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Extended Essay Paper

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Recommendations for Extended Essay Writing

Cover Page

You have to place your title indenting¼ of the page. You should create an original and creative title by following a simple rule– your research question cannot constitute the title. Your title should be based on the research question, but it should represent the essence of the whole paper and make the reader interested in exploring it. Usually in the top left corner, there is a need to include a header:

Extended Essay (First Draft)

Advisor: Mr. or Ms._______

TOK Teacher ____________

Word count ______________


Page Numbers

The cover page should not include a page number. The rest of your essay pages should be numbered. To add a page number, you should use “Insert” menu tab in MS Word.

Table of Contents

This part enumerates all sections included in essay writing (Abstract, Introduction, Main Body paragraphs, Conclusion, References/Biography, Appendices, etc.). If your sections include topical subsections, be sure to add them in your Table of Contents. Please remember that all your points from the table of contents should introduce a specific page number. Your major essay parts should be bold, whereas other subsections should be indented from the left margin.

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Your abstract should take no more than 250-300 words. It is a small summary or synopsis of your essay, which mentions the focus of writing. It should be written in 3rd person. You should state your research question. Sometimes instructors ask to include a word count of the abstract in the end of the page. Your abstract should be placed right after Table of Contents.


Your task is to introduce the topic. Please provide enough details for the reader to properly comprehend your research question and what you attempt to discuss. Remember that in comparison with simple essay writing, an extended essay should be based on a clear research question. It remains the central idea of your paper, which should be explored in the whole paper. In order to reach good results in writing, you should focus on a narrow topic. Focusing on a limited scope and narrowed topic will give you an opportunity to explore it to the full by providing relevant details only. Always state your research question in this essay part. Since extended essay writing usually takes around 4000 words, your introduction should include enough details about the research question under analysis. Usually introduction is a part that enables readers to see how well you can identify the research question, if you managed to gather relevant information and extract the essence, etc.

Do not forget not only to introduce your research question, but also state why it is worth exploring and what made you choose this specific topic (unless your topic was assigned by the professor). Every introductory paragraph should include a thesis statement or your hypothesis about the research question. Please differentiate between a thesis statement and research question. Your thesis should sound like an assertion or “backbone” of the research conducted on the topic. Sometimes researchers compare a thesis statement with a research questions, claiming that it is a “game plan” used to reach and support the research question. Now you can move on to the creation of main body sections.

Thesis Statement

As we have already mentioned, it is a part that relates to introduction. It should be placed in the end of introductory paragraph. A writer should take a clear position and explain his/her point (main argument). Afterwards, the rest of the paper should be a response to the suggested thesis. Make sure you include a clear, organized, and well-expressed thesis that does not imply any logical fallacy. Defend your thesis in main body paragraphs and restate it in conclusion.

Main Body (Methodology and Results– If Applicable).

Main body sections vary depending on the discipline and your professor’s instructions. However, in extensive essays, one can usually find the following points:

  • An approach towards exploring the research question.
  • Analysis of the research question along with interpretation of evidence (be sure not only to include outside research, but also evaluate it and state its importance).
  • Your own argumentation.

You can find various option of how to organize your main body paragraphs in an extended essay on the web. However, the main point is to clearly express your research question and introduce relevant evidence only. Your arguments should sound convincing and valid. Do not think that presenting research ideas of others is a good way out. In essay writing, readers expect to see your standpoint as well. For this reason, you should apply both critical and analytical skills to impress your reader to accept your points of view. Remember that you should follow a specific plan by creating your main body sections. “Freewriting” should not be used because your main body sections must be clearly organized and based on specific evidence. It is preferable to refer to both primary and secondary sources. Always focus on credible sources only because your professor may claim that your textual evidence is of no scientific value.


Your conclusion should discuss the same research question, but in different words. The task of a writer is to restate a thesis and provide a logical explanation why it is correct. If you have some unsolved questions that require additional research, please mention it as well. Remember that concluding is more about summarizing of what has been already stated before. Therefore, you should demonstrate your ability to arrive to logical conclusions instead of introducing new ideas. You should discuss the key notions from the paper.

Illustrations, Data, Charts, Graphs

If you want to add some visuals, be sure they are placed correctly in the text. By adding any illustration, chart, graph, etc., you should follow specific formatting rules. Do not forget that all illustrations should be properly explained.


This section should include large illustrations that could not fit within the main body sections. Professors ask students to include and explain tables within the text, if they do not significantly influence a general perception of information and do not distract readers’ focus.


You are bound to introduce outside research ideas in the paper, which should be properly cited. Depending on the chosen citation style, you will have to include footnotes/endnotes or parenthetical citations. Be sure you properly follow all referencing rules not to be blamed for plagiarism. You can use various guides online (e.g. Purdue Owl, Chicago Style Guide, etc.) that will show you how correct formatting should look like. Remember that all used sources should be both cited within the text and reflected in the reference list. Your reference or bibliography list should be alphabetically arranged. In an extended essay, students usually have to utilize around 15 sources. History papers usually include 30-40 references in the list. 

Sometimes professors ask to submit drafts of extensive essays. They should include a shortened version of your paper with all abovementioned sections. Your paper should be clearly organized and remain visually attractive. Use Times New Roman or a similar font. Do not forget about transitions that will make reading smooth. Always proofread your paper before submission or ask someone to help you correct all grammar and formatting mistakes.