EE Directions

2016-18 Cohort: Click here to download the pdf EE information Booklet                       

2015-17 Cohort: Click here to download the pdf EE information Booklet  

Getting The Best Start

The EE Basics

  • As a Diploma candidate, you must write an Extended Essay (EE).
  • The essay is a maximum of 4,000 words (excluding appendices and abstract).
  • You should spend approximately 40 hours on the EE
  • You have a supervisor who is a teacher in school (s/he does not have to be currently teaching the IB but must teach at the school)
  • You select the group, subject and topic which you write on
  • Group 1 and 2 language essays must be written in that language.
  • All other EE’s must be written in English.
  • You should write your EE in an IB subject you study at High Level and which is likely to be relevant to the subject you apply to study at University.
  • Once you have finished you will have a short interview (called a viva voce, with your supervisor)
  • The EE is marked by an external examiner, usually an IB teacher from another school/country.
  • Academic misconduct is an attempt to gain an unfair advantage (by collusion or plagiarism) and, if found, may result in you not gaining an IB Diploma. Don’t do it. Cite everything.

You will need to work out which Group, Subject and Topic you want to do your EE on

Group Subject Topic
Which IB Group does it fit within? Which subject does it fit within? Which topic within this subject do you want to explore?
e.g. Group 3 e.g. Geography e.g. Urban pollution

What should I do first?

  1. Attend the information sessions where the EE Coordinator will explain how the EE works. Attend research skills sessions with Mr Zakir during core time.
  2. Think about which subject area you want to write your EE in and start talking to potential supervisors.  
  3. Let the EE Coordinator know which subject and topic by November using the form provided during IBDP core time.
  4. Dec 1-11  will be when the EE Coordinator confirms your area of study and your supervisor.
  5. When your EE area of study and supervisor have been confirmed you must contact your supervisor to arrange a meeting. They will not chase you.
  6. Work out a manageable and focussed research question with your supervisor.
  7. Submit your agreed research question by December 11th 4 p.m. using the online form provided.
  8. State your research question during one of the EE Café on January 29 2016

The EE Café is meant to help the student consolidate and invest in their research question. It’s also an opportunity for all interested staff to learn about the EE’s in their area of expertise so that they may offer advice and encouragement along with the supervisor. This also provides a forum to make suggestions for improving the all-important research question. Make sure you keep to the deadlines stated in the Extended Essay Calendar.

Key points about your supervisor

  • The rules about supervisors for the EE are much stricter and more tightly controlled than they are for your personal project in the MYP.
  • Your supervisor is not under any obligation to take on this role. It is additional to all their other work. Do not abuse the privilege.
  • Do not expect your supervisor to chase after you, remind you of deadlines or do any of the work for you.
  • Follow all of your supervisor’s advice about research, writing and presentation. To ignore their advice is to throw marks away.
  • The success of your EE depends about 80% on your input, roughly, and 20% on your Supervisor’s. They are important, but only if you work hard with them.

What does my supervisor do?

  • Gives you advice, guidance and support in selecting a topic and undertaking research.
  • Spends about 3-4 hours, but no more than 5 hours, supervising you, most of which is at the beginning.
  • Ensures the Extended Essay is your own work by monitoring your progress and seeing drafts.
  • Meets with you for 3 formal “reflections on planning and progress” sessions and verifies your reflections for all 3 sessions.
  • Completes a supervisor’s report on the “Reflections on Planning and Progress” form  and signs it if he/she thinks the EE is your own work.

What does my supervisor not do?

  • Your supervisor does not decide the topic for you.
  • Your supervisor cannot edit your draft essay but s/he may read and comment on it.

Who else can help me?

  • Before you decide on your research question, speak to the EE and IB Coordinators, to other teachers, IB websites and forums and Mr Zakir, our Teacher-Librarian.
  • Once you have decided on your research question, try contacting a couple of University professors and Tutors. Find out which ones have written about this general subject area. Get hold of their email contacts (usually on the University websites). Ask their advice and thoughts. The worst they can do is not reply.
  • You may seek additional support for grammar checking from outside sources or other teachers who are NOT your supervisor.

How do I choose a subject, then a topic and then a research question?

To choose a subject, ask yourself

  1. What subjects am I studying at HL?
  2. What subjects do I most enjoy studying?
  3. What subjects do I want to study at University?
  4. What subjects do I want to talk about in my University interview?

Once you have answered these questions, choose your subject.

Once you have chosen the subject, choose a topic within that subject by asking yourself

  1. What topics have I enjoyed learning about?
  2. What topics do I find interesting or prompt my enthusiasm?
  3. What interests do I have?

Once you have answered these questions, choose a topic.

Points to bear in mind in choosing a subject and topic

If you have chosen a subject from
Group 1
  • You can write on a book you are studying in class but you must go beyond that book and show evidence of wider reading.
  • You can compare a book written in your A1 language and one written in another  language.
Group 2
  • You must write it in that target language. Focus is either on Language, Culture & Society or Literature.
Group 3
  • Avoid “What if..?” questions as these do not fit well within the Assessment Criteria.
  • An analysis of reliability and/or representativeness of sources will be crucial.
  • For B&M EEs: Secondary research should be the core focus of a B&M EE and not primary research in order to distinguish it from B&M HL IA’s.
Group 4 Decide if you want to do an experimental or library-based EE.

  • Experimental EEs: these tend to score better than the library-based EEs in Group 4. It is fairly easy to get data and then analyse it. But if you decide to measure something over time, you must plan this well and leave yourself enough time. You have to work with the Science technicians in order to find time when you can use a laboratory to collect data while being supervised by a member of staff. Avoid experiments for which the outcome is already well documented.
  • Library-based EEs: A questionnaire, survey or a library-based topic in Group 4 may be easier to research (in school or at a University library) but you need to manage a large amount of material and be selective for relevant information.
Group 5
  • Unless you are taking Maths HL, it is best to avoid doing your EE on this. But if you are doing Maths HL it is definitely worth considering.
  • The word limit is generally smaller (2,500 words) but you will need to include significant amount of maths in the text.
  • For ideas look for “100 greatest unsolved mathematical problems.”
Group 6 – Music
  • Emotional tension in traditional music.
  • Emotional tension in traditional Vietnamese music.
  • An investigation into the mechanisms used traditional Vietnamese music to create emotional tension, with reference to comparable examples in Western music.
World Studies
  • Must involve two IB disciplines. Must be topic of global significance.
  • Must link a local situation to a global situation.

NB – Developing a World Studies Inter-disciplinary Research Question requires a slightly different process:

  1. Choose a topic of global significance.
  2. See how this topic is illustrated in a local context.
  3. Make a clear rationale for taking an interdisciplinary approach.
  4. Select the IB disciplines through which you plan to explore the topic.

Once you have thought through these points, choose a research question

  • To come up with a research question, come up with a question.
  • The question must be an open question (i.e. it cannot be answered by a simple yes or no)
  • The question must limit your research to something which is manageable within 4,000 words and 40 hours. The question must be very specific.
  • Choose a topic and research question about which there is barely any research already and which is unique. This will allow you to show more personal judgement, and hence score more highly. If a website search engine turns up a lot of information about the topic, it is best to avoid it.
  • Do not attempt topics which are taught in relatively good depth in the syllabus. Choose topics and questions  for which you think are not sufficiently covered in your syllabus or explore new ideas and theories
  • It does not matter if the topic is not an area your supervisor knows much about, s/he will still understand the subject, the approach to take and the pitfalls to avoid.

Keep on going. Take one step at a time and Keep an eye on the final destination. Advice about good and bad research questions-

Subject Good questions Poor questions
English A How are men and women portrayed differently in Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘North and South’?’ How are men and women portrayed by Elizabeth Gaskell in her novels? (too large)
How do Shakespeare and Sophokles differ in the way they present madness in Lear and Ajax? Madness in Shakespeare and Sophokles (not a question)
How is the subject of death treated in a selection of poems by Thomas Hardy? How did Thomas Hardy’s life influence his poetry? (too biographical)
English B How can Vietnam develop tourist one or two-day tours in a sustainable way? “Does tourism have a future in Vietnam?” (too broad)
To what extent has the English language changed as a result of [a new social media]? “A history of English Language” (lacks focus; not a question, far too broad)
To what extent was Alexander’ success built on his adoption of Persian customs and administrators? Why was Alexander the Great able to conquer and maintain such a great area? (too broad, lacks focus)
Geography To what extent can changes in temperatures in England across the 20th century be explained by solar energy output? How do temperatures in England change over a year? (just an extended piece of field work)
How has tourism in Sri Lanka shifted since the tsunami of 2004? How have Nike changed their marketing in response to environmental concerns? (not geographical, more Business and Management)
History Which theory best explains why Labour won a landslide in 1997? Why did Barak Obama win the Presidential election of 2008? (too recent, must be at least 10 years in the past)
To what extent were Hitler’s educational aims fulfilled in the Uhland Gymnasium, 1937–1939? How successful were the Nazis in maintaining control? (too broad)
Biology What effect does detergent toxicity have on soil bacteria? How are detergents broken down in the soil? (has a partly Chemistry focus, not focussed solely on Biology)
What effect does differing pH levels on the growth of Phaseolus vulgaris? The effect of acidity on plant growth. (not a question)
Physics To what extent is it possible to determine the presence of a black hole at the centre of the Milky Way? What have been the latest findings about string theory? (too descriptive)
What is the range variation of water flowing out of a hole in a container? An application of Bernoulli’s principle to holes in containers. (not a question, lacks focus)
Chemistry What effects do sugar-free chewing gum have on the pH of saliva in the mouth after a meal? How do alkali metals react with water? (already covered by the syllabus)
What is the relationship between the concentration of aqueous sodium chloride solution and the ratio of the amounts of oxygen and chlorine gas that are evolved at the positive electrode during electrolysis? Is there a relationship between the concentration of aqueous sodium chloride solution and the ratio of the amounts of oxygen and chlorine gas that are evolved at the positive electrode during electrolysis?” (a closed question)
Business & Management How does Kinh Do’s distribution model during the mid-autumn festival account for its success in the moon cake business? How effective is the Marketing Mix of Kinh Do?
Mathematics How does the exponential function, and its calculus, inform areas of science such as nuclear physics, geology, anthropology or demography? The exponential function and its calculus. (not a question, lacks focus)
How well can π, e, and other irrationals be approximated by rational numbers? To what extent have rivalries between mathematicians helped solve mathematical problems? (too biographical and historical)
Sports, exercise and health science What is the effect of energy drinks on recovery times in middle-distance runners? Energy drinks and exercise. (too broad, not a question)
What effect does an athlete’s pre-event warm-up have on the performance of a 100 m swimmer? The importance of warm-up for swimmers. (lacks specific focus, not a question)
Visual Arts How has Western portrait art in the twentieth century been influenced by the African artistic tradition? How did Western portrait art develop 1800-2000? (too long a time period, lacks specific focus)
What is the impact of transcultural experience on the art of Gu Xiong? The impact of immigration on an artist’s work (too broad, not a question)
World Studies How have specific modern agricultural and apicultural contaminants compromised the health of honeybee populations by causing colony collapse disorder in Lake Geneva, Switzerland and worldwide? (Biology and Geography)

The demise of the honeybee in the 21st century

(too broad, not a question)

What do I do if I have no idea for a subject or topic for my EE?

  1. Talk to your EE Coordinator now.
  2. Ask any of your teachers if you could have 5 minutes to speak to them about possible research questions. They may not end up being your supervisor, but they may be able to help you at this point.
  3. Read through this booklet.
  4. Read through some past EE’s (available to view in the LRC).
  5. If you have lots of ideas, do not get wrapped up trying to work out what would be the absolute best topic for you. Choose instead a topic which is good enough.

It is up to you to make appointments with teachers, EE Coordinator and the IB Coordinator to discuss the EE. They will not chase you.

When do I do my research?

  • Once your research question has been agreed, then start researching.
  • Use weekends and holidays. Use local libraries and University libraries (eg RMIT)
  • There are several search engine designed specifically for research papers that you might need to consult (eg Proquest)
  • Use not just library but also librarians: school, city, national, University
  • As good as Wikipedia, Bized, are, they will not make you stand out amongst the crowd and, more importantly, they will not help you score highly as they do not lead to sufficiently personal judgements
  • If you are doing an experimentally based Group 4 EE, then you need to start speaking to the Technicians and your Supervisor as soon as possible, about when you can do the lab work.
  • You must complete each section of the EE as set out in this guide.

When do I write up the EE?

  • Start early and continually add and improve on your work.
  • You must have completed all your research and/or experimental data gathering as early on in the process as possible. The later you leave this the harder it becomes.
  • Meet with your supervisor regularly. Show him/her new drafts for sections you have re-written at each meeting. Don’t waste these meetings.
  • If you miss  deadlines your Supervisor will not have time to give you proper feedback. This will affect your ability to produce a good EE.

How is my Extended Essay marked?

  • All EEs are sent for marking to IB examiners who are specialists in the subject. Your EE may be marked by an examiner who is anywhere in the world.
  • The EE is not returned to you and, on submission becomes the intellectual property of the IBO – i.e. you assign copyright to the IBO of anything that you submit unless you fill in a form requesting that you retain copyright.
  • There are General Assessment Criteria and Subject Specific Criteria. You must ensure you understand these completely and write your EE to meet these criteria.
  • The General Assessment Criteria are worth up to 24 points; the Subject Specific Criteria are worth up to 12 points.
  • You can achieve a reasonable score by just following the simple rules. If you:
    • State your research question
    • Analyse your results
    • Discuss your results
    • Have a conclusion
    • Write a 300 word abstract
    • Keep to 4000 words maximum
    • And present it well
    • Cite all sources appropriately

Then you achieve marks even before we look at the content and subject-specific criteria. The general criteria get you the most marks.

  • The maximum mark for an EE is 36. The marks are put into grades A-E.
  • Your ToK essay and presentation are also marked and the grade bands you achieve are put into the Diploma points matrix to see if you get any bonus points. Failure to submit a ToK essay and do a presentation or submit an EE means you get E which is no award of Diploma. Two elementary grades also give a failing condition.

Point Ranges

E = 0-7- Fail

D = 8-15

C = 16-22

B = 23-28

A = 29-36

Intelligence is like a balloon. The more effort you put into expanding it, the greater it becomes,

                                 ToK/EE Scoring MATRIX

                                                               A= Excellent

                                                                B= Good

                                                                C= Satisfactory

                                                                D= Mediocre

                                                                E= Elementary

                                                                N= Not submitted

Failing conditions

A student who fails to submit an Extended Essay will score no points, and will not be awarded an IB Diploma. Performance in both Theory of Knowledge and the Extended Essay of an elementary standard (i.e. E) is a failing condition for the award of the Diploma.

From 2010 onwards, 28 points overall will be required to be eligible for the Diploma if a student attains an “E” grade in either the extended essay or theory of knowledge continues to represent an automatic failure.

Although the Extended Essay is your work, you are not working alone.


  1. Keep your EE under control – it should take no more than 40 hours altogether from the time your first think about it until you hand in your final draft.
  2. Keep your topic and research question manageable within the time you have and your skills. A simpler and precise research question is always better, e.g. “To what extent might internal fighting explain the collapse of the Mayan civilisation” is better than “The Mayan civilisation”; “Is it better to use dried animal dung as a fertiliser or a fuel?” is better than “Combustion and nitrogen analysis”.
  3. It is only worth a maximum of 1.5 points out of 45. Keep it in perspective with your other subjects.
  4. 4,000 words (+ 300 words for the abstract) is the maximum you are allowed. That is about 10 A4 sides.
  5. You are unlikely to change the world with the content of your EE. You are not expected to write something totally original, just new to you.
  6. It should be on a topic that interests you and that you want to find out about.
  7. Do not think you can just take an essay you have already written, add some extra words and hand that in. Doing this will at best get you very low marks. The EE has very different assessment criteria from what your IB teachers are usually looking for. In this sense the EE is not really an extended essay, it a piece of personal research in a specific structure and format.
  8. Follow the guidelines for general and subject specific criteria. You may write a great EE but get low marks because you fail to follow the instructions.
  9. Above all, keep to the deadlines. They are there to help you manage your time.  Failure to do so will be your loss, will put pressure on future, more important work and result in you getting a hard time from your supervisor and IB Coordinator.
  10. Your EE will never really be a finished product. There will simply come a time when you must hand it in.

Extended Essay Calendar

Date Student’s Action(s) What students must do next
October 2015 Extended Essay Information provided to students during IBDP core time by EE Coordinator and Mr Zakir eg general criteria, research skills
  • Decide on the Group and Subject you want to do your EE in
  • Practise developing RQ’s
  • Use search engines for information
November 2015 Reading, researching information and chose subject to do your EE. Speak to teachers of that subject. Ask for specific details/criteria for that subject.
  • Begin to research suitable topic areas that interest you.
  • Read your EE student guide
December 2015



18 Dec to 8 Jan

Christmas break

Give the EE Coordinator your chosen EE subject using the form provided indicating teacher(s) who have agreed to Supervise you.

The EE Coordinator will confirm your area of study and your Supervisor.

Confirm RQ with supervisor

Have RQ checked by EE coordinator. Research and keep your criteria handy to keep you on task

  • Decide on at least three suitable topics within the subject area, so you have suggestions for your supervisor
  • Devise three research questions
  • Read IB Assessment Criteria for the EE and read it
  • Submit proposal form to EE Coordinator
  • Prepare for EE cafe in January
January 2016

29th Jan

Prepare for EE cafe
  • State your research question to fellow Students and your teachers/ parents during EE cafe
  • Research data and begin drafting first copy


Tet break
16- 29 Feb  

EE plan for experiments/surveys/background research

Research data meet with supervisor regularly

  • Continue with first draft
  • Discuss how to write your report with your supervisor keeping in mind the Criteria/both general and specific.
  • Keep track of your references.
March-April 2016 Research data, meet with Supervisor regularly

Have all your or data collection completed

  • Write up your report
  • Keep the Assessment Criteria in mind
  • Arrange time to meet with your supervisor to discuss the first 2,000 words
  • Take good notes and keep track of references
May 6th 2016 Submit first 3000 words to supervisor and submit to by 4 p.m supervisor to give comments
  • Arrange meeting with supervisor before end of term to discuss draft of whole EE
  • Check you are following the Assessment Criteria
May  13th 2016 First Reflection session with Supervisor/written comment due

Feedback session

  • Discuss progress with your EE
  • Discuss plans for summer break
  • Final questions/ concerns
  • Check you are following the criteria
June 10

August (summer break)


Research & Read Read Read

Write another 1000 words

  • Keep in email contact with supervisor
  • Take good notes and keep track of references
August 16th Submit updated draft to EE Coordinator and by 4 p.m.

Final feedback given by supervisor : recommendations for improvement

Interim Reflection #2 due

  • Meet with supervisor to present updated draft and discuss progress
  • Fully referenced and in-text citations
  • Continue to work on final draft
  • Finish final draft (fully referenced and meeting word limits and assessment criteria)
  • Add abstract, table of contents (acknowledgements)
September 5th


Hand in your final version of your Extended Essay by 9 p.m. to Turnitin and electronic copies to your supervisor and the EE Coordinator, and three printed off versions (in colour if necessary) to IB Coordinator.
  • Now the writing is done, congratulate yourself
  • Start thinking about the viva voce


Viva Voce Interview

(Final Reflection session)

  • Congratulate yourself on another phase of your life long journey
  • Relax. Think how you can use the EE in your university applications and interviews/ personal essay.

EUROPEAN International School Ho Chi Minh City

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