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Seven Tips and Techniques to Ace the International Baccalaureate (IB) Extended Essay


Contributed by three economics teachers

If you are an International Baccalaureate (IB) student preparing to craft your Extended Essay (EE), this post is just for you. 

In this JC Economics Essays article, this essay will share the tips, techniques, and tricks to get you get an A grade.  

Just to recap, the IB Extended Essay (often referred to as the EE) is a 4,000 word structured mini-thesis you write under the supervision of an advisor, an IB teacher at your school, which counts towards your IB Diploma.

For the Extended Essay, you choose a research question and this topic needs to be approved. You can do a standard economics research paper, conduct an economic experiment, or solve a economic problem. Usually, the IB Extended Essay includes a cover page, a one-page synopsis of your Extended Essay, a contents page, the 4,000-word essay itself, and a bibliography.

Here are seven effective tips and techniques that you will need to write a Grade A Extended Essay!

First, Write About Something You Find Interesting

The Extended Essay requirement of the Diploma Programme is actually one of the enjoyable and challenging parts of the course. Students write a mini-thesis on an original topic, based on a subject of their choice. 

What have you found interesting in your economics studies, and what makes you curious to find out more? 

What makes you think, and what makes you puzzled and intellectually curious? 

Ask yourself these questions.

Second, Choose a Specific Topic Involving Your Home Country

Singapore economics students often successfully pick Extended Essay topics related to Singapore, or a country they call home. 

Taking Singapore for example, Singapore has plenty of original topics relating to government intervention in the free market and the larger macroeconomy.

Some of the possible research questions from economics students include:

To what extent has the recent economic recession affected demerit good consumption in Singapore?

Is the cinema industry in Singapore recession-proof?

To what extent has price changes in COE affected the demand for private transport in Singapore?

How affordable are the Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats compared to private condominiums in Singapore?

How effective are Singapore’s road congestion policies such as the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) policies in reducing traffic congestion?

Some of these economics research questions for the Extended Essay are good – focused on Singapore, specific and narrow; but some of the other research questions are too broad. 

A good research question is essential to a good Extended Essay. You need to write something specific. Because any economics research question must be answered within the 4,000 word limit, the research question needs to be limited in scope and reach.

The content has to be manageable, too. Limiting the number of economic concepts covered is important. A good economics essay will explain one concept in sufficient depth and link to other related economic concepts. For example, an explanation of market failure could link to elasticity concepts but should not examine effects on economic growth.

Third, Choose an Advisor Familiar With Your Extended Essay Topic

Choose an economics teacher as an advisor, or one who is familiar with the topic – enough said. 

And do note that some IB schools require your IB Extended Essay advisor to sign an Agreement Form, so do ask your IB coordinator for any required paperwork.

Fourth, Be Like a Pokemon Trainer - Choose an Advisor Who Will Challenge You to be the Very Best, Like No One Ever Was

This is related to the earlier tip.

Some economics teachers take on students because they have to as part of their job and duties, and may not be passionate about reading drafts and giving feedback.

Choose an economics teacher who will take the time to read several Extended Essay drafts and give you extensive critique and feedback. Ask an economics teacher you have experience with, either through class or through CCA. 

Do not ask an economics teacher that you are not connected to, or a teacher from another academic field, because the teacher who does not know you or is unfamiliar with economics is unlikely to push you for your Extended Essay.

Fifth, Have a Clear Essay Structure

All teachers love structure, economics teachers particularly so.

Your Extended Essay needs a clear introduction, economics research question with a strong focus on what you will be investigating, a body of economics research, and a clear conclusion. An Extended Essay with poor structure will be graded poorly.

Also, the abstract for your Extended Essay must be clear and summarise the whole economic argument. An ambiguous abstract will make it challenging for the economics teacher to follow your economics essay’s argument and will impact your Extended Essay grade.

The body of your Extended Essay should include relevant economic diagrams properly labelled and explained, along with real world and relevant examples and economic analyses to support your case.

Sixth, Be Proactive

You should read many economics articles and books, journal articles, and watching economics documentaries. Start the research process as soon as possible so that you can start writing your Extended Essay as early as possible.

Each school has a slightly different deadline for the Extended Essay so do take timelines and deadlines into consideration. Do not be late. Some schools will give you a timeline of when you need to come up with a topic, when you need to meet your advisor, and when drafts are due. Not all schools do so do ask your advisor and economics teachers to ensure that you are on time and on track.

Because a good Extended Essay includes a range of economic data and evidence, from secondary or primary sources, research and preparation time is needed. Too often economics students rely on surfing the web for their secondary research. Do not do that. Collecting economic data or examining a wide range of economic sources will be important in getting a good grade. Economics students can sometimes compensate in an economics essay with lots of secondary data by showing examples of in-depth economic analysis linking with separate pieces of secondary data to tell an narrative. A survey of cinema attendance during an economic recession, checked against secondary economic or financial data on cinema revenues and consumer incomes will provide appropriate economic analysis.

Seventh, Remember to Ps - Pace Properly, Prepare Properly, and Stay Positive

You have done your best for your Extended Essay and that is all that really matters.

If you pace your preparation and research work properly, prepare and draft solid and rigorous economic analysis, diagrams and economic analysis well, and stay positive and motivated throughout the entire process, you have done well. 

And you will do well for your Extended Essay... ceteris paribus.  

All the best, and thank you for reading! Cheers.



JC Economics Essays. This article was kindly contributed by a team of teachers. As IB tutors, D and A have guided many economics students to success. SS, a former economics teacher, compiled and consolidated the research and writing. Thank you for reading and cheers. 

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