On Tuesday, March 15, Grade 12 DP students celebrated the completion of their Extended Essays (EE). The EE is a core requirement of the IB Diploma Programme. Each DP student undertakes independent academic research on a topic of their choice under the supervision of a member of the FIS staff. The process takes around nine months, starting midway through Grade 11 and finishing with a Viva Voce in the first semester of Grade 12. This 4000-word essay is marked externally by IB examiners and, in combination with Theory of Knowledge, can earn the students 3 extra IB points. For many of our students, the EE is a great way of demonstrating to potential universities their interest in particular subjects and their research skills.
We asked some of our Grade 12 students how the EE has impacted their learning and development.
“The extended essay (To what extent were the Lord’s Resistance Army responsible for weakening the Ugandan government’s legitimacy, in comparison to governmental actions such as Operation Iron Fist?) was the best part of the IB Diploma for me,” says Isabella Hehl Dalla Zuanna. “ I was allowed to leave behind all restrictions and choose any topic I found fascinating. I saw this as an opportunity to do something related to my professional and academic interests. Since I cannot study the topics I am interested in at school, this was my chance to explore my interests and write an essay about a topic I not only truly care about, but want to incorporate into my professional future. I spent well over 100 hours on this project, so I definitely recommend students choose a topic they are passionate about. I’m sure my EE impressed the universities I applied to, as I took a unique perspective on an already interesting and uncommon topic, and it showed how dedicated I am to the subject I want to study in university. Because I chose such a captivating topic, I loved every hour of research, and appreciated the opportunity this provided me with to interview some fascinating people, which also enabled me to see what job opportunities there are in the sector of my professional interests.”
Pilar Thorn, another Grade 12 student, adds, “The EE (Inwieweit hat sich die Verwendung der deutschen Flagge als Symbol für nationalbezogenen Stolz geändert?) will help me in the future when it comes to assignments that require a longer period of time, especially once I get to university. If I were to start the process again I would definitely make sure to outline my essay ahead of time, and to keep the end goal in sight.”
We also reached out to our alumni to share their reflections on the curricular component. Ojas Mandlekar from the Class of 2019 says that choosing the EE is a time-consuming process. “My EE topic (How is the damping of a mass-spring harmonic oscillator connected to the mass of the oscillating object, and the spring constant of the spring?) was not something I just came up with. It took a few weeks of back and forth with my supervisor, and a few trials to be able to settle down on a topic – it had to be something feasible, interesting, and most of all, fun! The EE is a learning experience – your first (of likely many at university) larger academic paper, and it shows. It helped me undergo a paradigm shift in terms of how I view physics and approximations, for example, and this has stuck with me since. I have learned the skill of writing academically, and I found that I was able to be much more comfortable with reporting and writing at university than many of my peers who had not done the EE. This is a huge project that teaches a student a lot, but also takes up a lot of time. My advice to students is to look for something fun that you like. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – this is the time to learn from them.”
Felix Dimaczek, Class of 2018 alumnus, describes the EE (How has globalization been beneficial to FC Bayern Munich and how does it assure sustainable development?) as one of the best experiences throughout the IB. “It gave me the chance to dig deeper into a topic that interested me,” he explains. “In my case, the EE even opened the door to an internship and definitely gave me a headstart on all written assignments that I faced at the university.”
We would like to congratulate our G12 students for their EE efforts. Even though the past few months have been challenging, the students have shown great resilience and determination. We are very proud of them and look forward to the next milestones on their path to graduation.