IB EE vs IA. What are the Main Differences?

Introduction to IB Extended Essay and Internal Assessment

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is an academic program designed for students ages 16-19. The program provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and understanding in a variety of areas. As part of the programme, students are required to complete two major assignments: the IB Extended Essay and Internal Assessment.

The IB Extended Essay is an independent research project consisting of 4000 words in length. Students are required to choose a specific topic they are interested in and research the topic. This essay should be written in a rigorous academic format as it must demonstrate analysis and synthesis in order to draw conclusions. This essay is then scored out of a total of 36 points depending on the student’s work quality.

The purpose of Internal Assessment is very different compared to the Extended Essay. Internal Assessment is designed to test the student’s ability to apply the knowledge acquired in the classroom to practical situations. This assessment involves the student conducting an experiment or project, gathering data from the experiment, and then writing up a scientific report analyzing the results. After the conclusion of the experiment or project, the student will then be scored based on their report and performance.

The importance of these assessments is emphasized in the International Baccalaureate program. The 40 points earned from the Extended Essay and Internal Assessment make up 20% of the final grade. This score is essential for students who wish to attain the full diploma.

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Major Differences between the two

IB Extended Essay (EE) and Internal Assessments (IA) are both components of the International Baccalaureate Diploma. They each contribute to the overall grade in different ways, and have their own distinct requirements. To make it easier to understand the differences, here is a breakdown.

Purpose of Each Assignment

The EE is an in-depth study of a research question, the answer of which should be presented in 4,000 words. It allows students to explore a topic of interest in depth, develop independent research skills and demonstrate a capacity for critical thinking. On the other hand, the IA consists of tasks that are completed within the course and are internally graded. While these tasks are not as long as an EE, they still require relevant skills such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Effect on IB Diploma

The EE and IA both contribute to the full IB Diploma at different levels. The EE contributes up to three points towards the full Diploma, while IA only contributes up to one point. Therefore, the EE has a greater impact on the total score of the IB Diploma.

Time Allotment

The EE process requires more time than the IA. For the EE, there is usually over a year allotted, which includes time for research, writing, and revisions. The IA typically takes six to eight weeks to complete, since the scope is smaller and it focuses on the learning within the course.

Subject Selection

When selecting a topic for an EE, students have the freedom to explore a subject from any of the six categories available. For IA, the topics are already established by the IB based on the topics covered in the course.

Requirement for Supervision

Students are required to have a supervisor for the EE. This person is typically someone who has the necessary expertise and knowledge about the subject. On the other hand, the IA does not require a supervisor but does need to be completed under the guidance of the teacher.

Purpose of each Assignment

IB Extended Essay and Internal Assessment are two assignments that are part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. The purpose of each assignment is to provide the student with opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of their chosen subject. Both assignments help prepare the student for further studies, such as at University.

The IB Extended Essay is an independent research project that allows the student to investigate a specific topic in depth. It should demonstrate the student’s ability to analyze and synthesize information, as well as their ability to use evidence to support their claims. The IB Extended Essay should be 4,000 words in length and be written in the style and format established by the International Baccalaureate.

Internal assessment, on the other hand, is usually a laboratory exercise or field work, which includes experimentation, data collection, and data analysis. It is an important resource in the development of a variety of skills, including problem solving, critical thinking, and communication. Students write up their findings and submit them to their teacher. Students are required to submit a variety of materials such as raw data, observations, and charts.

Both assignments are important components of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, and each has its own purpose, which makes them both essential for successful completion of the program.

Effect on IB Diploma

The Extended Essay and Internal Assessment are both required components of the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma. Both assignments have a significant impact on the IB diploma and depending on how you perform in these two tasks, it will determine the number of points you have to qualify for the diploma.

The overall score of the diploma is determined by three parts: An extended essay (EE), Theory of Knowledge (ToK) and Internal Assessment (IA). Out of those three components, EE and IA are worth 24 points each.

Your total points earned for the diploma will be based on your performance in the EE and IA. A final score of 24 is needed for both to qualify for the IB diploma. If you score below 24 points in either one of them, then overall score will also be significantly reduced and you may not qualify for the diploma.

It is important to note that even if you get the required score of 24 points for the EE and IA, if you get 0 points from the ToK component, then you will still not qualify for the diploma. This makes all three components important for the IB diploma.

Time Allotment

The IB Extended Essay and Internal Assessment are two different assignments that come with different time allotments. The IB Extended Essay requires six to eight months of steady research and writing, while the Internal Assessment needs much less time.

With an Extended Essay, students need to begin the process early on. This allows them to do move slowly and take their time. They can take days or weeks to research and write the essay. Starting early is important to give yourself enough time to be thorough and organized in your work.

On the other hand, the Internal Assessment assignment is much shorter than the Extended Essay. It requires roughly three months of research and writing. Consequently, this assignment does not have to begin as early in the year as the Extended Essay. Even though there is less time, it’s still important to plan out the steps for the assignment and make sure to complete them on time.

As a result, these two assignments have vastly different time allotments based on the nature of the tasks given. The Extended Essay requires more time so that the student can carefully research and craft the essay. The Internal Assessment has a shorter timeframe, but enough time to produce a quality project.

Subject Selection

One of the most important distinctions between the IB Extended Essay and Internal Assessment is the subject selection process. When undertaking the IB Extended Essay, students are required to select a topic in one of their Diploma Program subjects or in a subject from the course curriculum. The topic should be a research question rather than a descriptive essay and it should be related to what the student has been learning in class.

The Internal Assessment, on the other hand, requires students to complete an investigative task based on their studies but the investigation may go beyond the content of the classroom. The topic of focus must be something in the areas of creativity, action, and service (CAS). Students will typically select a local issue or problem and explore it further through observation and analysis.

When selecting a topic for either assignment, it is important to make sure it is something you have a genuine interest in and that you can confidently talk about and research. This will ensure the topic is manageable and will make the writing process much easier.

Requirements for Supervision

Both the IB Extended Essay and Internal Assessment require supervision by a qualified teacher. A supervisor must be an IB Diplomate or a teacher with a postgraduate degree who is familiar with the IB curriculum.

Supervision of each assignment is essential. The supervisor will help the student to understand the requirements and expectations of the assessment, provide guidance and ensure the student is focusing on a valid topic that is within the scope of the assignment.

For the Extended Essay, the supervisor will give general advice and guidance throughout the project’s development as well as helping the student organize the content and papers, but they are not allowed to write anything for the student.

For Internal Assessment, the supervisor helps the student develop their research question, gather data, and analyze it. They also look over the lab report and make sure it is organized correctly.

Overall, the supervisor should provide clear information and support while ensuring the students maintain responsibility for their own work and progress.

Outline of the Process for Each Assignment

It is important to understand the differences between IB Extended Essay and Internal Assessment. As part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, understanding these components will help guide our student’s journey in their studies.

The purpose of the Extended Essay is to develop the skills of independent research and writing that are so essential for success at the university level. A student must choose a topic, ask a question, and clearly state a hypothesis. Through the research process, the student must critically evaluate what they learn and reach a conclusion. The final essay is a 4000 word document that must be written in a formal style.

On the other hand, Internal Assessments are designed to be more hands-on and require a student to develop specific practical knowledge related to a particular subject. They tend to be project-based, allowing the student to demonstrate their knowledge through the tasks they have completed and the conclusions they have drawn. Examples of Internal Assessments could include lab experiments, field work, creative projects, case studies, interviews, surveys and more.

In both cases, the student will need to plan and organize their project following the guidelines set by the IBO. This includes selecting a topic, creating an outline, researching the topic, writing a draft of the paper, editing and revising it, and preparing a final draft.

In addition to writing the essay or completing the Internal Assessment project, the student must also submit a portfolio for grading. This portfolio should include the student’s outline and notes, a bibliography of sources used, and the final project.

Finally, in order to receive full credit for the Extended Essay or Internal Assessment, the student must meet all the requirements set forth by the IBO for the research project.

Evaluation Criteria for Each Assignment

The International Baccalaureate’s (IB) Extended Essay and Internal Assessment each require a set of specific evaluation criteria to be followed when assessing a student’s performance. Although they are both part of the IB Diploma Program, they have different evaluation criteria.

For the Extended Essay, the evaluation criteria include: research question, introduction, investigation, knowledge and understanding of the topic, reasoned argument, use of literature and other sources, conclusions, organization and formal presentation. The Extended Essay should be an independent investigation of a well-focused research question which is supported by a variety of sources.

In comparison, the Internal Assessment evaluation criteria include: context, accuracy, depth and breadth of knowledge, critical thinking, application and analysis of evidence, use of relevant material, conclusions, organization and presentation. A student’s Internal Assessment should consist of two or three related pieces of work except in Mathematics and Computer Science.


For both the Extended Essay and Internal Assessment, the research should be systematic, organized, and relevant. Sources should be appropriate and varied, and research should include information from books, websites, interviews, and other sources.

Organization and Presentation

For either assignment, the student should present their work in an organized and logical manner. Presentation includes language, grammar, syntax, documentation, and formatting.


The conclusion should reflect the argument put forth in the essay/assessment and should summarize the overall findings.

Writing an assignment for either the IB Extended Essay or the Internal Assessment can be daunting. But if you know and follow some key advice on how to write these assignments, they become much easier to tackle. When writing any assignment, it is important to start your work early. Planning ahead and giving yourself enough time to create a thoughtful and detailed paper can make all the difference. This will allow you to give your paper the attention it deserves, and make sure that nothing was forgotten during your own brainstorming process. Before you even begin typing, it is important to have an organized timeline for when certain tasks must be completed. Not only should you set deadlines for yourself, but you should also create a checklist so that you know exactly what needs to be done. This could include things like research, outlining the paper, writing drafts, editing and revising. Having a clear idea in mind of what needs to be done by when will help you stay on track and make sure all the requirements for the assignment have been met. In addition to having a timeline for when tasks are to be completed, it is also beneficial to have a writing schedule. Setting aside a specific amount of time each day to devote to writing the assignment can help you stay on track and prevents procrastination. It is also beneficial to do research before going into the actual writing process. Knowing more about the topic you are writing on will allow you to create a more accurate and complete paper. Gather as many sources as possible, take detailed notes and make sure to properly cite any materials that you use. Finally, it is important to stick to your outline. Once you know what you want to say, it should be easy to stick to the plan. Creating an outline will help you build your paper in the most efficient way and make sure that you didn’t forget anything. Following these simple tips can make all the difference when it comes to writing your assignment for either the IB Extended Essay or the Internal Assessment. With proper planning and organization, you will be well on your way to creating an amazing paper.


The IB Extended Essay and the Internal Assessment are two separate assignments that students must complete to gain the full IB Diploma. While they have some similarities in terms of dedication and effort, they are also distinctively different in their subject selections, time allotment, and evaluation criteria.

The Extended Essay is an independent research paper that gives students the chance to explore a topic in-depth and in its entirety. This assignment carries a heavier weight towards the final grade and is more difficult than the Internal Assessment.

In contrast, the Internal Assessment consists of multiple tasks in which students must demonstrate their understanding of key concepts. It is more structured, has a lower point value, and does not require as much research as the Extended Essay.

Both assignments require thorough preparation, knowledge, and hard work to succeed. The advice given in this guide will help students to do their best on both assignments and make sure that they get the most out of the IB Program.

Nick Radlinsky

Nick Radlinsky

Nick Radlinsky is a devoted educator, marketing specialist, and management expert with more than 15 years of experience in the education sector. After obtaining his business degree in 2016, Nick embarked on a quest to achieve his PhD, driven by his commitment to enhancing education for students worldwide. His vast experience, starting in 2008, has established him as a reputable authority in the field.

Nick's article, featured in Routledge's "Entrepreneurship in Central and Eastern Europe: Development through Internationalization," highlights his sharp insights and unwavering dedication to advancing the educational landscape. Inspired by his personal motto, "Make education better," Nick's mission is to streamline students' lives and foster efficient learning. His inventive ideas and leadership have contributed to the transformation of numerous educational experiences, distinguishing him as a true innovator in his field.

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