Extended Essay just feels way too long – what can you actually write about for 4,000 words? What if your topic or question wasn’t suitable, and you only realised after 3,900 words? How will you know if the topic is right for you? How do you even find one in the first place?
First, start by choosing your subject. Don’t simply go with your favourite one. Keep several in mind and brainstorm different topics you can go into for each. Once you have explored both subject and topic choices deeply enough, you will get a sense of which one works best. Extended Essay guidelines vary between different subjects, so make sure to read them thoroughly before deciding on a subject. It is highly advisable to choose one that is taught at your school, so a teacher will be there for you when you have questions. It will also make it easier to choose a subject you study, as you’ll acquire sufficient knowledge in the area while also making sure your Extended Essay does not overlap with the syllabus.
When choosing the topic, make sure it’s interesting enough to engage you. You want to conduct your own research and form your own analysis. You will want a topic that you can develop strong opinions on and can find enough resources to analyse and discuss. Be original and creative – don’t choose something that’s been discussed by many academics already. Try to find your own area where you can make your own discoveries and findings.
Formulating a question is the next step, and a difficult one. You want a question that invites views from different perspectives as well as a thorough analysis and criticism. You want something with context you can go into, and it can’t have an obvious answer with no need for any research. You want the question to be able to summarise your essay while also serving as a very brief introduction, as you don’t want it to be too wordy or extensive.
There is no guidance on what you should choose as your topic and question, because it all depends on your own interests and ideas. The only advice is to be independent in your choices – don’t simply choose one because it seems easy and everyone seems to be doing it. The topics that interest you will be the easiest for you.
So take time to brainstorm and explore different ideas. Don’t rush – 4,000 words sound like a lot, but they don’t actually take that long to write. You will have enough time to think and explore deeply before writing your first sentence.