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  • Writer's pictureElisha Bae

All About the Extended Essay

As an IB student, I'm required to write a 4000-word essay on answering a particular question for a subject of my choice. This is the Extended Essay, also known as the EE.

I took a friend's advice (who already graduated this year) to finish up my EE during the summer holidays. I'm not completely done at the moment but I'm very close to finishing it up! The whole process was a learning experience that will probably help me a lot when it comes to writing essays and theses in college.

Before we even got started with the writing, we even had to submit a first, second, and third choice of subjects and research questions. Since one teacher could only supervise two to three students, the school wanted to avoid a situation where all the students would crowd around for a particular subject (which is common for psychology, Korean Language, and English). Thankfully, I'd talked about writing an EE in psychology with my teacher at the start of the year so she knew that I have been planning for it for a while. This, and a solid frame of ideas helped me get the subject that I wanted.

Coming up with a suitable research question proved to be the hardest part of writing my EE. The question had to be specific enough to narrow down the scope of my research — 4000 words would not be enough to go on about everything that I found out about a certain topic, nor would it be following the requirements of the IB. I know I wanted my EE to focus on the field of developmental psychology and the use of technology.

After a number of discussions with my supervisor, I finalised it to do with exploring the negative and positive effects of screen time at a very young age (I'm paraphrasing the question because I don't want it to seem plagiarised when they mark it next year). I was excited to see where research would lead me. I had thoughts of my own but I did not let that colour my research or writing in any way.

Then the fun (and probably one of the most important) parts began. As I did my research, I collated all of the information into a table to create a 'literature review'. I organised the study's bibliography, main parts of the aim, procedure, results, and conclusions as well as an evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses. Then I labelled them 'for', 'against' my argument or as an 'alternative explanation'. After a while, just reading through my summaries gave me an idea of how to structure my essay. Finding my own style of creating a literature review took a while, but after I got the hang of it, it made the actual writing of the essay a breeze. I technically had everything that I needed to say in bullet points.

The EE is definitely a long-term project that you need to work on step by step in order to fully grasp the materials and produce your own stance on them. I've seen some 'miracle stories' or finishing the EE in less than two days before the deadline; while that might be a demonstration of extreme focus, I'd advise people to stick with a plan and try to talk about the EE with their supervisor if they have any concerns (big or small).

I'm feeling pumped to start writing my essay again! I'm working on one of the final sections of it and then I'll be done with the first draft :D

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