How to Write an Extended Essay: A Step-by-Step Guide

October 10, 2023

how to write an extended essay

In this guide, you’ll learn how to write an Extended Essay that not only explores a research issue comprehensively but also earns top grades.

To write a good Extended Essay, choose a topic you’re interested in, develop a specific research question, do your research, and structure your essay. Plan your writing process, schedule meetings with your supervisor, write the essay, and proofread before submitting. 

An alternative way to write an Extended Essay is to seek for professional academic writing help online. 

At Help for Assessment, we offer the best EE writing service online and this writing assistance can go a long way to get your Extended Essay written on time.

To be clear, an Extended Essay isn’t an assignment you should fail unless you purposely intend to do so. A good way to write an EE on any subject is to develop a solid structure and then follow it from start to finish.

How to Write an Extended Essay Step-by-Step

To write a comprehensive Extended Essay on any subject within the 40 hours:

1. Choose a Topic

The first step to write an EE is to choose an Extended Essay topic to explore.

Unfortunately, you can’t scrape a good topic off a book or ask a friend in your IB class to share their thoughts. You have to brainstorm and do some preliminary research to find an interesting topic to work on.

You don’t have to spend so many hours looking for a topic for your EE.

First, determine what your passion outside the classroom is. Then, come up with a list of potential topics that you can explore based on the subject of your choice.

As you do your topic hunting, you might discover that you have an interest in more than one topic.

We recommend that you choose the most interesting of all topic, particularly the one tied to an area you’ve always wanted to explore.

Also, make sure the topic allows you to have something original to write in the essay.

Should the topic be one that doesn’t allow you to share ideas beyond what’s obvious, drop it and look for something else. 

2. Research Your Topic

Researching your topic will help to inform your essay in the writing stage. If you do the research right, the structure, case study, and the experiments will easily fit on their own.

To do your research more effectively:

  • Start by reading the EE guidelines for the subject you’d like to explore. Doing so will help you determine whether you need primary sources, secondary research, or a combination of both.
  • Determine if you have to collect data from someone else, look for facts, create your own data, or use other people’s opinion.
  • Check with your supervisor how recent your research should be.
  • Conduct your research based on the subject, the topic you selected, and the suggestions from your supervisor.

Note that you may have to search multiple sources to identify the most relevant information for your Extended Essay.

You want to make sure your bibliography is detailed enough to show that you have invested enough time to research your topic.

3. Develop a Research Question

You need to develop a clear and concise research question that gives your intended reader a clear focus of the essay.

The Extended Essay Guide requires that your research question be precise, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of a question. In addition, your research question should be something worth asking.

If the research issue you’ve developed is concise, detailed, specific, and linked to the topic you would like to explore in 4,000 words, you’re set to start writing the Extended Essay.

4. Structure and Plan Your EE

Your Extended Essay should feature the following format:

  • Your research question
  • Cover page
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  • Main body
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • 3 Reflections

Use this outline in the order provided to organize your research and write the Extended Essay.

5. Consult Your Supervisor

One of the advantages of being in an IB program is that you can always choose someone to guide you through the Extended Essay reflection process.

It could be a teacher you're comfortable with or a fellow student.

Ensure you make good use of them by consulting them with your research so they can tell you whether you're on the right path.

6 Write Your First and Last Draft

Once you're comfortable that you've done comprehensive research, use your outline to write your first draft.

Don't worry about grammar or punctuation.

Just give life to your outline; then afterward, you can use this first draft to write the official extended essay you will submit.

7. Proofread and Edit Your Work

When your final extended essay is ready, edit and proofread for grammatical errors or any other errors you may not have noticed while rewriting it from your first draft.

If possible, have your supervisor go through it as well before submission.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Long Does It Take to Write an Extended Essay?

IB requires you to write your Extended Essay within 40 hours.

That’s enough time to start and complete the writing process if you start working on the EE as early as right now.

2. When Should I Write an EE?

The right approach to tackle an Extended Essay assignment is to start early. Instead of waiting to write a last minute essay, start right away so that you have ample time to do the work.  

Keep in mind that time management is critical to your success.

Once you’ve selected a topic for your Extended Essay assignment, the next task should be to create a schedule you can work with.

Determine how much time you’re willing and able to assign to your research process, break the task into small sections that you can manage, and then assign each section a realistic deadline.

3. How Do You Structure an Extended Essay?

Your Extended Essay must feature your research question, a cover page, table of contents, an introduction, the main body, a conclusion, a bibliography, and 3 reflections.


It’s possible to feel stuck as you continue to work on your Extended Essay, but your supervisor will be there to help you during the reflection sessions.

During these sessions, your supervisor will evaluate your research question, look at your structure and writing plan, and comment on your first draft.

Remember, you have 40 hours to work on the essay, which should be enough to get the assignment completed on time. 

Should you feel stuck in the writing process, you can reach out to the IB team at Help for Assessment and we’ll be happy to help.

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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