The extended essay is an in-depth study (4000 words) of a focused topic chosen from one the student’s six subject choices they study over the two years of the Diploma programme. The extended essay process helps prepare students for success at university and in other pathways beyond the Diploma Programme through the development of organisational, research, written and presentation skills. In addition the extended essay process closely follows the process in which a university thesis is written.
Students have to decide which of their six subject choices they wish to write their extended essay on. Within that subject they have to then formulate a topic of research which they then discuss with a nominated supervisor (normally the subject teacher). If a student’s extended essay title and topic is worthy of study, the supervisor agrees to supervise the process. The student then has to research, write and attend interaction sessions with the supervisor in the formulation and completion of the essay.
Once the extended essay is completed, the student attends a viva voce summary interview with the supervisor to reflect upon the experience before the supervisor writes a supporting report which is sent to the IB along with the completed extended essay.
The student has a year in which to complete the essay, the school deadline normally being November of the Year 13 year.
The benefits of the Extended Essay
A 2013 University of Virginia research paper found that the successful completion of the extended essay in the IB Diploma has positive implications for IB Diploma students when they subsequently attend University/College. The UVA research found that the Diploma extended essay writing process augmented the following skills in students who had completed the IB Diploma:
- the ability to gather and evaluate sources for their research
• growth in writing skills (eg constructing an argument) and confidence in using writing styles (eg MLA, Chicago) necessary for college-level work
• the capability of managing their time efficiently
• the reduction of anxiety around college writing assignments
• bolstered creativity and autonomy with pursuing a personally-chosen research topic.
The extended essay process at Compass International School is administered by Julie Allen, Assistant IB Coordinator and Geography teacher and supported by every teacher who has agreed to be supervisor in the extended essay writing process.