1.3 Setting up for success

1.3.2 The extended essay journey

To write an extended essay, you will need self-discipline, time-management skills and a good plan. The essay should take about 40 hours to complete over the 3, 6 or 9-month period which your school allows for you to write it. But you may wonder: How much time should be spent on each step of the journey? What are the steps? Here is a simple planner to help you map your way. It is not a prescribed or set method and some elements may come earlier or later in the process, but it provides you with some guidance. 



Know what's expected. Read the EE Guide. Find out more about the requirements. Read sample essays. Ask experienced students. Start your Researcher's Reflection Space (RRS). 


Brainstorm possible research questions. Which topics interest you? Can you investigate them within one of your DP subjects? What is already known in these fields? What do you already know? Who could supervise you?

Formulate a working research question. Discuss research question and possible methods of investigation with supervisor. Conduct initial reflection session and complete first part of the RPPF.


Reevaluate your research question. What have you found out? Keep up your RRS. Do you need to change your research question or methods? Discuss with your supervisor. 

Finalise research question. Check against the guide. Finalise research methods. Outline rough structure of essay. Interim RPPF session.


Gather more relevant data, filter for pertinent information and organise notes. Maintain RRS.   

Write a complete draft, using data, notes and outline. Be sure to cite as you write.


Review your draft with supervisor. Reflect, reorganise and rewrite as discussed. 

Proof-read your essay. Upload final copy. 


Viva Voce:  Fill in the final part of the RPPF.

Deadlines and time management

The EE planner above does not include deadlines. These are for you, your supervisor and your school to decide. You may be assigned deadlines for each step of the process. You may be asked to sign a contract or agreement. You are responsible for meeting these deadlines. If you have problems meeting a deadline, be sure to discuss your reasons as soon as you can; you might be able to negotiate an extension, or your supervisor might be able to help in other ways.

Please note that, depending on the rules of your school, failure to meet a deadline may have severe consequences. Some deadlines just cannot be negotiated. In particular, your school has deadlines with the IB.  

Here are a few tips on dealing with deadlines:

  • expect the unexpected: experiments may not go as planned, people may be slow to return surveys, your computer may explode, your supervisor may lose your rough draft,
  • set yourself earlier deadlines than those of your school or supervisor to allow time to deal with the unexpected,  
  • consider EE deadlines in light of other school deadlines and your own family and social plans
  • create habits that help you stick to your plan, for instance revisiting your research question on the way to school or setting an alarm to remind yourself to do certain things. 
1.3.2a - Navigating the EE
This poster can help you visualise the steps to success.


  • Many cases of plagiarism come about because of poor planning. It is tempting to cut corners when you are under time pressure. Don’t put yourself in a position where you have to make poor choices. Stay ahead of the plan.
  • Your supervisor may ask you to sign a contract that clearly outlines your responsibilities and deadlines. A sample contract has been included here, which you may want to edit with your supervisor.