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The Unofficial Guide to Writing an Extended Essay

By Margaret S. Alonso Introduction

Why am I doing this? If youre in IB, then this is a requirement. There is always the option of not doing it, but that usually doesnt end to well for students. If youre not an IB student, then the reason for why you would do this is beyond human understanding, however the pursuit of knowledge is always appreciated. If youre trying to decide whether or not to (as students like to say) sell your soul to IB, dont freak out, its not as bad as it seems.

Things You Will Need Access to a computer and internet Access to a university/academic library Note taking devices (pencil, paper, copy machines) Large Calendar (not agenda) placed somewhere youll see it every day. Thinking cap

Are you ready for this? Take a deep breath. Let it out. Relax. Up until this point in your life, chances are IB is one of the scariest things youve decided to do. Maybe not, either way, the extended essay is a research paper, and research papers are no easy feat, so it serves no purpose to start this process with a state of mind that is already altered from stress, anxiety, and anticipation. So relax. Breathe.

You ready? Lets go! Wheres the Beginning? Lets assume that you are still debating how to choose your topic, or even the subject. Lets go thru the IB Groups real quick. Group 1 Studies in Language and Literature Also known as your A1 class. This is the class where you have to read Shakespeare and Oedipus Rex and sometimes your teachers try to get creative and you get to suffer through the excitement of acting out scenes from said literature. Later, when you finally think you are getting comfortable, getting the hang of it, your teachers will remind you that poetry is also literature. Group 2 Language Acquisition If youre going for your IB Bilingual diploma, this will be known as your A2 class, otherwise, its just youre language, presumably your second language, your acquired language. Group 3 Individuals and Societies History. Chances are this class will bore you to tears, but dont underestimate the value of what you learn in this class; youll appreciate it later. Group 4 Experimental Sciences Biology. Chemistry. Physics. Cells, dissection, Stoichiometry, Hesss Law, Galileo, Einstein. Choose your poison. Group 5 Mathematics and Computer Science Generally divided in two, what students call statistics, Math Studies, and Calculus, aka Mathematics. Group 6 The Arts These are the fun classes. These are the electives you get. You choose what you think youll enjoy the most, maybe what you want to do as a career. These are art, photo, film, dance, business, and a few more. Depending on your school you might just have a handful of these or a wide variety. For your extended essay, the two most popular choices are history and literature. Next up are the arts. The general advice is the stick to this, because math and science requires countless experiments and analysiss of data

and just arent fun or pleasant, particularly when combined with all the other requirements that will be thrown your way.

Which topic you end up choosing is ultimately your choice. What do YOU like? Do you enjoy reading and analyzing literature? Would you enjoy doing this for 4000 words? Maybe history is more your thing, and even if its not, its always a great choice. History is the subject that practically writes itself because it already happened. You just have to choose a topic and find academic journals and books talking about your chosen thesis. Then you add in personal insight and voila. Of course, we mustnt forget the arts, although these are more or less under the umbrella of history. Writing a paper on the history of a particular dance style, or film technique, etc. Again, these take a bit more work because there tends to be less research on these topics, but it can and has been done before. For the purposes of this manual, lets have a sample topic. How does, the influence of the Roman Catholic Empire, sound?

The Timeline This seems like a rather unorthodox time to be mentioning a timeline, but it is actually the perfect moment. Here is where your nifty calendar comes into play. Maybe you are starting this 2 years before it is due, at the beginning of the IB journey. Good for you. Or possibly 2 months before its due, hey it happens. Hopefully, you arent reading this the weekend before. That would be unfortunate. But if you are, its okay, just set these instructions and guidelines into fast-forward mode. Grab your calendar. Think for a moment on the amount of time that you plan on working on this, and then divide it into three groups Research Writing Editing Each section will have several subsections. Research should be divided into general research, specific research, and highlighting research. Research General Research is the time period where you collect anything and everything that is even remotely or potentially related to your topic. In our sample topic, that would be anything that is about history and talks about the Roman Catholic Empire. This should take around two to three trips to a university library and extensive use of the Wikipedia sources at the end of relevant articles. Tip: remember QUALITY is important; its what will help you write your essay Specific Research narrow down your findings to the information you can actually use. Here with our sample topic, maybe well find that theres a lot of information on the effect of the Roman Catholic Church in South America, thus refining our topic a little bit. This should take a good part of a day. Highlighted research, go to your specific findings, and research what is the most important there and highlight what you are going to potentially quote or analyze for its influence. This shouldnt take more than a few hours.

This is also, thesis-writing day. Writing Thesis writing is one of the most critical parts of extended essay writing. When you write your thesis you should print it, and keep it in front of you as you write, as a reminder of your topic so you dont start writing about something unrelated. Again, this should take less than a day. Always remember throughout this process to refer to your mentor, they will help you shape your essay, answer any questions you may have, and are brilliant when trying to write a thesis, they have done it countless times before. Write! During this part of your paper, you have to write, your introduction, your body, your conclusion. It helps to set goals for yourself. Something like, get 500 words written each week or 100 words every other day. Remember you have other responsibilities, not just your extended essay, so set your goals accordingly. Editing Format is one of the most important parts of your essay. The graders take a lot of points off for not having the right format. Some schools chose for their format to be MLA, others APA. Whichever the case may be, make sure your essay follows the guidelines. It will need a cover page, an abstract, the actual essay, a bibliography, and a few other little details, without which you may have a problem. DO NOT UNDERSTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF FORMATTING Edit. Duh. Reread your essay. Does it make sense? Does it stay true to your thesis? Mentor. Go to your mentor. Get them to read it and give their opinion on what you need to edit. Thats what theyre there for! In fact, its even required that you go see them for this purpose. Listen to what they have to say. Theyve done this before, they have helped others, and they know what they are talking about. Edit. Now that you have your paper back, edit some more.

Finally, now you are done with your essay. Keep it on your desk drive for a few months, go back to it and reread it with fresh eyes. Or, if you started a bit late, turn it in. All you can do now is wait. Weve done our best.

Good luck