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 30

Rima Moukarzel 23 April 2017 - 19:58

One of my students chose the differences in the media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with an obvious bias to the Palestinian side. Is a good topic for an extended essay?

David McIntyre 24 April 2017 - 04:58

The general idea of media representation is normally appropriate, Rima. A clear focus and clearly stated research question are, however, required. In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, consideration of media representation will need to be refined and anchored to an English-language context. It's no good, for example, to consider Arabic-language representations in the subject of English.

An alternative that you may explore is the writing of a World Studies EE; this could potentially provide more flexibility of approach (i'm not sure).

Best regards,


Evren Solak 15 May 2017 - 09:04

hello, my student wants to compare an English novel with two poems translated from Arabic language; the poems are written in prose style and include around 50 lines. I wander if two poems would be acceptable or should she add a few more to her research?
Thank you

Tim Pruzinsky 15 May 2017 - 10:51

Hi Evren,

This would be a C2 EE since it compares a text in translation (Arabic poetry) to an English novel. As for how many poems, I can't answer that question. It's going to depend on her research question, her approach, how and why she wants to compare it to the novel, and what the poetry has to offer.

Rather than talk about the number of poems, I would argue that she wants to be as in-depth and detailed in her analysis as possible. I would also argue that there should be some balance between the two texts (poetry vs. novel). After that, it's up to her, depending on her research question.


Evren Solak 16 May 2017 - 06:54

Dear Tim, my student wants to compare and contrast Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Qabbani's two long poems about gender/social issues. her focus is basically on what the two authors say about their society and how/why they say it.
I understand your point; the works she selects are supposed to help her with providing convincing and deep discussions that explore her RQ.
thank you again for the feedback.

Tim Pruzinsky 16 May 2017 - 10:31

Hi Evren,

Thanks for the clarification.

Have her become more literary in her focus. She can make connections to society, but this isn't an EE in sociology or anthropology. It should focus on the writer's choices and those effects, under the banner of a research question.

But once she does this, it sounds as if there will be much to discuss and explore! It also sounds like she is excited about the topic and knows what she wants to do.


Evren Solak 16 May 2017 - 10:57

Thank you again for being very helpful.

Sam Levien 25 May 2017 - 17:28

Hi there,

Thanks for the very detailed information. I just had one quick question. You mention that Cat 1 and 2 can be a "continuous body of text." Does this mean there no longer have to be a load of sub headings within the text? That was important before and it always seemed quite artificial. Furthermore, does this mean that there doesn't need to be a content's page?

Many thanks

Tim Pruzinsky 26 May 2017 - 03:34

Hi Sam,

I'm going to answer your questions in reverse order.

1. 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.

In other words, include a table of content's page and all the usual "stuff" in an EE.

2. For C1 and C2 the "suggestion" is that it reads as one long research essay and that sub-headings aren't necessary. C1 and C2 EE's never technically needed sub-headings in the essay itself and I encourage many of my students not to use them. They often ended up working as a crutch for transitions instead of using linking words and phrases to connect the essay together as one continuous whole. C3 EE's may need them and so this is left open depending on what the student has done. However, the table of contents will still need to list the pages where the introduction occurs, the main argument happens, and the page number where the essay concludes.

I'm encouraging my students who are doing a C1 EE to write it as one continuous body of text.


Sam Levien 30 May 2017 - 14:26

Hi Tim,

Many thanks for that. I will take this into account.


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

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