What Is An Extended Essay And How to Write It?

Read this article for 5 tips to ace your IB Extended Essay. This article shows IB Students how to write an Extended Essay for IB Diploma.

Zoé Harper
13 OCT 2021
ib extended essay

In this article, we will reveal useful information on what your IB Extended Essay (EE) requires. Consider this to be your IB Extended Essay Checklist and covers everything that you must know about your EE


We will elaborate on:

  1. What is the IB Extended Essay (EE)?

  2. How to choose your mentor/advisor?

  3. How to select your topic for an Extended Essay?

  4. How to structure an Extended Essay?

  5. How to write an Extended Essay?

  6. IB Extended Essay Checklist


Hey! Make sure you listen to Ivy who will explain to you what NOT to do on your EE.

 These mountains you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb!


Understand that no warrior ever conquered the battlefield with an unhinged mind. We say this because being past IB students, we have seen and faced what you are about to and have a good knowledge and acquired ability to differentiate between bigger beasts and smaller beasts. 


IB Extended Essay is a smaller beast considering that you give it enough time before it turns into a bigger one. All you need to do is relax your mind, de-stress and follow a simple procedure explained further in the article. There is no need to panic. Trust us, listen to us, be like us!


Moving ahead from pun-ny insertions, let us tell you why the IB extended essay can be an easy and interesting mountain to climb:

  1. Subject of your choice (Good practice to choose from your HLs)

  2. Independence of choosing a topic  

  3. Choice of choosing your mentor

  4. Continuous feedback and support from your chosen mentor.


What Is IB Extended Essay?

IB extended essay (IB EE) is another one of your mandatory requirements of the IB Diploma Programme. It is a mini-thesis that you write under the supervision of a mentor/advisor. Your mentor will be an IB teacher from your school. The students need to conduct independent research on a topic of their choice, which must not exceed the limit of 4000 words. You begin by choosing a research question as a topic that will be further approved by IBO. It is up to you to either do a typical research paper or conduct an experiment/solve a problem type EE.

Choosing your mentor

I can write too many paragraphs giving you unnecessary information but let’s cut to the chase and admit, the heart wants what it wants. You will go with an advisor/mentor whom you will connect to the most. However, if your judgment is clouded between the advisor whom you want to choose solely because you connect with him/her better and the mentor who is knowledgeable about your chosen topic and can actually help you improve your research work, the choice is pretty clear: listen to your brain. Get rid of your toxic love and make a wise decision of choosing a knowledgeable mentor. If you are lucky, the mentor you connect with and the one having ample knowledge about your chosen topic will end up being the same person. On that note, consider only two things while choosing your advisor:


  • An advisor who is familiar with your topic 
  • An advisor who will push you to be your best


Before diving into topic selection and the structure of your IB extended essay, refer to this table to get an insight into the grade breakdown table. This will be helpful in your planning phase.

Moving ahead towards important aspects of this article. After choosing your mentor, the next step for ‘how to write an EE’ is choosing a topic with the help of your mentor’s input. It is as important as it was in our TOK Essay and TOK presentation.

How to select your topic?

Keep the following in mind while selecting your topic:


  • Choose a topic that interests you.
  • A topic that has enough resources and material.
  • Choose a topic that is neither too narrow (so you have enough material) nor too broad (to avoid exceeding the word limit of 4000 words)


The Structure of IB Extended Essay

Before we dive into the structure, let us make one thing clear, there is a difference between title and research question. A title is not the same as your research question. Your research question is a clear and focused summative statement of your research. For instance, “The Effect of Gender and Age on the photoreceptor cells in the human retina” is a title whereas the following as the examples of research questions:

1. Research Question:

“Does the efficiency of Rods and cones decrease with age?

“What is the efficiency of L-cone vs M-cone vs S-cone?“

“To what extent are rod cells more efficient than the three cone cells?”

“Does the efficieny of rods and cones differ between genders?”

2. Table of Contents

This will include the following:



      Main body





Quick Note: The content on this page will not be included in your essay word count.

NO ABSTRACT REQUIRED. The latest IB guide states that an abstract should not be included in EE anymore.

3. Introduction 

Introduce and elaborate topic that you are researching in your EE. 


  • A crisp description of what you will explore and how will you do so. If you are aiming at a particular firm/industry, talk about the problems that are faced by the same and your method of investigating those problems.
  • To provide context to your question, you must address the situation from where the question is coming.
  • State your research question and emphasize its importance of answering that question.
  • Describe how your research is helpful, interesting and how is it valuable to your audience.


4. Methodology 

 It is advised that you split this section into two major sections to ensure that you cover all the important aspects.


  • Section - 1 Explaining your sources
  • Section - 2 Related topics, theories and arguments that you will use to explore


Quick Note: Ensure that besides giving the readers and insight into the theories, arguments and resources that you plan to use for your research, you also point out the weaknesses and limitations of these. 


Section- 1: Sources

  • Describe each of your major sources of primary and secondary research.
  • Inform the readers how these sources are helpful.
  • Do provide the readers with an insight into a weakness or a limitation for each source. For example, how there may have been room for bias or a limited scope to your research. Or perhaps there are other reasons why other data you used could be unreliable or invalid.
  • Some helpful sources of secondary research are: company annual reports, news articles, magazine articles, business textbooks, and encyclopedias.
  • Mention any adjustments (at least one) you made to your research as you progressed with your EE.


Section- 2: Related topics, theories  and arguments

  • Briefly explain the theories that you are going to use and why (what are you aiming to support by using these).
  • Address some weaknesses or limitations of each addressed topic, theory or related argument.
  • Mention any changes made to these as you progressed with your EE.


5. The Main Body 

This part of your essay will be the most elaborate. It will concentrate upon research, analysis, discussion and evaluation.

To maintain the flow of your previous section, we would advise that you split this section into two parts as well identical to the previous bifurcation to showcase your understanding of the IB concepts learned in your business management class and the other addressing the insightful material outside of your course.


Section-1: Related arguments, theories and topics form your course learning

  • Include 4 or 5 of these that will help you answer your research question.
  • It is suggested that you include at least one financial element, if possible. Address your qualitative tools before the quantitative ones.


Section- 2: Beyond your Course

Take up this section as an opportunity for you to educate your reader/evaluator.


  • Review several related theories and concepts, more extensively than the course does.
  • Impress your reader by giving the sense that you really do know how the particular industry works. Showcase your expertise or knowledge gained through expert opinions in several aspects of your question.
  • If possible, add some analytical insight in this section rather than just descriptive. Be very careful to make sure that all of your theories in this section are really helping you answer your research question.
  • You can use a graph here but it must link to the research question.
  • Use theories and supportive arguments that are applicable to your research and are beyond your course (if relevant).

Quick Note: Relate every paragraph with your research question.

6. The Conclusion 

This section is pretty self-explanatory. It is time to bind all your sections together.

  • Here, you must concentrate on making your EE sections cohesive.
  • Address what you have researched and how it helps in answering your research question.
  • Do not include anything new in your conclusion.
  • Shine through by including mini-conclusions in order to synthesize your essay.
  • You can include several evaluative insights as well if applicable.
  • Mention some weaknesses and limitations of your research and their effect on your research. You can even address the inaccuracies that these limitations may have caused and also state the reason behind it.
  • Explain at least one thing that you would have done differently if you were to do it again.

Quick Note: Don’t include a recommendations section in your EE

7. Bibliography

This section is basically to give the reader an insight into your research resources. It may include:

  • ·Secondary Resources
    • Books –textbooks, internet resources, journals, academic papers, competitor interviews, etc.
  • Primary Resource (if applicable) –Interview, data (focus group, survey, etc).

Quick note: The content on this page will not be included in your essay word count.

8. Appendices

Take this section as more of an important formality of showcasing the process of hard work that you have put in. 

  • Transcripts from your interviews,
  • Additional analysis you did which didn’t fit in the body of your EE.
  • Any other interesting data which you would like to refer to in the body of your work.

Quick note: The content on this page will not be included in your essay word count.


With this, we come towards the end of our article on what is an IB extended essay and how to write an extended essay. Like we mentioned earlier, it is not that difficult. All you need is dedication, set timelines and proper research. So, don’t worry, there are no rabbits to pull out of your hat today. If you want to score a 36 on 36 in your Extended Essay, make sure you check out our Extended Essay Guide which offers '5 never heard before' tips which will help you write a quality essay.

IB Extended Essay Checklist

Make an IB Extended Essay Checklist! I cannot emphasise enough on this point. The submission for your EE happens at the same time when you are expected to take your exams. There will be a million things that you would have to keep a track. There is a high chance of forgetting to make that final edit or perfecting your EE's introduction in the midst of it all. Therefore, having an IB Extended Essay Checklist will make sure that you do everything needed. IB Extended Essay Checklist will be your saviour during the final submission days.


We want Nail IB to be your virtual companion to hustle through IB. We have a lot of helpful blogs which will help you navigate your way through IB. Apart from our blogs, we offer "Take A Test' module, which helps IB students evaluate their level in the IB Program. Make sure to try a test and see your strengths and weaknesses. And finally, to make sure that you have all the resources that you might need to nail IB, we have curated special student bundles for your convenience.


Quality IB Videos & Resources
996+ Videos, 1180+ PDF Files, 5858+ Sample questions. Access them all!
IB EE Guide


This FREE guide reveals the most powerful information for boosting your extended essay score and opening the floodgates to that sweet 45! Get for free what others have paid $100’s in tuition classes to learn/preach!