How Long Does It Take to Write an IB Extended Essay?

Table of Contents

An International Baccalaureate extended essay is an in-depth research paper written on a specific topic. It is a requirement for any student who wishes to achieve a full IB diploma and it is designed to give students the opportunity to showcase their skills, knowledge and understanding of a particular topic.

The IB extended essay serves many purposes and its importance cannot be overemphasized. Firstly, it allows students to demonstrate their analytical and critical thinking skills, which will be useful for university courses and beyond. Secondly, it helps to develop the student’s ability to conduct independent research, evaluate different sources and draw conclusions from their findings. Finally, it teaches students how to organize and present data in a concise and persuasive manner.

Writing an IB extended essay requires careful planning and dedication. It is important to choose a topic that interests you and makes sure you have access to quality sources of information. You should also make sure to budget your time and break the task down into manageable chunks, as this will help you stay focused and finish the extended essay within the allocated timeframe.

How Long Does It Take to Write an IB Extended Essay?

Planning and Scheduling for the Extended Essay

The IB Extended Essay is no small task. It requires a lot of dedication, research and understanding. The most successful essays are those that are well-planned and organized. As such, it is important to plan ahead: determine what type of essay you will write, select an interesting and compelling topic, and set a timeline to complete the essay.

Start by creating a timeline. Estimate how much time you need to research, write and revise your essay. Be sure to factor in extra time in case of any unexpected delays. Once you have the timeline in place, break your tasks into manageable chunks. For instance, schedule a certain amount of hours over a few days to conduct research and another couple of days to draft the essay. This will help you manage your workload, allowing you to stay on track with your writing.

In addition to planning and scheduling, it is also important to organise your resources. As you are conducting research for your essay, make sure to save reliable sources and keep track of important quotes and information. This will save time when writing, as you will have all the necessary resources readily available.

Remember, planning and organizing are essential when undertaking the Extended Essay. Taking the time to plan will ensure that you make the best use of your resources and ultimately allow you to submit a well-crafted essay.

Topic Selection

Choosing an interesting topic for your extended essay is extremely important. It will form the basis of your research and set the tone for your writing. You want to pick a topic which is both relevant to your field of study but also captures your imagination. A boring topic can make it difficult to stay motivated and remain focused when tackling the work!

Here are some strategies to help you identify an appropriate topic for your IB Extended Essay:

  • Consult with your tutor: Your teacher can help guide you to potential topics and advise you on whether the topic is suitable and achievable.
  • Do your own research: Read through academic journals, magazines, newspapers etc. and familiarise yourself with current debates and issues in your area. Compare the different ideas, theories and perspectives to help narrow down your topic.
  • Brainstorm questions: Think of questions related to the subject that intrigue you. Can you think of any interesting angles or arguments to explore?
  • Find inspiration: Take a look at other sample essays and see if there’s something that takes your fancy. What other topics have been previously written about?

When you have decided on a few possible ideas, create a project timeline that outlines the key steps and deadlines you need to meet in order to successfully complete your Extended Essay. This should help you to remain focused and motivated throughout the assignment.

Research & Referencing

To complete the extended essay, you will need to demonstrate a deep understanding of your topic. This means you will need to conduct research and use that information to support your opinions in the essay.

When researching for the essay, it is important to use reliable and current sources. Good resources of information can come from online articles, published journals and books, interviews, and documentaries. It is essential to be mindful of the websites you use, as some may not be reliable and undermined the credibility of your work.

Once you have gathered your sources, you must reference them appropriately within the essay. To do this, you should provide an in-text citation for every piece of evidence you incorporate into the essay. This will help to give credit to the original author, as well as demonstrate that you have done extensive research.

In-text citations are usually placed at the end of a sentence, before the punctuation. The exact format of the citations is normally determined by the referencing style chosen, such as Harvard or APA. As well as including in-text citations, you must also provide a full list of the works you have cited. This could be in the form of a bibliography or a reference page, depending on the referencing style you choose.

Researching and referencing correctly is a vital part of writing the extended essay. By utilising reliable sources, referencing correctly and citing all evidence used, you will be able to confidently demonstrate your knowledge of the topic, helping to increase the chances of achieving a higher grade.

When you are writing your extended essay, it is important to remember that effective structure is key. You need to ensure that your essay has a clear beginning, middle and end. Structuring your essay can help you to identify the different sections and develop your argument effectively. The introduction of your essay should concisely explain the purpose of your research and what answers you are looking for. From here, you can move on to the body of the essay, which is the main section. Here, you need to break down your research into smaller sections and present evidence and arguments in support of each point. When constructing your arguments, make sure that you remain focused and use evidence from reliable sources. The conclusion of your essay should summarize the main points and show how they fit together to form an overall argument. This is a great opportunity to tie in your research and show the reader why your topic is important. Writing and structuring your essay can take some time, but it will pay off in the end. By carefully considering your topics and using reliable evidence, you can create an argument and an essay that will give readers an understanding of the material and your thought process. This can help you stand out as a student who has taken the time and put in the effort to create a high-quality essay.

Drafting and Rewriting

Completing the IB Extended Essay task involves drafting and rewriting to develop your ideas into a full-length essay. This section provides advice on how to approach this part of the process.

Before starting to draft your essay, consider what kind of evidence will be needed to support your argument. You need to reference your sources accurately, so start gathering different forms of evidence from reliable sources. Do not forget to make notes as you go so you can refer back to them.

Start to draft your essay by outlining the key points of your argument and decide how you want to present them. Ensure your sections are well connected, and focus on making sure each of your points is clearly expressed. Once your draft is complete, check that all the evidence you have used supports your claims. Read through your work and decide if any particular sections need more development or restatement.

Rewriting allows you to modify and improve the content of your essay. Begin by refining the structure and language of your essay. Make sure you use accurate grammar and spelling throughout. Evaluate which sections need further augmentation or changes and focus on fine-tuning the tone and overall readability of your essay.

Set yourself deadlines to ensure you are able to submit your essay within the allocated time frame. When revising your essay, take into consideration how lengthy it should be and if there are any limitations imposed on the topic. Remember to limit the number of drafts you make during the rewriting stage – if it’s taking too long, try to move on or ask for further guidance.

By taking the time to draft and rewrite your essay before submission, you can be confident that you have presented your argument in an accurate and engaging way.

Proofreading & Editing Your Extended Essay

Proofreading and editing your extended essay is a crucial step before its submission. This process can help you to ensure that your essay is accurate and of high quality. With proofreading and editing, you can make sure that your essay is free of errors, clear, consistent and well-structured.

When proofreading and editing your extended essay, it is important to pay attention to the following elements:

  • Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling: Ensure that your essay does not contain any grammar, punctuation or spelling mistakes. These mistakes may be distracting for readers and hence, should be avoided.
  • Structure and Formatting: Check that your essay is logically organized, with a clear introduction, body and conclusion. Also, ensure that the format of the essay is consistent and that in-text citations and end-notes are correctly used.
  • Language: Make sure that the language used in your essay is appropriate and of good quality. Avoid using informal language, slang and colloquialisms.
  • Content: Read your essay carefully to make sure that the content is accurate and that all relevant points are addressed. Check that your argument is clear, organized and logical.
  • Clarity: Lastly, after you have edited for accuracy, read your essay aloud and check for clarity. Make sure that your essay communicates its message in a clear and concise manner.

By undertaking these steps, you can improve the accuracy and readability of your extended essay, paving the way for successful submission.

Time Management: How Long Should it Take?

Writing the International Baccalaureate (IB) Extended Essay is a challenge for any student, but with effective time management strategies, the task can be completed successfully. It’s important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all answer as to how long it should take to write an IB Extended Essay because the amount of time needed will vary depending on your topic and the amount of research required. However, there are some things you can do to help manage your time effectively.

Break Up The Task Into Manageable Chunks

By breaking the task into smaller steps, you are more likely to complete it in the allotted time. Start by researching the topic and forming your argument. Develop an outline of the essay structure and assign yourself appropriate deadlines to complete each section. Make sure to give yourself enough time to properly revise and proofread your work.

Set Goals & Hold Yourself Accountable

Setting goals and tracking your progress is essential for success. Identify what needs to be done each day, then break it down into smaller, achievable tasks. Plan ahead and create accountability checkpoints to ensure you don’t fall behind schedule. If necessary, ask family and/or friends to regularly check in on your progress.

Take Breaks & Reward Yourself

Working towards a large goal such as the IB Extended Essay can be daunting. Don’t forget to take periodic breaks throughout the process and reward yourself for milestones achieved. Whether you choose to treat yourself to a snack, watch an episode of a favorite show, or take a walk around the block, taking a break can help reset your focus and make it easier to get back to work when you return.

Review & Submission

Once you have written and revised the essay, it’s time to review it and get it ready for submission. Reviewing your essay is an important step as it allows you to ensure that your ideas are effectively expressed and that your work is free from any errors. To do this you should read through the essay multiple times, checking for any content that needs to be added, removed or revised.

Start by reading the essay aloud, as this will help you catch any mistakes that your eyes may have missed on the page. You can then use a spellchecker such as Grammarly or Microsoft Word to check for any typos, structural errors or punctuation mistakes. It is also a good idea to get another person to read through the essay if possible, as they may pick up on things that you didn’t notice. Ensure that all of your points are stated clearly and that there is evidence to back them up.

Once you have reviewed and revised the essay, it’s time to submit it. Before doing this, make sure that you have followed the formatting requirements, including any specified font/text size, line spacing and margins. Additionally, ensure that you have correctly referenced any sources used. Finally, once you have checked everything is in order, submit your essay via the relevant online submission system.

By following these steps, you can be sure that you are submitting a finished, high-quality Extended Essay that meets all of the requirements. Good luck!

Conclusion: Key Points for Completing an IB Extended Essay

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Extended Essay is an opportunity to demonstrate research, analysis and writing skills in the student’s subject of choice. Writing the Extended Essay can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. This guide has provided a comprehensive overview for students to create and submit their Extended Essay with not only the best quality, but in good time.

The key steps to follow include:

  • Introduce: outline what the extended essay is and why it is important.
  • Plan: devise a schedule and plan to complete the task.
  • Topic: select an interesting, suitable and relevant essay topic.
  • Research & Reference: look for reliable sources of information and correctly reference.
  • Structure: break down the essay into manageable parts and develop a strong argument.
  • Draft: write a rough draft and make revisions accordingly.
  • Proofread & Edit: revise the written work for accuracy and readability.
  • Time Management: set aside a realistic timeline to complete each step.
  • Review & Submit: review the finished essay and submit it according to the guidelines.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, students will have the knowledge to write an engaging, effective and efficient International Baccalaureate Extended Essay.


The appendix of your IB Extended Essay guide should include two components: sample essay outlines and examples of different referencing styles. Including these items in your guide can help to ensure that your readers are fully prepared to complete their Extended Essay with confidence.

Sample essay outlines should provide guidance on how to structure the essay and help readers to plan their arguments and flow of information. Each essay outline should consist of a title, introduction, main body, conclusion, and list of references. The introduction should explain the essay topic and the main argument, followed by the main body which should have distinct sections that introduce different aspects or opinions about the topic. The essay should end with a concise conclusion and a comprehensive list of references.

Examples of different referencing styles should include MLA, APA, Chicago and Harvard formats. These can be used as a visual aid to help readers understand the different referencing styles clearly. It is important to note that each style has its own set of rules which must be followed in order for the essay to be correctly referenced.

Having sample essay outlines and examples of different referencing styles will help to make the process of completing an IB Extended Essay much easier. Including these two components in your guide is an essential part of providing your readers with all the necessary information they need to complete their Extended Essay successfully.

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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