If your extended essay is not easy to read, then you may miss out on marks. While there is no explicit criterion that assesses writing style, you cannot be awarded for the quality of your ideas if they are not communicated clearly.
In an effort to impress examiners, many students make the mistake of writing long, flowery, complicated sentences that do not 'flow' or read easily. The best solution is to write concisely, accurately and coherently. What does concise writing look like? Compare the examples below.
|Poor writing||Concise writing|
|We have not been able to solve the problems of failed states by giving them great sums of money, which, as we can see with Uganda, which has only made problems worse, such as large-scale corruption.||The problems of failed states cannot be resolved by direct monetary aid. As can be seen with the case of Uganda, foreign aid has only aggravated problems such as large-scale corruption|
|Problems: This is a run-on sentence. It includes a vague 'we'. Some phrases are rather 'wordy'.||Solutions: The long sentence has been split up into two. The phrase 'giving them great sums of money' has been replaced with 'direct monetary aid'. 'We' has been cut out of the writing, making the writing more persuasive.|
|Globalisation and increased immigration fuel cultural conflict within the same geographical area. With immigrants raising their children in other countries, the clash between two cultures and the question of which one to adopt to raise their children has become more prevalent. Specifically, immigration to the West, especially the US and UK, is increasing and many people are forced to interact with someone who has an unknown culture to them, and many are forced to assimilate or adapt a culture that is not their own.||Immigration in Western countries, such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom, has increased over the past decades due to the forces of globalisation. The arrival of immigrants to these countries has led to tensions and cultural clashes. Westerners are forced to interact with foreigners, and immigrants are forced to adapt to foreign cultures.|
|Problems: Many words and phrases are unnecessary, such as 'geographical area', 'raise their children' and 'a culture that is not their own'. There's no logical build up of ideas.||Solutions:Use adjectives, such as 'foreign', to describe phrases, such as 'culture that is not their own'. The term 'people' is specified by 'Westerners' or 'foreigners.|
What's wrong with this writing?
Below you can read 3 paragraphs from English A essays that are very poorly written. Imagine you are advising these students. How would you advise them to write more concisely? Why do students write this way in the first place? How are the problems greater that stylistic problems of writing?
Do not be too vague or general in expressing your ideas. Be specific and focused.
Use connectives or 'signposts' for the examiner. Your reader should understand the relationships between ideas and know where the essay is going.
Big long paragraphs are difficult to read. Break it up into smaller paragraphs which each explore one point only. Use PEEL paragraphs!
Be accurate in your use of quotation marks, commas, apostrophes and other forms of punctuation.
Avoid the first-person singular pronoun 'I' to express your opinion, such as 'I think.' Even when describing methodology, the passive voice is preferred, such as 'three doses were given each day.'
'Meta-speak' helps, such as 'as will be shown in the discussion on the findings.'
An IB learner is a communicator. Do you know any good communicators? Study the language of journalists and researchers. What kinds of linguistic structures can you immitate easily in your Extended Essay? Language is a kind of vehicle. Where are you going with your essay? What words and phrases will get you there?