Dec 13 2019

How to Write an IB Extended Essay: 8 Practical Tips to Get an A-Grade

Adela Belin photo Adela Belin Content strategist and writer
Study Effectively

It’s not easy being an IB student - one really has to work hard to earn that coveted IB diploma.

From gruelling coursework and internal assessments to CAS, the Theory of Knowledge (ToK) essay and finally, the Extended Essay - the two years of IB are rigorous and require serious dedication.

Original: SourceYes, we hear you.

So, you’ve recently been given the Extended Essay assignment and are wondering how to go about it.

This is a long-term research paper and while you may be comforted by the fact that you have ‘enough’ time to finish it, that’s not always the case because before you know it, you’re grappling with so many other assignments that this one takes a backseat.

To make life easier for you, we consulted our Extended Essay writing experts to put together some practical tips on how to write an IB extended essay and score high.

What is an IB Extended Essay

One of the core components of the IB Diploma, Extended Essay gives students the complete freedom to pick any topic of their choice from an IB subject, conduct in-depth research and write a 4,000-word essay on it.

The purpose of this assignment is to push students to think beyond the syllabus, become critical thinkers, dig deep into a topic and present their views/findings in a coherent and logical manner.

The IBO recommends that students devote a maximum of 40 hours to the Extended Essay.

Writing an Extended Essay might seem overwhelming at first but if done with passion and sincerity, it can turn out to be an enlightening and engaging experience.

8 Practical Tips to Help You Write an A-Grade IB Extended Essay

“How to write an IB Extended Essay?”

“Where do I begin?”

“How do I choose the right topic?”

“Can I write the IB Extended Essay in a week?”

Original: Source..and we have the answers.

Here are eight practical tips to help you write an impressive essay that is sure to get you an A grade.

Get organized

You’ve been given the assignment and the deadline. Now, it’s time to work backwards.

To avoid last-minute panic and stress, it’s always advisable to approach the Extended Essay in an organized manner. The first step is to chalk out a calendar and break down the process.

From choosing a topic, doing research and organizing the research to writing the paper, editing and polishing it for submission - it’s important to assign yourself specific and realistic deadlines for each of the stages. That’s not all, also specify the exact dates you plan to meet your supervisor - you will have to meet him/her at least three to four times in the course of writing the paper.

It’s a good idea to devote at least 15-20 hours to doing research and the rest of the time to outlining, writing and proofreading the paper.

When you manage your time well, you’re able to be more productive and do justice to the paper as opposed to finishing it in a hurry.

Choose a topic that gives you scope for research

A winning Extended Essay starts with choosing the right topic and accurately formulating the research question.

There are two factors to keep in mind while choosing a topic:

  • it should be of interest to you;
  • it should give you ample scope for research.

The topic you narrow down on needs to satisfy both these factors because you’re expected to devote 40 hours to this assignment and if you choose a topic that sounds good on paper but isn’t something you’re particularly interested in, there’s no way you’re going to be invested in it.

Secondly, you cannot choose a topic that’s so narrow that it doesn’t give you the scope for conducting research.

So, be sure to strike a balance between the two while choosing a topic.

The research question you draft  needs to be focussed, original and arguable. Start with a broad topic, do some preliminary research to get a sense of the existing material and pose questions to narrow it down.

Take notes while doing research

The more research you do, the better insights you’ll gather for your Extended Essay which is why its advisable to devote at least 20 hours to the research stage.

Visit your school library, look into credible online sources, published journals and also visit museums or laboratories if your research question demands that.

Remember - time is precious. You need to do effective research and make every minute count. How do you ensure that? You make notes as you conduct research.

You can choose to highlight important points, make hand-written notes or even type it out on a Word document - regardless of your method, it’s important to actively make notes so it gets easier to organize your writing process. What’s more, when you make notes, everything you read is registered better in your mind.

Here’s an informative video by Ray Palin on note-taking while conducting research.

Consult your supervisor

IB lets you choose a supervisor (one of your teachers) who can guide you through the Extended Essay. It’s important to choose someone who is knowledgeable in the topic or subject you pick.

While the IBO recommends students to spend at least 3 to 5 hours with the supervisor, how you wish to use that time is completely up to you.

You must leverage the supervisor’s expertise and consult him/her at various stages while working on the paper such as the topic, research question, how you plan to approach it, and the evidence you have gathered.

Finally, do share the first draft with your supervisor to get initial feedback.

Start with freewriting

Once you’re done with research, work on the structure of the paper which involves writing the sub-headings and including the main points you plan on adding, in the form of bullet points.

Now that you have a rough outline laid out - start freewriting. This is a prewriting technique that helps you shake off that hesitation and anxiety. It pushes you to just write with the flow and brainstorm as you go.

At this stage, don’t think about refining and polishing it because the idea is to just get your thoughts on paper.

Write as per the assessment criteria

The best part about the Extended Essay (or any other IB assignment for that matter) is that students have complete access to the scoring criteria.

So, let’s make it work, shall we?

Before you start writing, take a print out of the assessment criteria and paste it on your bulletin board so that you write exactly as per the assessment criteria and aim for the highest marks.

This scoring criteria takes into account everything from your research question and depth of knowledge to the quality of your analysis, presentation and your reflection process.

Maintain an academic presentation

The way you choose to present your Extended Essay is equally important to its content. You need to demonstrate a formal and academic presentation in order to score well.

That involves clean formatting, well-structured, readable font, proper spacing, numbered pages, appropriate colors and labelled graphs and diagrams. Be sure to not mention your name or school’s name on the title page or headers.

IB is very strict about the word count so don’t exceed the 4000-word count because it won’t be received well.

Give multiple revisions

After all the months of hard work and time spent on writing the Extended Essay, you don’t want to submit it without revising it (multiple times).

Regardless of how tired or burnt out you are, it’s important to revise and proofread your paper - there are bound to be errors so don’t take this step lightly.

Revise it to check for grammatical and spelling errors, flow of the paper, formatting, citations, plagiarism and also cross-check whether you’ve catered to each of the assessment criteria.

Apart from reading it yourself, also get a friend or family member to read it to spot blind spots you might have missed.


Extended Essay is certainly challenging but with a plan in place and these eight practical tips in mind, there can be no stopping you from attaining an A grade.

If you’re still unsure or aren’t confident about your writing capabilities, don’t worry - we at Writers Per Hour can help you.

Our team of competent writers are subject matter experts and know exactly how to write an IB Extended Essay. So, don’t stress - just write to us with your requirements and we’ll deliver a high-quality, original Extended Essay.

last edit at Sep 19 2022