This blog post is aimed at students half way through the diploma programme and who are in the process of beginning to write up their extended essay (EE).
Hopefully, you will have carried out some lab work and got some data that you can start writing about. That said, it is not essential to have carried out lab work and it is acceptable to write an EE in Chemistry purely on research only – although if you were my student I would really be recommending some lab work.
Now really is the time to start writing up that EE – many schools get the EE going just before the long holiday as it provides you with a perfect opportunity to make a good start on the EE. You fourth term of IB is a really busy one – there is often lots of internal school deadlines for things such as TOK, world literature, IA, etc, etc (as well as the EE), plus you will be starting to apply to universities so time can be short – use it wisely and start the write up process!
A good research question is paramount to getting a good grade in the EE. A solid research question will form the back bone of the essay. Keep referring to the research question at every opportunity. A sharp, concise and focussed research question will get a good mark not only in the research question section but in many of the others.

In my opinion, the person reading the EE will have an almost instant understanding of what the EE is about as soon as they have read the research question. Make the title of your essay the research question itself!
Here are some examples of good and bad research questions:

  • Bad: Investigating the time it takes vitamin C to breakdown in orange juice.
  • Good: How does the lifetime of ascorbic acid obtained from a variety of supermarket orange juices vary when exposed to dry air at RTP?

The ‘good’ question is sharp, focused, to the point (and is actually a question!) When you read it, you get a snap shot of exactly what the EE was all about.
The ‘bad’ question does not do this – and, perhaps obviously, it is not a question!

My other advice is to write the EE in the ‘first person’ – use sentences such as ‘I did this’ or ‘I found this out’, try to generate some enthusiasm as well – the examiner want to see some personal engagement and excitement from you. Sentences such as ‘I couldn’t believe my eyes when I interpreted the results’ or ‘I was amazed to find out’ give the examiner an idea of your personal excitement from carrying out this piece of work.
Try to stay away from IA (internal assessment) type reports as well – the EE is certainly different to the IA.
So, what are you reading this for? It is time to shut down that web browser and open up that word processer and get on with the process of getting as much of the EE written as you can while you still have time.
Good luck and, as ever, I’d love to hear from you or answer your questions so please feel free to respond below.