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EE Case Studies: What Makes a High-Scoring Extended Essay?

ee case studies

Hello, fellow IB enthusiasts! As a seasoned writer and mentor in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of the extended essay (EE). This article presents a collection of case studies from high-scoring extended essays across various disciplines. Each case study is carefully chosen to highlight specific strengths and practical strategies that have led to impressive outcomes.

From sciences to arts, each subject offers its own set of challenges and opportunities. I aim to provide you with real-life examples and insights that can guide and inspire your EE. Whether you’re just starting your work or looking for ways to enhance it, this article is tailored to help you understand what makes EE stand out in the eyes of IB examiners. So, let’s go to analyzing high scoring essays across different subjects!

Science Extended Essays: Clarity in Methodology

A transparent methodology is vital in IB extended essays, especially scientific ones. I’ve helped many students with their Biology and Physics EEs and can attest that a well-defined methodological approach can significantly impact your work.

Biology: Excellence in Experimental Design

In my opinion, a successful Biology EE hinges on the strength of your experimental design. It’s not just about the complexity or novelty of your experiment but how clearly and coherently you present it. I recall mentoring a student who chose to investigate the effects of environmental changes on local flora. The extended essay stood out not just because of the student’s passion for ecology but due to their meticulous approach to experimental design.

Their project was a model of clarity: each step, from hypothesis formulation to data collection and analysis, was laid out with precision. This clarity enabled them to communicate complex concepts and results effectively. According to general IB criteria, such coherence in presenting your methodology contributes to your essay’s credibility and academic rigor.

Physics: Precise Hypothesis and Setup

Transitioning to Physics, creating a precise hypothesis and a well-thought-out experimental setup is very important. I’ve mentored a student whose essay on the application of quantum physics in everyday technology was particularly impressive. The clarity in their hypothesis formulation made their work stand out – it was specific, testable, and relevant.

In this case, the student excelled in detailing their experimental setup. Every component and process was accurately described and provided a clear roadmap for their investigation. From my experience, this level of detail in the Physics extended essay aids in replicating experiments and shows a deep understanding of the subject matter.

Humanities Extended Essays: Depth of Analysis

The depth of analysis in the humanities often distinguishes an exceptional extended essay. As someone who has seen a multitude of History and Economics essays in my time as an IB mentor, I can attest to the value of a well-analyzed and thoroughly evaluated paper.

History: Depth in Analysis

In my experience, an extended essay in History that stands out goes far from merely recounting events. It’s about presenting a nuanced perspective that reflects a deep understanding of historical complexities. I recall guiding a student whose essay on the impact of the Cold War on Middle Eastern politics was particularly noteworthy. This essay excelled due to its:

  • Comprehensive analysis of historical events.
  • Critical evaluation of diverse sources.
  • Integration of different historical viewpoints.
  • Ability to connect historical events to broader global contexts.

I believe this student’s success lies in their ability to provide a multi-dimensional view of history, considering various factors that influenced the course of events.

Economics: Market Analysis and Interpretation

Moving on to Economics extended essay, a high-scoring work in this subject is often characterized by its depth of market analysis and the clarity of data interpretation. As I know from my years of experience, a well-executed Economics EE can provide insightful observations about economic phenomena. One such essay that I had the pleasure to advise on examining the impact of technological advancements on small businesses. The essay was outstanding for several reasons:

  • Detailed analysis of market trends.
  • Effective use of economic theories to frame the analysis.
  • Clear and logical interpretation of data.
  • Application of findings to real-world economic scenarios.

This student’s essay demonstrated applying theories to analyze real-world situations effectively. According to general IB criteria, such an approach reflects a student’s understanding of economic concepts and ability to use them meaningfully.

IB EE Case Studies

Arts Extended Essays: Creative Integration

I’ve had the opportunity to mentor students in writing extended essays in the arts, where creative integration and personal expression are paramount. Let me share insights from two Visual Arts and Music essays that exemplify these qualities.

Visual Arts: Blending Artistic Concepts with Personal Voice

In my opinion, a Visual Arts extended essay that genuinely resonates is one where students successfully integrate complex artistic concepts with their unique perspectives. A memorable essay I advised on was researching surrealism and its impact on modern digital art. What made this essay exceptional was the following:

  • The student’s deep engagement with both historical and contemporary artistic movements.
  • Their ability to relate these movements to their artistic path.
  • The integration of a broad range of artistic examples to support their thesis.
  • The eloquent expression of their connection to the art form.

This essay stood out because the student didn’t just describe or analyze artworks; they wove their narrative into the fabric of the essay, making it both academically rigorous and deeply personal.

Music: Originality in Analysis and Cultural Understanding

When it comes to extended essays in Music, originality in analysis and a profound understanding of cultural contexts often set the best essays apart. From my experience, an essay that excellently demonstrated this analyzed the influence of traditional Japanese music on Western film scores. Key aspects that distinguished this EE included:

  • A thorough analysis of musical elements in traditional and contemporary compositions.
  • Insightful connections between musical styles and cultural contexts.
  • The student’s ability to articulate how these influences shaped the emotional tone of film scores.
  • Incorporating examples from both Japanese and Western music to support their arguments.

In this case, the student’s essay was remarkable for its depth of research and original thinking. According to general IB criteria, such an approach demonstrates a student’s mastery of musical theory and ability to apply it in a cross-cultural context.

Language Extended Essays: Mastery and Expression

Drawing from my extensive experience in the IB program, I’ve found that extended essays in Language, whether in English Literature or a Second Language, demand a blend of analytical precision and expressive mastery. Let’s look at two essays that brilliantly exemplified these qualities.

English Literature: Literary Criticism and Thematic Research

Recalling an English Literature extended essay on George Orwell’s “1984,” what truly impressed me was the student’s comprehensive understanding of the text and ability to engage with its themes critically. The essay did an exceptional job of analyzing Orwell’s use of language, illustrating how it effectively shaped the narrative and conveyed themes of totalitarianism and the quest for individual freedom.

So, this student moved far from a fundamental plot analysis, offering a rich interpretation that connected the novel’s themes to broader historical and political contexts. This approach underscored the novel’s continued relevance and demonstrated the student’s ability to thoughtfully interpret and engage with complex literary works. This skill is highly valued in the IB program.

Second Language: Linguistic Proficiency and Cultural Insight

In the field of Second Language essays, one particularly memorable piece focused on the poetry of Charles Baudelaire. The student’s command of French was commendable, but their astute analysis of Baudelaire’s work set their essay apart. They offered an in-depth examination of the poet’s themes and stylistic techniques, effectively situating his work within the broader landscape of French literature.

More than just a linguistic exercise, this essay illuminated the enduring relevance of Baudelaire’s poetry, demonstrating the student’s deep understanding of his work’s cultural and historical significance. This blend of linguistic skill and cultural insight not only adhered to the rigorous standards of the IB but also provided a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of Baudelaire’s contribution to literature.

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Effective Research Techniques for Extended Essays Across Subjects

Throughout my time in the IB program, I’ve observed that the success of an extended essay largely hinges on how effectively the student conducts research. Based on this, I’d like to offer a list of tried-and-true research strategies that can benefit students across all subjects:

  • Pick a topic that meets IB criteria and sparks your interest. In my experience, a genuine interest in your topic can significantly enhance the depth and engagement of your research.
  • A specific, well-defined research question is the cornerstone of any successful extended essay. It guides your research efforts and ensures your work remains focused and relevant. I’ve consistently seen that a straightforward question can make the research process more efficient and effective.
  • Varied and multiple sources are critical to a well-rounded essay. I advise students to go far from textbooks and include sources like academic journals, books, interviews, and primary data. 
  • Assessing the credibility and relevance of your sources is crucial. The best essays, in my opinion, are those where students critically engage with their sources, evaluating their reliability.
  • Keeping detailed notes and categorizing findings will streamline your writing process. This level of organization aids in structuring your extended essay.

Incorporating these strategies into your research process can significantly enhance the quality of your extended essay. From my experience, students who apply these techniques produce more coherent, comprehensive, and academically rigorous works. And remember, our Extended Essay Writers team is always ready to help you. 😉

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