Extended Essay Rubric (Grading/Marking Scheme)

ee rubric

Welcome, fellow IB students! As someone who has completed the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, I’m excited to share insights into the Extended Essay rubric. Understanding this grading system is essential to producing a first-rate essay. Let’s examine what makes this rubric a critical part of your academic toolkit.

What Is the IB Extended Essay Rubric?

First things first, what exactly is the IB Extended Essay rubric? It’s a comprehensive framework that meticulously guides the evaluation of your Extended Essay. From my experience, fully understanding this rubric’s nuances elevates the quality of your work. It details the elements that examiners scrutinize rigorously, from the clarity and precision of your research question to the depth and breadth of your analysis.

In my opinion, the IB EE rubric is instrumental in shaping how you approach your essay, ensuring that each component (from introduction to conclusion) is aligned with the IB’s rigorous standards. By closely adhering to this rubric, you can strategically address each criterion to maximize your essay’s effectiveness and impact, aiming for the highest marks possible.

From my experience, students who thoroughly comprehend and apply the rubric’s guidelines often produce essays that are not only well-structured but also rich in content. This involves following the rubric and embedding a level of critical thinking and reflection that distinguishes top-scoring essays from the rest. According to general IB criteria, the examiners seek this depth of understanding and application.

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All Components of the Extended Essay Rubric

As an experienced IB writer, I understand that the Extended Essay is a significant component of the IB diploma, with the potential to influence your final score significantly. The EE is graded out of 34 points, divided across five main sections of a detailed rubric. Each of these sections targets specific aspects of your research and writing skills. From my experience, a solid grasp of each criterion can set your essay apart. Let’s break down these components.

Criterion A. Focus and Method (6 points)

This criterion examines how well you define and maintain your research focus throughout the essay. It assesses the clarity of your research question and the appropriateness of your methodology. A sharply focused research question and a robust methodology form the backbone of a successful Extended Essay. According to general IB criteria, achieving the highest marks here requires:

  • Research question that aligns well with your investigation.
  • Methodology that effectively supports and addresses your research question.

Ensure that your methodology is aligned and systematically applied throughout your research. It will significantly enhance the coherence and depth of your analysis.

Criterion B. Knowledge and Understanding (6 points)

This section evaluates how well your essay demonstrates knowledge of the chosen topic and integrates relevant academic theories and concepts. From my experience, essays that effectively integrate course content and show a deep understanding of the material score highly. As I know, to excel in this area, you should:

  • Use a range of credible sources that enhance the depth of your investigation.
  • Employ subject-specific terminology accurately to communicate your understanding.

Furthermore, demonstrating how these sources and terminologies directly relate to your research question can strengthen your argument’s persuasiveness.

Criterion C. Critical Thinking (12 points)

Critical thinking involves analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating the gathered information. This criterion is the most significant component of the EE rubric, reflecting its importance. From my experience, critical thinking is what differentiates a good essay from a great one. Essays that present a well-reasoned argument based on comprehensive analysis achieve higher scores. According to general IB criteria, you should:

  • Present well-supported arguments and conclusions that are directly relevant to your research question.
  • Critically evaluate your sources and the evidence you provide, ensuring alignment with your thesis.

Additionally, integrating these evaluations seamlessly into your argument will showcase your ability to engage deeply and thoughtfully with your topic.

Extended Essay Rubric

Criterion D. Presentation (4 points)

This criterion assesses the overall presentation of the Extended Essay, including its structure, formatting, and adherence to academic standards. As I know, the presentation is crucial as it affects your essay’s readability and professional appearance. To score well, ensure:

  • Your essay follows the expected academic format and structure.
  • Proper citation and referencing are used throughout the document.

A well-presented essay communicates your ideas clearly and demonstrates your professionalism and attention to detail, highly valued in academic writing.

Criterion E. Engagement (6 points)

Finally, this criterion evaluates your engagement with the research process, mainly through your reflection, which accounts for up to 500 words of the EE. From my experience, reflections that convey your intellectual and personal engagement with the topic often score highly. Effective reflections should:

  • Demonstrate thoughtful decision-making and planning.
  • Reflect on challenges and setbacks, showing how they contributed to your learning and understanding.

Understanding these IB EE grading criteria and how they contribute to your overall EE score boosts your writing process and final output. As a seasoned IB writer, I advise approaching each criterion equally and integrating them cohesively to produce a well-rounded and academically rigorous Extended Essay.

A. Focus and Method0-2The work does not reach the standard outlined by the descriptors below.
3-4The topic and question are partially clear; the methodology is mostly complete.
5-6Clear and focused topic and question; effective methodology.
B. Knowledge and Understanding0-2Limited knowledge and unclear use of terminology.
3-4Good understanding with some accurate terminology.
5-6Excellent knowledge and consistent, accurate terminology.
C. Critical Thinking0-3Limited analysis and unsupported conclusions.
4-6Adequate analysis with some relevant conclusions.
7-12From good to excellent analysis with well-supported, critically evaluated conclusions.
D. Presentation0-2Acceptable presentation with some structural weaknesses.
3-4Good structure and layout supporting essay evaluation.
E. Engagement0-2Limited engagement and descriptive reflections.
3-4Moderate engagement with analytical reflections.
5-6Excellent engagement with evaluative and creative reflections.

Grade Boundaries for IB Extended Essay

Examiners appointed by the IB externally assess all Extended Essays, marked on a scale from 0 to 34. Here’s how the score a student receives aligns with the grading bands:

  • A – Excellent Standard (27 – 34).
  • B – Good Standard (21 – 26).
  • C – Satisfactory Standard (14 – 20).
  • D – Mediocre Standard (7 – 13).
  • E – Elementary Standard (0 – 6).

From my experience, achieving a score between 27 and 34, corresponding to an “A,” indicates that you’ve met and exceeded expectations with exceptional research, insightful analysis, and clear, structured writing. This grade band reflects work of an excellent standard, demonstrating a profound understanding of the topic and sophisticated analytical skills.

On the other hand, a score between 14 and 20 is required to pass the Extended Essay, falling into the “C” category. This score indicates satisfactory work that meets the basic requirements but may lack the depth or insight of higher-scoring essays. According to general IB criteria, achieving this score is a good baseline for passing, but aiming higher to demonstrate your capabilities entirely is beneficial.

In my opinion, students who score between 0 and 6, which places them in the “E” category, should reflect on their research and writing processes. This range suggests that the effort and engagement with the subject matter were significantly lacking, resulting in work that does not meet the elementary standards of academic research.

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Tips for Maximizing Your Extended Essay Scores

As a seasoned IB writer deeply familiar with the demands of the Extended Essay, I’ve observed that students who excel not only grasp the basics but also demonstrate nuanced understanding and strategic thinking. Here are some tips for maximizing your Extended Essay scores based on my extensive experience and knowledge of general IB criteria:

  • In my experience, selecting a topic you are passionate about is crucial. Your interest will drive more profound research and nuanced analysis, essential for high scores.
  • A well-defined research question acts as the guiding light for your essay. As I know, clarity here is critical — it shapes your research direction and influences the coherence of your argument.
  • According to general IB criteria, a rigorous methodology is paramount. Ensure your methods are appropriate for your topic and that they effectively address your research question.
  • In my opinion, top-scoring essays show a deep engagement with relevant sources. Don’t just describe what sources say; analyze them, discuss their limitations, and synthesize different viewpoints to build a compelling argument.
  • As I know, iterative feedback is invaluable. It helps refine your argument and presentation, ensuring your essay meets the high standards expected by the IB.
  • Finally, follow the IB’s formatting guidelines to ensure proper citations and maintain a professional writing style.

By following these strategies, you’re not just completing an assignment but mastering a complex skill set that reflects high academic standards and personal growth.


So, understanding the Extended Essay rubric is more than just a requirement — it is your secret to excelling in the IB Extended Essay. So take on this challenge confidently, and remember that a well-understood rubric is half the battle.

There you have it — an insider’s guide to mastering the IB Extended Essay rubric. Armed with this knowledge, you’re better equipped to tackle this critical component of the IB Diploma. Happy writing, and don’t hesitate to contact our experts from IBWritingService.com if you need help!