Formatting An Extended Essay Title

Required Formatting

The extended essay should be written in a clear, correct and formal academic style, appropriate to the subject from which the topic is drawn. Given that the extended essay is a formally written research paper, it should strive to maintain a professional, academic look. 

To help achieve this, the following formatting is required:

  • 12-point, readable font (Calibri or Times New Roman);
  • double spacing throughout entire Essay;
  • page numbering - top right corner;
  • no candidate or school name or supervisor name on the title page or page headers.

Submitting the extended essay in the required format will help set the tone of the essay and will aid readability for on-screen assessment by examiners.

Required Structure

The structure of the essay is very important. It helps students to organize the argument, making the best use of the evidence collected. 

There are six required elements of the final work to be submitted. More details about each element are given in the “Presentation” section. Please note that the order in which these elements are presented here is not necessarily the order in which they should be written. 

Six required elements of the extended essay:

  1. Title page
  2. Contents page
  3. Introduction
  4. Body of the essay
  5. Conclusion
  6. References and bibliography -- if MLA "Works Cited" if CSE "References"

1. Required Title Page 

The title page should include only the following information: 

  • the title of the essay
  • the research question
  • the subject the essay is registered in (if it is a language essay also state which category it falls into; if a world studies essay also state the theme and the two subjects utilized) 
  • word count 

    The upper limit is 4,000 words for all extended essays. 

    Please note: Examiners are instructed not to read or assess any material in excess of the word limit. This means that essays containing more than 4,000 words will be compromised across all assessment criteria. Given the holistic nature of the assessment criteria, students who write in excess of the word limit will self-penalize across all criteria. 

2. Required Contents Page

A contents page must be provided at the beginning of the extended essay and all pages should be numbered. Please note that an index page is not required and if included will be treated as if it is not present.

3. Required Introduction

The introduction should tell the reader what to expect in the essay. The introduction should make clear to the reader the focus of the essay, the scope of the research, in particular an indication of the sources to be used, and an insight into the line of argument to be taken. 

While students should have a sense of the direction and key focus of their essay, it is sometimes advisable to finalize the introduction once the body of the essay is complete.

4. Required Body of the Essay (research, analysis, discussion, and evaluation)

The main task is writing the body of the essay, which should be presented in the form of a reasoned argument. The form of this varies with the subject of the essay but as the argument develops it should be clear to the reader what relevant evidence has been discovered, where/how it has been discovered and how it supports the argument. In some subjects, for example, the sciences, sub-headings within the main body of the essay will help the reader to understand the argument (and will also help the student to keep on track). In structuring their extended essay, students must take into consideration the expected conventions of the subject in which their extended essay is registered. 

Once the main body of the essay is complete, it is possible to finalize the introduction (which tells the reader what to expect) and the conclusion (which says what has been achieved, including notes of any limitations and any questions that have not been resolved). 

Any information that is important to the argument must not be included in appendices or footnotes/endnotes. The examiner will not read notes or appendices, so an essay that is not complete in itself will be compromised across the assessment criteria.

5. Required Conclusion

The conclusion says what has been achieved, including notes of any limitations and any questions that have not been resolved. While students might draw conclusions throughout the essay based on their findings, it is important that there is a final, summative conclusion at the end. This conclusion(s) must relate to the research question posed.

6. Required References & Bibliography

Students should use their chosen style of academic referencing as soon as they start writing. That way they are less likely to forget to include a citation. It is also easier than trying to add references at a later stage. For more information on this, refer to the guidelines in the IB document Effective citing and referencing.

Writing the essay takes time but if students have used their Researcher's reflection space and reflection sessions in a meaningful way they should be well prepared to develop their arguments.

The IB Extended Essay is a 4,000-word thesis written under a supervision of an advisor and is a mandatory component of the IB Diploma. This essay, along with the TOK presentation, could give you up to 3 additional points toward your overall Diploma score.


Table Of Contents


How do I start my Extended Essay?

The best way to start an essay with a free-ended topic is to find an area of interest. What would you like to write about? Brainstorm if you have no ideas. Jam-write for 10 minutes straight without stopping or make a mind map of what you’re interested in. EssayPro has many good brainstorming tips here.

How do I Pick an IB Essay Topic

Pick a topic that’s one of your IB subjects or something that’s closely related to your hobbies or passions. In this stage, make sure your topic is broad, so you have room for exploration.

For example:

Now, this topic is too broad. It could be a novel or a Ph.D. dissertation. That’s no good; you need to narrow this topic down.

At this point, you should do some research on your topic and find out if you’re actually interested in it. If you find it boring, refer back to the brainstorming section.

How do I create a research question?

Now that you know more about your topic, ask questions that pique your interests as well as ones that you crave an answer for. This is essential for Criterion A (research question).

Here is an example of some good research questions or potential topics:

  • Economics: How did College Board monopolize aptitude testing?
  • Psychology: What affects did the Syrian refugee crisis have on the psyche of young Children?
  • History: How did the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from 1950 to 1956, heighten tensions between Russia and America during the Cold War.
  • Chemistry: How does Iron sedimentation affect the water quality in West Africa?
  • Biology: Do earlier school start times hinder children’s ability to learn?
  • English: How has Albert Camus’ novel The Stranger been lost in translation?
  • Math: What makes Euler’s Identity the most beautiful equation of all time?
  • Film: How has Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho shaped the thriller genre?

How do I pick an Advisor?

Pick an Advisor that knows a lot about your topic. A biology teacher would not be great for your History EE.

Meeting with your advisor is not mandatory, however, it is a very good idea to do so. The more help you can get on this thing, the better.

When is a good time to start writing?

Start as soon as possible. Your life will be so much easier if you have your essay complete before Year II. If you’re overwhelmed during the school year, do your extended essay during the summer; your future you will thank you.

Outline

Now that you have your research question, build a paper outline around it. The introduction should contain your research query and your main argument, otherwise known as the thesis statement. The body is easiest to divide into three parts. The conclusion should restate your argument and summarize your findings. An outline should just be the notes of what you plan to state. Do not fiddle with the roman numerals; keep it clean with bullet points and short sentences.

Annotated bibliography

At this stage, you should be reading through your primary sources and creating an annotated bibliography. This just means posting any relevant information that you plan to quote or use in your essay into a separate document and listing some points that you plan to address. Start your Works Cited page right away.

Title page

An extended essay cover page is easy, but an extremely important component of your essay. If you don’t follow the title page format of the IB closely, you might jeopardize your essay score. The title page is a standalone document with the title of your essay and your name centered. Include the name of your school and your IB number.

Introduction

Your paper introduction should state your thesis and your research question. In order to get the highest benchmark for this section, you must present this: “The context of the research question is clearly demonstrated. The introduction clearly explains the significance of the topic and why it is worthy of investigation.” This last sentence is important. Don’t forget to state why your topic is important to study. This is a good tip for any essay; if something isn’t important, why would it be worth reading?

Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team

Jessie Pro Writer, from EssayPro

Writing a good extended essay is difficult, but if you are an IB student, you’ll know that those three extra points can really make a big difference. Remember that it's not as overwhelming as it sounds. Some people write a custom essay that’s 6,000 to 8,000 words long, while others will reach about 2800-3500 on their first draft. An important thing to keep in mind that 4,000 words is the maximum word count.

Personal writer advice is to start this as soon as possible. You will thank yourself in the second year if you already have your extended essay done. If word count is what you’re worried about, then you would probably want to write over 3,000 words, since a short essay might imply that the topic was not investigated thoroughly. However, some essay topics may require only 2,000 words to investigate them fully. As the article articulates and I want to reinforce: do not pick a subject that you don’t think you’ll like. It is of utmost importance that you genuinely enjoy what you’re writing about. The topic selection is wide enough; you can explore any IB class that exists. One constraint though is that you cannot do your essay in Theory of Knowledge. In gist, aim high and you will succeed!

Breaking down the IB Extended Essay criteria

  • Criterion A: Make sure your research question is “sharp and focused”. This is not a place to add snaz to your writing.

  • Criterion B: Restate your research question and state your thesis. Make sure to define exactly why your research query is important.

  • Criterion C: Use a wide range of primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. Don’t forget to work on that Works Cited page as you go.

  • Criterion D: Make sure you wholesomely understand what you’re writing about. Spend a lot of time reading your sources and learning things about your subject.

  • Criterion E: Your essay needs to flow logically and coherently. Stick to your outline, don’t go on tangents. Extra information that doesn’t answer your research topic will not grant you a better mark, it will only hinder the overall quality of your essay.

  • Criterion F: Analyze your information. Make connections throughout your essay. Don’t simply list factual information; no one wants to read that. In order to really hit those top scores, you need to elaborate on multiple aspects of the information you present.

  • Criterion G: Make sure your language is coherent and straight to the point. Avoid passive constructions and adverbs.

  • Criterion H: Your conclusion is very important; as mentioned before, you should restate your findings and include any unresolved questions you didn’t answer in your body paragraphs.

  • Criterion I: This criterion is the easiest to do and the easiest to mess up. After completing your essay, double and triple check that your “layout, organization, appearance and formal elements of the essay consistently follow a standard format.” Make sure you have the title page, table of contents, page numbers, illustrative material, quotations, documentation (including references, citations and bibliography) and appendices.

  • Criterion J: Your essay needs to be special. Throughout your essay and in your conclusion, demonstrate “intellectual initiative, depth of understanding and insight.” Be analytical and define why your topic is important. If you are interested in what you’re saying, most likely the reader will also be fond of your information.

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