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What is the Hardest and Easiest IB Extended Essay Subject?

The expectations from Extended Essay (EE) match the requirements of college-level essays and coursework. The essay requires extensive research from academic sources and non-academic recognised sources. The assessors look for the critical examination of the subject, the international perspective presented by the learner, and citations with proper references. The 4000-word essay can appear as an overwhelming task, but an IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) learner has the entire course duration to prepare for and attempt the EE. The EE has to be attempted on a topic that revolves around the subjects that the learner has selected. Since IB stresses interdisciplinary learning, to score well, learners are advised to choose a topic that is broad and can be examined from various perspectives, delving into different subjects.

Preparing for EE

From the first day of IBDP, one cannot know what topics will be covered in the subject. However, while browsing through the books, referring to EE topics attempted by past learners, and the past question papers, one can start thinking about the topics they can attempt. Finding a topic is the most challenging aspect as one has to pick a topic that gives a lot of material to write and present one’s stance. It should also meet the other criteria of having an international perspective and interdisciplinary aspects. One can begin shortlisting topics and discuss them with their academic counsellors and class teachers too. Since EE is an internal assessment, the school will share its assessment criteria too.

Choosing the Subject for EE

One can choose a topic from any of the six selected subjects from the different subject groups for their EE. The EE topic or dissertation does not have any bearing on one’s college admission, beyond the fact that the EE grades contribute to the learner’s final grades. Thus, it does not matter which subject one chooses to write their EE on. So, the learner has the option to choose a topic from any subject that they find easy and for which reference material is easily available.

Though the ease or toughness of any subject depends on the learner’s interest and aptitude, some subjects are generally observed to be tougher to write an EE in than others in IBDP alumni. Most learners find the Sciences and Mathematics group EE to be the toughest and simplest topics in Individuals and Societies. However, for a learner who has a strong aptitude for sciences, or has chosen mostly Science and Mathematics courses, doing an EE in these subjects is logical. Furthermore, some alumni opine that as most learners fear Mathematics, fewer attempt an EE in the subject, and often, one does not have to write a complete 4000-word essay either, it is adequate if they present a convincing stance. On the other hand, in subjects that are presumed easy, such as English, History, or Economics, one has to struggle to contain or expand their essay to 4–words.

A Better Criterion for Choosing the EE topic

Rather than focus on the subject, the consensus is that one must focus on choosing a topic that they find interesting. One has to study and browse a topic extensively, and spend at least 150 days researching and writing about that topic. Hence, most IBDP alumni recommend choosing a topic that one finds interesting and wants to learn more about. If you find the topic interesting, then it will be easier to stick to it and write 4000 words about it too.

Extended Essay is a means to explore one’s interests, fortify one’s research skills and explore ways to articulate one’s thoughts cohesively. Understand the aims and objectives of the essay, the structure and the assessment criteria before attempting it. Though it is assigned a letter grade, EE is also a core component, and these are worth 3 points that will be added to the final IBDP scores. So, approach the EE strategically, and learn from the process.

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