International Baccalaureate Assistance

IB extended essay tips: what depends on your supervisor?

Students who are in IB programs need to write an extended essay. The essay is student directed with the assistance of the supervisor, who is frequently a teacher in the high school. The essay is quite an undertaking, as students are tasked with crafting a 4,000-word essay based on research. The essay should prepare IB high school students for what they will be writing in college.

What the Essay Is

In many high schools, students write essays that are under 1,000 words. Students who write IB extended essays get to choose a topic that they really want to explore. This is usually a new experience for many students who have had to write about assigned topics for several years.

What the Supervisor Does

Once they choose the topic, students get help from their supervisors. The supervisor listens to the student's idea and then helps the student develop the steps to writing the essay. The supervisor helps the student create a question that can help the student guide her researching. This question is what the student will use to explore the topic and develop an arguable thesis. Since students are not always able to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate, the supervisor will help the student stay on track and ask the right questions.

Relying on the Supervisor's Experience

For many students the quality of the essay depends on the supervisor's involvement. Many students fail to question the validity of the sources they are using. The supervisor might not suggest questioning the sources. If you do question the sources, you could show your thoughts through an annotated bibliography.

What the Students Show Know

Since the supervisor gets paid for the work regardless of the student's success, it is important for the students to become experts on the entire IB essay grading. The supervisor will not be grading the essay, IB grading experts will evaluate your essay and assign a grade to it. Therefore, you should not just be aware of the grading criteria, but you should know the criteria so you can make wise choices. As you learn about the grading criteria, you should know whether evaluators are impressed by voice, research, ideas, or creativity. You should also know what they assign points to so you write what they will score. You should also be sure that you clearly understand the criteria so you do not make any mistakes. With wise choices, you can earn a high score on your essay.

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