Published on December 1st, 2017 | by patrick_sullivan




Ishan Hedge, Hsu Yung Chieh & Hsieh Chi Hsuan


How well do you know the acronyms associated with the Diploma Programme? You might be familiar with DP as a shorthand for the Diploma Programme, but can you tell your TOK from your CAS? What is the EE, and, once you know what is stands for, how do you succeed in it? All students entering the Diploma Programme (DP) are bombarded with a range of new acronyms. They soon become aware that the extended essay (EE) – along with theory of knowledge (TOK) and creativity, activity, service (CAS) – is a core element of the DP. While it is easy enough to learn the acronyms, the actual experience of studying for the Diploma Programme is often associated with claims of being a journey of self-discovery and expanding intellectual horizons. What part does the EE play in this journey, and how can it help to develop a young person’s intellectual development? We spoke to three Grade 12 students to find out more.


Hsu Yung Chieh ponders the next step in her intellectual journey


Inspired by a weekly current affairs show on Taiwanese TV, Hsu Yung Chieh spent many months researching the impact of the Great Recession on the Greek economy. For Yung Chieh, the extended essay was an opportunity to prepare for the rigors of university life, giving her “the experience of researching and writing a holistic report”. During the process, she discovered an “interest in international trade” and, as a result, she would advise “all students to choose subjects they like for their extended essay and take an opportunity to explore their passion”.


Ishan Hedge relaxes in the library with a good book



Ishan Hedge chose to write a Mathematics extended essay, which always presents a unique set of challenges for any student writing an essay of 4000 words. More specifically, his essay was on the topic of the domain of the factorial function, an interest awakened by Ishan’s yearning to discover whether this domain could be extended beyond natural numbers to include real or imaginary numbers. Ishan passionately believes that his research for the EE took him beyond the “scope of a Grade 12 Maths HL student”. What is more, Ishan argues that the EE allowed him “to gain experience in in tackling a complex problem”, which will unquestionably benefit him in his university years and beyond.


Hsieh Chi Huan at his laptop


Chi Hsuan asserts that the EE has “completely changed my outlook on the world”. A keen historian, Chi Hsuan researched the socio-economic impact of Franklin Roosevelt’s foreign policy of interventionism on Brazil. At a time when the press and social media are full of discussion surrounding the possible rise of populism around the world, Chi Hsuan’s EE evaluated, in part, the political career of Brazilian dictator, Getulio Vargas, who has been dubbed by some historians, perhaps ironically, as the “Father of the poor”. Chi Hsuan is unequivocal in his belief in the benefits of the extended essay. He states that it is “a great opportunity to not only hone your writing skills, but also provides a playing field to explore your own interest further, it is a very rewarding process and you gain an immense sense of pride in your essay.”

On speaking with these articulate and insightful young people, it soon becomes clear that the extended essay undoubtedly provides tangible benefits to students. It not only appears to meet its intended aim of preparing students for university life, but also allows each student to explore in greater depth an area of personal academic interest. Playing a part in producing the economists, mathematicians and historians of tomorrow is a real possibility, and for these reasons, amongst others, the extended essay experience is very worthwhile. What’s more, now we all know the meaning of the acronyms!

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