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Abstract Writing Tips for Your Extended Essay

IB extended essay abstract writing

As an experienced IB writer and tutor, I have successfully completed the International Baccalaureate (IB) program and gained valuable insights. In this article, I will focus on the IB extended essay abstract. This part helps a potential reader to determine whether your paper is useful and worth reading. Drawing on my experience, I will help you master writing EE abstracts and structure your paper correctly.

Understanding the IB Extended Essay Abstract

From my experience, an abstract in an Extended Essay used to play a crucial role. It was a brief paragraph, usually 300 words or less, that offered a clear and concise overview of the essay. The abstract is not the place for lengthy explanations or detailed analysis. It’s about giving a bird’s-eye view of your work.

The aim was to articulate the central theme of the assignment and highlight the main points. The abstract also indicated the practical application of the research or its implications. In essence, it provided a snapshot of the essay, enabling readers to grasp the core ideas and decide whether the essay was relevant to their interests.

However, according to the current IB criteria, an abstract is no longer required in an Extended Essay. This change, implemented in 2018, reflects a shift in focus towards the substance and depth of the essay itself. The reasoning is that the abstract could potentially take up valuable word count and might even dissuade readers from engaging with the complete essay.

As an experienced IB advisor, I recommend that students not include an abstract in their Extended Essay. Doing this may not align with the latest guidelines and might impact the evaluation of the essay. Instead, students should concentrate on crafting a well-structured essay with a strong introduction, body, conclusion, and the Reflections on Planning and Progress Form (RPPF). The RPPF is a critical element that encourages reflection on the research process, which is highly valued in the IB curriculum.

Remember, in the current IB framework, focusing on the main body of the essay and the reflective component is more beneficial than dedicating effort to an abstract that is no longer required.

IB extended essay abstract

How Is the Extended Essay Currently Structured?

Once we’ve dealt with IB extended essay abstract writing, it’s time to move on. As a seasoned IB writer with years of experience in guiding students through their EE, I can share a detailed perspective on the current structure of this crucial component of the IB curriculum.

In my experience, despite removing the abstract, the Extended Essay still demands a high degree of organization and clarity. The current structure encompasses several key elements, each playing a vital role in the overall coherence and effectiveness of the essay.

1. Title Page

The first engagement point, the title page, should be straightforward yet informative. It needs to include the essay’s title, your research question, the subject area of the essay, and an explicit mention of the word count, which must not exceed 4,000 words. Remember, as per IB guidelines, examiners are advised not to read material exceeding this limit. Overstepping the word count can lead to penalties.

2. Contents Page

Following the title page, the contents page should outline the structure of your essay. Each section and subsection should be numbered. Remember that the contents page should be clear and precise, as this aids the examiner in reviewing your work.

3. Introduction

In the introduction, it’s crucial to present your research question and give an overview of your essay’s direction. It is where you set the stage for your reader. The introduction should engage the reader and indicate what to expect in the essay.

4. Body of the Essay

The body is the core of your essay. Here, your argument should be presented logically and supported by evidence. This section varies depending on the subject, but regardless, your text should demonstrate a deep understanding of your topic. Remember to adhere to the conventions of your chosen subject. Importantly, ensure that all relevant information is included within the essay’s main body rather than in footnotes to avoid giving an impression of incompleteness.

5. Conclusion

The conclusion is where you briefly wrap up your arguments and findings. It should effectively tie together all elements of your essay, reiterating how your evidence supports your thesis. The conclusion should give the reader a clear understanding of your research outcomes and their significance.

6. References and Bibliography

Acknowledging sources is critical in academic writing. Ensure that all your sources are correctly cited and included in your bibliography. It lends credibility to your essay and demonstrates your ability to engage with existing literature and research.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your EE Structure

As an experienced IB writer, I’ve observed several common mistakes that you should avoid to ensure your EE is as effective and well-received as possible.

1. Neglecting the Research Question

One of the most critical aspects of the EE is the research question. Please clearly define or consistently focus on your research question throughout the essay to avoid a disjointed and unclear argument. Your research question should be the guiding force behind your entire essay.

2. Ignoring the Structure

While creativity is encouraged, disregarding the standard structure of the EE can be detrimental. Your essay should have a clear introduction, body, conclusion, and a well-organized contents page. Each part has its purpose and helps logically present your argument and findings.

3. Overlooking the Word Limit

The word count for the EE is a maximum of 4,000 words. Exceeding this limit can lead to penalties, and it’s important to remember that conciseness and clarity are valued. Every word should contribute to your argument or analysis.

4. Insufficient Analysis

A common pitfall is focusing too much on descriptive content rather than analysis. The EE is an opportunity to showcase your analytical skills. Ensure that your essay critically examines the topic rather than merely summarizing information.

5. Poorly Executed Conclusion

Your conclusion should not just restate the introduction. Instead, it should synthesize your findings and reflect on the implications of your research. A weak conclusion can undermine the overall impact of your essay.

6. Inadequate Referencing

Proper citation is crucial in academic writing. Failing to appropriately reference sources can lead to accusations of plagiarism. Ensure you are familiar with and consistently use the required referencing style.

7. Ignoring Feedback

Often, students are allowed to receive feedback from their supervisors. Not using this feedback is a missed opportunity for improvement. Constructive criticism is invaluable in refining your essay.

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8. Underestimating the Importance of the RPPF

The Reflections on Planning and Progress Form (RPPF) is a critical component of the Extended Essay. It demonstrates your engagement with the research process. Neglecting to complete the RPPF thoughtfully can negatively impact your score.

Expert Tips for Refining Your Extended Essay Structure

Today, I can offer some expert tips to help you refine the structure of your essay. These suggestions are designed to enhance the clarity, coherence, and overall impact of your work:

  • Maintain a Formal and Academic Tone. Use formal language and avoid colloquialisms or slang. Your writing should reflect scholarly inquiry and engagement with the topic.
  • Stay Consistent with Referencing. Use a consistent citation style throughout your essay, as your subject area requires. Proper referencing not only gives credit to original authors but also adds credibility to your work.
  • Use the RPPF Wisely. The Reflections on Planning and Progress Form is your chance to show your engagement with the research process. Use it to reflect on the challenges you faced, the skills you developed, and how the research influenced your thinking.
  • Seek Feedback and Revise. Feel free to ask for feedback from your supervisor or peers. Use their insights to refine and improve your essay. Revising your work is crucial for spotting areas that need improvement.
  • Focus on Clarity and Conciseness. Clarity and brevity are essential. Avoid unnecessary jargon and complex language. Your goal is to communicate your ideas as clearly and succinctly as possible.
  • Proofread Thoroughly. Finally, proofread your essay multiple times to check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. A well-polished essay demonstrates professionalism and attention to detail.

Remember, the Extended Essay is not just a task to be completed; it’s an opportunity to showcase your research skills, deepen your understanding of a subject, and prepare for university-level writing. By following these tips, you can enhance the structure of your Extended Essay and produce work that you can be proud of.


To conclude, the Extended Essay is a crucial element of the IB program, offering students a platform to showcase their research abilities and understanding of their chosen subject. Drawing from my extensive experience in the IB field, I emphasize the importance of a well-organized and articulately presented essay. It’s more than a requirement; it’s an opportunity to engage deeply with a topic of your interest, preparing you for university-level academic challenges.

For those new to the IB, the extended essay is not easy. Our team of skilled Extended Essay Writers can always assist you if you require support.

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