25 October, 2022

The Extended Essay (EE) and University Admissions

The Extended Essay (EE) and University Admissions-EE-Annotation 2022-10-25 140758

What is Extended Essay?

it is a piece of independent research on a topic chosen by the student in consultation with a supervisor in the school. The students can choose to pursue a single discipline essay in one of the IBDP subject groups or an inter-disciplinary essay investigating an issue of global significance. The Extended Essay process takes place across years 12 and 13 and greatly enhances students’ skills in research, critical thinking and reflection. These are skills that we place great emphasis on here at NAIS Pudong from an early age: across our Key Stage 3 (Years 7 – 9), Key Stage 4 (IGCSE programme in Years 10 and 11) and IB curriculums we embed rigourous approaches to teaching and learning, challenging our students and encouraging them to think on an inter-disciplinary level.  

The Extended Essay (EE) and University Admissions-EE

IB Diploma Programme Model


Universities are excited about receiving applications from IB students. Don’t believe me? Admissions officers from top US universities explain how to leverage the Extended Essay and the IB Diploma Programme as a whole, in students’ university application.

How do universities view the Extended Essay and the International Baccalaureate?

Stanford University’s Debra Von Bargen tells us how the IB has a positive influence on student performance and expectations at major US universities. She reclaims that universities view full diploma students as strongly prepared and capable for entering liberal arts institution because they essentially had liberal arts background already cemented that they understand how pieces fit together, they have developed certain amount of focus in their own work but also see the  value of the breadth of courses the IB offers including the Extended Essay.

University of Michigan representative Kedra Ishop, along with Princeton University’s Kevin Hudson and De Paul University’s Brian Spittle, explain how the EE of the IB programme prepares all students for success as it hones the skills of critical thinking, meta cognition and evaluation of studies.

Highlighting The Extended Essay In The University Admissions Process

The Extended Essay (EE) and University Admissions-EE

As this meme really embodies how we feel about the Extended Essay, those 16 plus pages of pure magic are the culmination of the many skills students have honed over the past year. The EE is a living and breathing conduit to create, synthesize and disseminate knowledge, as it allows students to really take their passions and form that into a scholarly research document.

Rachelle Bernadel, the IB’s University Relations Administrator at the IB Global Centre in Bethesda, MD, USA helps students to think of ways tocommunicate their EE throughout the different aspects of the college admissions process as she reiterates that the IB is heavily experiential but supported with the pedagogy to give students the tools to make sense of all the knowledge they consume.

  1. Interview, Personal Statement—Tell a story: Students are encouraged to discuss their EE focus: how the idea was birthed, strategies/skills that were learned and how it could affect a university trajectory. These are just the beginnings. The EE can be used as a tool to essentially teach admissions officers how IB students think through the eyes of storytelling. Stories and experiences resonate.


  1. Application questions: A very common question on university applications is “Tell about a time when you had to overcome a difficult experience and how you approached it.” This again is an ideal time to let the EE shine. Students can discuss the communication, organisational and writing skills they had to acquire in order to be successful. Some universities even as “What is the longest piece of writing you have ever done?” For IB students the answer is clear.


Complementing Rachelle’s recommendations for students, Jonathan Burdick, University of Rochester, talks about strategies students can use to discuss the extended essay in their application. He views EE as the most important characteristic that the IB Education offers but to talk about it you have to talk about the process of the research but it is not about the subject students are planning to major in as universities like to see someone who is planning to become engineers who can also write something meaningful about a period of history or analysing a piece of literature or some other subject to evidence that students have got a mind that can go in too many different directions at the same time as the Extended Essay challenges and develops that mindset. Most of us think opposite of what he revealed!