the degree. You would also gain subject-specific knowledge in whatever subject your EE is in, so doing an EE in the major you would do in the future would be especially beneficial. In addition (especially in the UK), universities love seeing that you’re doing an EE in a subject you will major in at college. Do note that this is a recommendation, not a requirement.

Some other constraints may arise in certain EE subjects. For example, it’s well known that Group 4 EEs are the most time-consuming out of all EE choices. In addition, the pandemic has caused EE subjects that require the student to collect data outside of their home to be much more difficult. Take these challenges into consideration.

Choosing your EE subject is a very difficult decision to take. However, this first step in your EE journey is crucial. Out of all these tips, your most important goal should be to choose a subject you’re passionate about. This will make it much easier to finish the EE swimmingly; otherwise, you’d find it hard to gain motivation to work on that dreaded 4,000-word essay. Keeping all these tips in mind, good luck with the EE! Believe me, it will be rewarding in the end!


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