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EE at a Glance

The EE at a glance

The EE is the centrepiece of the IB Diploma Programme. It is an integral and valuable learning experience for all Diploma Programme students, or an option for course students.

The aims of the EE are for students to:

  • engage in independent research with intellectual initiative and rigour
  • develop research, thinking, self-management and communication skills
  • reflect on what has been learned throughout the research and writing process.

Choice of topic

The EE is an in-depth study of a focused topic. Students choose their topic from the list of available Diploma Programme subjects for the session in question. For those taking the IB diploma, this is normally one of the student’s six chosen subjects. It may also be a subject that a course candidate has a background in.

Skills—research, writing, reflection

The EE gives students the opportunity to research a topic of their own choice, under the guidance of a supervisor.

Students then undertake a major piece of formally presented, structured writing. They communicate their ideas and findings in a reasoned and coherent manner, appropriate to the subject chosen.

All students are required to undertake three reflection sessions with their supervisor. The third is a short, concluding interview, or viva voce, following the completion of the essay.


Students’ reflection process is assessed under criterion E: Engagement using the Reflections on planning and progress Form (RPPF).

The essay itself is assessed against common criteria, interpreted in ways appropriate to each subject. The assessment objectives for the EE are:

Assessment objectives
Knowledge and understanding
  • To demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the topic chosen and the research question posed.
  • To demonstrate knowledge and understanding of subject-specific terminology and/or concepts.
  • To demonstrate knowledge and understanding of relevant and/or appropriate research sources and/or methods used to gather information.
Application and analysis
  • To select and apply research that is relevant and appropriate to the research question.
  • To analyse the research effectively and focus on the research question.
Synthesis and evaluation
  • To be able to discuss the research in terms of a clear and coherent reasoned argument in relation to the research question.
  • To be able to critically evaluate the arguments presented in the essay.
  • To be able to reflect on and evaluate the research process.
A variety of (research) skills
  • To be able to present information in an appropriate academic format.
  • To understand and demonstrate academic integrity.

For more on assessment see “Assessing the extended essay”.

Key features of the EE

  • The EE is compulsory for all students taking the Diploma and is an option for course students.
  • A student must achieve a D grade or higher to be awarded the Diploma.
  • The EE is externally assessed. Together with the grade for theory of knowledge, it contributes up to three points to the total score for the diploma.
  • The EE process helps prepare students for university and other pathways beyond the Diploma Programme.
  • Students must choose a subject for their essay from the list of Diploma Programme subjects in the Handbook of procedures for the Diploma Programme for the session in question.
  • The EE is a piece of independent research on a topic chosen by the student in consultation with a supervisor in the school.
  • It is presented as a formal piece of sustained academic writing (4,000 words maximum) accompanied by a reflection form (500 words maximum).
  • It is the result of approximately 40 hours of work by the student.
  • Students are supported by a supervision process recommended to last three to five hours in total, which includes three mandatory reflection sessions.
  • The third and final mandatory reflection session is the viva voce, which is a concluding interview with the supervising teacher after the essay is completed.

All information taken from