The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Enduring the Extended Essay

Set up for one junior’s Biology Data Collection. Picture by Mikaela Matera-Vatnick

The IB defines an Extended Essay as “an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper.” “Extended Essays are just simple research papers that people tend to make way too much of a big deal about” says an anonymous teacher. The Extended Essay (EE) has been dramatized simply due to the large word limit and the amount of time allocated for it. In fact, one just needs to get a score of a “D” to pass the IB (that is 9 points out of 36.) The combination of the Theory of Knowledge course and the Extended Essay make up only 3 points of the final IB grade. 

The junior class of 2017 recently submitted their topics and were assigned their sponsors in a specific subject area. This early in the process, no topic or research question is fully developed or finalized, but most students have an idea of what they want to do.

Choosing a topic had been a complicated endeavor for several students at WIS. It is advised that a student writes their EE about something they are interested in, but the choosing process is often more layered than that. Some students chose topics based on sponsors. In fear of getting a sponsor that did not teach them, students chose to write their Extended Essay on a topic where they had a guarantee for a good sponsor. “Your sponsor is the an incredibly important factor. They will guide you and a lot of your grade depends on them” says Eliya Gelb. Another factor that levelled the choice was the commitment the student was prepared to give for their EE. “I considered doing my EE in Math HL but I did not think that I could commit to an EE as serious as that” confides a junior who wished to remain anonymous.

Group 3 subjects have always been the most popular. According to a statistical bulletin published by the IB in 2014, Group Three subjects were by far the most common (33,186 students wrote their essay in that Group). In WIS, over 50% of the grade is writing their EEs in Humanities. Teachers had to provide quotas for Extended Essays in Geography, History, and Economics. Rosie Bradbury thinks it is because “in sciences you have to do a lab, which is kind of a hassle. Math is intimidating. English: a lot of people just aren’t up to writing an in-depth analysis. Group Three is more applicable to what people want to study in colleges.”

Story continues below advertisement

Eliza Pink disagrees, and thinks that Language A Extended Essays are the way to go: “you’ve been writing papers like this for the past five years, just shorter. The English EE is by far the easiest.” Ms. Holden, a sponsor for English EEs, agrees with that statement. In the rest of the world, Group One Extended Essays were the second most common, with 12,976 students writing their EE’s for Language A. At WIS, 7 students are writing their EE’s in this subject. Claire Ochieng wants to write her EE in English because she knew she “wouldn’t get annoyed with it in the long run”. Aitana Vargas Llosa, who takes Spanish A as her Group Two, is writing her Extended Essay for that subject. She wishes to research the influence of the dictator Trujillo in Spanish Fiction.

There are still many students that are doing their Extended Essays in Math and Group Four subjects. Worldwide, 10,676 students wrote their EE’s in Group Four and 1,391 wrote for Group Five (Math). 15 WIS students are planning to write about sciences and three are writing their EEs in math. Maddie Hammond-Chambers plans to write a Chemistry EE on the effects of soda on teeth that have been treated in different ways. Jacob Sadoff wants to create a suitcase that could also function as a scooter for his EE in Design Technology. Extended Essays are just extensive lab reports with extensive research” says Karina Cheah, who is writing her EE in biology. Daphne Willhelm-Demekas wants to write her Extended Essay in math.

Finally, there is the World Studies Extended Essay. World Studies EEs are essays that are part of two subject groups. Even though the IB loves those kinds of essays, most teachers advise against it. They claim that it is too difficult to have two sponsors and two subjects and have one essay align with two different criteria. However, that is not stopping Alexia Godron, who is writing an EE in Geography and Environmental Systems and Societies. Her question, “To what extent do China’s developmental, demographic, and environmental evolution and policies enable it to meet its COP21 objectives?” touches upon both subject areas, and therefore she felt it best to write an EE in World Studies.

Overall, students have just begun the tedious journey in which they research, write, research, edit, delete, reserach some more, write some more, edit some more, and then submit their essays to the IB. It’s a frustrating process, but one that only has to be as hard as you make it to be.

By Erika Undeland

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All International Dateline Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *