IBY2 student Renato Zimmerman of Brazil, writes about his experience with the Extended Essay.
The Extended Essay is a core component of the International Baccalaureate Diploma program. It is a research paper of up to 4,000 words giving students an opportunity to conduct independent research or investigation on a topic that interests them.
When starting IB, I knew that it would be tough, especially coupled with college applications, SATs and all other pressures that I knew I’d encounter in senior year. As you might know, a big part of the IB is your written assignments, which impact on your grade can vary depending on the subject. The most in-depth of these written assignments is of course the extended essay (EE), which might not have as much of an impact in your ending grade in class, but will definitely get you a taste of college assignments in high school and impact whether you receive the IB Diploma.
By now all my written assignments are done and so are the challenges they caused me. The last one was last Sunday, and its cause was not a rush to actually finish my EE but the excruciatingly boring task of citing my sources, which were about four hours (that’s how it is with history EEs) of insanity. Before that, I had several other breakdowns when I decided to actually read some of the essay’s rubrics and noticed those little details that predatory IB correctors can use to interpret your understanding as “good” and not “excellent,” which can cost you some points. There are a couple of lessons I learnt from this experience that I’ll definitely try to use in college and that I’d like to share and hopefully spare prospective IB students from a couple of stressful hours.
I’ll cut the whole “don’t procrastinate” talk as IB advice doesn’t get as mainstream as this, though keep in mind it’s mainstream for a reason, and procrastinating had the best of several of my friends.
Probably the first thing I’d do if I traveled back to junior year, when I was just starting to think of my IB assignments, would be to read the actual rubrics for each of my subject assignments and keep them by my side as I was writing them or googling “how to write a good [subject] IA” right off the bat so I can have an idea not of what to write (you’ll find enough info) but how much to write and where. I say this because I came to peace with the fact that while spilling your thoughts and all the amazing facts you found in your research might make an interesting essay for you, the people that will correct it are a) probably just as tired as you are b) not familiar with how wonderful of a person you are and c) following the essay criteria to the word in order to score your essay accurately. The IB has a specific format for the written assignments, so don’t think that you can make your own essay the way you want and try to argue that you did include that bit of information in some part of the essay. The correctors are not your friends, they are strangers, so the best thing you can do is follow the format just as seen on the papers they have with them to make their job easier, which will also make all your ideas much clearer.
As I said in the beginning of this post, my last mental breakdown was caused by the whole citing process. Having your sources in MLA format are the norm for any of your essays, and even though sites like easybib or my hipster option, bibme, are right there to get the tough work done for you, sometimes your computer just won’t cooperate as much with you and your web sources will play ‘find Waldo’ with their author’s name or date written. In order to reduce that stress and spare your computer from all the things I wish I did to mine, just make sure you get all those sources cited by the end of every writing session and put in the very end of your essay. Once you’re done, don’t forget to get them in alphabetical order. Before you internally slap me on the face for telling you that, there is this option in Microsoft word under “paragraph” that looks like an A over a Z next to an arrow pointing down which will do it for you. Now you can internally hug me.
Now, the actual exams will be here soon enough and I’m getting ready for the next round of challenges. If you are just starting the IB, or plan on doing it, it’s worth it and I wish you good luck.
The extended essay is part of the International Baccalaureate® Diploma at EF Academy. The IB is a world-renowned qualification for students who seek a broad and challenging curriculum that helps them develop all the skills needed for success at university. Thanks to EF Academy’s unmatched internationalism, our students live the IB ethos every single day.