IB Extended Essay: A Step-by-Step Guide

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Extended Essay is a substantial research project that challenges high school students to explore a topic of personal interest within one of the IB's six subject areas. This extended essay, typically around 4,000 words in length, allows students to engage in independent research and develop critical thinking and writing skills. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of completing your IB Extended Essay successfully.

1. Choose Your Subject Area and Topic

- Subject Area: First, select one of the six IB subject areas that you're passionate about and in which you have a strong academic background. These areas include Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies, Sciences, Mathematics, and the Arts.

- Topic: Narrow down your subject area to a specific topic or research question that genuinely interests you. Your topic should be neither too broad nor too narrow, allowing for in-depth exploration within the word limit.

2. Develop a Research Question

- Research Question: Create a clear and focused research question that guides your investigation. Your research question should be specific, open-ended, and relevant to your chosen subject area.

3. Conduct Preliminary Research

- Literature Review: Start with preliminary research to gain an understanding of the existing scholarship and literature related to your topic. This will help you refine your research question and identify gaps in the current knowledge.

4. Create a Research Plan

- Timeline: Develop a timeline that outlines key milestones and deadlines for your extended essay. This plan should include research, data collection (if applicable), writing, and revision phases.

5. Collect and Analyze Data (if applicable)

- If your extended essay requires data collection (e.g., experiments, surveys, interviews), conduct this research following ethical guidelines. Ensure that your data collection is well-documented and relevant to your research question.

6. Outline Your Essay

- Structure: Create a clear and organized outline for your extended essay. Typically, your essay will include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The body should be divided into sections or chapters that address different aspects of your research.

- Thesis Statement: Develop a strong thesis statement that presents your main argument or hypothesis.

7. Write Your Extended Essay

- Introduction: Start with a compelling introduction that introduces your research question and provides context for your study.

- Body: Present your research findings and analysis in a logical and structured manner. Ensure that each paragraph contributes to your argument and supports your thesis.

- Citations: Properly cite all sources using a consistent citation style (e.g., MLA, APA). Be diligent in avoiding plagiarism.

- Conclusion: Summarize your main findings, restate your thesis, and discuss the significance of your research.

8. Revise and Edit

- Review: Take time to review and revise your extended essay. Check for clarity, coherence, grammar, spelling, and formatting errors.

- Peer Review: Consider having a peer or teacher review your essay for feedback and suggestions.

9. Create Citations and Bibliography

- Generate a comprehensive bibliography that includes all the sources you used in your research. Ensure that your citations are accurate and properly formatted.

10. Submit Your Extended Essay

- Follow your school's guidelines for submission, including deadlines and formatting requirements.

11. Reflect on the Process

- After completing your extended essay, take some time to reflect on your research journey. Consider what you learned, the challenges you faced, and the skills you developed.

12. Celebrate Your Achievement

- Completing an IB Extended Essay is a significant accomplishment. Celebrate your hard work and the knowledge you've gained throughout the process.


The IB Extended Essay is an opportunity for high school students to engage in independent research and develop essential academic skills. By following this step-by-step guide and staying committed to your research and writing, you can successfully complete your extended essay and present a well-researched and well-structured project that demonstrates your academic abilities and passion for your chosen subject area.