Extended Essays: Tips and Advice for Future Seniors

Written by: Ignacio

Edited by: Jessica

Visual by: Mischka

It was 8:00 am, on Monday, September 13, 2021. Practically every senior has had this date in mind over the last few months. Whether it caused feelings of panic, confidence, or dread, it caught their attention without fail. This was the due date of the Extended Essay (EE), a 4,000-word essay required for all full IB diploma graduates, consisting of independent research on any IB subject of a student’s interest.

Regardless of whether students started last week, last month, or maybe even last school year, all of us current seniors had the date marked on our calendars. It’s been quite the journey, and it’s all finally come to an end for us.  As our seniors have now undergone the ebb-and-flow of writing the EE, from picking a subject they are truly passionate about, to the importance of using your EE advisor, they would like to pass their learnings down to future batches. Thus BT has compiled some (subject-specific) advice, common mistakes, and opinions from the Class of 2022.

Senior Bearcat Adit had his outline done over the summer and wrote the EE across one week once school started. He recommends all future and incoming seniors start writing or attempt to finish it [their EEs] over the summer or within the first two weeks of school. “Things are going to get hectic,” he says. “The more you get done over the summer, the easier it will be to manage your time when applying for schools, studying for your SAT, and working towards your predicted grade.” He also advises students to let their ideas flow and not to “worry about the word count too much, just put your ideas on paper and flesh things out with the help of your advisor”. Adit’s subject-specific advice for future Global Politics students is to “always relate your essay and ideas to key terms and models and keep track of all the resources you’ve used.”

Collin, on the other hand, wrote his EE in spaced-out bursts across his weekends, saying that “it was an efficient way, but as my ideas changed, there was a lot of correcting I had to do.” According to Collin, although spaced-out sessions will keep you away from a creative drought, you might just double your work while making corrections. Furthermore, he recommends having a structured outline by getting research and ideas set before the summer break. “I think the sooner you do it the better, but the biggest hassle is correcting your mistakes or different ideas, so as long as you get those set in stone you’ll be fine.” His advice to those who are interested in writing an Economics EE is  to keep their essay reliant on economic concepts rather than abstract ideas.

On the other end of the spectrum, fellow Bearcat Sarah wrote her EE over the summer. “It kept me mentally active and allowed me to keep some sort of routine throughout the summer,” she told BT. “By getting over half of it done over the summer, I’m able to focus on my clubs and projects without as many distractions as I normally would.” She also appreciated being able to review an advanced version of her essay with her advisor early on, saying that “it helped me explore my ideas far more than I usually would”. Sarah wrote her essay on literature, and she advises all aspiring English writers, to “read your book a bunch of times, it’ll really help you dive into the smaller details that will make your essay shine!”
From all three of our seniors, their advice is clear: they all encourage soon-to-be extended essay writers to start as soon as possible. As obvious as it may be, getting it done over the summer will ease the workload of the hectic senior year. So, to all our future seniors, take some advice from the current seniors of the class of 2022, and keep working hard— BT is cheering for you!