Sample essays

As you prepare the extended essay, you will want to study several sample essays. This will help give you an impression of the final product and an understanding of what is expected. You can do a lot with a good sample. For example you may want to focus on one specific criterion. You may want to study its use of citation. You may simply want to see what a good title page looks like. Finally, it goes without saying that sample material is an excellent way to make yourself more familiar with the assessment criteria for the extended essay. You can compare your marks with the examiner's.

The samples have been labeled 'EE' for 'extended essay', 'C'1, 'C2' or 'C3' for 'category 1, 2 or 3', (see requirements) and 'S' for the number of the sample.

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Comments 43

Ciara Johnson 9 February 2017 - 09:08

Hi,

I am puzzled about Category 1. One of my student would like to do her EE on "Purple Hibiscus" written in English by a Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Is this possible? Thank you very much in advance.

David McIntyre 9 February 2017 - 09:27

Hi Ciara,

This is just fine as the basis for a category 1 EE. Obviously, the student needs to find a focus and develop a research question.

Kind regards,

David

Julie Murphy 15 February 2017 - 14:20

David and Tim,

I have a student who is struggling to pick a novel for his EE. He is incredibly interested in football, so I instantly thought of Nick Hornby's novel Fever Pitch. Would this work be of acceptable literary merit to conduct an EE on?

Thanks!
Julie

Gary Cairns 17 February 2017 - 00:21

Hi David and Tim,

One of my students would like to write an EE on the 'Wild Swans: Three daughters of China' by Jung Chang. The text is part memoir/part biography. I know that there is 'prose other than fiction' on the PLA. Does this also apply to EE making it a category 1 essay?

Thanks

Tim Pruzinsky 17 February 2017 - 04:51

Hi Gary,

This is a tough one. And my answer would be, "it depends."

If the research question is more focused on the literature side of things (style and genre, for example), I'd put it as a C1. If the student is more focused on the culture in the memoir, register it as a C3.

Best,
Tim

Julie Murphy 17 February 2017 - 10:25

Good Morning,

Just sending my question from February 15th again. Thanks in advance for your response!

David and Tim,

I have a student who is struggling to pick a novel for his EE. He is incredibly interested in football, so I instantly thought of Nick Hornby's novel Fever Pitch. Would this work be of acceptable literary merit to conduct an EE on?

Thanks!
Julie

Tim Pruzinsky 18 February 2017 - 06:30

Hi Julie,

I wasn't familiar with the text which is why I didn't answer right away. I know it a bit better now (not much, but more than before).

I'd say, yes, go for it. I read that Penguin even made it a modern classic. While that's not my parameters for "literary merit," it does help.

But, the big caveat is that is must be literary in nature. I'm not sure what the focus should be and he will need to figure this out. My understanding is that this is a memoir, not a novel. And if this will be a C1 EE, it will need to focus on something literary in nature. If he wants to focus on the language of sports - or the language of spirited fans - perhaps this could be one of several texts used for a C3 EE.

I hope that helps in clarifying things a bit for you. Most importantly, if the student is engaged and excited about the text, the process of writing the EE becomes that much more enjoyable.

Best,
Tim

Julie Murphy 18 February 2017 - 12:59

Hi Tim,

Thanks for your response. It is indeed a memoir, if he focuses on literary aspects of the work is it acceptable to use? We have encouraged him to complete a C3 EE but he is not interested in language analysis, he is pretty adamant about doing a C1.

It has been a big struggle to even figure out a subject for him to complete his EE in as he is not enthused about any of the options. Our idea was to find a literary work about football, since that is the only thing he is passionate about. Unfortunately, there is not a large collection of strong works dealing with this subject. Fever Pitch was the only one I could think of. But if it doesn't fit the parameters as it is non-fiction then we will go back to the drawing board. Please let me know.

Thanks!
Julie

Tim Pruzinsky 19 February 2017 - 04:50

Hi Julie,

He can definitely use the memoir for a C1 EE. He just needs to find that literary aspect to explore. Because I'm not familiar with it, I'm a bit at a loss for suggesting areas. Perhaps something to do with setting and atmosphere?

Once he gets that detailed research question figured out - again with the literary focus - he should be good to go. And good luck! It sounds like you are in a pickle and hopefully with your guidance he will come out better for it!

Best,
Tim

Laurie Nguyen 23 February 2017 - 15:42

Hi!

Is is possible for a student to do her EE on the same novel but in 2 different languages and analyze what is lost in Translation. I have a student who would like to study an original work in english, and also study the french translation and see what could have been lost? the student is fluent in both languages.

Thanks

Tim Pruzinsky 24 February 2017 - 06:02

Hi Laurie,

I don't think that will work. It can't be a C1 EE because of the translated text. C3 EE's must now have texts that have been written in English; they can no longer have a text in translation. That leaves a C2 EE, but that's comparing two different texts on a literary element; this isn't doing that.

While I think it's a very interesting topic and idea, I would say no because of the EE regulations/rules.

Best,
Tim

maimoona hamed 17 March 2017 - 17:59

Dear Tim

A student of mine wants to write her EE on Grapes of wrath but there are too many ideas that are distracting her.

She wants to compare thsi novel with Mice and Men in terms of their historical context. I think this would be a too broad topic for her to deal with.

Secondly she is thinking on working only in terms of the significance of the historical context of Grapes of Wrath. I think that it won't be too specific plus it does not seem too great an idea for EE.

Kindly guide.

Thank you.

Regards

p.s. please mention how to locate a reply to this message. On the homepage I can't seem to locate the full page of the subscribers replies etc. Kindly guide here too. Thank you.

Tim Pruzinsky 17 March 2017 - 22:57

Hi Maimoona,

To answer your last question first, on the homepage, under "Comments," you will find my reply. It will take you to the page where the question was asked, in this case, the "sample essays" page for the EE. If you can't find it on the home page, you can find it on this page, where you wrote the original question.

I would cut "Of Mice and Men." Once that happens, the student needs to focus on something literary. This is a C1 EE. That means she should be exploring something literary in nature: the setting, the narrative voice, a significant motif...

After figuring out the literary focus, she should then develop a research question to guide her in her writing and research. Trust your professional judgement on this; if it feels off to you, it probably is going in the wrong direction.

Best,
Tim

maimoona hamed 19 March 2017 - 15:47

Dear Tim

Thank you indeed for the prompt response. She needs to then focus on one literry element from Grapes of Wrath. I agree with and understand your suggestion.

One last question - could a student do an EE CAT 1 on a literary text they are already studying for part 3 or 4?

Thankyou.

Regards

Tim Pruzinsky 19 March 2017 - 23:47

Hi Maimoona,

I think that technically, it is allowed. David and I both are very serious in discouraging it; in other words, we don't let that happen in our classes for a whole variety of reasons.

Best,
Tim

Ian Stroughair 22 March 2017 - 08:15

Hello Tim and David,
I have a student who wishes to write an English A Category 3 Extended Essay on 'the effects of English Language usage in Private Schools (in her home city) on Mother-tongue competency'. Given that this is not specifically focused on a text or texts would this be an acceptable topic? Would she better off analysing school policy documents if she wished to investigate this topic?
Regards,
Ian

David McIntyre 22 March 2017 - 09:15

Hi Ian,

I agree that the idea isn't quite appropriate or conducive to an appropriate Cat 3 EE. There are several problems, including the absence of text/data, and a problem of measurement (i.e. how can you know the effect?).

I think considering policy documents is a step in the right direction, but it isn't a panacea. What, for example, is the research question, and what approach to textual analysis will the student take? What might this reveal?

It's certainly an interesting area for study, but there is work to be done before you can set the student loose.

Cheers,

David

Mirna Madi 27 March 2017 - 12:57

Hi,

My student intends to write a cat 3 EE and her research question is:
How did popular music impact and shape movements for/against the Vietnamese War?

Is it valid topic/question?

Thank you.

Mirna

Tim Pruzinsky 29 March 2017 - 02:59

Hi Mirna,

I think this is a good start. Looking at the language of music (essentially poetry) in connection to a social topic (the Vietnam War) is something worth developing. I'm not sure the research question is a precise as possible and I don't know if the student can come to an answer, but I think the texts and the topic are worth exploring for an EE.

Best,
Tim

Oberoi School 11 April 2017 - 08:59

Hi Tim,
I have a student who wants to write her EE on the language used in The Perks of Being a Wall-Flower, the novel, and compare it to the language (techniques such as camera angles, perspective etc) used in the movie to show an American high schooler's life. Do you think this would fit under Cat 3 EE? I am doubtful because this may become a 'literary' pursuit. Moreover, while the intention is to discuss the use of language in both the novel and the movie, it doesn't seem to be in context of a culture (which seems to be a requirement for Cat 3). Would appreciate your guidance!
Thank you,
Nandini.

Tim Pruzinsky 11 April 2017 - 11:08

Hi Nandini,

I'm not a fan of the student comparing and contrasting the novel to the movie. Pick one or the other. I prefer the novel, of course. If so, have her get a research question that is literary in nature (about narrative voice or characterization, for example). It would be a C1 in that case. Is "Perks" serious enough? I think, if done well, and with an academic and sustained focus on some literary aspect of the novel, I'd be okay with it.

Best,
Tim

Marion Plantagie 21 April 2017 - 06:45

Greetings InThinking gentlemen :)
I have a student who is interested in comparing LUX and DOVE advertising campaigns. He believes that LUX represents the past and DOVE is the future + wants to include Edward DeBernays' theories in his analysis in that they still apply in this 21st century + feminist critical lens theory.
His EE fits well in Category 3 and I think that he will have enough material to work with. His proposed research question is a s follows: "To what extent is DOVE's causative advertising campaign more effective than that of LUX".
Do you think this is too ambitious? Should he focus on one medium: print or radio or video ads? Do you think this is clear enough? He has a lot of material to work with, I think his challenge may be focus.

David McIntyre 22 April 2017 - 02:48

Hi Marion,

I am not, personally, comfortable with the expression 'more effective'. By what measure could something be regarded as 'more effective'? How would you know? Whilst comparing and contrasting two different advertising campaigns seems appropriate and potentially interesting, the student, to my mind, needs to develop an RQ that considers the texts and their meanings. My suggestion would be to consider only print media; I think this is straightforward, albeit does not delimit the potential for sophistication.

Kind regards,

David

Tim Pruzinsky 22 April 2017 - 02:50

Hi Marion,

Greetings back at you!

It's exciting when you have an EE student who has a ton of ideas and material to work with. But your concern is spot on. He's too ambitious here. My worry is how is he going to define "more effective" in his RQ? Is that in terms of how profits versus advertising money spent? How will he know this? And doesn't that move him away from a C3 EE into a World Studies (cross-study) EE?

I think picking one critical lens (feminist theory perhaps) is the way to go. And I think "reading" these ads through that lens is how he could center/focus himself in his RQ.

How many ads and print vs. radio will become more apparent once he starts writing. Have him refine his RQ to focus on a feminist reading of the ads and what they represent + why. That will allow him to compare and contrast the two in a very analytical manner that is in the spirit of a C3 EE. And get him writing so that he knows how much material he wants/can work with in the 4,000 word limit.

Best,
Tim

David McIntyre 22 April 2017 - 02:53

You see what happens when we write within two minutes of each other, Tim??

We both highlight the problem with 'more effective'. Since I got my response in a couple of minutes before you did, maybe it can be defined :))

Cheers.

Marion Plantagie 23 April 2017 - 04:47

Great minds think alike! Ha ha! Thank you you David and Tim for helpful feedback :)

Franklin Delano 28 April 2017 - 20:15

Hi Dave and Tim,

You have provided such helpful answers for me in LangLit in the past - hoping to get your advice now for EE too. I have a student who is interested in the poetry of Amiri Baraka -- not a poet with whom I'm familiar but she is a diligent student and has researched him and his works quite extensively in her quest to decide if he will make a 'good fit' for her EE. He is a political activist and the Poet Laureate of New Jersey (I'd never heard of his claim to fame before!) and her interest in his poetry, specifically his collection called "Somebody Blew Up America" is contextual first and literary second. I've not had a student do a C3 Lang-Lit EE before on poetry (just C1, quite straightforward literary analysis) but it seems to mean that without examining how his poems "are constructed and understood in specific cultural and historical contexts", she will run out of steam long before 4000 words. Before she goes any further, wondering what you think about a C3 EE on poetry? Her general interest is in (in her words) "the influence of politics in his poetry, or the influence of the black movement in his work" -- but she does understand she'd need to do close textual analysis as well, and has already started to look into the body of research on the use of rhetoric in protest poetry (which she could apply to her understanding of his works). But I still feel this isn't enough to make it C1 essay -- which brings me back to my question about a C3 option on poetry?

David McIntyre 1 May 2017 - 04:43

Hi,

This seems interesting; lovely when a student selects an idea where they have a particular passion, and there is an element of originality.

This said, the student cannot do a cat. 3 EE on poetry. Cat 3 EEs are not a 'reserve army of labour' for 'everything else that doesn't fit elsewhere'. This has to be a cat 1 EE, I would suggest. There has to be linguistic/stylistic analysis, and the politics can certainly, in my view, be explored through the poetry.

If the student were to explore secondary sources on the poetry as primary texts for the EE, then I guess that some form of cat 3 is possible, but this strikes me as a potentially messy business and too sociological. I suggest the student discusses the poetry through some kind of political lens instead.

Interesting EE. Best of luck,

David

Franklin Delano 2 May 2017 - 14:47

Thanks so much - seems my gut was right that Cat 3 wouldn't work, but that she needs to focus her analysis further for a Cat 1. She has asked me about lenses before - do you think choosing just one is key or could she perhaps analyse the poetry comparatively through two lenses? ie, a Marxist reading or New Historicism/Cultural studies reading versus a Critical Race Theory reading -- or some other combo? She's a strong enough student to do the research, but it would certainly take her beyond grade 11 LangLit class, where a few main schools of criticism like Feminism, ReaderResponse and Postmodernism are covered in a few paragraphs each.

My other thought is that she apply CDA to the poetry (which they do learn in a little more detail in class, although she'd still have to research in a great deal more depth). It would allow her to explore "how language is a form of social practice" but still do a close linguistic analysis?

Thanks for your follow-up ... :)

Tim Pruzinsky 3 May 2017 - 04:16

Hi,

I'm wondering why two lenses are necessary? It suggests there isn't enough literary analysis and/or critical reading that can be used with this poet. I'm sure that's not the case.

Go for depth rather than breadth would be my argument. Your student wants to use the poetry of Baraka. Have her come up with a research question that is literary in nature that fits a C1 EE. Does she want to focus on the images of black Americans that Baraka presents? Is she more interested in his depiction of violence? Is it the positioning of minorities in his poetry? Or does she want to explore the persona in various poems and their voice? In other words, what literary aspect(s) interests her?

Once she figures that out, I would then use that RQ to help her connect with a way of reading the text. Perhaps Critical Race Theory makes the most sense. Maybe a Post-Colonial reading is more appropriate. I find it easier to help a student out once a student generates an RQ. The RQ can always be added to or changed in the future, but it gives me a starting place for that conversation.

Do keep coming back with more questions when they arise!

Best,
Tim

Mirna Madi 10 May 2017 - 09:01

Dear Tim and David,

As I wrote earlier, my student is interested in researching the role American protest music (language of poetry/lyric analysis) played in impacting/shaping the public opinion of Americans regarding the Vietnam War. We examined five songs that were popular during that era and concluded that people joined the protest and contributed to the eventual withdrawal from the war.

As a result, the research question is as follows:

To what extent did the language of American protest music shape the public opinion regarding the Vietnam War?

Is this a valid C3 EE topic/Research Question?
Any advice, please?

Thank you

Tim Pruzinsky 10 May 2017 - 10:57

Hi Mirna,

What a great topic!

I think the RQ leads itself to a contrived answer though. What does the student answer...to a large extent? How does s/he know this?

A more literary approach to this question might be advisable in this case. How did various songwriters (?) use language to shape public opinion regarding the Vietnam War? What I've written is a bit convoluted, and needs re-working, but it focuses on the how - the various poetic techniques that would have been used and the effect on the listener.

In that regard, a student has a literary topic to explore through interesting content (protest songs)!

Best,
Tim

Abigail Faye Rata 10 August 2017 - 12:27

Hello, Tim!

My student is thinking of using The Invisible Man by as a text for her EE. Is it possible since the author is not included in the PLA and the work is not really familiar? I am hoping for your response. Thank you so much!

David McIntyre 11 August 2017 - 07:51

It's possible to use the text, although it is possibly better regarded as a novella than a novel. That needn't stop the student. As with all EEs, the main point of departure is the research question, and the intended approach to that question.

Let me know, please, if you would like further advice (and to offer this, I would need to know more about the student's intentions).

Kind regards,

David

Abigail Faye Rata 21 August 2017 - 07:34

Hello, David! I am so delighted to have seen your response. The student is really interested on using the novella, Invisible Man. Her RQ goes like this: To what extent does the anonymity of the narrator affect the reader's perception of racism and its effects in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man? She says that she finds it challenging but at the same time interesting. Considering, of course, that her sources could be limited and her analysis could obviously be based only on the features presented in the novella, is it something feasible? Or maybe there is something that needs to be reviewed in her RQ. I am hoping for your response. Again, thank you so much!

Kind regards,

Abigail

David McIntyre 21 August 2017 - 19:46

Hi Abigail,

A couple of things occur to me: (i) I'm not confident you can know the 'reader's perception'. On can, however, construct an argument around narrative voice and meaning; (ii) I would think that the EE can be informed by a range of secondary sources. Whilst the student will construct her own independent response to the question, this is likely to be informed by, for example, critical literature on the text, and sources which inform arguments on narrative technique, race and racism.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,

David

Abigail Faye Rata 1 September 2017 - 05:26

Hello, David. This will help her a lot. I asked her to review it again and do the necessary research.

Kind regards,

Abigail

Abigail Faye Rata 1 September 2017 - 06:15

Hi David. Another question is, can a student use a non-print material for the EE like movies/films, television series, anime, songs, and others? And will it also be feasible if a student tries to compare different materials like let us say novel and a movie? Thank you so much for the help.

Kind regards,
Abigail

Tim Pruzinsky 2 September 2017 - 02:38

Hi Abigail,

One of our best exemplars on the site is an EE about "Breaking Bad." So, yes, C3 EEs are about texts that aren't considered traditional "literature." I don't think it's advisable to mix and match genres - a novel and a movie or song lyrics and speeches, but I could always be persuaded otherwise by a student with a strong EE proposal.

Best,
Tim

Abigail Faye Rata 3 September 2017 - 14:00

Thanks a million, Tim, for this feedback. It is a big help!

Best,
Abigail

Priyamvada Gopal 14 October 2017 - 08:29

Hi there,
One of my student wants to do his Cat 1 EE on Carol on Duffy's poems while using Empson's 7 types of ambiguity as a framework. He has not formulated his research question. Is it feasible for him to use Empson's text also? Wouldn't it be better if he just used her poems as a springboard?
How many poems may he focus on? Her poems are mostly 25- 40 lines. He will pick up poems from 'Bees'.
Thanks

Tim Pruzinsky 14 October 2017 - 10:02

Hi Priya,

First, get him to write an actual research question. It is tough to advise without it. Second, have him hold the Empson criticism for the essay itself, not for the question. It looks like he wants to run with "new criticism" as a lens. That's fine.

Third, he will need to decide what poems. I can't and you can't tell him how many or which ones if he doesn't have a research question. What exactly is it that he wants to explore, investigate, and research?

You are right - he needs to use the poems as a springboard and he needs to figure out which ones. Get that research question clarified and narrow enough for a 4,000 word essay. Then, go from there.

It looks like he has some work to do before he meets with you again!

Best,
Tim

Priyamvada Gopal 14 October 2017 - 10:22

Hi Tim,
I will look into all these points.
regards,
Priya


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