Economics Extended Essay Guide: Everything You Need to Learn

April 18, 2024

guide for ib economics extended essay

This guide covers everything you need to learn before you write an IB Economics Extended Essay.

We look at the definition, structure, assessment criteria, topic selection, data collection, analysis and evaluation, and reflection.

What is an IB Economics Extended Essay?

An Economics Extended Essay is a 4,000-word autonomous, self-directed report based on a topic of personal interest. This project allows you to:

  • Improve your research skills.
  • Apply economic theories to a real-world issue.
  • Analyze and evaluate the outcomes of your study.

The essay requires 40 hours of preparation and writing. Moreover, you’ll get help from your school-based supervisor throughout this period. The result should be a clear and well-organized analytical essay.

To write a comprehensive Economics EE, you must dedicate time to conduct in-depth research to collect meaningful and reliable data you can use to analyze the context of your theory and research issue.

IB Economics Extended Essay Structure

Your Economics EE should feature a title page, table of contents, introduction, methodology, main body, conclusion, bibliography, and appendices.

  • Title Page: Write the title of the essay, the EE research question, subject, and word count.
  • Table of Contents: Make sure each section mentioned in your table of contents has corresponding page numbers.
  • Introduction: Explain the focus of the essay, the scope of the research, and your line of argument.
  • Main Body: Write reasoned arguments for the issue under investigation. Use subheadings for methodology, analysis, discussion, and evaluation.
  • Conclusion: Communicate what you’ve achieved. Mention the limitation of your research and note what your research question couldn’t answer.
  • Bibliography:  Cite all the EE sources to demonstrate that you engaged in in-depth research and that you care about academic integrity.

IB Economics Extended Essay Assessment Criteria

The assessment criteria for an extended essay in economics examine focus and method, knowledge and understanding, critical thinking, presentation, and engagement. The following table is a complete summary of the marking scheme.

A: Focus & Method6Topic, research question, and methodologyFocus and method looks at your subject, research issue, and approach. It looks at the description of the study, how you conducted research, and your area of emphasis.
B: Knowledge & Understanding6Context and subject-specific terminologies and conceptsKnowledge and understanding focuses on relevance of your study to the topic. IB looks at how you demonstrate your economic knowledge, language, and ideas.
C: Critical Thinking12Research, analysis, discussion and evaluationCritical thinking looks at the extent to which you’ve analyzed and evaluated the research conducted.
D: Presentation4Structure, and layoutPresentation looks at the layout of your economics extended essay. You have to adhere to the conventional structure to score a 4.
E: Engagement6Process, and research focusEngagement evaluates the extent to which you participated in the research process and completed the economics extended essay.

Economics Extended Essay Topic Selection

The best economics EE topic is the one that you find interesting enough to explore, as long as the focus remains on the fundamentals of economic concepts.

We strongly suggest you choose a topic that allows you to apply economic theories, methods and instruments present in the curriculum. Remember, the assignment requires you to conduct secondary research. However, you may also conduct pertinent original research depending on the topic you choose.

Your topic should:

  • Be historical. However, your focus should be on a research issue that’s no more than five years old.
  • Allow you to use economic theories and concepts to answer your research question.
  • Provide opportunities for critical analysis of the information and data collected.
  • Allow enough room for analysis while sticking to the scope of the essay. 

Don’t choose a broad topic because the essay needs critical and reflective thinking and analysis on something specific. And don’t pick an excessively narrow theme because you may not have access to specific data.

So choose your topic wisely, making sure that it isn’t too wide or too narrow to fit within the scope of the EE’s requirements.

Data Collection in Economics Extended Essay

You have to conduct original research on topics covered in the economics curriculum. Therefore, spend just enough time establishing value for your topic in microeconomics, macroeconomics or the global economy.

Doing original research goes a long way to show that the title and the research question is an issue unanswered by secondary sources.

If you’ve decided to write an EE on microeconomics, you may have to use primary research in the form of surveys, questionnaires, or interviews with pertinent businesspeople direct to the study subject.

Themes from macroeconomics and the global economy require more secondary research in the form of data extraction from published academic papers, historical records, government publications, newspaper/online articles, and statistical databases.

Analysis and Evaluation in Economics EE

The analysis of your economics extended essay can only be effective if you use pertinent economic theories to analyze data collected.

You have to incorporate applicable economic theories, models, and methods in your research’s findings.

For example, you can exhibit critical analysis and evaluation by a sound assessment and judgment of the amount to which the applicable economic theory is beneficial in addressing your research question.

If you cannot establish relevant connections between your selected topic and the research question, avoid establishing knowledge claims based on economic theories, models, and instruments.

Criterion C of the assessment instrument requires you to provide precise findings for each analyzed point, and there has to be interim conclusions throughout your writing.

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the limitations of your own research, flaws in the economic theories, and underlying assumptions of the models utilized when developing your arguments. Also, evaluate the extent to which an economic theory may or may not describe your topic.

IB Economics EE Reflection Session 

Being reflective is one of the IB learner profile characteristics, and it is now a formal requirement of the EE evaluation criteria.

IB uses the Reflections on Planning and Progress Form (RPPF), which has a 6-point value, to evaluate reflections. This is a substantial amount of points, which can determine the distinction between two grades on the final examination.  

As part of the EE requirements, you will be required to hold three mandatory reflection sessions with your supervisor, and each of these reflection sessions appear on the official RPPF.

Reflection in the EE focuses on the process of the assignment itself.

Consider the following areas of reflection for each portion of the RPPF:

  • How did you overcome the problems, setbacks, and barriers you encountered, and what did you learn in the process?
  • Which of the IB learner profile characteristics apply to you?
  • What did you learn, and did new views emerge?  

The maximum word count for all three reflections is 500. You must write the reflection in your own word and pertain only to your personal learning journey throughout the course.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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