The Extended Essay (EE) might seem like a chore or something you will put to the back of your mind over summer. But, it will very easily pile on top of you, one thing you really do not want.
One of OSC’s experienced IB teachers, and Extended Essay examiner, Tim Williams, has given his view on how to ‘deal with the curse of the Extended Essay’ and how to get ahead this summer.
Over to Tim…
Long warm days…hammocks…the beach…warm nights…and…the damn Extended Essay…
Right. Right. Maybe it will just go away? Maybe the God Fairy will…? The school might evaporate? Pigs might fly?
When you add the EE to the possibility of looking at the labs, ToK, commentaries, coursework, orals, and presentations that come after the holiday, you have a stack of work ahead.
Ok, do not panic…here are a few things you can actually DO, instead of worrying and putting it all off. All in easy steps – you can’t think too much in summer.
1. Easy Housekeeping job
Get the bibliography up-to-date, and in the right format. This is something your school would have told you how to do. Maybe you’ve done it?
2. Interesting and useful
Meet people who can help with the research. Write 20 polite notes to contacts of your parents, their friends, your teachers, researchers, local universities, libraries, website owners… Even meet a couple of them, ask prepared intelligent questions. These become Primary Sources and guess what..examiners like them.
3. Small but vital
Check your research question. Try writing an answer in two sentences. Can you? Do you have what you need as evidence to prove those two sentences? Check it with your Granny – does she understand the question and the answer?
4. Painful but labour saving
Try writing a plan (NOT a draft). Once you have the shape of the whole EE in your head, all the work you do just slides into place instead of needing constant re-arranging, storing, sorting, thinking about what matters…
5. Really easy 10 minute job
Re-read the Criteria and the notes with them. They tell you how to get the best marks for the essay.
6. Procrastinating but useful job
Break the rest of your EE work down into manageable stages. Depending on how you’ve worked, and what you’re doing, but once you’ve done the research and got the information, it might well break down into these jobs (and possibly even in this order..)
- Write the conclusion. Yes. Because it’s only a draft. And now you’ll see what the rest of the essay is having to prove. Get someone to ask hard questions about it – what do you need to prove and explain ?
- Write the introduction. Yes. Because you should now know all this – why the topic is interesting, what you mean by your question. Easy start.
- Plan the body of the essay. Step by step. Because it’s a hell of a lot easier to write if you know how each paragraph is intended to lead to your conclusion. Try explaining it to your Granny.
- Arghhh – write a draft? Because if you can give a draft to your friend they can use the Assessment Criteria and mark it almost as accurately as an examiner. So they can tell you pretty exactly what you need to do now.
- Do all those things it talks about in Criterion D: ’Presentation’.
- Remember that approaching your research and analysis with passion is called 'Engagement' - and counts for 6 marks in Criterion E. Get stuck in, and see what you can learn. It will show, in your Interim Reflection and Viva Voce.
You can do a few of these before the summer holidays start, and then with your supervisor, work out exactly when you’ll do the others. To help with the planning, download the OSC Calendar. Then you can relax, enjoy summer and try that hammock.
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Tim Williams began IB teaching more than 30 years ago as Head of Languages at International College Spain in Madrid, and has since taught English, TOK, Psychology and other subjects in diverse roles around the world. His broad-ranging experience as teacher, administrator, department head, senior examiner, examiner trainer, and workshop leader, positions him perfectly to provide real-world advice to IB students.