The Seven Samurai of an IB Extended Essay


The International Baccalaureate likes structure.  Starting and constructing a good Extended Essay can seem like a monumental task. So that’s why we have put together the Seven Samurai of Extended Essay writing as a guide to giving your EE structure and flow.

1. The Title Page

There is a right way, and many wrong ways.

  • Remember your extended essay title is really a question.
  • Put the whole title in the centre of your page about a third of the way down.
  • When quoting, place only the exact words of the quotation in quotation marks.
  • Try to have an approximately equal number of words in each line.

See this Wrong way right way.

2. The Abstract

This is not an introductory paragraph. An abstract is a short paragraph that summarises your extended essay. The abstract goes at the beginning of the paper, after the title page, and should be about two hundred to five hundred words at the very most. The abstract will let the reader know:

  • what the paper is about
  • what field you are studying
  • what your research question was
  • what your paper found or concluded

Finish writing your paper first, then review it, and then write the abstract. One sentence should describe the state of knowledge in the field, one sentence to describe your hypothesis, and one to three sentences will describe the research method and conclusion.

Write your abstract in three paragraphs, each of them of around 100 words.

  1. Contains the research question and the thesis, and state why your essay is important (not just to get you into uni).
  2. Contains the key the scope of the investigation, resources, the limits of your research and the scope of the investigation.
  3. This paragraph summarises your conclusion.

3. The Table of Contents

The table of contents should contain both main headings and sub-headings.

The main headings are

  • the research question
  • the thesis
  • the introduction (and page number)
  • the arguments (and the page numbers), (AKA the body)
  • the conclusion (and the page number)
  • the bibliography page (and the page number)
  • an appendix (and the page number)

Watch these to find out how to create table of contents automatically:  MS Word   Pages

4.  The Introduction

Your introduction sets the scene.

There is an old adage when presenting; tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. The introduction is the first part of this.

Tell the reader what the background to your essay is and cite any previous research here. Make sure that you use recognised citation techniques. In biology we tend to use the Name\Year format. For example, when citing a book:

  • In the Bibliography:    McCormac JS, Kennedy G. 2004. Birds of Ohio. Auburn (WA): Lone Pine. 360 p.
  • In the Text:                    (McCormac and Kennedy 2004)

5. The Body

Now tell them.

Your extended essay body contains an argument. As Michael Palin says in the Monty Python sketch, The Argument,

“An argument is a connected series of statements to establish a definite proposition.”

It is worth testing your essay against this definition.

In the science essay, original research data is needed to support an argument.  It is important to present your data in a readable format. Do not have endless measurements, statistics, etc.  Instead, use a single graph or table to present your argument.

Taken from Monty Python’s The Flying Circus – Argument Clinic

6. The Conclusion

Now tell them what you told them.

Did you answer your research question? It doesn’t matter if you didn’t, as your conclusion would then say that the evidence does not support the thesis. Pull out the key points in your essay body and restate them here.  If, as with many scientific papers, it provokes further lines of research, then state these here.

7. The Bibliography Page

Cite all of your sources in the aforementioned format.

Find out more about our Biology Extended Essay courses with adventure sports taking place this summer.