Today it is Easter Sunday – so Happy Easter to you all! Most people associate Easter with Easter eggs but for me it is something 3that start with the same letters but is very different! It’s EE season.

If you are a new IB teacher, the EE is the extended essay. A 4000 word individual research project that all students undertake. They need to complete the EE to be awarded the diploma. They only need to carry out one EE (so you may not get anybody wanting to carry one out in Chemistry L but if you do it is worth being prepared!)

Here are some tips for ensuring your EE experience is a positive one:

1, Start talking to your students early – now. Hopefully before now!

2, Be picky – you don’t want all of your 10 HL students wanting to do a Chemistry EE – it may seem to give you some kudos in the staff room but the more experienced (cynical?!) IB teachers will be raising their eyebrows at you – why? Ten is too many for one teacher – you won’t be able to give each student the attention they deserve and they will all suffer. My personal recommendation would be a max of three, maybe four at a push.

3, Make sure the right students do an EE in Chemistry. I have to be careful here. In theory, you can’t turn anyone away but there is nothing wrong with suggesting to a student that it may be worth doing an EE in another subject. For example, you have a student wanting to study medicine – this type of student should be doing a Chemistry EE. You have another wanting to study Politics at university and they are following SL Chemistry and HL History. An EE in History may be more of a sensible option!

4, Make your students (and other colleagues) aware of the IB’s statistical bulletin – this is a free official IB publication released every year ( In this document you can clearly find a table of statistical data on EE’s form the last examination session.

Looking at the bulletin for the 2014 session this tells us is that around the same numbers do an EE in a group 1 subject as in a group 4 subject (12870 for group 1 v 10601 for group 4) however 2737 students writing the group 1 EE got an ‘A’ grade (21%) while in group 4 it was 1015 (9.6%)…..

Once you have your students, how are you going to manage the process? Students don’t have to do lab work …. But Chemistry is a lab based subject. Read between the lines here!

There seems to be a growing trend in IB schools to have some sort of EE week or mini week after the students finish their end of year examinations and before they leave for the long vacation. This will be a perfect opportunity for your EE student(s) to carry out their lab work.

But! A word of warning – don’t plan on meeting the student to plan the lab work when this week starts. Ideally, the student wants to be starting the lab work straight away – which will need planning on their part (and yours). A research question needs to be in the draft stages and the equipment and reagents need to be ordered and prepared. This should stop any unnecessary delays as gathering data for the practical section of the EE needs to take a priority.

If your school doesn’t carry out this sort of EE week (apart from trying to talk them into it) you will also need to plan when to do the lab work. There are many ways of doing this but in my experience it is worth either giving up a weekend or spending a couple of days at the start of your long vacation doing the lab work. This may not sound very appealing but it gives the student a decent amount of time to carry out their research, rather than the stop – start approach that happens when they try to do the lab work after school or in study periods.

This also gives them the long vacation to write it up!

I hope this gives you some ideas – it’s all about the timing. So wherever you are in the world, whenever it is Easter remember it is EE day!