About 4,000 words in length, the Extended Essay is a required project for each diploma candidate. It is an independent project which is planned and completed with the help of an individually assigned mentor, beginning the spring of the junior year. The subject of the essay is chosen from one of the subject areas examined and is a mixture of research skills and thoughtful analysis. The rough draft is due in the fall of the senior year; the completed essay is due the end of the first semester of the senior year.
Each student has the opportunity to investigate a topic of special interest. The essay requirement acquaints diploma candidates with the kind of independent research and writing skills expected by universities. The IBO recommends that a student devote a total of about 40 hours of private study and writing time to the essay, which may be written in one of 60 subjects, including many languages. The essay permits students to deepen their programs of study, for example by selecting a topic in one of their higher level (HL) courses. Or they might add breadth to their academic experience by electing to write in a subject not included in their program choices.
Theory of Knowledge and the Extended Essay are graded according to this scale:
A - Excellent
B - Good
C - Satisfactory
D - Mediocre
E - Elementary
N - No grade