The assessment criteria for the extended essay are both general to all subjects and specific to each subject. The criteria given below are the specific to the Language A: Language and Literature course. These are summaries of the actual criteria, which can be found in the Extended Essay guide on the Online Curriculum Centre.
Criterion A - Research question - 2 marks
The research question should guide the extended essay and give it a strong sense of focus. The focus of the question should include the texts, either literary or non-literary. The research question must be clearly stated on the title pages, along with the name of the course (English A: Language and Literature) and the category (1-3) on which the question is based (see requirements for more information on the three categories). Avoid closed and leading questions. These are questions that are quickly answered and imply bias towards a particular answer.
Criterion B - Introduction - 2 marks
The introduction should be focused around the research question. Background information and a contextual understanding of the text(s) should be offered in the introduction. For categories 1 and 2, there should be a succinct reference to the history of the text(s) and the author(s). For category 3, a connection should be made between culture, context and the target language.
Criterion C - Investigation - 4 marks
For all three categories, students are expected to investigate the research question in light of the texts chosen. This investigation consists primarily of the student's own interpretations and criticism of the text, supported secondarily by secondary sources offered by critics. Students must develop a unique argument in answering the research question, illustrated by examples from the primary sources. A critical view of secondary sources is encouraged.
Criterion D - Knowledge and understanding - 4 marks
Students must demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the text(s) (primary sources). There must be evidence that the student is engaged with the primary source(s). For category 3, both the production (context of composition) and reception (context of interpretation) of the text must be carefully considered with regards to culture.
Criterion E - Reasoned argument - 4 marks
The essay needs to go somewhere. It must not be a summary of a plot or textual features. Rather the development of a thesis with multiple, well-founded arguments must be included.
Criterion F - Application of evaluative skills appropriate to the subject - 4 marks
Students must support their personal interpretation of texts with strong textual analytical skills. Interpretations must not be the retelling of a critic's ideas from a secondary source.
Criterion G - Use of language appropriate to the subject - 4 marks
As in all other forms of written assessment for the Language and Literature course, students must write coherently in the appropriate register of academic essays. This includes subject-specific reference to stylistic and structural conventions of the texts studied.
Criterion H - Conclusion - 2 marks
The conclusion should be consistent with the ideas and arguments developed in the essay. The conclusion should not introduce any new and irrelevant ideas. Rather than reiterating the introduction, the conclusion should offer a sound synthesis of the body of the essay.
Criterion I - Formal presentation - 4 marks
The research paper is presented with consistent referencing, quotations and formatting. The title page, bibliography, table of content, page numbering, illustrations and figures are clear and coherent.
Criterion J - Abstract - 2 marks
The abstract must do three things clearly and concisely: 1) state the research question, 2) explain how the investigation was undertaken, and 3) state the conclusion of the essay. Students will be penalized for exceeding the word limit of 300 words.
Criterion K - Holistic Judgment - 4 marks
This is the opportunity for examiners to reward creativity, unique insight and initiative. Students may score poorly on other criteria but be rewarded on criterion K. Supervisor's comments will be taken into consideration.
Hey, I just finished writing my English A1 HL Extended Essay! And by finished, I mean, that baby is completely done, I've had my wrap-up interview with my supervisor, and she's going in the mail!(She the essay, not she my supervisor.) Let me tell you, what a rush.
Okay, so, one of the first things you'll need to do is find a supervisor. This should ideally be someone who is familiar with IB and has a strong English background. If your school has IB graduates, it might be beneficial to try to find out who did an Extended Essay in English last year. You can ask them who their supervisor was, and if they felt he or she did a good job. Your supervisor will not be your mum, or anyone in your immediate family. The best place to start is probably with your English A1 HL teacher, if he or she is competent; he or she will be able to point you in the right direction, or perhaps even supervise you! The supervisor is allowed to give you feedback on titles you are considering.
When you are creating a title for your Extended Essay, you need to develop a research question. This is the central question that you plan to investigate in your essay. You could choose to explore the effect of a literary technique in a single work- the effect of structure on the thematic development of Elie Wiesel's Night, the effect of setting on Brontë's Wuthering Heights, or even the of the Dursley family as a foil in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Conversely, you could also pick an effect and investigate how the author achieved it- the mood of desperation established by Wiesel in Night or Shakespeare's development of Hamlet as a tragic hero and its significance to the overall work. If you choose to write your Entended Essay on a single technique, or a single effect, it is important that you consider why this effect or technique is significant. You want to relate technique to effect, and, so doing, elaborate on the work as a whole in greater depth than could otherwise be done. However, you could also do a comparative essay, for example investigating two works by the same author and the effect of the differences/similarities between the technique used in each. It is important, however many works you use, they are of some literary value. (In other words, Twilight is out, sorry.) Also, while they can be books you are studying or will study in your English A1 HL course, you must go into more depth in your Extended Essay with these works than is achieved in the course. Do not under any circumstances pick works of literature you do not like. Forty or more hours later you will hate them.
When you have decided on a topic, it is often beneficial to express it in the form of a question, as I said. This should not be a yes/no question. You should try to make it analytical in nature, as the IB will not award high marks to any English paper which is narrative in nature. I mean to say, "What is the effect of X on Y?" is a good research question. "What imagery is used in Y?" is not a good question question because it lends itseslf to listing imagery in the piece of literature rather than analysing its significance.
Once you've got your question, you should dive into the work(s) you have chosen, looking for textual evidence to answer your question. I recommend buying a copy of your chosen subject matter, and highlighting/annotating it to pieces. It can really be helpful.
You might find that, while you thought you knew the answer, you are actually gaining a deeper understanding through your analysis. You might also find that your question is too broad in scope- there are so many quotes you could never possibly answer your question in four thousand words!- or too narrow in scope- you couldn't write an Extended Essay on the handful of quotes you found if you tried! You can then go back and revise your research question based on the research you've done. Instead of the effect of structure in Night, you might decide to evaluate the effect of the opening passage on the work as a whole. (This is just an example, mind you. It might be hard to swing an analysis of the opening passage of Night... there just might not be enough to talk about. Anyway, I digress.)