The extended essay is an IB core requirement, where students explore a subject in depth. The subject must relate to one of the courses offered in Groups 1 - 6 of the IB Diploma Programme. The extended essay is an opportunity to demonstrate research and writing skills, along with other traits of the IB learner profile. While independent study and self-discipline are part of this task, an in-school supervisor is assigned to each student to monitor progress. The final, formal piece of writing of 3,000-4,000 words is something that students can be proud of, present to teachers, parents and even future employers.
The following pages explain the relevance of extended essay to Group 1 and the Language A: Language and Literature course. You can find information on the basic requirements and the assessment criteria, along with sample extended essays from former students. It is recommended that you study these pages carefully before you engage in the writing process, in order to ensure the best results and the most rewarding experience.
Hey, I just finished writing my English A1 HL Extended Essay! And by finished, I mean, that baby is completely done, I've had my wrap-up interview with my supervisor, and she's going in the mail!(She the essay, not she my supervisor.) Let me tell you, what a rush.
Okay, so, one of the first things you'll need to do is find a supervisor. This should ideally be someone who is familiar with IB and has a strong English background. If your school has IB graduates, it might be beneficial to try to find out who did an Extended Essay in English last year. You can ask them who their supervisor was, and if they felt he or she did a good job. Your supervisor will not be your mum, or anyone in your immediate family. The best place to start is probably with your English A1 HL teacher, if he or she is competent; he or she will be able to point you in the right direction, or perhaps even supervise you! The supervisor is allowed to give you feedback on titles you are considering.
When you are creating a title for your Extended Essay, you need to develop a research question. This is the central question that you plan to investigate in your essay. You could choose to explore the effect of a literary technique in a single work- the effect of structure on the thematic development of Elie Wiesel's Night, the effect of setting on Brontë's Wuthering Heights, or even the of the Dursley family as a foil in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Conversely, you could also pick an effect and investigate how the author achieved it- the mood of desperation established by Wiesel in Night or Shakespeare's development of Hamlet as a tragic hero and its significance to the overall work. If you choose to write your Entended Essay on a single technique, or a single effect, it is important that you consider why this effect or technique is significant. You want to relate technique to effect, and, so doing, elaborate on the work as a whole in greater depth than could otherwise be done. However, you could also do a comparative essay, for example investigating two works by the same author and the effect of the differences/similarities between the technique used in each. It is important, however many works you use, they are of some literary value. (In other words, Twilight is out, sorry.) Also, while they can be books you are studying or will study in your English A1 HL course, you must go into more depth in your Extended Essay with these works than is achieved in the course. Do not under any circumstances pick works of literature you do not like. Forty or more hours later you will hate them.
When you have decided on a topic, it is often beneficial to express it in the form of a question, as I said. This should not be a yes/no question. You should try to make it analytical in nature, as the IB will not award high marks to any English paper which is narrative in nature. I mean to say, "What is the effect of X on Y?" is a good research question. "What imagery is used in Y?" is not a good question question because it lends itseslf to listing imagery in the piece of literature rather than analysing its significance.
Once you've got your question, you should dive into the work(s) you have chosen, looking for textual evidence to answer your question. I recommend buying a copy of your chosen subject matter, and highlighting/annotating it to pieces. It can really be helpful.
You might find that, while you thought you knew the answer, you are actually gaining a deeper understanding through your analysis. You might also find that your question is too broad in scope- there are so many quotes you could never possibly answer your question in four thousand words!- or too narrow in scope- you couldn't write an Extended Essay on the handful of quotes you found if you tried! You can then go back and revise your research question based on the research you've done. Instead of the effect of structure in Night, you might decide to evaluate the effect of the opening passage on the work as a whole. (This is just an example, mind you. It might be hard to swing an analysis of the opening passage of Night... there just might not be enough to talk about. Anyway, I digress.)