DP Curriculum Corner: 18/01/2019

Welcome to our Curriculum Corner for January. It is amazing how quickly the first term has gone and we now look forward to the challenges that our new term brings our DP students.


As you will remember from our previous curriculum corners, the Diploma Core is at the heart of our programme. Our students are working hard with their CAS experiences and TOK lessons are well established so it is now time for us to introduce the last part of our Core: the Extended Essay. During next week, we begin the launch of our Extended Essay with students and as a result, this month’s curriculum corner is dedicated to this.

What is the Extended Essay?

The extended essay is a required component of the Diploma Programme (DP). It is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper. It builds upon the skills that our students have developed during the Personal Project in Grade 11.

The extended essay gives students an opportunity to conduct research into a subject area of their choice. Our students are encouraged to choose topic areas in which they are passionate and often this will be in the areas of their Higher Level subjects.

The process for the students starts in February of Grade 12 and finishes in November of Grade 13 and each student is supervised by a teacher from ISC throughout the process. It is expected that students will spend a minimum of 40 hours of work on their Essay.

What is the significance of the extended essay?

The extended essay provides:

  • practical preparation for undergraduate research
  • an opportunity for students to investigate a topic of special interest to them, which is also related to one of the student’s six DP subjects.

Through the research process for the extended essay, students develop skills in:

  • formulating an appropriate research question
  • engaging in a personal exploration of the topic
  • communicating ideas
  • developing an argument.

The extended essay and reflection sessions are also a valuable stimulus for discussion in countries where interviews are required prior to acceptance for employment or for a place at university.

How is study of the extended essay structured?

Students are supported throughout the process of researching and writing the extended essay, with advice and guidance from team of staff in school. I will work with the students on a regular basis to help them become familiar with the step-by-step process and timeline in producing their essays, in selecting appropriate research questions and their area of study, in considering the marking criteria that will be used and in looking at examples of good essays. Our library team will also work with students, supporting them in academic honesty, research skills and in the structure and formatting of the essay. Throughout the process, students will also have an individual staff member who will be their personal mentor, who is also a subject specialist in their chosen area.

Students are required to have three mandatory reflection sessions with their supervisors. The final session, a concluding interview, is also known as viva voce.

The Extended Essay is accompanied by a reflection form of no more than 500 words, that will be uploaded to IB with the Extended Essay.

ManageBac is the online system where students will store and to which they upload their essay.

How is the extended essay assessed?


All extended essays are externally assessed by examiners appointed by the IB. They are marked on a scale from 0 to 34 and this score relates to a band of achievement. The bands are:

  • A – work of an excellent standard.
  • B – work of a good standard.
  • C –work of a satisfactory standard.
  • D – work of a mediocre standard.
  • E – work of an elementary standard.

Students must achieve a grade D or higher (A,B,C) to pass the Diploma Programme. Together with marks for Theory of Knowledge, contributes between 0-3 bonus points to the total score for the DP. A maximum of 3 points is awarded for students achieving top band scores in both!


If you would like more information regarding the Extended Essay, or to see examples of the essays produced by students, please do not hesitate to contact me (npearce@iscomo.com).

Have a lovely weekend,

Nicole Pearce