Navigating the IB Extended Essay

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Extended Essay is a significant academic undertaking that challenges high school students to explore a topic of personal interest in depth. This extended research project allows students to demonstrate their research, writing, and critical thinking skills. Navigating the IB Extended Essay can be a complex process, but with careful planning and the right approach, you can succeed. In this guide, we will take you through the essential steps and strategies to navigate the IB Extended Essay effectively.

1. Select a Relevant and Engaging Topic

- Passion and Interest: 

Choose a topic that genuinely interests you and aligns with your passions. The more engaged you are with your topic, the easier it will be to stay motivated throughout the process.

- Subject Area: 

Ensure your chosen topic fits within one of the six IB subject areas (Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies, Sciences, Mathematics, and the Arts).

- Feasibility: 

Consider the availability of resources, including access to books, databases, and experts in the field.

2. Develop a Clear Research Question

- Specificity: 

Craft a focused and clear research question that defines the scope of your extended essay. The question should be specific, open-ended, and researchable.

3. Conduct Thorough Research

- Library Resources: 

Utilize your school or local library for access to academic books, journals, and databases.

- Online Research: 

Explore online resources, but ensure they are credible and peer-reviewed.

- Primary and Secondary Sources: 

Consider the use of primary sources (original documents) and secondary sources (analyses or interpretations) to support your research.

4. Create a Detailed Outline

- Structure:

Develop an organized outline that includes an introduction, body sections, and a conclusion.

- Key Points: 

Outline the main arguments, evidence, and analysis you plan to include in each section.

5. Begin the Writing Process

- Start Early: 

Begin writing as soon as possible to allow time for revisions and edits.

- Stay Organized: 

Keep track of your sources and citations as you write.

6. Revise and Edit

- Multiple Drafts: 

Expect to write multiple drafts. Revise and refine your work, focusing on clarity, coherence, and argumentation.

- Peer Review: 

Seek feedback from teachers, peers, or mentors to identify areas for improvement.

7. Format and Cite Properly

- IB Guidelines: 

Follow the IB's formatting and citation guidelines meticulously.

- Consistent Style: 

Use a consistent citation style (e.g., MLA, APA, Chicago) throughout your extended essay.

8. Manage Your Time Effectively

- Create a Timeline: 

Develop a schedule that includes deadlines for research, writing, editing, and submission.

- Avoid Procrastination: 

Avoid leaving the majority of the work until the last minute.

9. Seek Guidance and Support

- Supervisor: 

Stay in regular contact with your extended essay supervisor, who can offer guidance and help you stay on track.

- Use Resources: 

Consult resources provided by the IB and your school's extended essay coordinator.

10. Proofread Thoroughly

- Attention to Detail: 

Carefully proofread your final draft for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting errors.

11. Reflect on the Process

- Personal Reflection:

After completing your extended essay, take time to reflect on what you learned during the process. Consider the challenges you faced, the skills you developed, and the knowledge you gained.

12. Celebrate Your Achievement

- Acknowledge Your Effort: 

Completing an IB Extended Essay is a significant accomplishment. Celebrate your hard work and dedication.


Navigating the IB Extended Essay requires careful planning, dedication, and effective research and writing skills. By selecting a meaningful topic, conducting thorough research, and adhering to IB guidelines, you can successfully navigate this challenging academic endeavor. Remember that the extended essay is not just about the final product but also about the learning journey you undertake. Embrace the process, stay organized, and seek support when needed to excel in your extended essay project.