First-year IB students begin essay process


Josephine Rozzelle

Extended Essay Coordinator Alyson Barrett-Ryan assists junior Sophie Egan with her extended essay. Students’s subject areas and initial research questions were due Monday.

WEB EXCLUSIVE Juniors in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme began the extended essay process this week, choosing their subject area and posing an initial question they will continue to research in the coming months.

The 4,000-word research paper is one component of the IB Programme that extends outside of the classroom as a completely self-directed project by the student, according to

“What we have done is started a series of internal assignments to help people select their subject area,” Extended Essay Coordinator Alyson Barrett-Ryan said. “The extended essay can be written on a topic of the student’s choice so that gives us a world of opportunity but it is also very challenging to pull a topic out of thin air.”

Some subject areas — such as psychology and social and cultural anthropology — seem off limits because juniors have not yet had the ability to take classes in the topic, according to junior Abigail Anderson.

“I really like being able to choose what I am writing about,” Anderson said. “There are some restrictions because there are specific topics students have never learned about so we can’t really touch on those but I am really excited to write about something I like.”

First-year IB students will continue to develop their research questions by collecting five scholarly sources on their chosen topic by January, according to Barrett-Ryan.

“We are focussing right now on helping students do some reading to get them on track so they can choose a subject area that they will be inspired by,” Barrett-Ryan said, “and develop a research question that they will enjoy for the next year and a half of exciting, inspiring, invigorating and meaningful research.”