Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge Assessment
What is Extended Essay (EE)?
The extended essay of approximately 4,000 words offers the opportunity for IB students to investigate a topic of special interest, usually one of the student’s six Diploma Programme subjects, and acquaints them with the independent research and writing skills expected at university. It is intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity—resulting in approximately 40 hours of work. It provides students with an opportunity to engage in personal research on a topic of choice, under the guidance of a supervisor. © International Baccalaureate Organization 2010
What is Theory of Knowledge (TOK)?
The interdisciplinary theory of knowledge course is designed to develop a coherent approach to learning that transcends and unifies the academic areas and encourages appreciation of other cultural perspectives.
The theory of knowledge course is in part intended to encourage students to reflect on the huge cultural shifts worldwide around the digital revolution and the information economy. The extent and impact of the changes vary greatly in different parts of the world, but everywhere their implications for knowledge are profound. Theory of knowledge encourages critical thinking about knowledge itself and aims to help young people make sense of what they encounter. Its core content focuses on questions such as the following.
- What counts as knowledge?
- How does it grow?
- What are its limits?
- Who owns knowledge?
- What is the value of knowledge?
- What are the implications of having, or not having, knowledge
© International Baccalaureate Organization 2010
How are these subjects Evaluated?
Letter grades are awarded for the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge based on achievement against published criteria.
The standards are:
A - Work of an excellent standard
B - Work of a good standard
C - Work of a satisfactory standard
D - Work of a mediocre standard
E - Work of an elementary standard
These grades are combined according to the matrix below to give the student a maximum of 3 points.
The Diploma Points Matrix
If a student gains an “E” in either component 28 points overall will be required to pass the IB Diploma (not 24 points as is usual). A grade “A” in one of the components earns an extra point even if the other is a grade “E”. An “E” grade in both the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge means an automatic failure of the IB Diploma.
The International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) uses both internally and externally assessed components to assess student performance.
For most courses, written examinations at the end of the DP form the basis of the assessment. This is because these examinations have high levels of objectivity and reliability.
Externally assessed coursework, completed by students over an extended period under authenticated teacher supervision, forms part of the assessment for several programme areas, including the theory of knowledge (TOK) essay and the extended essay (EE).
In most subjects, students also complete in-school assessment tasks. These are either externally assessed or marked by teachers and then moderated by the IB.
How DP assessment is scored
In the DP, students receive grades ranging from 7 to 1, with 7 being highest. Students receive a grade for each DP course attempted.
A student’s final Diploma result score is made up of the combined scores for each subject. The diploma is awarded to students who gain at least 24 points, subject to certain minimum levels of performance including successful completion of the three essential elements of the DP core.
The DP core
The theory of knowledge (TOK) and extended essay (EE) components are awarded individual grades and, collectively, can contribute up to 3 additional points towards the overall Diploma score.
Creativity, Action, Service – the remaining element in the DP core – does not contribute to the points total but authenticated participation is a requirement for the award of the diploma.
Higher level and standard level courses
The IB awards the same number of points for higher level (HL) and standard level (SL) courses, reflecting the IB’s belief in the importance of achievement across a broad range of academic disciplines.
HL and SL courses differ in scope but are assessed against the same grade descriptors, with HL candidates expected to demonstrate the various elements of the grade descriptors across a greater body of knowledge, understanding and skills.
Receiving a bilingual diploma
A bilingual diploma is awarded to candidates who complete and receive a grade 3 or higher in two languages selected from the DP course studies in language and literature.
Students who gain a grade 3 or higher in studies in language and literature and a grade 3 or higher in an individuals and societies or science subject, completed in a different language, will also receive the bilingual diploma.
Further information on assessment
For information on other aspects of assessment in the DP, such as how the IB ensures reliability of results, see our detailed guide on the principles of assessment.
Learn more about assessment in a workshop for DP teachers.