Extended Project Qualification

Carolyn Tate, Ph.D.: Having completed both a B.A. and Ph.D. in English, Dr Tate has learned to plan, write, and revise large-scale projects. Also, during her academic training, Dr Tate taught writing at private secondary schools and the University of Virginia. Helping young writers develop their skills and take pride in their work is still the best part of her job.

As you finish your mock exams and start to plan your summer holidays, many of you are also thinking about your Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) or Extended Essay if you are an IB student.  These are substantial assignments that allow you to immerse yourself in a favorite subject and also develop research and writing skills that are prized by university admissions committees. These projects are also daunting. If you are struggling to know how to begin your project or worried about the final product, we are here to help.

Here are some tips to make these assignments more enjoyable and more successful.

  • Develop a research plan. Professional writers never just sit down to write a column, essay, or book. Rather, writing a sophisticated piece requires knowing what questions you need to answer and how you will find that information. This is an important step that will make the actual writing process easier.
  • Develop a writing schedule and set reasonable goals. Substantial writing assignments require writing slowly, methodically, and consistently. Working with a coach to determine how much time, and when, you should write is a good way to make sure that you finish this project on time and are proud of the results.
  • You cannot revise what you haven’t written. Sometimes writing can be nerve wracking because you are unsure if what you are putting down is correct. Reminding yourself that you can always go back and revise should help you get to the next page. Drafting is just part of the process. Revising is writing.
  • Clarity is king. Though this project will likely be the most substantial of your secondary career, resist the urge to overcomplicate your prose. Clear and concise prose allows your ideas to shine.


An EPQ or an Extended Essay are great ways to demonstrate your academic excellence and ability to do university-level coursework. Spending part of your summer working on these projects will lead to better results.

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