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International Baccalaureate (IB)


IB students around the globe fear writing the Extended Essay, but it doesn't have to be a source of stress! In this article, I'll get you excited about writing your Extended Essay and provide you with the resources you need to get an A on it.

If you're reading this article, I'm going to assume you're an IB student getting ready to write your Extended Essay. If you're looking at this as a potential future IB student, I recommend reading our introductory IB articles first, including our guide to what the IB program is and our full coverage of the IB curriculum .

IB Extended Essay: Why Should You Trust My Advice?

I myself am a recipient of an IB Diploma, and I happened to receive an A on my IB Extended Essay. Don't believe me? The proof is in the IBO pudding:


If you're confused by what this report means, EE is short for Extended Essay , and English A1 is the subject that my Extended Essay topic coordinated with. In layman's terms, my IB Diploma was graded in May 2010, I wrote my Extended Essay in the English A1 category, and I received an A grade on it.

What Is the Extended Essay in the IB Diploma Programme?

The IB Extended Essay, or EE , is a mini-thesis you write under the supervision of an IB advisor (an IB teacher at your school), which counts toward your IB Diploma (learn more about the major IB Diploma requirements in our guide) . I will explain exactly how the EE affects your Diploma later in this article.

For the Extended Essay, you will choose a research question as a topic, conduct the research independently, then write an essay on your findings . The essay itself is a long one—although there's a cap of 4,000 words, most successful essays get very close to this limit.

Keep in mind that the IB requires this essay to be a "formal piece of academic writing," meaning you'll have to do outside research and cite additional sources.

The IB Extended Essay must include the following:

  • A title page
  • Contents page
  • Introduction
  • Body of the essay
  • References and bibliography

Additionally, your research topic must fall into one of the six approved DP categories , or IB subject groups, which are as follows:

  • Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature
  • Group 2: Language Acquisition
  • Group 3: Individuals and Societies
  • Group 4: Sciences
  • Group 5: Mathematics
  • Group 6: The Arts

Once you figure out your category and have identified a potential research topic, it's time to pick your advisor, who is normally an IB teacher at your school (though you can also find one online ). This person will help direct your research, and they'll conduct the reflection sessions you'll have to do as part of your Extended Essay.

As of 2018, the IB requires a "reflection process" as part of your EE supervision process. To fulfill this requirement, you have to meet at least three times with your supervisor in what the IB calls "reflection sessions." These meetings are not only mandatory but are also part of the formal assessment of the EE and your research methods.

According to the IB, the purpose of these meetings is to "provide an opportunity for students to reflect on their engagement with the research process." Basically, these meetings give your supervisor the opportunity to offer feedback, push you to think differently, and encourage you to evaluate your research process.

The final reflection session is called the viva voce, and it's a short 10- to 15-minute interview between you and your advisor. This happens at the very end of the EE process, and it's designed to help your advisor write their report, which factors into your EE grade.

Here are the topics covered in your viva voce :

  • A check on plagiarism and malpractice
  • Your reflection on your project's successes and difficulties
  • Your reflection on what you've learned during the EE process

Your completed Extended Essay, along with your supervisor's report, will then be sent to the IB to be graded. We'll cover the assessment criteria in just a moment.


We'll help you learn how to have those "lightbulb" moments...even on test day!  

What Should You Write About in Your IB Extended Essay?

You can technically write about anything, so long as it falls within one of the approved categories listed above.

It's best to choose a topic that matches one of the IB courses , (such as Theatre, Film, Spanish, French, Math, Biology, etc.), which shouldn't be difficult because there are so many class subjects.

Here is a range of sample topics with the attached extended essay:

  • Biology: The Effect of Age and Gender on the Photoreceptor Cells in the Human Retina
  • Chemistry: How Does Reflux Time Affect the Yield and Purity of Ethyl Aminobenzoate (Benzocaine), and How Effective is Recrystallisation as a Purification Technique for This Compound?
  • English: An Exploration of Jane Austen's Use of the Outdoors in Emma
  • Geography: The Effect of Location on the Educational Attainment of Indigenous Secondary Students in Queensland, Australia
  • Math: Alhazen's Billiard Problem
  • Visual Arts: Can Luc Tuymans Be Classified as a Political Painter?

You can see from how varied the topics are that you have a lot of freedom when it comes to picking a topic . So how do you pick when the options are limitless?


How to Write a Stellar IB Extended Essay: 6 Essential Tips

Below are six key tips to keep in mind as you work on your Extended Essay for the IB DP. Follow these and you're sure to get an A!

#1: Write About Something You Enjoy

You can't expect to write a compelling essay if you're not a fan of the topic on which you're writing. For example, I just love British theatre and ended up writing my Extended Essay on a revolution in post-WWII British theatre. (Yes, I'm definitely a #TheatreNerd.)

I really encourage anyone who pursues an IB Diploma to take the Extended Essay seriously. I was fortunate enough to receive a full-tuition merit scholarship to USC's School of Dramatic Arts program. In my interview for the scholarship, I spoke passionately about my Extended Essay; thus, I genuinely think my Extended Essay helped me get my scholarship.

But how do you find a topic you're passionate about? Start by thinking about which classes you enjoy the most and why . Do you like math classes because you like to solve problems? Or do you enjoy English because you like to analyze literary texts?

Keep in mind that there's no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing your Extended Essay topic. You're not more likely to get high marks because you're writing about science, just like you're not doomed to failure because you've chosen to tackle the social sciences. The quality of what you produce—not the field you choose to research within—will determine your grade.

Once you've figured out your category, you should brainstorm more specific topics by putting pen to paper . What was your favorite chapter you learned in that class? Was it astrophysics or mechanics? What did you like about that specific chapter? Is there something you want to learn more about? I recommend spending a few hours on this type of brainstorming.

One last note: if you're truly stumped on what to research, pick a topic that will help you in your future major or career . That way you can use your Extended Essay as a talking point in your college essays (and it will prepare you for your studies to come too!).

#2: Select a Topic That Is Neither Too Broad nor Too Narrow

There's a fine line between broad and narrow. You need to write about something specific, but not so specific that you can't write 4,000 words on it.

You can't write about WWII because that would be a book's worth of material. You also don't want to write about what type of soup prisoners of war received behind enemy lines, because you probably won’t be able to come up with 4,000 words of material about it. However, you could possibly write about how the conditions in German POW camps—and the rations provided—were directly affected by the Nazis' successes and failures on the front, including the use of captured factories and prison labor in Eastern Europe to increase production. WWII military history might be a little overdone, but you get my point.

If you're really stuck trying to pinpoint a not-too-broad-or-too-narrow topic, I suggest trying to brainstorm a topic that uses a comparison. Once you begin looking through the list of sample essays below, you'll notice that many use comparisons to formulate their main arguments.

I also used a comparison in my EE, contrasting Harold Pinter's Party Time with John Osborne's Look Back in Anger in order to show a transition in British theatre. Topics with comparisons of two to three plays, books, and so on tend to be the sweet spot. You can analyze each item and then compare them with one another after doing some in-depth analysis of each individually. The ways these items compare and contrast will end up forming the thesis of your essay!

When choosing a comparative topic, the key is that the comparison should be significant. I compared two plays to illustrate the transition in British theatre, but you could compare the ways different regional dialects affect people's job prospects or how different temperatures may or may not affect the mating patterns of lightning bugs. The point here is that comparisons not only help you limit your topic, but they also help you build your argument.

Comparisons are not the only way to get a grade-A EE, though. If after brainstorming, you pick a non-comparison-based topic and are still unsure whether your topic is too broad or narrow, spend about 30 minutes doing some basic research and see how much material is out there.

If there are more than 1,000 books, articles, or documentaries out there on that exact topic, it may be too broad. But if there are only two books that have any connection to your topic, it may be too narrow. If you're still unsure, ask your advisor—it's what they're there for! Speaking of advisors...


Don't get stuck with a narrow topic!

#3: Choose an Advisor Who Is Familiar With Your Topic

If you're not certain of who you would like to be your advisor, create a list of your top three choices. Next, write down the pros and cons of each possibility (I know this sounds tedious, but it really helps!).

For example, Mr. Green is my favorite teacher and we get along really well, but he teaches English. For my EE, I want to conduct an experiment that compares the efficiency of American electric cars with foreign electric cars.

I had Ms. White a year ago. She teaches physics and enjoyed having me in her class. Unlike Mr. Green, Ms. White could help me design my experiment.

Based on my topic and what I need from my advisor, Ms. White would be a better fit for me than would Mr. Green (even though I like him a lot).

The moral of my story is this: do not just ask your favorite teacher to be your advisor . They might be a hindrance to you if they teach another subject. For example, I would not recommend asking your biology teacher to guide you in writing an English literature-based EE.

There can, of course, be exceptions to this rule. If you have a teacher who's passionate and knowledgeable about your topic (as my English teacher was about my theatre topic), you could ask that instructor. Consider all your options before you do this. There was no theatre teacher at my high school, so I couldn't find a theatre-specific advisor, but I chose the next best thing.

Before you approach a teacher to serve as your advisor, check with your high school to see what requirements they have for this process. Some IB high schools require your IB Extended Essay advisor to sign an Agreement Form , for instance.

Make sure that you ask your IB coordinator whether there is any required paperwork to fill out. If your school needs a specific form signed, bring it with you when you ask your teacher to be your EE advisor.

#4: Pick an Advisor Who Will Push You to Be Your Best

Some teachers might just take on students because they have to and aren't very passionate about reading drafts, only giving you minimal feedback. Choose a teacher who will take the time to read several drafts of your essay and give you extensive notes. I would not have gotten my A without being pushed to make my Extended Essay draft better.

Ask a teacher that you have experience with through class or an extracurricular activity. Do not ask a teacher that you have absolutely no connection to. If a teacher already knows you, that means they already know your strengths and weaknesses, so they know what to look for, where you need to improve, and how to encourage your best work.

Also, don't forget that your supervisor's assessment is part of your overall EE score . If you're meeting with someone who pushes you to do better—and you actually take their advice—they'll have more impressive things to say about you than a supervisor who doesn't know you well and isn't heavily involved in your research process.

Be aware that the IB only allows advisors to make suggestions and give constructive criticism. Your teacher cannot actually help you write your EE. The IB recommends that the supervisor spends approximately two to three hours in total with the candidate discussing the EE.

#5: Make Sure Your Essay Has a Clear Structure and Flow

The IB likes structure. Your EE needs a clear introduction (which should be one to two double-spaced pages), research question/focus (i.e., what you're investigating), a body, and a conclusion (about one double-spaced page). An essay with unclear organization will be graded poorly.

The body of your EE should make up the bulk of the essay. It should be about eight to 18 pages long (again, depending on your topic). Your body can be split into multiple parts. For example, if you were doing a comparison, you might have one third of your body as Novel A Analysis, another third as Novel B Analysis, and the final third as your comparison of Novels A and B.

If you're conducting an experiment or analyzing data, such as in this EE , your EE body should have a clear structure that aligns with the scientific method ; you should state the research question, discuss your method, present the data, analyze the data, explain any uncertainties, and draw a conclusion and/or evaluate the success of the experiment.

#6: Start Writing Sooner Rather Than Later!

You will not be able to crank out a 4,000-word essay in just a week and get an A on it. You'll be reading many, many articles (and, depending on your topic, possibly books and plays as well!). As such, it's imperative that you start your research as soon as possible.

Each school has a slightly different deadline for the Extended Essay. Some schools want them as soon as November of your senior year; others will take them as late as February. Your school will tell you what your deadline is. If they haven't mentioned it by February of your junior year, ask your IB coordinator about it.

Some high schools will provide you with a timeline of when you need to come up with a topic, when you need to meet with your advisor, and when certain drafts are due. Not all schools do this. Ask your IB coordinator if you are unsure whether you are on a specific timeline.

Below is my recommended EE timeline. While it's earlier than most schools, it'll save you a ton of heartache (trust me, I remember how hard this process was!):

  • January/February of Junior Year: Come up with your final research topic (or at least your top three options).
  • February of Junior Year: Approach a teacher about being your EE advisor. If they decline, keep asking others until you find one. See my notes above on how to pick an EE advisor.
  • April/May of Junior Year: Submit an outline of your EE and a bibliography of potential research sources (I recommend at least seven to 10) to your EE advisor. Meet with your EE advisor to discuss your outline.
  • Summer Between Junior and Senior Year: Complete your first full draft over the summer between your junior and senior year. I know, I know—no one wants to work during the summer, but trust me—this will save you so much stress come fall when you are busy with college applications and other internal assessments for your IB classes. You will want to have this first full draft done because you will want to complete a couple of draft cycles as you likely won't be able to get everything you want to say into 4,000 articulate words on the first attempt. Try to get this first draft into the best possible shape so you don't have to work on too many revisions during the school year on top of your homework, college applications, and extracurriculars.
  • August/September of Senior Year: Turn in your first draft of your EE to your advisor and receive feedback. Work on incorporating their feedback into your essay. If they have a lot of suggestions for improvement, ask if they will read one more draft before the final draft.
  • September/October of Senior Year: Submit the second draft of your EE to your advisor (if necessary) and look at their feedback. Work on creating the best possible final draft.
  • November-February of Senior Year: Schedule your viva voce. Submit two copies of your final draft to your school to be sent off to the IB. You likely will not get your grade until after you graduate.

Remember that in the middle of these milestones, you'll need to schedule two other reflection sessions with your advisor . (Your teachers will actually take notes on these sessions on a form like this one , which then gets submitted to the IB.)

I recommend doing them when you get feedback on your drafts, but these meetings will ultimately be up to your supervisor. Just don't forget to do them!


The early bird DOES get the worm!

How Is the IB Extended Essay Graded?

Extended Essays are graded by examiners appointed by the IB on a scale of 0 to 34 . You'll be graded on five criteria, each with its own set of points. You can learn more about how EE scoring works by reading the IB guide to extended essays .

  • Criterion A: Focus and Method (6 points maximum)
  • Criterion B: Knowledge and Understanding (6 points maximum)
  • Criterion C: Critical Thinking (12 points maximum)
  • Criterion D: Presentation (4 points maximum)
  • Criterion E: Engagement (6 points maximum)

How well you do on each of these criteria will determine the final letter grade you get for your EE. You must earn at least a D to be eligible to receive your IB Diploma.

Although each criterion has a point value, the IB explicitly states that graders are not converting point totals into grades; instead, they're using qualitative grade descriptors to determine the final grade of your Extended Essay . Grade descriptors are on pages 102-103 of this document .

Here's a rough estimate of how these different point values translate to letter grades based on previous scoring methods for the EE. This is just an estimate —you should read and understand the grade descriptors so you know exactly what the scorers are looking for.

Here is the breakdown of EE scores (from the May 2021 bulletin):

How Does the Extended Essay Grade Affect Your IB Diploma?

The Extended Essay grade is combined with your TOK (Theory of Knowledge) grade to determine how many points you get toward your IB Diploma.

To learn about Theory of Knowledge or how many points you need to receive an IB Diploma, read our complete guide to the IB program and our guide to the IB Diploma requirements .

This diagram shows how the two scores are combined to determine how many points you receive for your IB diploma (3 being the most, 0 being the least). In order to get your IB Diploma, you have to earn 24 points across both categories (the TOK and EE). The highest score anyone can earn is 45 points.


Let's say you get an A on your EE and a B on TOK. You will get 3 points toward your Diploma. As of 2014, a student who scores an E on either the extended essay or TOK essay will not be eligible to receive an IB Diploma .

Prior to the class of 2010, a Diploma candidate could receive a failing grade in either the Extended Essay or Theory of Knowledge and still be awarded a Diploma, but this is no longer true.

Figuring out how you're assessed can be a little tricky. Luckily, the IB breaks everything down here in this document . (The assessment information begins on page 219.)

40+ Sample Extended Essays for the IB Diploma Programme

In case you want a little more guidance on how to get an A on your EE, here are over 40 excellent (grade A) sample extended essays for your reading pleasure. Essays are grouped by IB subject.

  • Business Management 1
  • Chemistry 1
  • Chemistry 2
  • Chemistry 3
  • Chemistry 4
  • Chemistry 5
  • Chemistry 6
  • Chemistry 7
  • Computer Science 1
  • Economics 1
  • Design Technology 1
  • Design Technology 2
  • Environmental Systems and Societies 1
  • Geography 1
  • Geography 2
  • Geography 3
  • Geography 4
  • Geography 5
  • Geography 6
  • Literature and Performance 1
  • Mathematics 1
  • Mathematics 2
  • Mathematics 3
  • Mathematics 4
  • Mathematics 5
  • Philosophy 1
  • Philosophy 2
  • Philosophy 3
  • Philosophy 4
  • Philosophy 5
  • Psychology 1
  • Psychology 2
  • Psychology 3
  • Psychology 4
  • Psychology 5
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology 1
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology 2
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology 3
  • Sports, Exercise and Health Science 1
  • Sports, Exercise and Health Science 2
  • Visual Arts 1
  • Visual Arts 2
  • Visual Arts 3
  • Visual Arts 4
  • Visual Arts 5
  • World Religion 1
  • World Religion 2
  • World Religion 3


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Extended Essay: Formatting your EE


  • Finding a Topic
  • Subject Guidance & Proposal Forms
  • Sources of Information
  • Formatting your EE
  • Reflections
  • IB Resources for Students
  • Citations and Referencing - IB REQUIREMENTS
  • In-Text Citations
  • Further information on Citations Styles


All final submissions must be made in pdf format to these 4 places:, google classroom, emailed to your supervisor, formal presentation basics.

publishing extended essay

All essays must follow this format:

  • Standard Margins (1-inch or 2.5 cm margins)
  • 12-point, readable font (Arial is recommended)
  • Double-spaced
  • Page Numbers start on the Table of Contents 
  • No Candidate or School name  is to appear anywhere in the document
  • Title of the Essay
  • Research Question
  • Subject for which the Essay is registered
  • Category - If a Language A or B Essay
  • Theme & 2 Subjects utilized - If a World Studies Essay
  • Contents Page
  • annotated illustrations and tables
  • formulas and calculations
  • parenthetical or numbered
  • footnotes or endnotes
  • Bibliography
  • The RPPF Form
  • The Research and Writing Process: Word Counts
  • The Research and Writing Process: Footnotes and Endnotes

Table of Contents

  • Labelled "Table of Contents" in 12-point, readable font (Arial is recommended)
  • Headings and subheadings within the body of the essay may be included

References and Bibliography

  • Topic, purpose and focus of the research clearly identified and explained
  • Research Question bolded within the introduction and phrased as on the title page
  • Methodology of research and insight into the line of argument

Body of the Essay

The body of the essay must:

  • Examiners will not read appendices, endnotes or footnotes, so all essential elements to your argument must be included in the body of the essay
  • Include headings and sub-headings as appropriate to the subject 

Your conclusion must be:

  • A Summative conclusion based on the information presented in the body of the essay
  • A Conclusion linked directly to the research question
  • Notes of limitations and unresolved questions (as appropriate) can be included

Your References and Bibliography must follow this format:

  • Cross-referenced: each reference in the essay is ticked off in the bibliography to ensure all references are included and no extraneous references exist
  • All tables, charts, diagrams, illustrations etc. must be clearly labelled and referenced in the body of the essay
  • References are presented alphabetically 
  • Use hanging indents for all entries
  • Include Date Accessed or Retrieved for websites (as outlined on the IB Requirements page)
  • Remove all hyperlinks
  • The Research and Writing Process: Tables
  • The Research and Writing Process: Illustrations

Appendices should only be used if required by the subject discipline:

  • Appendices titled
  • Headings labeled
  • Included in the Table of Contents
  • Reliance on external resources such as DVDs, music, specimen materials etc. is not permitted
  • The Research and Writing Process: Reliance on External Materials
  • The Research and Writing Process: Specimen Materials
  • << Previous: Sources of Information
  • Next: Reflections >>
  • Last Updated: Jan 29, 2024 1:37 PM
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How to Write an Extended Essay: A Step-by-Step Guide

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by  Antony W

October 10, 2023

how to write an extended essay

In this guide, you’ll learn how to write an Extended Essay that not only explores a research issue comprehensively but also earns top grades.

To write a good Extended Essay, choose a topic you’re interested in, develop a specific research question, do your research, and structure your essay. Plan your writing process, schedule meetings with your supervisor, write the essay, and proofread before submitting.  

An alternative way to write an Extended Essay is to seek for professional academic writing help online. 

At Help for Assessment, we offer the  best EE writing service online   and this writing assistance can go a long way to get your Extended Essay written on time.

To be clear, an Extended Essay isn’t an assignment you should fail unless you purposely intend to do so. A good way to write an EE on any subject is to develop a solid structure and then follow it from start to finish.

How to Write an Extended Essay Step-by-Step

To write a comprehensive Extended Essay on any subject within the 40 hours:

1. Choose a Topic

The first step to write an EE is to choose an Extended Essay topic to explore.

Unfortunately, you can’t scrape a good topic off a book or ask a friend in your IB class to share their thoughts. You have to brainstorm and do some preliminary research to find an interesting topic to work on.

You don’t have to spend so many hours looking for a topic for your EE.

First, determine what your passion outside the classroom is. Then, come up with a list of potential topics that you can explore based on the subject of your choice.

As you do your topic hunting, you might discover that you have an interest in more than one topic.

We recommend that you choose the most interesting of all topic, particularly the one tied to an area you’ve always wanted to explore.

Also, make sure the topic allows you to have something original to write in the essay.

Should the topic be one that doesn’t allow you to share ideas beyond what’s obvious, drop it and look for something else. 

2. Research Your Topic

Researching your topic will help to inform your essay in the writing stage. If you do the research right, the structure, case study, and the experiments will easily fit on their own.

To do your research more effectively:

  • Start by reading the EE guidelines for the subject you’d like to explore. Doing so will help you determine whether you need primary sources, secondary research, or a combination of both.
  • Determine if you have to collect data from someone else, look for facts, create your own data, or use other people’s opinion.
  • Check with your supervisor how recent your research should be.
  • Conduct your research based on the subject, the topic you selected, and the suggestions from your supervisor.

Note that you may have to search multiple sources to identify the most relevant information for your Extended Essay.

You want to make sure your bibliography is detailed enough to show that you have invested enough time to research your topic.

3. Develop a Research Question

You need to develop a clear and concise research question that gives your intended reader a clear focus of the essay.

The Extended Essay Guide requires that your research question be precise, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of a question. In addition, your research question should be something worth asking.

If the research issue you’ve developed is concise, detailed, specific, and linked to the topic you would like to explore in 4,000 words, you’re set to start writing the Extended Essay.

4. Structure and Plan Your EE

Your Extended Essay should feature the following format:

  • Your research question
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  • Bibliography
  • 3 Reflections

Use this outline in the order provided to organize your research and write the Extended Essay.

5. Consult Your Supervisor

One of the advantages of being in an IB program is that you can always choose someone to guide you through the Extended Essay reflection process .

It could be a teacher you're comfortable with or a fellow student.

Ensure you make good use of them by consulting them with your research so they can tell you whether you're on the right path.

6 Write Your First and Last Draft

Once you're comfortable that you've done comprehensive research, use your outline to write your first draft.

Don't worry about grammar or punctuation.

Just give life to your outline; then afterward, you can use this first draft to write the official extended essay you will submit.

7. Proofread and Edit Your Work

When your final extended essay is ready, edit and proofread for grammatical errors or any other errors you may not have noticed while rewriting it from your first draft.

If possible, have your supervisor go through it as well before submission.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. how long does it take to write an extended essay.

IB requires you to write your Extended Essay within 40 hours.

That’s enough time to start and complete the writing process if you start working on the EE as early as right now.

2. When Should I Write an EE?

The right approach to tackle an Extended Essay assignment is to start early. Instead of waiting to write a last minute essay , start right away so that you have ample time to do the work.  

Keep in mind that time management is critical to your success.

Once you’ve selected a topic for your Extended Essay assignment, the next task should be to create a schedule you can work with.

Determine how much time you’re willing and able to assign to your research process , break the task into small sections that you can manage, and then assign each section a realistic deadline.

3. How Do You Structure an Extended Essay?

Your Extended Essay must feature your research question, a cover page, table of contents, an introduction, the main body, a conclusion, a bibliography, and 3 reflections.

It’s possible to feel stuck as you continue to work on your Extended Essay, but your supervisor will be there to help you during the reflection sessions.

During these sessions, your supervisor will evaluate your research question, look at your structure and writing plan, and comment on your first draft.

Remember, you have 40 hours to work on the essay, which should be enough to get the assignment completed on time. 

Should you feel stuck in the writing process, you can reach out to the IB team at Help for Assessment and we’ll be happy to help.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

  • Have your assignments done by seasoned writers. 24/7
  • Contact us:
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How to Write an Extended Essay: from Outline to Conclusion

Extended essay

Writing an Extended Essay

As a student, especially those pursuing International Baccalaureate (IB), you will be faced with the challenge of coming up with an extended essay. But few students do not know how to write long essays like an extended essay. That is where we come in.

In this comprehensive guide, I will guide you on the 8 steps to follow when writing a good extended essay and provide you with examples of topics you can use.

As noted by one of our top essay writers for hire , extended essays are not like your ordinary essays. As the name suggests, they are extended versions of essays and it may take longer and a unique approach to writing them.

publishing extended essay

However, before delving into such details, it is important to first understand what extended essays are.

Need Help with your Homework or Essays?

What is an extended essay.

An extended essay (EE) is a form of writing that provides learners with a chance to carry out independent research concerning a topic of their interest. It is part of the requirements for the International Baccalaureate (IB) program and its content is based on a freely-selected topic provided that there is an instructor for the subject in school since candidates should have a supervisor for the subjects.

To be more precise, an extended essay can be regarded as a 4000-word structured piece of writing centered on an International Baccalaureate student’s topic and it may take various forms.

What is meant by “it may take various forms” is that the way it looks depends on the topic selected. The next section will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to write an extended essay. 

How to Write an Extended Essay

When writing an extended essay, there 8 steps that should be taken to effectively complete it on time. Carefully read through the 8 steps to fully understand how to write an extended essay.

Step 1: Selecting a topic and researching on it

Researching extended essay

This is the first step that you should take before writing your extended essay.

As noted, extended essays will allow you to write on the topic of your interest.

However, various topics are provided by your instructor and it is upon you to select the topic that interests you.

You should keep in mind that the topic selected should have enough material and resources to support your topic and the position of your arguments concerning the topic.

Some topics may have limited resources.

At the same time, select a topic that is neither too broad nor too narrow. A narrow topic may lack enough material to have a 4000-word extended essay while a broad topic may require a lot of supporting material that may exceed the 4000-word limit.  

If you find the first step confusing or you find it difficult to tackle it on your own, it is advisable to seek a mentor/advisor. You should select an advisor or mentor with whom you will connect well and the one who understands the topic and what is required when writing extended essays.

Such a mentor will help you select the topic that fits your interest. While helping you select a topic that is not too narrow or broad, they should push you to deliver your best. Mentors/advisors can be your instructors or friends who have completed extended essays. 

Once this is done, research extensively concerning your topic and ensure that the sources of your information are peer-reviewed and credible. They should provide the most recent research or information concerning your topic.

Note the sources of your information so that you can cite and reference them in your extended essay. 

Step 2: Coming up With a Research Question

This is an important step because selecting a research question will provide you with a focused and clear summative statement to be used during your research.

It will act as a roadmap or a guideline that will help you during the writing process. It will also help you formulate a clear and concise thesis statement that will summarize your arguments and the position you will take in your extended essay. 

Step 3: Structuring Your Extended Essay

As aforementioned, extended essays should always take an academic format. This means that it should have an acceptable academic structure.

At the same time, since International Baccalaureate (IB) guidelines are constantly updated, you should follow the latest guidelines so that you can utilize the latest format. 

The acceptable format for your extended essay will include an introduction, methodology, main body, conclusion, bibliography, and appendices.

Writing extended Essay

This will be the general structure for your extended essay.

It should be noted that this structure is not an outline.

What this means is that the structure should be considered when coming up with an outline.

Once you have decided the structure of your extended essay, come up with an outline based on your topic, thesis, and arguments.

An outline will act as a guide during the drafting process and it will save a lot of time.

This is because you will have already outlined your extended essay and what you will be doing is to add content to the points you have highlighted. Ensure that individual points translate to a single paragraph. 

You should also note that the extended essay will have a table of contents. Therefore, the outline will be very important when coming up with your table of contents that is located after the cover page of your extended essay. 

Step 4: Writing the Introduction

Once you have completed the above steps and you have come up with an outline based on the extended essay’s structure, the next step is to introduce your topic and elaborate it to your target readers.

Writing the Introduction

There are various things you should consider when coming up with an introduction.

First of all, the introduction should be catchy and interesting.

This is because your readers will read it before deciding on whether to continue with the rest of the paper.

The best way to do this is to begin your introduction with something catchy or attention-grabbing sentence.

This will arouse the reader’s curiosity to know more about the topic.

The second thing you should know about the introduction is that it should offer a crisp and clear description of what you are going to talk about and the various strategies you will use to explore the topic. It all depends on the topic.

You can decide to highlight the issues that will be explored and the ways of addressing such issues. It is all about proving some brief background of what you will be exploring in the rest of the paper.

Do you remember that you formulated a research question after researching your topic? While introducing the topic of your extended essay, you should provide the context of your research question where you address the situation or the background from which the question comes.

While doing so, you should state the research question and elaborate on why answering the question is important for the paper’s findings. 

The introduction should also tell the readers why the research you present in your extended essay is important, interesting, and/or valuable to the discipline and the audience.

Finally, you should conclude your introduction by writing your thesis statement. This should be the last sentence of your introduction paragraph(s). 

Step 5: Methodology

This is also a very important step when writing an extended essay. To make sure that all the important aspects of the methodology are covered, you should divide this section into two.

extended essay Methodology

The first section of the methodology explains your sources of information and the second section explores the related theories, topics, and arguments that will be used to explore your topic. 

In the first section, you should describe every primary and/or secondary source used, why the sources are important, and their limitations.

Sources of secondary research can include news articles, annual reports for companies, business textbooks, magazine articles, and encyclopedias. The final thing you should do while in section 1 is to state the adjustments made in your research. 

For the second section, you should provide a brief explanation of the theories that are going to be applied and the reason why they are the most appropriate in explaining your arguments.

Also, give the limitations of each theory, topic, or argument applied. Finally, state the changes made during the research and writing process.

Step 6: Drafting the Main Body

This should be the most elaborate part of your extended essay because you will concentrate on the research, analysis of the research, discussion, and evaluation.

You should try to retain the flow of step 5 that has steps 1 and 2. This will demonstrate that you understand the concepts of the International Baccalaureate while still addressing your topic using the relevant sources. 

In the first section, for each of the theories, arguments, and topics used to address your topic, include about 4 examples of each to help you answer the research question effectively. Also, address the qualitative tools applied before the quantitative tools.

The second section goes beyond the course to educate your evaluator and/or readers concerning your topic. Explore the related concepts and theories deeply while providing different perspectives on the topic.

Remember that you should be evaluating the findings here. Use analytical insight to further explain your arguments and points of view. Graphs and other forms of data presentation can be used. However, they should apply to the research.

Step 7: Writing the Conclusion

In this step, you should sum up your arguments from all your sections. It is important to stipulate what has been researched and how it has helped answer the research question.

It should be noted that no new information should be added in the conclusion. Mention some limitations of the research and their impact, and the reasons behind such limitations.

Finally, state the thing(s) you can do differently if you were to write another extended essay.

Step 8: Bibliography and Appendices

On a different page or the next page after the conclusion, reference your sources of information using the correct format (APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard styles). Always remember to arrange the references from A to Z. Bibliography or references are not part of the word count.

The appendices section showcases the extra work you have done such as transcripts of the interviews conducted, additional analysis, and any other data that you found interesting but did not include in the body of your paper. 

Once you are done with writing, thoroughly proofread your work and correct any grammatical or spelling errors made. Make sure that the work is well formatted with all the sections included.

At the same time, make sure that nothing in your paper is copy-pasted because it will be regarded as plagiarism. Always do this before submitting your extended essay. 

Best Length of an Extended Essay

While there is no universally agreed minimum word count for an extended essay, you should not write less than 3,000 words. This is because lesser than that will demonstrate that you did not adequately research your topic.

Since the acceptable word limit on the upper side is 4,000 words, always strive to write more than 3,500 words. Unlike other types of essays like a GRE Essay that is short, an extended essay is long in terms of word count.

In other cases, the minimum word count is 1,500 words, and the maximum word count is 4,000 words. It is up to the student to decide what their word count should be. It is important not to go over or under the prescribed word count by more than 10%. The upper limit of 4000 words should be a guideline rather than a firm rule.

Can the extended essay be over 4000 words?

Yes, the extended essay may be up to 4000 words in length. The upper limit is 4,000 words for all extended essays. This upper limit includes the introduction, the body, the conclusion, and any quotations, but does not include:

  • the abstract
  • the contents page
  • acknowledgments
  • any diagrams, charts, tables, and graphs
  • the bibliography

How many pages is an extended essay?

4000 words is 8 pages single spaced, and 16 pages double spaced. The number of pages changes depends on the number of words, the font, and the font size. Usually, the extended essay is 4000 words in length, so it is quite a bit longer than your average essay. Double-space, Times New Roman 12 is pretty much universal, in college anyway.

What are the extended essay minimum and maximum word count?

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12 Examples of Extended Essay topics

  • What is the effect of age and gender on the photoreceptor cells in the human retina?
  • How is climate change impacting the appearance of coral reefs?
  • An evaluation of how antioxidants work in our bodies?
  • Is there an association between viewing violence on television and the display of violent acts?
  • What motivational climate should a coach employ to achieve optimal performance in athletes?
  • How does the X hormone affect human behavior?
  • How were women treated differently in the 1920s and 1950s Great Britain?
  • What role did economics play in the unification of Germany from 1834 to 1871?
  • How does the sugar concentration affect the refractive index of water?
  • What factors influence the location of industries in country/city X?
  • An investigation into the significance of preserving the quality of water in a continent/country/city?
  • What effect does the coating of aspirin tablets have on the hydrolysis of aspirin?

Can You Redo an Extended Essay?

Yes. You can redo an extended essay if you appeal to the relevant institution about the reason(s) why you failed on the first try. You should provide credible and sensible reasons for you to be considered. It is only then that you are granted a retake. 

Can You Fail an Extended Essay?

Yes. You can fail an extended essay if you do not follow the essay’s requirements, instructions, or rubric. 

What Happens if You Fail an Extended Essay?

If you fail an extended essay, you will not graduate with a diploma. Therefore, if you fail, you should request a retake and do your best to write a good extended essay. 

How many points is the extended essay worth?

The Extended Essay is a 4,000-word essay that you write on a topic of your choice. This counts towards your IB Diploma and it’s worth 3 points of your overall score.

The Extended Essay is often the most rewarding part of the IB Diploma. It gives you the chance to study something that you want to learn about in-depth, and it can be on any topic you choose – as long as there’s an expert to supervise it!

Can I publish my extended essay?

You may publish your extended essay. There are some things to consider before you do though: • Check that the subject of your essay is appropriate for publishing. Some subjects, such as science and math, may not be appropriate for publication because of how quickly the field develops. Also, check that your advisor approves of publishing the essay. • Check that you have gotten all the necessary permissions you need before you publish. • Check with your advisor if you have any doubts about these things.

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Josh Jasen or JJ as we fondly call him, is a senior academic editor at Grade Bees in charge of the writing department. When not managing complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In his spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.

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How to prepare your students for the Extended Essay

The Extended Essay is a challenge for every student. How can you make sure they feel prepared rather than panicked?

But the self-directed Extended Essay is also a source of dread for many students, who fear its rigour, complexity and sheer length. The task puts their self-management skills to the test too. IB World spoke to experienced educators to find out how teachers can play a vital role in both academic and attitudinal preparation.

Start them young

The concept of writing an essay would draw a blank look from most four-year-olds. But that’s no reason why the basic building blocks of academic rigour can’t be put in place as soon as children begin school. The American International School in Cyprus (AISC), which offers the IB Diploma Programme, begins indirect preparation for the Extended Essay in its elementary grades, with research writing a key component of its Library Media Skills programme.

Four-year-olds extract information from non-fiction texts and answer ‘mini-research’ questions. “It encourages young minds to start to think about research, and early forms of research terminologies and methodologies they can build on for later grade levels,” says Sarah Washburne, IB history teacher and communications officer at the AISC.

‘Formal Research Writing’ classes commence in middle school and students are encouraged to choose a topic from those in the Extended Essay guide. In each subsequent year, students learn about different research methodologies and aspects of writing, and undertake research projects.

“Research and writing skills are scaffolded so that by the time the students begin the IB Diploma Programme, they have the skills to write a meaningful, analytical and evaluative Extended Essay,” says Washburne.

Even if students do not continue on to the IB Diploma Programme, the writing classes offer a firm foundation for their senior year final project. AISC says it has received positive feedback from parents and students about how the Formal Research Writing classes fit into the middle school curriculum.

Offer a guiding hand

Jonathan Newell, Director of college music and tutor at Brasenose College, UK, believes a formal programme of support is the best preparation for the Extended Essay. He says the school, librarian and supervisor should form a triumvirate of guiding hands. “The school needs to provide a framework that allows the necessary time for the Extended Essay process to happen, and supports the student by providing the necessary skills to complete this well,” explains Newell.

Aynsley O’Carroll, Grade 12 leader and IB English teacher at the Anglo American School of Moscow, adds such support is crucial: “Making time, offering guidance and designing calendars with the end in mind helps give students a manageable framework for completing their research and writing process.”

O’Carroll believes mentors should take on no more than six students. “Some students need much more guidance than others. Time should be made for conversations as this will help students clarify their thinking and find focus,” she adds.

Stay on track

Corinna Mansfield, library media specialist and IB Extended Essay coordinator at AISC, meets with students individually on a regular basis to track their progress and help them stay focused. What I have found is that students are usually more worried about the formatting guidelines and word count than about writing the content of their Extended Essay,” she says.

“Through the research writing classes at AISC, we alleviate some of that fear by making things like formatted citations and formal research writing part of their skill sets before they get to 11th grade.”

And what about students who just can’t get motivated or organized to face the task? “The most effective and meaningful way to help students see the importance of the Extended Essay is to celebrate and make the inquiry visible,” answers O’Carroll. “In so doing, students are more apt to feel inspired and excited about the process – it becomes transparent, interesting and valued.”

Let us know how you prepare your students for the extended essay – email [email protected]

educator , Extended Essay , Students , Teachers

About the IB


Extended Essay: Databases and Websites by Subject Area

  • Extended Essay- The Basics
  • Step 1. Choose a Subject
  • Step 2. Educate yourself!
  • Using Brainstorming and Mind Maps
  • Identify Keywords
  • Do Background Reading
  • Define Your Topic
  • Conduct Research in a Specific Discipline
  • Step 5. Draft a Research Question
  • Step 6. Create a Timeline
  • Find Articles
  • Find Primary Sources
  • Get Help from Experts
  • Search Engines, Repositories, & Directories
  • Databases and Websites by Subject Area
  • Create an Annotated Bibliography
  • Advice (and Warnings) from the IB
  • Chicago Citation Syle
  • MLA Works Cited & In-Text Citations
  • Step 9. Set Deadlines for Yourself
  • Step 10. Plan a structure for your essay
  • Evaluate & Select: the CRAAP Test
  • Conducting Secondary Research
  • Conducting Primary Research
  • Formal vs. Informal Writing
  • Presentation Requirements
  • Evaluating Your Work

Where to Search When ...

Countries or unrepresented territories.

WSA Databases with information on countries and unrepresented territories

Gale eBooks

Websites with information on countries and unrepresented territories

publishing extended essay

WSA databases with reliable health information

Health and Medicine (Gale OneFile)

Websites with reliable health information

publishing extended essay

Humanities - English and History

publishing extended essay

These documents have links to websites for researching literature or history topics.

Student in university - Britannica ImageQuest

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)

WSA databases with information on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

  • Why search here? ScienceDirect has high-quality, interdisciplinary research and scholarly literature in 24 major subject areas from thousands of Elsevier journals and books.
  • What's included? It has expansive coverage of subjects in physical sciences and engineering (both theoretical and applied), life sciences, health sciences, and social sciences and the humanities.
  • How do I cite it? This database doesn't supply pre-formatted citations. When you click the ‘Cite’ link below the title, then ‘Export citation to text’ a pop-up window will show the elements of a citation that you can use to fill out the form in NoodleTools. In NoodleTools, choose Database, then determine what you are looking at. Examples: Journal, Book, Report (Technical/Research).
  • Why search here? Science (Gale in Context) provides information on hundreds of significant science topics.
  • What's included? It includes full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, experiments, images, videos, audio files and links to vetted websites.
  • How do I cite it? Look for the Export button on the right. Choose Direct Export to NoodleTools, and import the citation directly to your open NoodleTools project. If you choose to copy and paste it instead, be sure to grab the "Permalink" as well, and put that in the URL box underneath the quick cite box in NoodleTools.

Websites with information on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

publishing extended essay

Law and Legislation

A Century of Lawmaking

Medicine and Natural Science

Mythology and religion.

A sub-collection of ebooks from WSA's Gale Virtual Reference Library related to world religions and mythology.

Gale Virtual Reference Library

Official Government Information

publishing extended essay

Philosophy and Psychology

publishing extended essay

Visual and Performing Arts

publishing extended essay

The librarian is always happy to help you!

publishing extended essay

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  • Next: Step 8. Decide on a Citation Style >>
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Extended Essay: Language and Literature

  • Step 1 - Choosing a Subject
  • Step 2 - Choosing a Topic
  • Step 3 - Draft a Research Question
  • Step 4 - Finding Sources
  • Step 5 - Evaluating Information
  • Step 6 - Bibliography & Citation
  • Step 7 - Organizing Information
  • The Arts: Visual Arts
  • Individuals & Societies: Business Management
  • Individuals & Societies: History
  • Individuals & Societies: Psychology
  • Language Acquisition

Language and Literature

  • Sciences: Biology
  • Sciences: Sports, Exercise, and Health Sciences
  • Interdisciplinary Papers: World Studies
  • Assessment Criteria

Extended Essays in Language and Literature

Choosing a topic.

  • Categories 1 & 2

Categories 1 & 2

***Category 2 essays are the same as category 1, but they analyze works not written in English***

Language and Literature papers in categories 1 and 2 are focused on one or more literary works and can focus on original literary analysis, a particular literary topic, and/or established literary criticism.  

NB: When investigating a film in category 2, the film must be analyzed for its literary value, not filmic. Filmic analysis is allowed in category 3.

Category 3 papers also analyze works, however they are not restricted to literary works! Topics in Category 3 emphasize the production and reception of texts in social, historical and/or cultural contexts. Essays that simply offer a general overview of a topic are not appropriate.

Approaches to Research

Categories 1 and 2

**Category 2 essays are the same as category 1, but analyze works not written in English**

Primary research in Language and Literature may require close reading of one or more texts. Secondary research may also be necessary for information like historical context, biographical information,  and established literary criticism. Students should consider things like the effect of the work, the devices it uses, or the way it is written.

Students should give a focused analysis of the texts being considered. The approach should be balanced, coherently argued, use relevant examples to illustrated the point.

Examples of language in a cultural context

Examples of language and mass communication

Language and Literature Sources

Even students doing primary research will still need to reference secondary sources. These may include established literary interpretations or criticisms, biographical and/or historical information.

Essay Types

An extended essay in language and literature gives students an opportunity to do independent research into a topic of special interest to them within the subject. It is intended to promote advanced research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity.

The essay is open to students who are writing in a language that they would be capable of offering as a language A

Studies in language and literature EEs are divided into three categories:

Assessed Student Work

  • An exploration of an aspect of the narrative voice in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita
  • How did the World State government in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World impact the individuality of the citizens residing in it?
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US IB Extended Essay: Academic Writing

  • Academic Writing
  • Researchers Reflective Space (RRS)
  • Research Questions
  • Databases & Web Resources (English & Spanish)
  • Bibliographies, References & Citations
  • Reflections
  • Subject Specific EE Resources

Academic writing refers to a style of expression that researchers use to define the intellectual boundaries of their disciplines and specific areas of expertise. Characteristics of academic writing include a formal tone, use of the third-person rather than first-person perspective (usually), a clear focus on the research problem under investigation, and precise word choice. Like specialist languages adopted in other professions, such as, law or medicine, academic writing is designed to convey agreed meaning about complex ideas or concepts for a group of scholarly experts.

Academic Writing . Writing Center. Colorado Technical College; Hartley, James.  Academic Writing and Publishing: A Practical Guide . New York: Routledge, 2008.

Critical Skills for Academic Writing

Critical skills are essential if you want to be able to synthesize and use the research you find in your extended essay.

The  Ultimate Cheatsheet for Critical Thinking  is an excellent infographic, produced by the Global Digital Citizen Foundation, that covers all the questions you should ask yourself when using information. Click on the image below to download a printable version of the infographic.

publishing extended essay

Reflective Writing

Indiana University Bloomington Writing Guides


Click HERE to go to the website.

Useful Links for Academic Writing

Helping students to achieve study success with guides, video tutorials, seminars and one-to-one advice sessions.

an excellent site with clear explanations and plenty of online exercises to test your understanding (University of Bristol).

an interactive course on English grammar aimed at university students. Free to access from any domain (University College London).

Use this site for examples of linking phrases and ways to refer to sources.

High quality resources to help improve your English

Engaging learning resources which aim to make difficult grammar and academic writing concepts easier to understand

Course on aspects of English grammar which are often a problem for students (University of Hull)

Detailed explanation of how English grammar works with lots of exercises to put your knowledge into practice.

Write Formally and with Clarity

Writing should be formal, but it does not need to be pompous.To maintain formality, there are various colloquialisms and shortened forms to avoid:

Avoid shortened forms: Shouldn't, it's for it is

Avoid popular phrases or cliches such as: at the end of the day; in a nutshell; when it comes to the crunch Replace with: finally, in summary, in a crisis

Avoid casual everyday words   such as : really, okay, maybe.

Correct use of grammar and punctuation is important. They show that you care about your work and have adopted a disciplined attitude to writing academically. They also help to make sure your meaning is understood. The most common mistakes by inexperienced writers include:

  • incomplete sentences (missing a verb or needing information in the previous sentence to make sense;
  • the wrong use of semicolons and colons;
  • the wrong use of apostrophes (check whether the s is there to indicate possession or a plural);
  • nouns and verbs where singular /plural do not agree (try proof reading aloud to spot this);
  • and inconsistent use of tenses (always use the past tense when you are reporting on something that was done).

Good writing makes a point clearly and may illustrate it to help the reader's understanding. To avoid rambling, plan the points that you wish to convey and the evidence that you will use to illustrate. Include only necessary detail.

When presenting a point of view, such as a line of argument for an essay, decide on the main points that you want to communicate. Plan one main point per paragraph. A paragraph can be planned (like a mini-essay) using the PEAL format:

P:  Sentence introducing the  point  with any necessary detail.

E:  Illustration of point using  evidence : research example, case study, figures, etc.

A:  Critical  analysis  of point

L:  Concluding sentence summing up the point and  linking  to the question or your argument.

Where  abbreviations and acronyms  are required to avoid repetition, ensure that, on first mention, the unabbreviated term appears together with the abbreviation or acronym, for example:

First mention:  "An article in the American Journal of Philology (AJPh) reported..." Subsequent mention:  "Writing in the AJPh, Brown concluded that..."

Clarity and Focus: How to Write Clearly

Write Concisely and with Precision

Do not be tempted to use complex language or expressions that are not your own, just to make your writing appear "academic". Use straightforward language. Your reader needs to understand the information or ideas that you are conveying.

Communicate succinctly without losing vital information or meaning. It is often easier to write fluently and then to edit out unnecessary words and phrases.

Some academic writing, such as scientific research methodology, needs to be especially precise. A reader may need to have all the information required to understand exact conditions of a scientific study and to replicate it. Using simple sentences can be helpful.

Avoid using non-quantifiable descriptions, such as: The company's production rate was high <--replace with--> The company produced 16,00 units per week. The wind was strong <--replace with--> The wind measured 6 on the Beaufort scale.

Structure  is also important in academic writing - it helps to make your ideas clear, guides the reader's comprehension and can strengthen your arguments. Some academic writing, such as scientific reports, has a given structure. Just find out what is required under each heading and keep to it. Other writing (such as essays) requires the writer to select and organise the material they are writing and so develop a structure.

Usually in the introduction the writer sets out the structure so that the reader knows what to expect and the order in which it will be presented. The order in which information is presented should be logical so that the reader can follow the thinking, ideally with just one point or idea per paragraph. In addition the ideas should flow or be linked so that the reader is drawn through an explanation or argument, rather than stopping and starting at each new point.The conclusion to the piece should draw together all the points or ideas and come to a conclusion.

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Extended Essay Guide: Criteria, Format, Sample EEs

  • Criteria, Format, Sample EEs
  • Annotated Bibliographies
  • DP Research Process
  • Databases & Academic Journals
  • Evaluate Sources
  • Academic Integrity
  • MLA Citation Format
  • CSE Citation Format (Science & Math)
  • Video Tutorials 2024

The Assessment Crtiteria in Detail!

  • Criterion A: Focus and method
  • Criterion B: Knowledge and understanding
  • Criterion C: Critical Thinking
  • Criterion D: Presentation
  • Criterion E: Engagement
  • EE_How to maximize marks for different subjects?

publishing extended essay

  • Criterion C: Critical thinking

Notes from the IB

RE: Research Question and Title of Extended Essay

Please note the statement below from the EE curriculum manager regarding the need to have both a title and a RQ for all subjects. Previous versions of the EE Guide indicated that the title and the RQ should be the same for History, Business Management and Mathematics. This is no longer the case.  All essays, regardless of the subject, need to have both a RQ and a title.

Hi Kathy, 

To answer your question, I am going to quote directly from a response John Royce provided, on this forum, in October in response to a very similar question: (it was a question about using Spanish sources - hence the mention of Spanish)

It is certainly  permissible to use sources which are not in the language of the essay, but translation into the target language is required , one cannot assume that the reader understands the original language.

It is usual to quote the original as well as presenting the translation.  [Do not put quotation marks around your translation, just around the original]

Umberto Eco argues ("in Mouse or rat?") that direct translation may lose meaning, paraphrase or use of different idioms may be required to get the ideas across. Paul Bellos ("Is that a fish in your ear?") makes a similar argument - direct translation may confound meaning... Direct translation may not be ideal - meaning and understanding are preferred - so, not to worry that your student with her good Spanish cannot present a direct translation.

What  must be made clear is that the translations are those of the student;  these are her understandings. Readers can make of that what they will - and if unsure, are presented with the original - they can seek another translation.  A note in the acknowledgements and/or in the introduction to the effect that all translations are those of the writer is ... essential.

In response to the question about the  Bibliography/Works cited, my preference would be to list the source in its original Thai version, but perhaps with the English in brackets, to help the examiner.

Your bibliography will have the entries in Thai characters first in the document. Any in-text citation to Thai sources will be in (Thai characters [English translation]).

Citation in Thai [English translation]

Works Cited Example:

วงษ์ปัญญา, ธนกร [Wongpunya, Thanakorn]. “โรงงานยาสูบรวยแค่ไหน และเอาเงินไปทำอะไรบ้าง.”  [How rich is the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly and where does the money go?] (candidate translation). The Standard, The Standard, 30 Aug. 2018,

Format of the Extended Essay

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 S tructure

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:

  • Contents page
  • Introduction
  • Body of the essay
  • 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) 

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

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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.

Extended Essay - Examples & Exemplars

  • Essays from May 2018 with IB marks and commentaries
  • Assessed Student Work & Commentary IB-provided. "Student sample extended essays, corresponding marks and comments from senior examiners are available for the following Diploma Programme disciplines. Please note that in light of not having authentic RPPFs to accompany these essays, they are marked against criteria A – D only, for a total of 28 possible marks. Following the first assessment session in 2018, exemplars will be refreshed with authentic sample material." more... less... Biology English Economics History Studies in language and literature Language acquisition Mathematics Psychology Visual arts World studies extended essay (WSEE)
  • Excellenet Extended Essays Concordian GoogleDoc
  • EngA1_Othello EE Othello 2018 From Click the link to see the score and evaluation.
  • Fifty (50) More Excellent Extended Essays DVD by International Baccalaureate Call Number: HS DVD 808.4 ISBN: 9781906345600 Publication Date: 2011 1 DVD-ROM (1:33 min.)

Past CIS Extended Essays

Available in the library behind the desk are file folders of past Extended Essays by Concordian students and IB EE Exemplars. Feel free to browse the papers which must be kept in the library.

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Useful resources

The International Baccalaureate® (IB) provides several resources for IB World Schools. These include support materials for the extended essay. 

Items in the IB store  are available to everyone. Publications include:

  • 50 more extended essays , a DVD of essays submitted in the DP that all fulfil the requirements for an ‘A’ grade in the current syllabus
  • The Extended Essay Guide , a free material in the Programme Resource Centre (PRC), which requires a log-in given to IB World Schools
  • 10 monografias excelentes,  a digital document looking at model extended essays in Spanish.

Through the  programme resource centre,  educators in IB World Schools can access digital versions of many IB publications related to the extended essay.

These materials in the programme resource centre , which are only available to IB World Schools, are free.

If you already work at an IB World School, you should have access to the PRC. Please request log-in details from the programme coordinator at your school.

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What Is an IB Extended Essay and How to Write It?

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Table of contents


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The IB extended essay is a paper of up to 4,000 words that is required for students enrolled in the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program. The extended essay allows students to engage in independent research on a topic within one of the available subject areas.

The extended essay should be an original piece of academic writing that demonstrates the following student's abilities:

  • Formulating a research question
  • Conductig independent investigation
  • Presenting key findings in a scholarly format.

Check out this article by StudyCrumb to discover how to write an IB extendend essay properly. We will give you a complete writing guide and critical tips you need for this essay type.

IB Extended Essay: What Is It?

An extended essay is independent research. Usually students choose a topic in consultation with a mentor. It is an integral part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) degree program. This means that you won't receive a degree without a successfully written paper. It requires 4,000-word study on a chosen narrow topic. To get a high score, you should meet all required structure and formatting standards. This is the result of approximately 40 working hours. Its purpose is giving you the opportunity to try independent research writing. It's approved that these skills are critical for student success at university. The following sections explain how to write an extended article with examples. So keep reading!  

Choosing a Mentor for Extended Essay

IB extended essay guidelines require supervisor meetings, totaling 3-5 hours. They include three critical reflections. A mentor won't write a paper instead of you but can help adjust it. So it is important to consult with them, but no one will proofread or correct actual research for you. In general, initially treat an essay as an exclusively individual work. So your role and contribution are maximal.

Extended Essay Outline

Let's take a look at how to write an extended essay outline. In this part, you organize yourself so that your work develops your idea. So we especially recommend you work out this step with your teacher. You can also find any outline example for essay . In your short sketch, plan a roadmap for your thoughts. Think through and prepare a summary of each paragraph. Then, expand annotation of each section with a couple more supporting evidence. Explain how specific examples illustrate key points. Make it more significant by using different opinions on general issues.  

Extended Essay: Getting Started

After you chose an extended essay topic and made an outline, it's time to start your research. Start with a complete Table of Contents and make a choice of a research question. Select the subject in which you feel most confident and which is most interesting for you. For example, if at school you are interested in natural science, focus on that. If you have difficulties choosing a research question, rely on our essay topic generator .

Extended Essay Introduction

In the introduction of an extended essay, present a thesis statement. But do it in such a way that your readers understand the importance of your research. State research question clearly. That is the central question that you are trying to answer while writing. Even your score depends on how you develop your particular research question. Therefore, it is essential to draw it up correctly. Gather all relevant information from relevant sources. Explain why this is worth exploring. Then provide a research plan, which you will disclose further.  

Extended Essay Methodology

In accordance with extended essay guidelines, it's mandatory to choose and clearly state a methodological approach. So, it will be apparent to your examiner how you answered your research question. Include your collection methods and tools you use for collection and analysis. Your strategies can be experimental or descriptive, quantitative or qualitative. Research collection tools include observations, questionnaires, interviews, or background knowledge.

Extended Essay Main Body

Well, here we come to the most voluminous part of the extended essay for IB! In every essay body paragraph , you reveal your research question and discuss your topic. Provide all details of your academic study. But stay focused and do it without dubious ideas. Use different sources of information to provide supporting arguments and substantial evidence. This will impress professors. For this section, 3 main paragraphs are enough. Discuss each idea or argument in a separate paragraph. You can even use supporting quotes where appropriate. But don't overcomplicate. Make your extended essay easy to read and logical. It's critical to stay concise, so if you aren't sure how to make your text readable, use our tool to get a readbility test . Following the plan you outlined earlier is very important. Analyze each fact before including it in your writing. And don't write unnecessary information.

Extended Essay Conclusion

Now let's move on to the final part of IB extended essay guidelines. In conclusion, focus on summarizing the main points you have made. No new ideas or information can be introduced in this part. Use conclusion as your last chance to impress your readers. Reframe your own strong thesis. Here you must show all key points. Do not repeat absolutely every argument. Better try to make this part unique. This will show that you have a clear understanding of the topic you have chosen. And even more professional will be recommendations of new areas for future research. One good paragraph may be enough here. Although in some cases, two or three paragraphs may be required.

Extended Essay Bibliography & Appendices

To write an impressive extended essay, you should focus on appropriate information. You must create a separate page for bibliography with all sources you used. Tip from us: start writing this page with the first quote you use. Don't write this part last or postpone. In turn, appendices are not an essential section. Examiners will not pay much attention to this part. Therefore, include all information directly related to analysis and argumentation in the main body. Include raw data in the appendix only if it is really urgently needed. Moreover, it is better not to refer to appendices in text itself. This can disrupt the narrative of the essay.  

Extended Essay Examples

We have prepared a good example of an extended essay. You can check it by downloading it for free. You can use it as a template. However, pay attention that your paper is required to be unique. Don't be afraid to present all the skills you gained during your IB.


Final Thoughts on IB Extended Essay

In this article, we presented detailed IB extended essay guidelines. An extended essay is a daunting academic challenge to write. It is a research paper with a deep thematic analysis of information. But we have described several practical and straightforward tips. Therefore, we are sure that you will succeed!


If topics seem too complex, turn to our top essay writers. They will accomplish any IB assignment in the best way your professor can evaluate it!  


Daniel Howard is an Essay Writing guru. He helps students create essays that will strike a chord with the readers.


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Extended Essay Resources: Home

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The Best Research Plan

1. Read broadly to build background knowledge about your SUBJECT (video search, general web search, encyclopedias, IB textbooks).

2. Formulate a FOCUSED research question.

3. Gather information that addresses your research question (survey, interview, journal articles, etc.)

4. Write your essay. 

ALWAYS be able to answer these questions about your topic:

What is your paper about?

What is your thesis? Your argument? Your point?

So what? Why is it important? 

Now what? Given the research you've done, what action should happen?

Topic Finders

Browse through these resources to go from a general topic of interests down to a specific area of focus.

  • Global Issues in Context Topic Finder A visual search drilling down to areas of focus.
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  • Literary Themes and Topics An interesting list of possible themes to explore if you are considering an EE in English.
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  • Points of View Database Lists of debatable topics with academic sources of information. AISR library password required. Please find the password in the Research Databases box.
  • This is not a suitable source of information, but it could be a place to browse for a topic of interest. You can also mine the articles for links to more academic sources.
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  • World Economic Forum Strategic Intelligence Explore and monitor the issues and forces driving transformational change across economies, industries, and global issues. This is a visual search using categories and then drilling down to open resources about specific topics. You must sign up for a free account.

General Reference

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IB Extended Essay Resources

  • 2019 IB Extended Essay Guide The offical guide from the IB. It contains information on overall requirements, subject-specific requirements, tips for conducting research, and assessment information. IMPORTANT!
  • Subject-specific resources Click here to see exemplars and other useful links for resources to your subject area.
  • 2019 Exemplars Student sample extended essays, corresponding marks and comments from senior examiners.
  • IB Extended Essay Homepage Official IB website for Extended Essay resources.

Statistics Websites

  • 19 Places to Find Free Data Sets for Data Science Projects More sites to find data sets.
  • Google Data Sets A data set search powered by Google.
  • Knoema Knoema is the most comprehensive source of global decision-making data in the world. Our tools allow individuals and organizations to discover, visualize, model, and present their data and the world’s data to facilitate better decisions and better outcomes.
  • The Observatory of Economic Complexity The Observatory of Economic Complexity is a tool that allows users to quickly compose a visual narrative about countries and the products they exchange. It was Alexander Simoes' Master Thesis in Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab.
  • Pew Research Center Datasets Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. We conduct public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social science research. We do not take policy positions.
  • Statista Statista Research & Analysis is a combined provider of market research as well as research and analysis services. We help corporate customers collect and prepare market, customer and competitive information.
  • Statistics Sweden Our main task is to supply users and customers with statistics for decision making, debate and research. We do this mainly through assignments from the government and other government agencies.
  • United Nations Statistics Division The United Nations Statistics Division is committed to the advancement of the global statistical system. We compile and disseminate global statistical information, develop standards and norms for statistical activities, and support countries' efforts to strengthen their national statistical systems.
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Publishing your extended essay


By Brittanity May 30, 2011 in Extended Essay

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Hello my fellow IB-ers,

So our school has had us started on our extended essay for quite a while now, and as mine is starting to take shape, I realize that the graph I am constructing is genuinely intriguing. Interesting enough perhaps to publish in our city's paper. I have no intention of revealing what I am constructing, nor am I saying that I really will publish it. But as I was wondering...out of pure curiosity...are there any regulations I am not aware of about our extended essays? Am I not allowed to hand-in previously published material for assessment? Therefore I would have to wait for my diploma to be awarded until I can publish it....?

Thoughts anyone?

Just thought that would be interesting, because the '50 excellent EEs' should really be taken into serious contemplation by others just as any other published research by universities. Except by high school IB students. I think the stuff we come up with is fairly decent enough. People should cite those kids more, seriously.

Link to post

Share on other sites, summer glau.

If you publish it in your city newspaper there's a good chance that the turnitin plagiarism checkers could catch it. Then you would be accused of plagiarising against yourself O.o I think it's only safe to publish your EE or any part of it after it has been graded.


I think your EE becomes the property of IBO once you submit it.

I've heard of people publishing their essays... maybe after it's been marked though...

Austin Glau

Austin Glau

Technically you are not supposed to ever publish your Extended Essay but nobody will stop you, its just best to do it after you have finished the IB for obvious reasons.

  • 2 months later...

Matthew Sinclair

Matthew Sinclair

I know this thread is old, but for future reference:


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This topic has been closed by a moderator.

Reason: Matthew Sinclair 's response is correct and accurate. Please see the following for more information:

If you disagree with this action, please report this post, and a moderator or administrator will reconsider it.

Kind regards,

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IB Extended Essay: Past Essays

  • Research Questions
  • Past Essays
  • Notes & Outlines
  • Works Cited Page
  • In-Text Citations
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  • Supervisor Info
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Check these CAREFULLY to be sure your topic fits with IB expectations!

  • Language & literature (language A)
  • Language acquisition (language B)
  • Mathematics
  • Visual Arts
  • World Studies

Business Management

English a & b ee examples.

  • English A EE Example
  • English A EE Example 1
  • English A EE Example 2
  • English A EE Example 3
  • English B EE Example
  • English B EE Example 1
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Philosophy EE Examples

  • Philosophy Example 1
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Economics EE Examples

  • Econ Example 1
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  • Econ Example 7
  • Econ Example 8

Review Past Papers

  • From the IB:  papers from other students and how they scored
  • Renaissance Library Past Essays :  Links to all subject area examples

Music EE Examples

  • Music EE Example 1
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  • Music EE Example 3
  • Music EE Example 4

Psychology EE Examples

  • Psych EE Example 1
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Chinese EE Examples

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Visual Arts EE Examples

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Film EE Examples

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Chemistry EE Examples

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Biology EE Examples

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Physics EE Examples

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Guest Essay

To Cure Burnout, Embrace Seasonality

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By Cal Newport

Mr. Newport is an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University and the author of “Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout,” from which this essay is adapted.

For most of human existence, the pace and intensity of productivity varied widely from season to season. During the roughly 300,000 years that Homo sapiens wandered the earth in bands of hunters and gatherers, nature dictated the rhythms of their daily activities.

After the development of agriculture around 10,000 B.C., the relationship between work and the seasons became even more structured, with predictably busy planting and harvesting seasons interleaved with predictably quiet winters.

It was the Industrial Revolution that ruptured this natural work cycle. In a mill or a factory, unlike on a hunting ground or a farm field, the relationship between effort and reward is constant: The more hours you run your factory, the more products you produce. This led to a conception of work as something that should occur at the fullest possible intensity, without variation, throughout the year.

When knowledge work arose as a major economic sector in the 20th century — the term “knowledge work” itself was coined in 1959 — it borrowed this approach from manufacturing, which was the dominant economic force of the time. Office buildings became virtual factories, with members of this growing class of workers metaphorically clocking in for eight-hour shifts, week after week, month after month, attempting to transform their mental capacities into valuable output with the same regularity as an assembly-line worker churning out automobiles.

In recent years, I’ve come to believe that the decision to treat the pacing of cognitive jobs like manufacturing jobs was a mistake. We seemed to have forgotten that life in the mills and factories was miserable. The unrelenting pace of those jobs eventually required the formation of labor unions and regulatory innovations, like the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which introduced a mandated workweek and overtime pay — all of which emphasized the artificiality of forcing our efforts into such an unvarying and demanding rhythm. And yet, as more of us shifted into the comparable comfort of office buildings, we carried over the same flawed model forged on the factory floor.

The problem with the virtual factory, however, goes beyond the fact that it makes us unhappy. It’s also ineffective. The process of producing value with the human brain — the foundational activity of many knowledge sector roles — cannot be forced into a regular, unvarying schedule. Intense periods of cognition must be followed by quieter periods of mental rejuvenation. Energized creative breakthroughs must be supported by the slower incubation of new ideas.

Studying the habits of successful creative people who worked outside a traditional office environment, we find they gravitated toward more varied schedules. Georgia O’Keeffe, for example, unlocked her famed productivity only after she began fleeing the city each summer to find quiet inspiration painting at Lake George in upstate New York. Lin Manuel Miranda spread the development of “In the Heights” over more than five years, as he found repeatedly returning to the play proved more conducive to creativity than trying to grind it out in one intense push. Marie Curie paused her pioneering research on the subject of radiation to take her family on an extended vacation. When she returned, she went back to her work, which eventually won her two Nobel Prizes.

For these well-known figures, taking time off or varying the pace of their efforts was not just about relaxation or escape but also about improving the quality of their output over time. Seasonal variation wasn’t a perk of their schedules but quite literally a more natural way to work. It’s no surprise, then, that so many modern knowledge workers feel burned out or frustrated with their professional routines. We’re forcing efforts best served by a looser rhythm into an unnatural and busy uniformity.

Our current era — in which the disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic have opened the door to exploring more radical ways of organizing knowledge work, such as fully remote positions and four-day workweeks — is the perfect time to push back against the virtual factory model and embrace seasonality.

Applying this general idea could take on many forms. Most obviously, knowledge sector organizations could directly identify certain seasons to be quieter than others. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the American publishing industry still largely offers summer hours; employees leave early on Fridays so that they can get a head start on their weekends. This convention creates an overall atmosphere of slowness during the summer, allowing people to catch their breath before the busy fall publishing season picks up.

Strategies to vary pace, however, don’t need to be explicitly seasonal. The software development company Basecamp asks its employees to consolidate their work into cycles that last six to eight weeks and are focused on a small number of clear goals. Crucially, each cycle is followed by a two-week cool-down period in which employees can recharge and regroup by fixing small problems and taking time to consider what to tackle next. “It’s sometimes tempting to simply extend the cycles into the cool-down period to fit in more work,” the Basecamp employee handbook says. “But the goal is to resist this temptation.”

Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz, the authors of the influential 2016 book “Sprint,” argue that this cyclical approach can be adapted to nonsoftware industries as well. They propose a “design sprint” strategy in which a team drops everything — no meetings, no emails — to focus on a single challenge for five intense days, before stepping back to rest and process the results. They argue that this approach leads to better results than trying to mix together efforts on several projects into a single unvarying mush of busyness and exhaustion.

Organizations might consider adapting the idea of sabbaticals from academia. Professors are typically offered one or two semesters free from teaching and service responsibilities roughly once every seven years — an idea borrowed from ancient Jewish Scripture, which commanded that you leave your farm fields fallow one year out of every seven. In a corporate setting, instead of waiting so long for a break, you might more regularly reward work on particularly hard projects with mini-sabbaticals, perhaps two to four weeks long, during which you’re freed from attending meetings or working on difficult tasks.

This idea of paid sabbaticals is slowly starting to catch on in corporate settings. The email marketing company AWeber, for example, offers a four-week paid leave to those with a decade or more of service, and the walkie-talkie app developer Zello provides multiweek breaks after only five years. Presumably, as it becomes clear that such breaks are not just a benefit but also a source of renewed creativity, we might find companies willing to offer them even more frequently.

Some jobs, of course, can’t support long breaks from intensity. If you’re the host of a weekly podcast, you cannot easily take breaks from releasing new episodes. In this case, smaller-scale variations in effort can still make a difference. If episodes publish on Fridays, maybe the following Mondays are kept clear of appointments beyond unstructured brainstorming sessions. This allows a slower start each week to better balance out a more harried end. At first, this might feel as though you’re wasting time on Mondays, but what you’re gaining in exchange is a more sustainable pace that sidesteps burnout and keeps quality high.

Maybe you won’t convince your boss of the value of seasonality. But not every strategy of this type requires buy-in at the organizational level. There are also more surreptitious ways to gain some of the benefits of this approach.

In 2022 the concept of quiet quitting — refusing to put in more than the bare minimum in your job — gained traction online. But it eventually lost steam as its adherents realized their employers didn’t share their enthusiasm for the idea. Hidden in this debate, however, was a pragmatic observation: You have more control over your workload than you might at first imagine. Saying “no” more often and systematically avoiding optional tasks can significantly reduce your sense of busyness. While permanent quiet quitting will almost certainly be noticed and frowned upon, temporarily keeping your head down and sidestepping more commitments than usual probably will not.

Most people are probably already deploying this strategy on occasion, perhaps during a time-consuming move or while taking on extra caregiving responsibilities for a sick family member. So why not make it a more regular part of your routine? You could, for example, schedule an intentional slowdown every July or in the month leading up to the Christmas break. Individuals, in other words, can often put some version of regular seasonality into their schedule without anyone realizing what’s going on.

For those steeped in the virtual-factory mind-set, these seasonality strategies might be unsettling. In the industrial context that shapes so much of how we currently think about work, the game played between employer and employee is zero-sum: Time not spent busy is revenue lost. But in the knowledge sector, these dynamics do not hold. Extracting value from the human brain is not something that can be regularized like installing a steering wheel on a Model T. Introducing more variation into the pacing of our work is not a concession made to labor but a smart recognition of how to produce the best results over time. This type of variation is aligned with the long history of humans engaging in productive activity. It’s the grinding regularity of manufacturing that’s the outlier, not our instinctual attraction to a more natural pace of work.

Cal Newport is an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University and the author of the forthcoming book “ Slow Productivity : The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout,” from which this essay is adapted.

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  1. The Complete IB Extended Essay Guide: Examples, Topics, and Ideas

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