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How to Write a Psychology Extended Essay? Insights From an IB Writer

Writing a Psychology extended essay that adheres to the rubric and engages readers is achievable with careful planning.

Writing an exceptional Psychology extended essay that adheres to general IB criteria is challenging and rewarding. Over the years, I’ve gathered valuable insights into this process, and I’m excited to share my tips and strategies with IB students.

In this article, I’ll provide a roadmap for success, covering essential aspects such as selecting your topic, conducting research, and structuring your essay.

Understanding the Psychology Extended Essay

A Psychology extended essay is a significant research project that IB (International Baccalaureate) students undertake as part of their IB Diploma program. It’s an in-depth investigation into a specific psychological topic or question, allowing students to apply their knowledge and research skills more independently and extensively.

The assessment criteria for the Psychology extended essay are divided into five categories:

  • Focus and method (6 points).
  • Knowledge and understanding (6 points).
  • Critical thinking (12 points).
  • Presentation (4 points).
  • Engagement (6 points).

In the IB program, you can earn a maximum of 34 points when you write your Psychology extended essay. Combined with the ones you get from your TOK and CAS activities, they make up your total IB Diploma score.

Now, let’s talk about the word count for your Psychology extended essay. Your work should be around 3,000 to 4,000 words long. It includes all the writing in the central part of your essay, but it doesn’t count things like the abstract, table of contents, footnotes, bibliography, or any appendices you might have.

Choosing the Right Psychology Extended Essay Topic

Choosing the perfect Psychology extended essay topic is crucial to shaping your research process. I will give you some valuable tips that will make it easier for you to pick an excellent topic for further investigation.

Psychology Extended Essay Research Questions

According to the general IB criteria, the primary focus of your work should be on Psychology extended essay research questions. They should not be buried within your text but prominently featured in your introduction. It not only aligns with academic standards but also piques the reader’s interest from the very beginning.

For instance, consider the research question: “What are the key psychological factors influencing adolescent decision-making?” This thought-provoking issue is not only relevant but also captivating. It invites readers into the intriguing world of Psychology.

How to Find Ideal Psychology Extended Essay Topics IB

Here are some valuable tips to help you refine your focus and choose a topic that genuinely resonates with your academic interests and the Psychology extended essay rubric:

  • Start by contemplating your interests within this field. What topics or areas have captivated your curiosity during your coursework?
  • Your IB Psychology teacher is an invaluable resource. Seek their guidance and expertise when brainstorming potential topics.
  • Ensure that your chosen topic aligns with the assessment criteria, especially the emphasis on research questions. It will help you stay on track and meet IB standards.
  • Think about the feasibility of your chosen topic. Do you have access to the necessary resources, data, or participants to conduct research?
  • Start with a broader topic area and gradually narrow it down to a specific research question.
  • Before finalizing your topic, consider conducting some initial research. It will help you gauge the availability of information and whether the topic is a viable option.

If you want more ideas for Psychology extended essay topics, follow the link to find more information on our blog.

Psychology Extended Essay Research Sources

When conducting research for your Psychology extended essay, gathering information from various credible sources to support your arguments and provide a well-rounded understanding of your chosen topic is essential.

Academic Journals

Academic journals are rich sources of peer-reviewed research articles. Options like the “Journal of Abnormal Psychology,” “Psychological Review,” and “Psychological Bulletin” often contain in-depth studies and findings on various psychological topics.


Textbooks and scholarly books written by renowned psychologists provide comprehensive background information and theories about your topic. Look for books by authors such as Sigmund Freud, B.F. Based on your specific area of interest, Skinner, Jean Piaget, or Erik Erikson.


Use online databases like PubMed, PsycINFO, and Google Scholar to search for academic articles, research papers, and dissertations related to your research question. These databases offer a vast collection of scholarly resources.

University/School Libraries

I highly recommend using your university’s or local library’s psychology section. Libraries often provide access to various print and electronic resources, including books, journals, and databases.

Government Publications

Government agencies publish reports and studies on various psychological topics, such as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) or the World Health Organization (WHO). In my experience, these reports often contain valuable statistics and research findings.

Professional Organizations

Not all students use these resources, but I recommend checking it out. Websites of associations like the American Psychological Association (APA) or the British Psychological Society (BPS) offer valuable resources, including research articles, guidelines, and reports related to Psychology.

Take gathering resources for the Psychology extended essay as seriously as possible.

Interviews and Surveys

If your research involves gathering primary data, consider conducting interviews or surveys with experts or individuals related to your topic. Trust me, it will give a whole new color to your work. Ensure that you obtain informed consent and follow ethical guidelines for data collection.

Structuring Your Psychology Extended Essay

A well-structured essay aligns with the Psychology extended essay rubric and facilitates a coherent presentation of your ideas and arguments. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the components of an effective structure.

Introduction: Setting the Stage

The beginning of your extended essay is like a front door. It’s where you start your research and get your readers interested.

First, you should quickly examine the crucial ideas, theories, or research of your topic. This helps your readers understand what your research is about. Next, you need to state your main point clearly and simply (it’s your thesis). Make sure it connects to your research questions and gives a sense of what your essay will be like. It sets the tone for the whole essay.

Body Paragraphs: Developing Your Arguments

The body of your extended essay is where you’ll present your research, analyze findings, and develop your arguments:

  • Divide your text into clear, logically structured subsections corresponding to the different aspects or arguments of your topic. Each subsection should have a clear purpose and contribute to your overall thesis.
  • Cite relevant research studies, experiments, or data to support your arguments. Analyze and interpret this evidence critically, demonstrating your understanding of the topic.
  • Incorporate transition words and phrases to ensure smooth flow between paragraphs and subsections. It enhances readability and aligns with the general IB criteria for clarity.

Also, remember to address counterarguments when applicable. Acknowledging opposing viewpoints and providing counter-evidence demonstrates a well-rounded analysis.

Conclusion: Summarizing Your Findings

The end of your essay is like the finish line. It’s where you wrap things up nicely for your readers. Start by repeating your main point, which is called your thesis. Then, discuss the essential things you found and learned in your essay. But don’t bring in new stuff here.

To get a perfect grade, you should also talk about why your research matters in the big picture of Psychology. How does it add to what we already know? End with something that makes your readers think or feel strongly. That’s how you leave a mark on them.

Writing a Psychology Extended Essay: Final Tips

In the final stretch of writing your Psychology extended essay, several critical considerations make a substantial difference in the quality and integrity of your work.

Talking about plagiarism is really important. It’s like a big problem that can get you in trouble at school. When you use someone else’s ideas, research, or words, you must give them credit by correctly citing them. You must also carefully and consistently use the proper citation style for extended essay Psychology (APA or MLA).

Also, remember that editing and proofreading are equally paramount. These processes are not just about catching typos or grammatical errors; they are the final touches that polish your essay to a high standard. When reviewing your work, focus on your arguments’ clarity, coherence, and logical flow.

Need help with your IB extended essay?

From research and analysis to structuring and editing, our skilled mentors will be by your side, helping you craft an exceptional extended essay that not only meets the wordcount and stringent IB criteria but also reflects your passion for selected IB group.

Lastly, the IB Psychology extended essay examples can serve as valuable guides. They offer structural models, inspire research questions, and provide an understanding of the expectations outlined in this rubric. However, remember that your essay must be an original piece of work. While examples can guide you, ensure that your content is your creation and that you conduct your research independently.

To Sum It Up

Here, we come to the final part of our Psychology extended essay guide. Such a paper is a valuable component of the IB Diploma Program, providing students with a unique opportunity to explore a specific psychological topic in depth, develop essential research and critical thinking skills, and prepare for higher education.

By following these tips from my experience, you’ll be well on your way to writing an exceptional IB Psychology extended essay that meets academic standards and earns a high grade. Good luck with your writing! ANd if you need assistance – Extended Essay Writers will always cover your back!

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