Writing support

General Structure:

Title page

State your title, the research question, the subject (and category, if Studies in Language and Literature or Language Acquisition) and the word count.

Contents page

A list of the contents of your essay e.g. headings and sub-headings and the page numbers


You should clearly state the research question in the introduction – write the question in bold to make this clear to the examiner.

Explain to the reader what to expect in the essay – what is the focus, what is your thesis statement. Explain why the essay is worthy of investigation e.g. is it topical (in the news), of importance to a particular group of people, controversial, unexplored by others etc. Go beyond saying that you simply find the topic interesting. Explain how you went about the investigation, which sources you used – try to use a variety of primary and secondary sources and try not to rely exclusively on Internet sources. Consider interviews, questionnaires, visiting a museum/art gallery. Aim to use some academic journals and formal sources. Avoid Wikis (Wikipedia) and blogs for anything other than a starting point – they should not need to appear in your works cited page. Be critical of your sources - what are their strengths/weaknesses, why did you choose them?

Main body

Your writing should demonstrate a very good knowledge and understanding of the topic within the context of the subject area. You should be creating a reasoned argument supported by evidence/your research. You should use carefully-selected subject-specific terms clearly communicate your ideas in the essay Analyse and evaluate the quality of your data/research material. This is the opportunity for you to use the critical skills you have developed in the subject and during the Theory of Knowledge course. Your ideas must be well structured - sub-headings for each section may help you with this. Some students use the following structure for each section:

P – Point. Start each section with a key point/topic sentence which is related to the research question.

E – Evidence. Refer to the primary and secondary information you have collected to support your key point.

E – Explain. Explain your main ideas, examine and evaluate your ideas.

L – Link. Link your main ideas back to the key point/topic sentence and to the research question.

Using a structure like this will help ensure that what you are writing is relevant and well supported by the findings of your research.


You need to arrive at a clear conclusion based on the evidence in your essay. Your conclusion should answer the research question and make reference to any limitations of your essay, or unanswered questions. Remember to synthesise your main ideas by drawing them all together, and do not simply repeat what you have already written. Avoid introducing any new ideas at this point.

Works Cited page

A list of ONLY the sources you cited in the essay. It is recommended that you use MLA and an online generator such as Easybib.

Appendices (if used)

The examiner will not read the appendices so if it relevant place the material in the main body. However, if you have an appendix, you should refer to the material in the essay. Examples of things to include in the appendices: exemplar questionnaires, interview questions, transcripts of speeches/interviews, raw data. You may choose to include excerpts from your RRS, interview transcripts, scientific data etc.

Formal Requirements

You Extended Essay will be uploaded and marked digitally. For this reason, your completed essay should be less than 50MB and saved as either a DOC, DOCX, PDF or TRF file. It is advised that all diagrams, maps and table are digitally produced to reduce the size of the final file.

Have a clear structure for your extended essay through the use of headings and sub-headings. Your essay should have the following structure and headings:

  • A title page which includes the title, the research question, the word count and the subject in which the essay is registered (language essays should include the category. World Studies essays should include the theme and the two subjects) DO NOT include the school name, your name or your candidate number on the title page, or any other part of the essay
  • Contents page (with page numbers)
  • Introduction
  • The main body (with sub-headings e.g. investigation)
  • Conclusion
  • Works Cited page (only include references that you actually cited in the essay!)
  • (Appendices) if used, but remember that the examiner will not read the appendices

The essay itself should be written using the following format:

  • Arial font only
  • Font size 12
  • Double spaced
  • Numbered pages

The maximum word limit is 4000 words. Do not exceed the word limit! The examiner will stop reading at 4000 words and you will be penalised in Criterion C and D. The word limit includes the introduction, the main body, the conclusion and any quotations. The following are not included in the word count:

  • The contents page
  • Maps, charts, diagrams, illustrations and tables
  • Annotations of less than 10 words
  • Equations, formulas and calculations
  • Citations/references
  • Works Cited page
  • Appendices

It is expected that you will write close to the word limit (3600-4000 words). Writing any less than this would indicate a lack of depth in analysis and would be self-penalising.

Transitional device to help the flow of your essay.

Transitional devices.docx
transition words.pdf

Ideas on how to represent various viewpoints whilst maintaining a line of argument.


Checklist for the draft and final essay

Checklist for the draft and final essay.pdf