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 IB Extended Essay: 250+ Ideas and Guide

IB Extended Essay: 250+ Ideas and Guide

10 min Read|February 07 2024
|Written by:

Charles Whitehouse


What is the IB Extended Essay?

The Extended Essay, along with the Creativity, Activity, Service component and Theory of Knowledge, forms an integral part of the IB Diploma Programme. It offers IB high school students an opportunity to explore a topic of personal interest in-depth, develop research and writing skills, and experience the rigours of academic investigation.

One of the distinguishing features of the IB Extended Essay is its length. It requires students to write a substantial essay of up to 4,000 words, which is equivalent to about 16-20 pages. This allows students to delve into their chosen subject matter and demonstrate their ability to engage with complex ideas.

Over 88,000 IBDP students across the globe undertook the Extended Essay in 2022 as part of their IB Diploma requirements. It has been lauded as an effective preparation for university-level research and writing, helping students develop critical thinking, analytical, and independent research skills.

The Extended Essay is an opportunity for students to apply the knowledge and skills gained from their chosen subjects in a multidisciplinary manner. It encourages interdisciplinary exploration, enabling students to connect different areas of knowledge and develop a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

In order to successfully complete the Extended Essay, students must adhere to a structured process that includes selecting a research question, conducting thorough research, organising their findings, and presenting their analysis and conclusions in a coherent manner. By undertaking the IB Extended Essay, students not only enhance their academic skills but also develop essential skills such as time management, critical thinking, and independent inquiry.

How to Choose Your Extended Essay Research Question?

Choosing a research question for your IB Extended Essay is a crucial step that sets the direction and scope of your investigation. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when selecting your research question:

1. Personal Interest: Choose a topic that genuinely interests you. Passion for the subject matter will fuel your motivation and dedication throughout the research process.

2. Feasibility: Ensure that your research question is manageable within the constraints of the Extended Essay. Consider the availability of resources, time required for research and analysis, and the scope of the topic.

3. Specificity: Formulate a research question that is focused and specific. A broad question may lead to a lack of depth in your analysis, while a narrow question may limit the availability of relevant sources and data.

4. Relevance: Select a research question that is relevant to the subject you are investigating. It should align with the objectives and content of the chosen subject area.

5. Novelty: Aim for a research question that offers a unique perspective or contributes to existing knowledge. Originality in your approach and analysis can make your Extended Essay stand out.

6. Consultation: Seek guidance from your teachers, mentors, or IB tutors. They can provide valuable insights and help you refine your research question.

Remember that your research question will shape the entire trajectory of your Extended Essay, so take the time to carefully consider and refine it before proceeding with your research.

Now, let's explore a variety of ideas for each subject, providing you with a diverse range of potential topics to consider for your IB Extended Essay.

Top 10 IB Extended Essay Subjects in 2022

Top 10 IB Extended Essay Subjects in 2022

Extended Essay Ideas for Each Subject


1. How Do Fibonacci Sequences Apply in Real World Scenarios?

2. Do Fractals Have a Role in Modelling Weather Patterns?

3. Is the Monty Hall Problem Really Counter-Intuitive? A Statistical Analysis.

4. To What Extent Does the Golden Ratio Appear in Architecture?

5. How Does Bayesian Probability Predict Election Outcomes?

6. The Role of Game Theory in the Cold War: A Mathematical Perspective.

7. Can Catastrophe Theory Model Stock Market Crashes?

8. How Effective are Neural Networks in Predicting Future Events?

9. A Study of the Mathematical Strategies Employed in Chess.

10. Comparing the Accuracy of Different Numerical Methods for Solving Differential Equations.

11. Is Bitcoin's Value Deterministic or Stochastic?

12. How Does Voronoi Diagram Optimize Emergency Service Locations?

13. Using the Markov Chain to Predict Weather Patterns.

14. To What Extent is RSA Encryption Secure?

15. How Does Linear Algebra Apply in Computer Graphics?

16. An Investigation into the Math Behind Google's PageRank Algorithm.

17. How Effective is the Math Behind Machine Learning Algorithms?

18. Exploring the Effect of Maths in Optimising Traffic Flow.

19. Are There Mathematical Patterns in Successful Lottery Numbers?

20. How Efficiently Can Prime Numbers Be Generated?

Have a look at our comprehensive set of IB Study Notes and IB Practice Questions, developed by expert IB teachers and examiners!

English Literature

1. The Role of Feminism in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

2. A Study of Racial Identity in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye.

3. Is Hamlet Truly Mad or Just Pretending? An Analysis.

4. The Impact of Post-Colonialism in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart.

5. How Does Orwell Use Language to Depict Dystopia in 1984?

6. The Influence of Gothic Elements in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.

7. The Depiction of Mental Illness in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar.

8. The Role of Nature in William Wordsworth's Romantic Poetry.

9. The Effect of Social Hierarchy in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

10. How Does Harper Lee Convey Themes of Racial Injustice in To Kill a Mockingbird?

11. Exploring Gender Stereotypes in George Eliot's Middlemarch.

12. The Role of Supernatural in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

13. Exploring the Influence of Marxism in George Orwell's Animal Farm.

14. A Study of Homosexuality in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.

15. How Does Virginia Woolf Explore Feminism in Mrs Dalloway?

16. The Depiction of War in Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front.

17. The Role of the American Dream in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.

18. The Use of Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.

19. A Study of Isolation in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

20. The Impact of Social Class in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.


1. How Do Different pH Levels Affect the Activity of Enzymes in Yeast?

2. Investigating the Effects of Light Intensity on the Rate of Photosynthesis.

3. How Does Temperature Affect the Germination of Seeds?

4. Impact of Varying Salinity Levels on Brine Shrimp Survival Rates.

5. The Role of Epigenetics in Gene Expression: Case Study on Identical Twins.

6. To What Extent Do Different Antibiotics Inhibit Bacterial Growth?

7. How Does Caffeine Affect the Heart Rate of Daphnia?

8. An Investigation into the Impact of Pollution on Local Plant Diversity.

9. The Impact of Various Drugs on the Pulsation Rate of Lumbriculus variegatus.

10. Comparing the Efficacy of Natural Vs. Synthetic Pesticides on Plant Growth.

11. The Role of Gut Microbiota in Obesity: A Literature Review.

12. Does the Level of Vitamin C in Oranges Change Over Time?

13. How Do Different Types of Soil Affect Earthworm Activity?

14. Investigating the Correlation Between Altitude and Plant Biodiversity.

15. Analysis of Microplastic Concentration in Local Freshwater Bodies.

16. Impact of Noise Pollution on Birdsong: A Case Study.

17. A Comparison of Antibacterial Properties in Manuka Honey Vs. Regular Honey.

18. The Effect of Different Light Wavelengths on the Growth of Pea Plants.

19. How Does Exercise Intensity Impact Blood Glucose Levels?

20. Is There a Correlation Between Water pH and Aquatic Life Diversity?


1. How Does Temperature Affect the Rate of Reaction in the Decomposition of Hydrogen Peroxide?

2. Investigating the Effectiveness of Different Antacids on Stomach Acid.

3. A Comparative Study on the Vitamin C Concentration in Different Citrus Fruits.

4. How Does Cooking Time Affect the Vitamin C Levels in Vegetables?

5. To What Extent Does Enzyme Concentration Affect the Fermentation of Yeast?

6. Analysis of Caffeine Content in Different Types of Tea.

7. The Effect of Different Factors on the Corrosion of Iron.

8. How Does the Concentration of Sodium Chloride Affect the Electrolysis of Water?

9. Comparing the Energy Output of Different Biofuels.

10. The Effect of Temperature on the Crystal Size in the Recrystallisation Process.

11. Comparing the Acidities of Natural and Processed Foods.

12. Investigating the Effect of Various Catalysts on the Rate of Hydrogen Peroxide Decomposition.

13. Synthesis of Aspirin: A Study on the Purity of the Product.

14. Comparing the Efficiency of Different Types of Solar Panels.

15. Investigating the Impact of Carbonation on pH Levels in Various Soft Drinks.

16. The Effect of Chelating Agents on the Solubility of Metal Ions.

17. A Study on the Photodegradation of Dyes Using Titanium Dioxide.

18. How Do Different Sugar Types Affect Fermentation Rates in Yeast?

19. Analysis of Water Hardness in Various Local Water Supplies.

20. Investigating the Efficacy of Different Water Filtration Methods in Removing Heavy Metals.


1. Investigating the Relationship Between the Drop Height and Crater Size in a Simulated Impact.

2. How Does the Angle of Incidence Affect the Efficiency of a Solar Panel?

3. Analysing the Relationship Between the Length of a Pendulum and Its Period.

4. To What Extent Does the Mass of a Projectile Affect Its Range?

5. Investigating the Factors Affecting the Drag Force on a Falling Object.

6. A Study on the Efficiency of Different Insulating Materials in Reducing Heat Loss.

7. How Does the Depth of Water Affect Wave Speed?

8. The Relationship Between the Angle of Release and the Distance Traveled by a Trebuchet.

9. Investigating the Effect of Surface Area on Terminal Velocity.

10. How Does the Thickness of a Wire Affect Its Electrical Resistance?

11. The Impact of Varying Air Pressure on the Lift Force of an Airfoil.

12. Analysing the Relationship Between the Magnitude of an Earthquake and the Distance from the Epicentre.

13. Investigating the Factors Affecting the Speed of Sound in Different Media.

14. How Does the Concentration of a Solution Affect Its Refractive Index?

15. The Effect of Various Materials on the Absorption of Radiation.

16. A Study on the Efficiency of Wind Turbines at Different Wind Speeds.

17. Investigating the Effect of Temperature on the Viscosity of Liquids.

18. How Does the Type of Material Affect the Transmission of Sound Waves?

19. The Relationship Between the Angle of a Ramp and the Frictional Force Acting on an Object.

20. A Study on the Factors Affecting the Strength of Electromagnets.


1. The Impact of Social Media on Teenagers' Mental Health: A Cross-Cultural Study.

2. Investigating the Role of Parenting Styles in Child Development.

3. The Effect of Sleep Deprivation on Cognitive Performance.

4. How Does Classical Conditioning Apply in Advertising Strategies?

5. The Impact of Colour on Consumer Behaviour: A Study in Retail Settings.

6. The Role of Social Support in Coping with Stress.

7. To What Extent Does Personality Influence Career Success?

8. Investigating the Effect of Group Dynamics on Decision Making.

9. The Impact of Music on Cognitive Task Performance.

10. A Study on the Effectiveness of Different Techniques for Reducing Test Anxiety.

11. The Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence and Academic Performance.

12. Analysing the Impact of Stereotype Threat on Test Performance.

13. Investigating the Factors Affecting the Formation of False Memories.

14. How Does the Bystander Effect Manifest in Online Settings?

15. The Role of Mindfulness in Reducing Stress and Anxiety.

16. Analysing the Impact of Gender Stereotypes on Occupational Choices.

17. Investigating the Influence of Cultural Background on Conflict Resolution Styles.

18. The Impact of Video Games on Aggression: A Meta-Analysis.

19. A Study on the Factors Affecting Altruistic Behaviour.

20. The Role of Attachment Styles in Romantic Relationships.


1. Investigating the Impact of Unemployment on Crime Rates in Urban Areas.

2. The Effect of Immigration on Wage Levels: A Case Study.

3. To What Extent Does Government Spending Influence Economic Growth?

4. A Comparative Analysis of the Economic Impact of Tourism in Coastal Vs. Inland Regions.

5. Assessing the Impact of Brexit on the UK's Trade Balance.

6. The Role of Microfinance in Alleviating Poverty in Rural India.

7. Investigating the Effects of Minimum Wage Policies on Small Businesses.

8. The Impact of Covid-19 on the Global Supply Chain: A Study on the Auto Industry.

9. How Do Oil Prices Affect Inflation Rates? A Historical Analysis.

10. A Study on the Relationship Between Income Inequality and Economic Growth.

11. The Effect of Trade Tariffs on Domestic Industries: The Case of US-China Trade War.

12. The Role of Foreign Direct Investment in Economic Development of Emerging Markets.

13. To What Extent Does Education Contribute to Economic Productivity?

14. The Impact of Climate Change Policies on the Energy Sector.

15. Evaluating the Effectiveness of Fiscal Policy in Combating Recessions.

16. The Role of the Informal Economy in Urban Development: A Case Study.

17. Investigating the Correlation Between Real Estate Prices and Economic Growth.

18. The Impact of Population Aging on Healthcare Expenditure.

19. Assessing the Economic Consequences of Natural Disasters: A Case Study.

20. The Effect of Technological Advancements on Employment Rates in the Manufacturing Sector.

Business Management

1. The Impact of Leadership Styles on Employee Motivation in Tech Start-ups.

2. How Does Corporate Social Responsibility Influence Brand Image?

3. The Role of Human Resource Management in Employee Retention.

4. Investigating the Impact of E-commerce on Traditional Retail Businesses.

5. How Do Changes in Interest Rates Affect Small Business Financing?

6. The Role of Innovation in the Competitive Advantage of Businesses.

7. Investigating the Effects of Workplace Diversity on Team Performance.

8. The Impact of Organisational Culture on Employee Job Satisfaction.

9. How Does Supply Chain Management Affect the Profitability of Manufacturing Firms?

10. The Role of Digital Marketing in Enhancing Customer Engagement.

11. Assessing the Impact of Brexit on the Business Strategy of UK-based Companies.

12. The Effect of Ethical Practices on Business Reputation.

13. Investigating the Role of Strategic Alliances in Enhancing Market Position.

14. The Impact of Covid-19 on Remote Work Policies: A Case Study.

15. How Does Customer Relationship Management Influence Customer Loyalty?

16. The Effect of Government Regulations on Startup Ecosystem.

17. Evaluating the Role of Corporate Governance in Financial Performance.

18. The Impact of Merger and Acquisition on Employee Morale.

19. The Effect of Green Initiatives on Business Sustainability.

20. The Role of Business Intelligence in Decision-making.

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1. Investigating the Impact of Urbanisation on Local Biodiversity: A Case Study.

2. The Role of Climate Change in the Spread of Vector-borne Diseases.

3. The Effect of River Diversions on Local Ecosystems.

4. Assessing the Impact of Deforestation on Local Climate: A Case Study.

5. The Role of Tourism in the Sustainable Development of Coastal Regions.

6. Investigating the Impact of Gentrification on Urban Neighbourhoods: A Case Study.

7. The Effect of Climate Change on the Availability of Freshwater Resources.

8. Assessing the Impact of Agricultural Practices on Soil Erosion in Rural Areas.

9. Analysing the Relationship Between Population Density and Transportation Infrastructure.

10. The Role of Renewable Energy in Reducing Carbon Emissions: A Case Study.

11. Investigating the Impact of Land Reclamation on Coastal Ecosystems.

12. The Effect of Urban Sprawl on Air Quality in Major Cities.

13. Assessing the Vulnerability of Coastal Communities to Sea Level Rise.

14. The Impact of Industrialisation on River Water Quality: A Case Study.

15. How Does Waste Management Affect the Sustainability of Urban Areas?

16. Investigating the Relationship Between Income Inequality and Spatial Segregation.

17. The Role of Urban Green Spaces in Enhancing Residents' Well-being.

18. The Impact of Natural Disasters on Economic Development in Small Island Nations.

19. Analysing the Factors Affecting the Distribution of Earthquakes and Volcanic Activity.

20. The Effect of Land Use Change on Flood Risk in Urban Areas.

Computer Science

1. Evaluating the Effectiveness of Different Machine Learning Algorithms in Predicting Stock Prices.

2. Investigating the Impact of Encryption Techniques on Data Security.

3. The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Automating Routine Tasks.

4. How Does the Implementation of Blockchain Technology Affect Supply Chain Management?

5. Assessing the Impact of Social Media Algorithms on User Behaviour.

6. The Effect of Augmented Reality on the User Experience in Mobile Applications.

7. Investigating the Feasibility of Quantum Computing in Solving Complex Problems.

8. The Role of Big Data Analytics in Enhancing Business Decision-making.

9. Analysing the Factors Affecting the Adoption of Cloud Computing by SMEs.

10. The Impact of Cybersecurity Measures on the Prevention of Data Breaches.

11. Investigating the Ethical Implications of Facial Recognition Technology.

12. The Effect of Internet of Things on Energy Efficiency in Smart Homes.

13. Assessing the Impact of Virtual Reality on Gaming Industry.

14. The Role of Natural Language Processing in Enhancing Human-Computer Interaction.

15. How Does the Development of Autonomous Vehicles Affect Traffic Management?

16. Investigating the Scalability Issues in Distributed Systems.

17. The Effect of Software Development Methodologies on Project Success Rates.

18. The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Job Market: A Case Study.

19. Analysing the Factors Affecting the Performance of Mobile Networks.

20. The Role of Bioinformatics in Personalised Medicine.

Environmental Systems and Societies

1. Investigating the Impact of E-waste on Soil and Water Quality.

2. The Effect of Climate Change on Coral Reef Ecosystems.

3. Assessing the Impact of Invasive Species on Native Biodiversity.

4. The Role of Sustainable Agriculture in Reducing Environmental Degradation.

5. Analysing the Factors Affecting the Ozone Layer Depletion.

6. The Impact of Plastic Pollution on Marine Life: A Case Study.

7. Investigating the Feasibility of Carbon Capture and Storage Technologies.

8. The Role of Urban Planning in Reducing Air Pollution in Cities.

9. The Effect of Overfishing on Marine Ecosystems: A Case Study.

10. Assessing the Impact of Renewable Energy Sources on Carbon Emissions.

11. Investigating the Relationship Between Deforestation and Climate Change.

12. The Impact of Industrial Pollution on Local Communities' Health: A Case Study.

13. The Role of Waste Management in Reducing Ocean Pollution.

14. The Effect of Pesticides on Soil Microorganism Diversity.

15. Assessing the Impact of Dams on River Ecosystems.

16. Investigating the Efficacy of Reforestation Efforts in Carbon Sequestration.

17. The Role of Environmental Education in Promoting Sustainable Consumption Behaviours.

18. The Effect of Acid Rain on Forest Ecosystems: A Case Study.

19. Analysing the Impact of Mining Activities on Local Water Quality.

20. The Role of Green Infrastructure in Enhancing Urban Sustainability.

Social and Cultural Anthropology

1. Investigating the Impact of Globalisation on Indigenous Cultures: A Case Study.

2. The Role of Language in Shaping Cultural Identity.

3. Analysing the Influence of Cultural Practices on Gender Roles.

4. The Effect of Migration on Cultural Assimilation: A Case Study.

5. The Impact of Western Media on Body Image Perceptions in Non-Western Societies.

6. Investigating the Relationship Between Religion and Social Norms in a Given Society.

7. The Role of Cultural Traditions in Shaping Food Habits.

8. The Impact of Social Media on Cultural Exchange: A Case Study.

9. Analysing the Influence of Socioeconomic Status on Educational Attainment.

10. The Effect of Colonialism on Cultural Diversity: A Case Study.

11. Investigating the Role of Folklore in Preserving Cultural Heritage.

12. The Impact of Urbanisation on Traditional Social Structures: A Case Study.

13. The Role of Music and Dance in Cultural Expression.

14. Analysing the Influence of Cultural Factors on Mental Health.

15. The Effect of Cultural Beliefs on Healthcare Practices: A Case Study.

16. Investigating the Impact of Tourism on Local Cultures.

17. The Role of Rituals and Ceremonies in Social Cohesion.

18. The Impact of Legal Systems on Gender Equality: A Comparative Study.

19. Analysing the Cultural Adaptations of Immigrants in a New Society.

20. The Role of Art and Literature in Reflecting Social Changes.

Visual Arts

1. Investigating the Influence of Social Issues on Banksy's Street Art.

2. The Impact of Japanese Art on Claude Monet’s Painting Style.

3. Analysing the Representation of Women in Renaissance Paintings.

4. The Role of Surrealism in Salvador Dali's Artistic Expression.

5. Investigating the Cultural Symbolism in Frida Kahlo’s Self-portraits.

6. The Impact of Pop Culture on Andy Warhol's Art.

7. Analysing the Use of Light and Shadow in Caravaggio's Paintings.

8. The Role of Spirituality in Wassily Kandinsky's Abstract Art.

9. The Influence of African Art on Picasso's Cubist Period.

10. The Depiction of War and Its Aftermath in Otto Dix's Works.

11. Investigating the Use of Colour in Mark Rothko’s Abstract Paintings.

12. The Role of Indigenous Culture in Emily Carr's Landscape Paintings.

13. Analysing the Evolution of Political Themes in Chinese Contemporary Art.

14. The Effect of the Harlem Renaissance on Aaron Douglas' Art.

15. Investigating the Use of Geometric Shapes in Kandinsky’s Abstract Art.

16. The Role of Dutch Culture and Society in Vermeer's Paintings.

17. The Depiction of Nature in Georgia O'Keeffe's Works.

18. Analysing the Impact of Feminism on Barbara Kruger's Art.

19. Investigating the Influence of Post-Impressionism on Vincent van Gogh’s Style.

20. The Representation of the American Dream in Edward Hopper's Paintings.

World Studies

1. Investigating the Global Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Mental Health.

2. The Effect of Climate Change on Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa.

3. Analysing the Influence of Globalisation on Indigenous Cultures.

4. The Role of International Law in Resolving Border Disputes: A Case Study.

5. Investigating the Impact of Global Trade Policies on Developing Economies.

6. The Effect of Globalisation on Income Inequality: A Comparative Study.

7. Analysing the Influence of Western Media on Global Perceptions of Beauty.

8. The Role of International Organizations in Addressing the Refugee Crisis.

9. Investigating the Global Response to the Rise of Cybercrime.

10. The Impact of Climate Change on Natural Disaster Frequency and Severity Worldwide.

11. Analysing the Influence of Globalisation on Language Diversity.

12. The Role of Technology in Bridging the Education Gap in Developing Countries.

13. Investigating the Global Impact of Antibiotic Resistance.

14. The Effect of International Trade on Cultural Exchange: A Case Study.

15. Analysing the Impact of Global Warming on Polar Ecosystems.

16. The Role of the United Nations in Promoting Global Gender Equality.

17. Investigating the Impact of Social Media on Political Activism Worldwide.

18. The Effect of Globalisation on the Sustainability of Traditional Crafts.

19. Analysing the Global Strategies for Wildlife Conservation.

20. The Role of International Cooperation in Space Exploration.

How to Write a Great IB Extended Essay

Crafting an exceptional IB Extended Essay requires a combination of strategic planning, critical thinking, and effective writing. In this guide, we will provide you with valuable insights and practical advice to help you excel in your writing journey and produce an outstanding essay.

1. Develop a Clear and Coherent Structure: Creating a well-organised structure is crucial to convey your ideas effectively. Start by outlining the main sections and subtopics of your essay. Ensure a logical flow of information, with each paragraph building upon the previous one. This will guide the reader through your arguments and analysis smoothly.

2. Conduct Thorough and Methodical Research: Thorough research forms the foundation of a strong Extended Essay. Dive into reputable sources, including academic journals, books, and credible websites. Gather evidence, data, and expert opinions to support your arguments. Take meticulous notes and properly cite your sources to maintain academic integrity.

3. Apply Critical Thinking and Evaluation: Engage in critical analysis by examining and evaluating the evidence you've gathered. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of different viewpoints, theories, or methodologies. Develop your own informed perspective and present a well-reasoned argument supported by reliable evidence.

4. Craft Engaging and Coherent Paragraphs: Each paragraph should focus on a specific idea or argument, clearly stated in a topic sentence. Support your claims with evidence, examples, and relevant data. Use smooth transitions between paragraphs to ensure a cohesive and coherent essay.

5. Revise, Edit, and Proofread: Give yourself ample time for revising, editing, and proofreading your essay. Review your work for clarity, coherence, and consistency. Check for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Consider seeking feedback from teachers, peers, or mentors to gain valuable insights and improve your essay further.

We asked one IB teacher what they had to say about writing a great essay:

"The key is to choose a topic that truly ignites your curiosity, one that you are passionate about exploring. Don't be afraid to think outside the box and delve into uncharted territories. Remember, this is your chance to showcase your unique perspective and make a meaningful contribution to your chosen field. Embrace the research process, be diligent in gathering reliable sources, and let your creativity shine through in your writing. And most importantly, enjoy the journey of discovery and growth that the Extended Essay offers."

Remember, the IB Extended Essay is an opportunity to demonstrate your intellectual curiosity, research skills, and ability to present a coherent argument. Choose a topic that genuinely interests you, stay organised throughout the process, and invest time in thoughtful analysis and writing. To maximise your chances of success, you may also want to purchase an Extended Essay textbook or get the help of an IB Extended Essay tutor.

IB Extended Essay Grade Distribution in 2022

IB Extended Essay Grade Distribution in 2022

Finding Reliable Sources for Your Extended Essay

When writing your IB Extended Essay, it is essential to rely on credible and trustworthy sources. Follow these strategies to find reliable information:

1. Use Academic Databases: Access reputable databases like JSTOR and PubMed to find scholarly articles and research papers relevant to your subject.

2. Consult Library Resources: Take advantage of books, encyclopaedias, and reference materials available in your school or local library.

3. Explore Digital Libraries: Visit digital libraries such as the Digital Public Library of America and Europeana for access to a wide range of digitised resources.

4. Evaluate Websites Carefully: Verify the credibility of the author or organisation, check for peer-reviewed articles or references, and consider the domain (.edu, .gov, or .org) for reliable information.

5. Utilise Scholarly Search Engines: Utilise specialised search engines like Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic to find academic publications.

6. Consult Subject-Specific Journals: Look for reputable journals in your field and review their latest issues for current research.

7. Seek Guidance from Librarians and Experts: Librarians and subject experts can offer valuable assistance in finding reliable sources and publications.

By following these strategies and critically evaluating the sources you find, you can ensure the credibility and integrity of your Extended Essay research. Reliable sources will strengthen your arguments and provide a solid foundation for your essay.

Strategies for Conducting Primary and Secondary Research

To conduct comprehensive primary and secondary research for your essay, consider the following strategies:

Primary Research

Surveys and Questionnaires: Create well-designed surveys or questionnaires to collect data directly from participants. Utilise online survey tools like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey for wider reach and convenient data analysis.

Interviews: Conduct interviews with subject experts, professionals, or individuals relevant to your research topic. Prepare insightful questions and record their responses for later analysis.

Experiments and Observations: Design and conduct controlled experiments or observations to gather firsthand data. Document procedures, measurements, and observations accurately.

Secondary Research

Literature Review: Conduct a thorough review of existing scholarly articles, books, and reports. Analyse and synthesise the information to identify research gaps and contribute to the existing knowledge.

Online Databases: Utilise reputable academic databases such as PubMed, JSTOR, and IEEE Xplore to access peer-reviewed articles and research papers specific to your subject area.

Government and Institutional Sources: Explore official government websites, research repositories of educational institutions, and databases of international organisations for reliable data, reports, and statistics.

Subject-Specific Sources: Identify subject-specific journals, publications, and conferences related to your research topic. These sources provide up-to-date research and insights from experts in the field.

Remember to consider ethical considerations throughout your research process, including obtaining necessary permissions, maintaining confidentiality, and respecting the rights and privacy of participants. Documentation of your research methods, sources, and any challenges faced is crucial. Analyse and interpret your findings critically, using them as evidence to support your arguments and contribute to your overall analysis.

Formatting and Structure Guidelines for the IB Extended Essay

To ensure a well-organised and coherent IB Extended Essay, consider the following structure as a guideline:

1. Title Page: Include essential information such as the title, subject, research question, and candidate number. Refer to the official IB Extended Essay Guide for specific requirements.

2. Abstract: Provide a concise summary of your essay, outlining the main research question, methodology, key findings, and conclusions. Limit the abstract to 300 words.

3. Table of Contents: Create a clear and accurate table of contents that outlines the structure of your essay, including sections, subheadings, and page numbers.

4. Introduction: Start with an engaging introduction that presents the research question, provides background information, and explains the significance of the topic. Clearly state the aim and objectives of your research.

5. Body: The body of your essay should delve into your research in-depth. Organize your content into coherent paragraphs, each addressing a specific aspect of your research. Consider the following elements:

a. Literature Review: Provide an overview of the relevant literature and theories related to your research topic. Analyse existing research, highlight key concepts, and discuss any debates or gaps in knowledge.

b. Methodology: Describe the research methodology employed, including the research design, data collection methods, and ethical considerations. Explain why the chosen methods are appropriate for addressing your research question.

c. Data Analysis and Findings: Present your findings based on the data collected. Use appropriate analysis techniques, such as statistical analysis or qualitative coding, to interpret your data and draw meaningful conclusions. Include tables, charts, or graphs to support your findings.

d. Discussion: Analyse and interpret your findings in the context of your research question. Explore the implications of your results, compare them with existing research, and discuss any limitations or challenges encountered during the research process.

6. Conclusion: Summarise your key findings, address your research question, and draw meaningful conclusions based on your analysis. Reflect on the implications and broader significance of your research. Highlight any recommendations for future research or areas for further exploration.

7. References: Include a comprehensive list of all sources consulted in your research. Follow the appropriate citation style (e.g., MLA, APA, or Chicago) for in-text citations and the bibliography. Accurately cite all sources, including books, articles, websites, and any other references used.

8. Appendices (if applicable): Include any supplementary materials, such as raw data, charts, graphs, or additional supporting evidence that are relevant to your research.

Typically, the Extended Essay has a word limit of around 4,000 words. It is important to note that this word count does not include footnotes, citations, and the bibliography. Additionally, the essay should be formatted using a standard font (e.g., Times New Roman or Arial) and a font size of 12 points. It is recommended to have double-spacing throughout the essay and to include page numbers.

The IB Extended Essay Assessment Criteria and Grading

The IB Extended Essay is assessed by examiners appointed by the IB on a scale of 0 to 34. Your essay will be evaluated based on five criteria, each carrying a specific point value. It is crucial to comprehend these criteria and how they relate to letter grades to gauge your performance accurately. Here's an overview of the assessment criteria:

Criterion A: Focus and Method (6 points maximum) Demonstrate a clear research question and a well-defined approach. Show how you applied appropriate research methods to investigate your topic.

Criterion B: Knowledge and Understanding (6 points maximum) Display a strong understanding of the subject matter, relevant concepts, and theories. Support your arguments with accurate and relevant evidence.

Criterion C: Critical Thinking (12 points maximum) Apply critical thinking skills to analyse and evaluate information, theories, and arguments. Demonstrate the ability to consider alternative viewpoints and draw well-reasoned conclusions.

Criterion D: Presentation (4 points maximum) Organize your essay effectively with a clear and logical structure. Use proper formatting, referencing, and citation methods consistently.

Criterion E: Engagement (6 points maximum) Engage in a reflective process throughout your research and writing. Show awareness of the strengths, limitations, and implications of your research.

To determine your letter grade, it is important to understand how the rubric assessment points correlate to the overall score. Here is a rough estimation of how the point values align with letter grades:

  • 30-34: Excellent - A
  • 25-29: Good - B
  • 17-24: Satisfactory - C
  • 9-16: Mediocre - D
  • 0-8: Elementary - E

However, relying solely on these point values is not sufficient. It is crucial to thoroughly read and comprehend the specific grade descriptors provided by the IB. These descriptors offer comprehensive information about the expectations and criteria that examiners consider when assigning letter grades.

The grade you receive on your IB Extended Essay contributes to your overall International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme points score. The Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge combined are worth up to 3 points of the total 45 points available for the IBDP.

IB Extended Essay and TOK points matrix

IB Extended Essay and TOK points matrix

Final Thoughts

The IB Extended Essay is a challenging yet rewarding endeavour that allows high school students to showcase their research and analytical skills. With proper guidance and adherence to the assessment criteria, students have the opportunity to excel and achieve outstanding results. Embrace this opportunity to delve into a topic of interest, conduct in-depth research, and present your findings in a well-structured and engaging manner. Remember to consult reputable sources, seek guidance from your supervisor, and enjoy the journey of exploration and academic growth through the IB Extended Essay.


Is the IB Extended Essay hard?

The IB Extended Essay is undoubtedly a challenging undertaking, requiring significant effort and dedication, and is one of the hardest IB subjects. It is estimated that between 70% and 80% of IB students successfully complete the Extended Essay each year. Less than 14% of students received an A in the extended essay in 2022, showing its difficult.

Can you change your research question after starting the Extended Essay?

Yes, it is possible to change your research question after starting the Extended Essay. However, it is important to consult with your supervisor and ensure that the new research question still meets the requirements and aligns with the subject area you are pursuing.

When is the deadline to submit the Extended Essay?

The deadline to submit the Extended Essay can vary depending on the policies and timelines set by individual schools. In most cases, schools establish internal deadlines to ensure students have ample time to complete and revise their essays before the final submission. The typical deadline for submitting the Extended Essay is often set in the first half of the senior year, ranging from November to January. It is essential to check with your school's IB coordinator or Extended Essay coordinator for the specific deadline applicable to your academic institution.

Can you fail the Extended Essay?

Yes, it is possible to fail the Extended Essay if the work does not meet the required standards or does not fulfil the assessment criteria set by the IB. It is important to carefully follow the guidelines, seek guidance from your supervisor, and ensure your essay demonstrates strong research, analysis, and critical thinking skills. In 2022, 1.1% of students did not received no grade for their Extended Essays.

Can you fail the Extended Essay and still pass the IB?

Yes, it is possible to fail the Extended Essay and still pass the overall IB Diploma Programme. The Extended Essay contributes to a maximum of 3 points out of the total 45 points available for the diploma. Failing the Extended Essay means not earning any points from this component, but it does not necessarily mean failing the entire IB Diploma.

Can you collaborate with other students on the Extended Essay?

The IB allows limited collaboration with other students on the Extended Essay. While you can seek advice and support from others, it is important to maintain individual responsibility for your research, writing, and analysis. Collaboration should not compromise the integrity of your work, and any collaborative effort should be properly acknowledged and cited in your essay.

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Professional tutor and Cambridge University researcher

Charles Whitehouse

Written by: Charles Whitehouse

Oxford University - Masters Biochemistry

Charles scored 45/45 on the International Baccalaureate and has six years' experience tutoring IB and IGCSE students and advising them with their university applications. He studied a double integrated Masters at Magdalen College Oxford and has worked as a research scientist and strategy consultant.

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