What Is the Hardest and Easiest IB Extended Essay Subject?

Choosing the appropriate Extended Essay subject impacts your IB experience, setting the stage for academic achievement or causing unwarranted pressure. In this piece, I will provide perspectives based on my years as an experienced IB writer. Today, we will identify the hardest and easiest Extended Essay subjects so you can make the best choice.

What Makes an Extended Essay Subject Difficult or Easy?

To begin with, understanding the factors contributing to the difficulty or ease of an Extended Essay topic is crucial. In my experience, students can perceive the level of difficulty very differently. Nevertheless, the availability of resources, the expertise of mentors, your interest, and the complexity of the subject matter all have significant impacts. I believe that these factors play the leading role in determining the success of your Extended Essay writing rather than being insignificant details.

When evaluating complexity, consider the subject’s extent and intensity and how they match your academic capabilities. Here are some factors to consider when assessing possible subjects:

  • Resource Availability. Are there enough books, papers, and studies available?
  • Mentor Expertise. Do you have access to a mentor who is knowledgeable in the subject?
  • Personal Interest. Does the subject matter engage you enough to sustain your interest over an extended period?
  • Complexity of Subject. Is the subject known for its complexity and depth of knowledge required?
  • Alignment with Academic Goals. Does the subject align with your future academic or career goals?

As I know, these elements combined can significantly influence your ability to perform well. It’s not just about how tough the content is; it’s also about how well you can access support and resources. According to general IB criteria, a well-chosen subject is one where the student has an interest and an academic advantage. This combination often leads to a more insightful and less stressful research experience.

Taking the time to carefully evaluate these factors before deciding can help you avoid unnecessary hurdles and boost your learning and writing process. Moreover, making an informed choice based on personal inclination and practical considerations can turn a daunting task into an achievable and enjoyable project.

Overview of Common Extended Essay Subjects

The IB Extended Essay offers diverse subjects, allowing students to research their interests. From my experience, choosing the right option is a decision that significantly affects both your enjoyment and performance in the Extended Essay component. As an IB writer, I have observed students flourish in subjects that pique their interest and complement their academic strengths and future aspirations. So, let’s look at some of the most commonly chosen subjects for Extended Essays:

  • Biology. This option is often favored by students interested in scientific research and experiments.
  • History. Popular among those who excel in analysis and argumentation based on historical data.
  • English Literature. This subject is ideal for those passionate about analyzing texts and researching literary themes.
  • Economics. Attracts students who are keen on analyzing economic theories and their real-world applications.
  • Psychology. Suitable for students fascinated by human behavior and psychological processes.
  • Chemistry. Preferred by students who enjoy hands-on laboratory work and scientific inquiry.

According to general IB criteria, each subject has specific requirements that can pose a challenge or provide an advantage, depending on the student’s skills and resources. For instance, scientific subjects often require substantial experimental data, making them challenging if lab resources are limited or practical experiments are not your strength.

In my opinion, students who opt for a subject and topic they are enthusiastic about tend to handle the challenges of the Extended Essay better. They involve themselves more profoundly with the material and show excellent resiliency when encountering obstacles in the research process.

What is the hardest and easiest IB extended essay subject?

What Are the Hardest Extended Essay Subjects?

I’ve observed that certain subjects consistently rank as the hardest due to their demanding content, rigorous methodology, and high precision required. Based on my experience and general IB criteria, here’s an overview of these options.


Physics is one of the most challenging options for an Extended Essay. This subject demands a solid understanding of complex theories and principles and the ability to conduct precise experiments and interpret the data accurately. From my experience, the main challenge lies in the experimental aspect, which requires access to specialized equipment and a deep understanding of the scientific method and error analysis. The scarcity of mentors with a strong background in experimental physics can further complicate the essay.


Mathematics is renowned for its difficulty due to the abstract nature of its inquiry and the high level of theoretical thinking it requires. Students must develop and prove complex mathematical theories and ensure their arguments are logically sound and rigorously presented. I know that the challenge is intensified by the need to grasp advanced mathematical concepts, often well beyond the standard high school curriculum.


So, IB DP Chemistry, like physics, requires extensive experimental work that must be meticulously planned and executed. Students must understand chemical properties, reactions, and processes in detail. According to general IB criteria, a Chemistry Extended Essay also involves significant laboratory work, which tests the student’s ability to safely and accurately handle and measure chemical substances.


History may not involve complex equations or lab experiments, but it is challenging due to the vast amounts of data students must analyze. From my experience, the difficulty in history lies in developing a coherent argument based on an interpretation of diverse sources. Additionally, students must critically evaluate sources for bias and significance, requiring a deep understanding of the historical context.


Economics also ranks one of the more challenging subjects for an Extended Essay. The complexity of economics comes from the need to understand and apply advanced economic theories and models to real-world scenarios. Students must conduct thorough research to support their hypotheses, often involving data collection and quantitative analysis. As I know, the rigorous analytical nature of economics demands high precision and critical thinking, which can be overwhelming for many students without a strong background in economics.

Computer Science

Computer Science is another subject that ranks as one of the most challenging for an Extended Essay. The field requires a robust understanding of complex algorithms, programming, and system analysis. From my experience, students undertaking an Extended Essay in Computer Science face the dual challenges of conceptual knowledge and practical application. They must develop a software solution or investigate computational theories, often involving intricate coding tasks or algorithmic design.

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The Easiest Extended Essay Subjects to Consider

While these topics may seem more manageable, the key to a successful Extended Essay is to choose a topic that sparks your interest and allows you to obtain adequate resources and support. The thoroughness and intensity of your research will determine the overall quality and success of your Extended Essay, even with topics that are considered more manageable.

World Studies

World Studies is unique in its interdisciplinary approach, allowing students to investigate an issue of global significance through the lens of two IB subjects. In my opinion, this subject’s flexibility makes it one of the more accessible options. Students can tailor their research to use readily accessible data and methodologies and integrate global perspectives that interest them. This adaptability not only makes the research process more manageable but also more enjoyable.

English Literature

English Literature essays allow students to conduct in-depth analyses of literary texts. From my experience, the abundance of critical resources and secondary literature makes this subject a relatively easy choice. Students can find a plethora of analyses on most canonical texts, providing a foundation for their arguments. Additionally, the subjective nature of literary analysis can sometimes offer more flexibility in developing and arguing a thesis.

Film Studies

Film Studies is another subject where students often find the Extended Essay more straightforward. Analyzing films involves watching and re-watching content, which is more accessible and less technically demanding than laboratory work or field research. Film studies’ analytical frameworks and theories are also well-documented, providing students with a clear path for conducting their research.


While Psychology can be challenging, it is also considered one of the more accessible subjects when the student focuses on existing theories and literature. Unlike the experimental approach, a literature-based essay in psychology doesn’t require the setup of complex experiments, making the research process more straightforward and less time-consuming. According to general IB criteria, a well-structured literature review or case study analysis in psychology can effectively meet the Extended Essay requirements.

Business Management

Business Management essays are often seen as easier due to the vast amount of case studies and business models students can analyze. The practical nature of this subject usually means that students can apply theoretical frameworks to real-world scenarios, which is a process that many find straightforward and engaging. From my experience, the clarity and real-world application in business management often make it a less intimidating choice for students.

Environmental Systems and Societies

Environmental Systems and Societies is another subject that many students find accessible. It integrates scientific and societal aspects, allowing for a broad range of topics to be researched through available data and research. This subject often involves less rigorous laboratory work than pure sciences, making it a more manageable option for many students.

Making Your Decision

To sum up, the choice of subject for your Extended Essay can make a vast difference in your overall IB experience. Reflect on what subjects spark your curiosity and align with your academic profile to make a well-informed decision.

For further guidance, consult the official IB materials and consider connecting with past students and educators who can offer real-life insights and advice. You can also contact our experts at IBWritingService.com for suggestions on topics or help with EE writing.