Tips in Abstract Writing for Your Extended Essay

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From my experience as an IB educator, I’ve noticed that many students struggle to understand the essence of the Extended Essay abstract. An abstract is a concise summary of your Extended Essay, presenting the core elements of your research in a nutshell. It’s like a preview, encouraging readers to investigate the details of your project. Therefore, it is important to understand the abstract to engage the reader and effectively present the full scope of your research.

What Is an Extended Essay Abstract?

As a seasoned IB writer, I’ve often been asked, “What is an Extended Essay abstract?” From my experience, an abstract is a crucial component of your EE, acting as a compact research summary. According to general IB criteria, it should succinctly encapsulate the essence of your work, making it understandable at a glance.

An Extended Essay abstract is, ideally, a clear, concise overview highlighting your research’s key points. This summary should adhere to a word limit — most abstracts for the Extended Essay must be no more than 300 words. However, effective abstracts are often shorter, typically between 150 and 200 words. This brevity ensures that every word counts, delivering the core information precisely and engagingly. Essential elements of an effective Extended Essay abstract include:

  • Research Question. Clearly state the question or hypothesis your essay addresses.
  • Scope of Research. Briefly outline the breadth of your investigation.
  • Methodology. Summarize the methods you used to conduct your research.
  • Results. Highlight the main findings or conclusions of your study.
  • Significance. Discuss the implications or the impact of your findings.

From my perspective, writing a compelling abstract requires you to think critically about the elements of your research that are most significant and worthy of highlighting. It’s about distilling your comprehensive investigation into its most potent form, ensuring that anyone reading it will grasp the essential aspects of your study quickly and clearly.

Thus, the Extended Essay abstract is not just a formal requirement; it sets the narrative framework for your research. It should invite and inform, setting the stage for a deeper engagement with your Extended Essay.

Should You Add an Abstract to the Extended Essay?

As a seasoned IB writer and someone deeply familiar with the intricacies of the Extended Essay requirements, I want to clarify a significant change that IB made in 2018 regarding the structure of the EE. From my understanding and experience, this change is crucial for students to grasp to avoid potential submission pitfalls.

According to the revised guidelines set by the IB, including an abstract in the Extended Essay is no longer required. In fact, including an abstract is now considered a misunderstanding of the current criteria. This decision was made because an abstract, typically consuming around 300 words, could detract from the substance of the essay itself and potentially discourage thorough engagement with the complete analysis presented in the essay’s main body.

From my experience, removing the requirement for an abstract allows students to focus more on the quality of the essay content rather than summarizing their work in a condensed form, which can sometimes lead to oversimplification or unnecessary repetition. Furthermore, the abstract previously used valuable word count that could now be better used to develop more comprehensive arguments and deeper analysis within the essay.

Thus, it’s crucial to follow the latest marking criteria. Including an abstract demonstrates a lack of alignment with the updated guidelines and can also result in the loss of marks, as it indicates a failure to stay current with the EE structure requirements. I advise you to strengthen your introduction and conclusion, ensuring they effectively summarize and reflect upon your research and findings, as these elements are now more crucial than ever in the structure of your Extended Essay.

ee abstract writing

How to Structure Your Extended Essay Without Abstract?

Writing a compelling Extended Essay without an abstract may seem challenging initially, but it opens up more space to dig deeper into your analysis and arguments. In my experience, a well-structured Extended Essay significantly boosts your ability to communicate your research findings effectively. It makes each section of your essay work cohesively to illustrate your thesis. Here’s how I recommend you structure your extended essay according to the latest IB criteria.


Begin your EE with a strong introduction. As I know from guiding many students, your introduction should not only present your research question but also set the context of your study and outline the scope of your research. This section is crucial as it prepares the reader for the detailed investigation to come, functioning somewhat as a replacement for the old abstract by briefly presenting the aims and significance of your research.

Development and Methodology

In this section, detail the methods you used to conduct your research. From my experience, clarity is critical here. Describe your approach and justify your choices, linking them directly to the research question. This part should clearly show how you’ve gathered and analyzed your data, offering the reader insight into your systematic approach.

Body (Analysis and Discussion)

You should organize the body of your Extended Essay into coherent sections that systematically develop your argument. Each section should focus on a different aspect of your research, with clear subheadings that guide the reader through your analysis. According to general IB criteria, your argumentation should be logically structured, each part building on the previous one to support your overall thesis.


Conclude your EE by briefly summarizing the main findings of your research, discussing the implications of your results, and perhaps suggesting areas for further investigation. From my experience, a strong conclusion revisits the research question and definitively states how the findings answer it, mirroring the depth and thought in the introduction.

Bibliography and Appendices

Lastly, include a thorough bibliography that adheres to IB standards and appendices if necessary. This section is not merely a formality but a critical part of your EE, showcasing the breadth and depth of your research.

Focusing on a detailed and organized structure ensures that your Extended Essay is impactful and coherent, demonstrating your deep understanding of the topic without needing an abstract to summarize your work.

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What If I Include the Extended Essay Abstract?

As a seasoned IB writer and mentor, I often encounter students curious about the implications of including an abstract in their Extended Essay despite the current guidelines. From my experience and according to the updated IB criteria, the decision to include an abstract can significantly impact the assessment of your work, and not for the better.

In my opinion, and this is reinforced by the general IB criteria, including an abstract in your Extended Essay today would reflect a misunderstanding of the assignment’s requirements. Since the IB removed the abstract component in 2018, including one now indicates that you haven’t fully engaged with the most current guidelines. It might seem like a minor oversight, but in the rigorous framework of the IB, it’s crucial to adhere strictly to the rules.

From what I know, you risk losing valuable marks if you decide to include an abstract anyway. The abstract is not only unnecessary but also uses up part of your word count that could be better used to deepen the analysis and discussion within the main body of your essay. Moreover, including an abstract might lead examiners to believe you are following outdated criteria, which could influence their overall assessment of your work.

Abstract Writing for Your Extended Essay: Essential Tips

Drawing on my extensive experience as an IB educator and guide, I want to share some insights into the art of writing an abstract for your Extended Essay as it was practiced before. 

Clarity and Precision

The abstract should have clearly articulated the research question or thesis statement. From my experience, this was often the first thing that readers noticed, and it set their expectations for the rest of the essay.

Scope of Research

It was important to briefly describe the scope of the research. This included an overview of the topic and the specific aspects covered. Students needed to clearly convey the boundaries of their investigation to help the reader understand the depth and breadth of their study.


The methodology section of the abstract should have outlined the primary research methods used. In my view, this part was critical as it provided a snapshot of how the research was conducted and the tools and techniques employed.


Summarizing the results was a challenging yet crucial aspect of the abstract. Students had to distill their findings into a few sentences, highlighting their research’s most significant data or conclusions.


Lastly, the abstract’s conclusion needed to reflect the implications of the findings. It was essential to succinctly state how the results answered the research question or contributed to a broader understanding of the topic.

The Bottom Line

Reflecting on these practices, while the structure and requirements for the Extended Essay have evolved, the fundamental skills involved in distilling complex research into a clear, concise summary remain valuable. Even though the abstract is no longer required, the ability to effectively summarize your research is a critical academic skill, particularly in higher education. So, good luck with EE writing, and feel free to reach out to our IB experts at if you need any help!

Valerie Green

Valerie Green

Valerie Green is a dedicated educator who spends her time helping high school and college students succeed. She writes articles and guides for various online education projects, providing students with the tools they need to excel in their studies. Friendly and approachable, she is committed to making a difference in the lives of students.

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