Extended Essay

Subject Outline

The Extended Essay is a piece of independent research/investigation on a topic chosen by the student in cooperation with a supervisor in the school. It is presented as a formal piece of scholarship containing no more than 4,000 words and is the result of approximately 40 hours of work by the student. The essay is compulsory for all Diploma Programme students and is externally assessed.

Assessment Overview

In working on the extended essay, students are expected to:

  1. plan and pursue a research project with intellectual initiative and insight
  2. formulate a precise research question
  3. gather and interpret material from sources appropriate to the research question
  4. structure a reasoned argument in response to the research question on the basis of the material gathered
  5. present their extended essay in a format appropriate to the subject, acknowledging sources in one of the established academic ways
  6. use the terminology and language appropriate to the subject with skill and understanding
  7. apply analytical and evaluative skills appropriate to the subject, with an understanding of the implications and the context of their research.


Assessment criteria:

  • A : Focus and Method (6 points)
  • B : Knowledge & understanding (6 points)
  • C : Critical Thinking (12 points)
  • D : Presentation (4 points)
  • E : Engagement (6 points)


The grade boundaries are then applied to determine the band (A to E) to which the student’s performance in the Extended Essay belongs.

The band descriptors are:

  • A – Work of an excellent standard
  • B – Work of a good standard
  • C – Work of a satisfactory standard
  • D – Work of a mediocre standard
  • E – Work of an elementary standard

Skills Gained on the Course
The Extended Essay provides students with the opportunity to:

  • pursue independent research on a focused topic
  • develop research and communication skills
  • develop the skills of creative and critical thinking
  • engage in a systematic process of research appropriate to the subject
  • experience the excitement of intellectual discovery

And beyond…

The Extended Essay represents a significant academic accomplishment that universities and employers value. It provides practical preparation for the kinds of undergraduate research required at tertiary level.

Keys to Success

  • keep up with current affairs
  • read around the subject of study
  • manage your time well with your supervisor
  • critically examine the reliability of sources
  • take detailed notes and reflect on your wider reading and viewing