As an integral part of the IB diploma, the Extended Essay (EE) is something that students must put great care into their writing to score the best they can. While this task can be daunting for many because of the number of criteria involved in writing an excellent EE, there are tips and pointers to keep in mind to ensure a smooth and efficient writing process.

1. Getting a good understanding of the essay writing process

The IB EE has plenty of ambiguous terms and elements, such as:

  • Research question
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Investigation
  • Knowledge
  • Comprehension of the studied topic
  • Reasoned argument
  • Application of evaluative and analytical skills appropriate for the subject
  • Use of language and vocabulary appropriate for the subject
  • Conclusion
  • Formal presentation
  • Holistic judgement

Clearly understanding these terms helps ensure that you score high on your EE. Furthermore, students should be mindful that the EE is an academic essay, not a report. Learning this distinction entails understanding that your Extended Essay’s narrative is built around your point of view or hypotheses, which serves as the foundation of your Essay. Moreover, proving or disproving your hypothesis is the entire point of writing the EE. Let us take a closer look at the first two elements above and understand their importance.

Research question

The research question embodies your whole thesis and helps shape your EE. When writing the research question, try to find the right balance between focusing on a specific topic without it being too narrow. Seek to hit the right spot where your question has enough scope to allow for a thorough investigation but not too broad for your embarked purpose. A good practice to consider using is the ‘Taper Down’ methodology. This entails constructing your research question in a way that ‘tapers down’ and emphasises the area of focus of your EE. Another way to view this taper down effect is like a funnel divided into three parts. The topmost is the broad methodology, which is then reduced to a limited scope and investigated via scope-related elements.


This is one area where many students make their first big mistake. As shown in the list above, the abstract and the introduction are two separate things. Although the abstract supersedes the introduction chronologically, the former must be written only after finalising your report. Why? Because it is best to think of the abstract as the trailer of sorts for your EE. One can hardly make a trailer without making the entire movie first. The abstract serves as a glimpse of your approach in writing your EE. This 300-word summary for your whole essay must be clear, concise, and engaging enough to make readers want to know more.

2. Following the right mentality to start your essay

Some students prefer to wait for some kind of inspiration before they get to writing, but the truth is that there is no such thing as the right inspiration when it comes to writing your EE. So, how exactly should one proceed in writing? One of the most common ways is through the repetitive process that starts by writing the first draft and sharing it with your mentor, editing it for improvements, getting it reviewed again, and so on and so forth until you are satisfied with your work.

Although there is nothing inherently wrong with this method, it is best to compartmentalise it into smaller milestones. In that way, you can establish explicit targets you wish to achieve and build up momentum to keep you motivated.

Here is a quick example of how to break down the writing process of your EE:

  • Create a rough outline
  • Write a quarter of content
  • Share it with your mentor to discuss your direction moving forward
  • Complete the first draft
  • Have it reviewed by your mentor
  • Add any necessary changes
  • Design and format your EE
  • Finish the final draft and review before submission

Divide the process as per your understanding and convenience. The outline mentioned above is only one of many ways to go about your writing. The more broken down the process is, the easier it becomes to track it.

3. Being familiar with the relevant responsibilities

The IBO has certain expectations for its students when they write their EE. Since they are all about empowering their students and transforming them into global scholars, the last thing they encourage is spoon-feeding. The same applies to your EE. When writing, expect your mentor to only provide you with the minimum help you need to progress. Their job is to guide you, and it is up to you to do the rest. Make sure to share your progress with them at least once a month since they can only assist when you have the material they can review.

Lastly, take care to acknowledge all your sources and ideas in an academically approved manner. IB does not tolerate plagiarism, and you cannot expect to score well if you fail to cite your sources properly, regardless of how well-made your EE may be.


Writing an IB Extended Essay can be a challenging and nerve-wracking task that IB students must overcome to achieve their diploma. Those unaware of how to go about writing their essay may commit several mistakes that could affect their chances of scoring well. But hopefully, with the help of the content above, you are now more knowledgeable of some of the dos and don’ts when tackling your EE.

Understandably, the IB programme can be demanding at times, especially for those that struggle with writing the Extended Essay. As such, we at the Quintessential Education Centre provide quality tuition programs led by our experienced IB and IGCSE tutors in Singapore for both academic tracks to help students navigate their academic careers. Don’t hesitate to contact our educators and advisors who are more than happy to answer your queries and concerns, and we’ll help you score your best for your exams.