Assessment (2018)

This section was written by Geoff Neuss a former principal examiner of extended essays in chemistry, author of thinkib physics website plus the Oxford study guide. He is also a friend of mine and has allowed me to copy his pages with a bit of editing. Geoff knows much more about marking extended essays than I do, I will also be heeding his advice as I prepare my own students.


All Extended Essays are marked by an external examiner. All the external examiner sees is the final copy of the Essay together with the completed Reflections on planning and progress form. Based solely on this information, it is the external examiner's task to determine how the Essay matches up to the five assessment criteria and to award a total mark out of a maximum of 34. In one sense the way in which the essay is marked is not directly the teacher's concern as the assessment is external. However it is important to understand how it operates because you are asked to submit a predicted grade and also it will enable you to advise your students better on how to perform to the best of their abilities.

The total mark out of 34 is translated into a grade from A to E. The grade descriptors which govern how the grade boundaries are decided are given on page 107 of the Extended Essay guide. It is worth considering the descriptor for the top boundary of Grade A .

Grade A descriptor

Demonstrates effective research skills resulting in a well-focused and appropriate research question that can be explored within the scope of the chosen topic; effective engagement with relevant research areas, methods and sources; excellent knowledge and understanding of the topic in the wider context of the relevant discipline; the effective application of source material and correct use of subject-specific terminology and/or concepts further supporting this; consistent and relevant conclusions that are proficiently analysed; sustained reasoned argumentation supported effectively by evidence; critically evaluated research; excellent presentation of the essay, whereby coherence and consistency further supports the reading of the essay; and present and correctly applied structural and layout elements.

Engagement with the process is conceptual and personal, key decision-making during the research process is documented, and personal reflections are evidenced, including those that are forward-thinking.


Clearly not all students will achieve this standard, but it is the benchmark that should be aimed for.

This section looks  in detail at all the five Assessment Criteria individually and gives advice and guidance (with examples) as to how to maximise the student’s marks for each criterion.

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