The IB Extended Essays And Their Completion: A Cause For Celebration

Sara Pender, Staff Writer

In the second week of December, Senior International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) candidates submitted their Extended Essays: 4,000 word research papers on a subject of their choosing. The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) describes the Extended Essay as “an independent, self-directed piece of research.” It is a required part of the program that teaches IBDP candidates how to maintain a schedule, develop critical-thinking skills and improve time management. 

The Extended Essay is an assessment in which all Senior IB students around the world participate in. Beginning in May of their junior year, the research project spans about six months and continues until December of their senior year. Each student receives “advice and guidance from a supervisor who is usually a teacher at the school,” according to the IBO. 

The essay is assessed on five different criteria: Focus and Method, Knowledge and Understanding, Critical Thinking and Presentation and Engagement. A maximum of three IB points are awarded to the overall IB score gained through the exams.

The Extended Essays are an opportunity for IBDP candidates to choose any topic they feel passionate about or want to learn about. Once the topic is chosen, students formulate a research question to prompt further investigation. 

Several Senior IBDP Candidates this year shared their research questions and Extended Essay subjects. 

Hadley Herwig, ‘22, wrote her Extended Essay on environmental systems and societies. Her research question was, “While levels of plastic in the ocean increase every year, what is the efficiency of prevention methods in comparison to clean up methods of ocean plastics?” 

Alexis Hoy, ‘22, wrote an Extended Essay about historical events. The essay focused on Italy during the period between World War I and II. Hoy’s research question was, “To what extent can the pronatalist campaigns in fascist Italy during the interwar years of 1925-1938 be considered successful?” 

A history Extended Essay’s historical content must be at least ten years old to be valid for investigation. Seen in these examples, history essays can cover content from any time period imaginable. 

Although history Extended Essays are quite popular, there are several other subjects, such as the arts, that students often choose.

Claire Acheson, ‘22, wrote an Extended Essay on music with the research question, “Was Cesar Franck’s Symphony in D Minor more heavily influenced by French or German musical styles?”

Within the IB program, there are varying opinions surrounding the Extended Essay. Most students are relieved that the process is finally over. Although researching and writing an Extended Essay can be tedious and difficult, IBDP Candidates leave high school with the ability to carry out independent research and an understanding of how much work it takes to conduct an research-based investigation into a specific field of inquiry. The final product is a four-thousand word paper, but each step of the process teaches diploma candidates real-world knowledge that provides a foundational basis for future research.