Criteria (first exam in 2018)

The assessment criteria for the extended essay are both general to all subjects and specific to each subject. The criteria given below are the specific to the Language A: Language and Literature course. These are summaries of the actual criteria, which can be found in the Extended Essay guide on the Online Curriculum Centre. 

Criterion A - Focus and method - 6 marks

Topic and research question:  The research question should guide the extended essay and give it a strong sense of focus. The focus of the question should include the texts, either literary or non-literary. The research question must be clearly stated on the title pages, along with the name of the course (English A: Language and Literature) and the category (1-3) on which the question is based (see requirements for more information on the three categories). Avoid closed and leading questions. These are questions that are quickly answered and imply bias towards a particular answer.  fd

Methodology: Students should undertake an analysis of the text(s) as it pertains to the research question.  This includes an introduction explaining the question and why it is worthy of investigation.  The introduction should be focused around the research question which must be stated as a question.  Background information and a contextual understanding of the text(s) should be offered in the introduction. For categories 1 and 2, there should be a succinct reference to the history of the text(s) and the author(s). For category 3, a connection should be made between culture, context and the target language. 

The methodology also includes a relevant conclusion that directly ties to the research question.  In between the introduction and conclusion, students should be focusing on analyzing the primary text(s) and using secondary resources to support their claims.  

Criterion B - Knowledge and understanding - 6 marks

Source materials and terminology: Students should very carefully select their primary and secondary source material.  It should be pertinent and appropriate to the research question.  Students will need to make sure to integrate their secondary source material seamlessly with their primary text(s).  Correct use and understanding of literary and linguistic terminology is essential. 

Students must also demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the text(s) (primary sources). There must be evidence that the student is engaged with the primary source(s). For category 3, both the production (context of composition) and reception (context of interpretation) of the text must be carefully considered with regards to culture.

Criterion C - Critical thinking - 12  marks

Research, analysis, and evaluation: For all three categories, students are expected to investigate the research question in light of the texts chosen. This investigation consists primarily of the student's own interpretations and criticism of the text, supported secondarily by secondary sources offered by critics. Students must develop a unique argument in answering the research question, illustrated by examples from the primary sources. A critical view of secondary sources is encouraged. 

Students must support their personal interpretation of texts with strong textual analytical skills. Interpretations must not be the retelling of a critic's ideas from a secondary source.  

The essay needs to go somewhere. It must not be a summary of a plot or textual features. Rather the development of a thesis with multiple, well-founded arguments must be included. 

Criterion D - Presentation - 4 marks

Structure and layout: The research paper is presented with consistent referencing, quotations and formatting. The title page, bibliography or works cited, table of content, page numbering, illustrations and figures are clear and coherent.

A suggestion was made in the guide that most essays in Category 1 and 2 will be presented as a "continuous body of text."  Sometimes, sections and headings will be necessary for a Category 3 extended essay, but they are not always needed.   

Criterion E - Engagement - 6 marks

Process and research focus: The examiner uses the "Reflection on planning and progress form" or RPPF to determine this mark.  It is the overall impression made by the examiner after reading the essay and is the opportunity for examiners to reward creativity, unique research insight and initiative. Students may score poorly on other criteria but be rewarded on criterion E.

Most importantly, students must take examiners through their learning journey, reflecting about decisions and plans while writing the essay.  It is a rationale for their decisions and what they have learned because of it.  Mere description of the process isn't warranted.  Instead, examiners want to see the student's voice and thinking process. 

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Comments 56

Bruce Siow 29 June 2017 - 10:04

Hi Tim

One of my students is thinking of doing her EE on a film, which primarily depicts racism. We are looking at portrayal of marginalised groups in the film through several devices like symbolism and motifs. Would this be classified safely in Category 3? Or will it be leaning to much towards EE for Film Studies? Thanks in advance.


David McIntyre 3 July 2017 - 19:27

Hi Bruce,

Apologies for a delayed response. I am currently on holiday with very limited Internet access.

I am not in any sense an expert in film studies, so I I have some difficulty in suggesting what is appropriate in that subject.

In terms of text/texts, the (IB's) definition is very broad and includes film; this makes the EE appropriate. However, if your school offers Film, I would consult with the subject teacher. Moreover, given the student's intended focus, it would be perfectly possible (quite obviously) to tackle this EE through a consideration of language or literary texts, and it does strike me that this is probably more germane in our subject domain.

I hope this gives you something to work with.

Best regards,


Bruce Siow 7 July 2017 - 03:05

Hi David

Appreciate your time and advice during your holiday!

Unfortunately, my school does not offer Film Studies. We have not had a student choose a Film for English (Category 3) before so therefore I am a little hesitant. But with your comments, I am reassured about IB's broad-view definition of texts (esp in Cat 3) and will advise her to look at the Film as a text, perhaps interpreted as the literary and language of the film and its significance in view of the chosen topic.

Just to throw a spanner in the works, if we compare the film with a literary text, does it go under Cat 1 or remain in Cat 3?

Thank you and do have a good break!


David McIntyre 9 July 2017 - 11:14

Hi Bruce,

I think if you are comparing any text with a film, I would be inclined to put it into cat. 3. I'm not sure that it matters too much; it is probably more important that the EE is appropriate and rigorous.



Rima Moukarzel 19 July 2017 - 18:49

For category 1, are the primary sources restricted to literary works? Can they include movies?

Tim Pruzinsky 20 July 2017 - 15:18

Hi Rima,

Technically, a film can be a C3 EE. You will want to look at the "Breaking Bad" exemplar on the site for how to go about writing about visual texts. It's a television show, but it's an excellent example. However, the student will need to be clear why this is an English EE and not a Film EE.


Rima Moukarzel 26 July 2017 - 12:14

Thank you, Tim!
I am wondering if it is wrong to have all secondary sources in the extended essay taken from websites. Shouldn't the student have a book at least as a reference?

Tim Pruzinsky 26 July 2017 - 13:20

Hi Rima,

It depends on the reference. There are excellent academic journals that are all online now. Taken from there, it would be considered a solid reference. Of course, there are also terrible online sources as well. It will depend.

If the student is citing some type of critical theory, a book makes sense to source and cite, I think, although I am sure there are excellent online texts for this as well. In other words, the student should be evaluating the quality of the sources when researching and writing their EE.


Aarti Khurana 30 August 2017 - 15:09

Hello David and Tim,
A student of mine is working on this RQ.
To what extent does language aid Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in garnering support during their presidential campaign in 2012?
Does this RQ sound fine? Is it clear and strong enough? Your inputs would be very helpful.

Tim Pruzinsky 31 August 2017 - 00:52

Hi Aarti,

I worry about the "garnering support" part of the question. How will they prove that? What evidence do they have that it was the language and not some other influence? Comparing and contrasting their language/rhetoric makes sense here. It just needs to shift from "garnering support" to something else. I don't know what that might be because I don't know the speeches s/he is researching/analyzing.


Aarti Khurana 4 September 2017 - 07:45

Thanks for the input Tim. So will it be safe to rephrase the RQ to
o what extent does language aid Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in influencing the audience during the presidential campaign in 2012?

Tim Pruzinsky 4 September 2017 - 08:59

Hi Aarti,

That seems much more manageable and could be interesting about how language is used by politicians to influence voters.


Sakthi Devi Sridhar 14 September 2017 - 04:38

Dear Tim, I do not seem to find the grade boundaries in the guide. What marks makes an A Grade ? What is the boundary for B? What are for C and D respectively? Please help.

Tim Pruzinsky 14 September 2017 - 07:18

Hi Sakthi,

The IB publishes them each year. They can change. Usually, 30-36 is an A for an EE, but they are on the OCC under the subject reports. The May 2017 Subject Report hasn't been released yet (at least I don't think it has).


Lisa Stone 19 September 2017 - 16:52

Hi Tim and David,
Please can you advise how I can PM you? Thanks,

Tim Pruzinsky 20 September 2017 - 06:55

Hi Lisa,

If you use the "mail" button on the right hand side (the toolbar), whatever you send will go to our tech people and they pass it to us. From there, we can get in contact with you.


Lisa Stone 20 September 2017 - 16:25

Thank you!

Monika Auer 17 October 2017 - 15:41

One of my student asked me the following questions:

"I have searched for the regulations around including pictures (in my case; advertisements) in Extended Essays and have come off the IB Website more confused than beforehand.

It is clear to me that proper citation is necessary for academic honesty, however many seem to be in disagreement about whether the image should be referenced and included in the appendix vs. in the actual body paragraphs of the essay. As you are familiar with my topic, I wanted to ask you which option you considered smarter or even possible.

A follow up question to that: I will be including the use of controversy and Shock-Advertisement in fashion as a method of propaganda, and want to include a “shocking” advertisement to illustrate the points made. However, as e.g. Benetton adverts have been labelled unethical and disturbing, I am unsure how to go about it (without risking my IB certificate)..."

Can anyone help?
Thank you

David McIntyre 18 October 2017 - 09:23

Hi Monika,

With regard to your first question, I would imagine the student would be doing some limited textual analysis. For this reason, not least, including advertisements as appendices makes good sense.

In the terms of your second question, I don't think there is anything here to concern you. You, or your students, did not construct the ads you claim may be unethical. It is surely, however, worth considering such ads. Are they unethical? Why? Who says? How does the text construct meanings? How do such texts contribute to the construction of social reality? And so on. You really need to bring these issues into the classroom if you are to promote critical thinking.

Best regards,


Monika Auer 18 October 2017 - 15:10

Thank you very much.
Kind regards

adina olteanu 4 November 2017 - 07:26

Hi, David and Tim,

A student of mine is working on his RQ on 'The Wasteland'. He has come up with several versions of his RQ but I am afraid that they are too vague. Some of them might work, however. I really don't know what an examiner might consider vague in relation to them. For example, RQ1 - 'presence of suffering' - difficult to pinpoint in the text through a specific literary feature. Could you please advise on the best option (in your opinion) out of the ones enumerated below?
1. How is the presence of death and suffering in T.S Eliot's 'The Waste Land' used to illustrate the modern man's anxiety about his lost sense of belonging in the interwar years?
2. How does T.S. Eliot use the extensive imagery of death and the multiplicity of voices in The Wasteland to illustrate the modern man's anxiety about his lost sense of belonging in the interwar years?.
3. How are the poetic discourse on 'life and death' as well as the multiplicity of voices used  in T. S. Eliot's "The Wasteland" to illustrate the modern man's loss of identity and alienation in the interwar years?
4. How is the imaginary construct of the wasted city used by T.S. Eliot's in The Wasteland to represent the modern man’s inescapability from fate and death in the interwar years?

Thank you so much!

Tim Pruzinsky 5 November 2017 - 06:05

Hi Adina,

I like number two the best. I would also cut it down to this: "How does T.S. Eliot use imagery of death and the multiplicity of voices in 'The Wasteland' and for what effect?" This can, of course, be modified as needed, but I think it's important to not provide an answer in the question itself.

Using this RQ allows the student to write about imagery and poetic or narrative voice and connect it to whatever she or he deems necessary.


adina olteanu 6 November 2017 - 17:02

Thank you so much, Tim!

Best regards,

Mahmoud Dabet 7 November 2017 - 07:55

Hi everyone,
Which one of the following can be an appropriate EE Research Question for a Group 2 student?
-How does fake news in the media affect viewers
- To what extent did fake news in the US media affect voters in the 2016 US Presidential elections
- How does fake news on social media manipulate users
-To what extent does fake news on Facebook manipulate users?

Romana Hajat 8 November 2017 - 11:16

Hi David,

Me again! My student has written an introduction which reads much like an abstract. With the new criteria, I am not sure what the specifications of an introduction are anymore and not sure how it is meant to read, at present, it sounds like a meatier version of an abstract...will an abstract also be included as a separate part of the essay (not within word count?) Is there any advice on what to include in an introduction apart from the brief bits mentioned in the criteria?

Romana Hajat 8 November 2017 - 11:18

I just realised that my stressed typing above has made me repeat myself repeat myself. Apologies!

Tim Pruzinsky 9 November 2017 - 00:39

Hi Romana,

The intro should not read like an abstract. It should read like an introduction. My advice would be this: Do what you have always done for the introduction. Just because we have a new syllabus for the EE doesn't mean we have to throw out what introductions do or how we write them. They should have the research question in it, for example. It should frame why this is worthy of study. It should present a thesis. As for the abstract, it's not needed.


Romana Hajat 9 November 2017 - 04:29

Thank you so much, it is my first time supervising the EE so I was concerned! Thanks again

Rima Moukarzel 12 November 2017 - 18:50

My students wrote a continuous text for EE C1 without headings. Do they have to write Introduction, Body and Conclusion for the corresponding parts?
Another question: can the research question be stated indirectly in the form of a statement and not question?

Tim Pruzinsky 13 November 2017 - 09:02

Hi Rima,

For the first question, a continuous body of text is the recommendation. They do not need to create headings.

However, they do need to state an actual research question in the form of a question in the introduction.


Rima Moukarzel 13 November 2017 - 19:27

Thank you a lot, Tim!

Carolina Fortin 14 November 2017 - 03:56

Good evening,
I have a student who wants to write a Category 2 EE using Blindness by Saramago as his translation and editorials written about the Dirty War in Argentina. He somehow wants to connect to his Argentinian roos. My question is:
Can he use the editorials as literary text for a Category 2?
Thank you for your valuable input.

Tim Pruzinsky 3 December 2017 - 23:35

Hi Caroline,

Apologies for the late reply. I must have accidentally missed it over that weekend. If that does happen - and we try hard to make sure it doesn't - please re-ask 3 days later.

As for your question, no, he can't do this. "Blindness" must be compared to a literary text originally written in English. For his secondary research, yes, editorials could prove useful, but no, they cannot be the "literary" text in this case.


Rima Moukarzel 3 December 2017 - 20:04

What is the accepted plagiarism percentage in EE?

Tim Pruzinsky 3 December 2017 - 23:38

Hi Rima,

To answer your question, the acceptable plagiarism percentage is 0%.

Any plagiarism - meaning anything that isn't the student's own words and pawned off as his or her own - will result in the student losing his or her diploma. The IB, and academia in general, have zero tolerance and very clear and very strict policies (and rightly so). If this sounds harsh, it's because it is, and the IB have taken a stance that they do not allow it.


Rima Moukarzel 4 December 2017 - 07:16

It is just that we are checking students' EEs on Turnitin.
Thank you, Tim!

Tim Pruzinsky 4 December 2017 - 10:09

Hi Rima,

Thanks for clarifying. We do as well. Turnitin is only as good as you use it though. You could have a student with 2% listed (in green) and it just be the Works Cited that is "caught" or quotations if you didn't uncheck that option. And you could have another student with 2%, but that two percent is actually someone else's work, that isn't quoted or referenced. In that instance, that student would lose his or her diploma.

In other words, you'll have to go through each one - skimming it for something obviously stolen or not their own. Turnitin works wonders in that regards; I find I can easily catch something, but it does require me to look through each EE.


adina olteanu 12 December 2017 - 17:54

Hi, Tim,

Please advise on the following issue: if a student focuses on the RQ „How does T.S. Eliot use imagery of death and the multiplicity of voices in 'The Wasteland' and for what effect?", do you think that it would be a problem if he were to focus only on Part I of The Wasteland as the poem is too long and too puzzle-like in its structure to allow an in-depth analysis for an EE? Of course, the student will specify that in the title of the EE and in the introduction too, motivating his choice. At this point I don't really know what to advise him to do as he is in his approach. Maybe focusing on the entire poem would make the impression of a 'loose' approach. Personally I think there is more method and focus in choosing to dwell on a part of the poem instead of the whole but maybe I am wrong.

Thank you!

Tim Pruzinsky 13 December 2017 - 04:12

Hi Adina,

I think it would be an issue to not deal with the whole poem. In a C2 EE, for example, students must compare and contrast two texts - often novels. That's usually over 600 pages worth of text! In this case, I think dealing with the entire poem is a better option.

The only other thing to do is to write it on Part 1, but he would have to be clear in the intro why that was the case (and not because the poem was too long or complex).

However, do feel free to ignore this advice. It is advice - and you may disagree. That's okay. I'm just not convinced - in relation to students who compare and contrast two novels - that he can't work with an entire poem.


adina olteanu 13 December 2017 - 14:29

I completely agree with you. I had told the student that such an approach as he suggested would not be accepted because this would mean that comparing some chapters from two different novels would then be accepted too, which is not the case as the requirement for an EE is very clear: students have to compare/contrast two literary works, not some parts of them.
Thank you very much!

All the best,

Bruce Siow 18 January 2018 - 10:12

Hi Tim, my student would like to compare how a recent critically acclaimed film on racism (Language and Social Relations) borrows characteristics of a literary genre e.g. Gothic Literature as a means to comment on contemporary culture. Despite the different mediums, comparisons as well as similarities will be explored across different contexts, culture and thematic veins. Is it safe to say it lends itself well in Category 3? The focus would be more on Language aspects like the script, motifs, symbols, characterization rather than Film Studies itself like editing or cinematography. Thanks in advance

Tim Pruzinsky 18 January 2018 - 13:45

Hi Bruce,

I think this could work. I'm just guessing that the film might be "Get Out," but I don't know. In general, the overall concept works. Execution, of course, is always a different matter. He or she will want to make sure to have a focused research question and try not to analyze everything there is to possibly analyze. It will just overwhelm the student and the essay. Instead, a clear focus on one or two key aspects - comparing the Gothic to the film - would allow for depth here.

As always with an EE, if a student starts to veer, intervene early. It's easier to help them out in the beginning of the process. It's much harder later on when you are commenting on a terrible first draft.


Bruce Siow 19 January 2018 - 00:31

Hi Tim,

How good are you? Very ambitious project here and it might overwhelm her. Will try to encourage the student have a clearer focus on aspects she's most keen on. Thanks for the help!

Lawrence Onah 22 January 2018 - 15:48

Hello TiM/Dave,
Thank you for your invaluable support. Please I want to know if the abstract is no longer a requirement for EE. Do you have any information that can help me?

Tim Pruzinsky 22 January 2018 - 23:32

Hi Lawrence,

The abstract is not required anymore. Download the new EE guide from My IB and it will explain all the changes there (although this InThinking page lays it out for you as well).


Rima Moukarzel 20 February 2018 - 20:10

How can we convert the marks (0-34) to letter descriptors(A-E)?

David McIntyre 20 February 2018 - 20:49

Hi Rima,

You need to look at the subject report for year in which the essay was written. This provides a conversion from marks to grade boundaries, and is available on the PRC/My-IB (which your coordinator should give you access to).

Kind regards,


Rima Moukarzel 21 February 2018 - 14:22

Thank you David! I looked up the extended essay subject report and the most recent one I found was English A May 2015 EE report. Do I use it in order to put my predicted grades? Or is there something else? I looked up all documents related to EE on My IB and I couldn't find a new one. Please advise!

Tim Pruzinsky 21 February 2018 - 23:48

Hi Rima,

Remember that we are under a new EE syllabus. I don't expect the grade boundaries to change, but they might. Use the 2015 ones. They should be fine. If they aren't exact for this year, they will be close enough. Usually 30+ is an A, for example.

If you are using this to predict an EE score, those boundaries will suffice. It's okay if your prediction is off a bit. Mine are sometimes. If this is for something internally in your school, follow what your individual school wants you to do.


Rima Moukarzel 22 February 2018 - 18:06

Ok, Tim! Thanks a lot!

Christina Vince 27 February 2018 - 20:02

Is 3,289 words acceptable for an Extended Essay?
Many thanks

Tim Pruzinsky 28 February 2018 - 00:02

Hi Christina,

This concerns me, but it depends on the context. Are you are asking "can this student pass"? As long as it does enough, the word count won't be an issue for passing the EE. Or are you are asking "can this student score top marks or in the top band"? My answer would be not likely. An examiner will wonder about evidence (why isn't there more), and knowledge (why hasn't the student written more about their RQ).

So, for a student who is really, really struggling, and has written 3,289 words and has worked quite hard on it, and come a long way, even though there is still so much to do, then yes, I would say it's acceptable. Just be prepared for him or her to lose marks. However, if this is a strong student who is a very capable writer and this isn't their best work, but they still want the best grade, I would say no, they need to get to 3,500 at least.


adina olteanu 6 March 2018 - 09:55

Hi, Tim,

Please clarify the following aspect regarding Word Count in the EE. Students keep asking me whether there is a document specifying how the overall Word Count is determined in an EE. Their argument is that it is not clearly mentioned anywhere whether they should include the quotes they have taken from primary or secondary resources to determine the real number of words. Can you please help me with something clearly specifying this aspect?
Thank you so much!

adina olteanu 6 March 2018 - 14:41

Hi, Tim,
Sorry for the blunder I've made by not checking thoroughly through the new EE Guide. It's explicit on page 81.


Kim Bergman 9 March 2018 - 13:50


I was wondering whether anyone knows the new grade boundaries for the extended essay? I've just submitted mine to IBIS and would like to start adding the predicted grades, but I can't find the grade boundaries anywhere...



Tim Pruzinsky 10 March 2018 - 01:02

Hi Kim,

If you go to MY IB, and you go to the relevant Extended Essay section of the site, you can find the subject reports there. In the subject report, it will give you the grade boundaries.

The IB hasn't published new grade boundaries as they create them for each examination cycle and so we don't know them until after the fact. You'll need to use the 2017 ones, although (from memory), they don't change very much if at all.


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