Writing an Extended Essay is the perfect opportunity for students to follow their passion
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Writing an Extended Essay is the perfect opportunity for students to follow their passion

The Extended Essay (known as EE) is an independent research project that our students start working on in grade 11 and submit for external examination during DP2. At the beginning of the DP, students need to choose a topic from one of the subjects they are taking and develop a research question that they will answer in 4000 words, with the guidance of a supervisor.

By Karin Oyarzo, Extended Essay coordinator

Since the beginning of the process, students started developing and improving skills, such as research and thinking skills. This year we are very fortunate to also have the expertise of our new secondary librarian, Eleanor Good. She has vast experience as a teacher and as an EE examiner, providing our students with advice on how to improve their academic writing, evaluate their sources and keep themselves engaged with their topics.

Has the pandemic influenced the EE process?

Absolutely. In many cases, students with interests in the sciences had to change their initial proposals due to not being able to collect data. Luckily, our students have sorted these situations and, with the help of their supervisors, have found interesting and feasible topics to develop.

In other subjects, like Business, some of our students have used the pandemic as a source of inspiration, analysing the economic impact of covid-19 within some specific industries.

What topics are interesting to our students?

Most students see the EE as an opportunity to link their own personal interests to one of their subjects. For example some Language and Literature students did compare classics, such as Little Women or To Kill a Mockingbird, to the analysis of the lyrics of rap artist Tyler, the Creator.

In language B, our students chose to connect their culture to the target language. Examples of this are the influence that the Dutch language had on Afrikaans or how demography has impacted the Spanish dialect in Equatorial Guinea. One of the perks of writing the EE in the language you are improving your writing skills like Lukas. “I am required to write my essay completely in Spanish, so my Spanish writing skills are improving massively”, he says. “I am surprised by how much I was able to write completely in Spanish.”

How can the EE help us for the future?

Our students know exactly how. Florence, who has chosen Arts as her subject and architecture as her topic, says: “I chose my topic because it is something I might want to do in the future. By writing the EE on the same type of topic I thought I could learn more about a profession I might want to pursue”

What skills can you learn by writing your EE?

“I would say that the skills that I have most developed are my researching and academic writing skills. Because the EE has a limited word count, I needed to learn how to be concise with my writing, “but also provide content that is well researched and clear”, says Clara Wasserman, who is writing her EE on Language and Literature.

Max, who has chosen Chemistry as his subject, says: “I learnt a lot about chemical equations, sort of rounding out my knowledge because I had to do a lot of additional research into things that weren’t fully covered in class.

Bastiënne , who is writing an EE on Business says: “I have defenitely developed my academic writing skills because the EE requires specific language and a specific tone”.

What is the most challenging part of writing the EE?

For Mariana , who is writing an essay in Psychology, the most challenging part of writing her EE was: “paraphrasing the information that is already written perfectly in research studies, connecting pieces of information, analysing the information and keeping the sentences clear.”

Samantha, who is doing very interesting research on some of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings, adds: “finding academic sources you would usually not come across for school research. It surprised me how much in-depth research was done on certain subjects”.

As you can read, students think the Extended Essay is a challenging task, and time management and organisational skills are crucial to success. But they also recognise the importance of practising and improving their skills, and that gaining knowledge in their area of interest will help them during their further studies.

And as we can see with every cohort, and especially with this one, who started working during a pandemic, being able to find something you’re passionate about is half of the work.

The possibilities are endless!