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Extended Essay

A guide for the extended essay in the DP.

Studies in language and literature Sample A

Extended Essay: Exemplar Commentary

Subject

English

If applicable, theme for WSEE

 

If applicable, category for language essays

Cat 1

If applicable, subjects used for WSEE

 

Title of essay

How is light used to depict the course of the Wingfield family’s hope in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie?

Essay number

A

Examination session

 

Assessment of extended essay

Criteria

Mark awarded

Commentary

A: Focus and method

[6]

6

The essay is a good example of work which meets the requirements of the top level (5-6) of achievement in this criterion. The research topic is effectively communicated and the purpose and focus of the research is clear. In addition, the candidate has made an effective selection of source material in support of her answer (especially the inclusion of the lighting photos, gleaned from various stage productions and reproduced in color in the appendices). The methodology of the essay is firmly focused on an exploration of dramatic technique used by Williams and how this is used to support both the meaning of the events of the play and intensify its tragic outcome. This sophisticated approach in particular justifies the mark of “6” for this criterion.

B: Knowledge and understanding

[6]

6

Knowledge and understanding of the way lighting techniques are used by Williams to represent and/or symbolize both hope and the lack of hope is excellent, and sources are used effectively and with understanding throughout the discussion. Subject-specific terminology—especially important in an essay of this nature—is confidently employed to support the points made, and includes references to concepts such as “plastic theatre” coined by Williams himself to describe his stagecraft techniques. The candidate’s confidence in selecting examples from the text to illustrate her ideas and demonstrate her understanding merit a mark of “6” here also.

C: Critical thinking

[12]

10

The research is analysed effectively and remains clearly focused on the research question. Conclusions to individual points of analysis are effectively supported by the evidence—for example, when “tracking” the upsurge of hope, or conversely, the regression into despair and disillusionment in a particular scene. A clearly structured and reasoned argument is supported by a strong final conclusion. The importance of Williams’s stage directions is acknowledged and the candidate pays careful attention to the fact that through these, Williams controlled the lighting scheme to eg reproduce the effect of a religious painting “where the figures are radiant in an atmosphere that is relatively dusky.” The essay as a whole merits a place in the top band of achievement for this criterion (10-12). However, a few further examples or quotations from the play and, in places, a more detailed discussion of context would have helped the candidate to explore her topic still further, and thus a mark of 10 has been awarded.

D: Presentation

[4]

4

The formal presentation is good and the structure and layout support the reading, understanding and evaluation of the EE. Full color copies of the stills from the stage productions are helpfully supplied as appendices and provide visual aids to the discussion.

E: Engagement

[6]

(not included)

3

The reflections are quite pedestrian compared to the quality of the essay. There is some recognition of skills development but overall is quite descriptive.

Total marks awarded

26/34

An excellent example of a candidate who really examines the play as a play, with careful attention being paid to a key element of the staging and its contribution to the meaning of the theatrical experience. There are well-argued and expressed ideas throughout.

Studies in language and literature Sample B

 

Extended Essay: Exemplar Commentary

Subject

English

If applicable, theme for WSEE

 

If applicable, category for language essays

Cat 2

If applicable, subjects used for WSEE

 

Title of essay

To what extent were women’s rights marginalized through the misuse of religious texts by the theocracies present in the novels Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood?

Essay number

B

Examination session

 

Assessment of extended essay

Criteria

Mark awarded

Commentary

A: Focus and method

[6]

5

The research question is clear and there is some evidence of an informed selection of sources. The structure of the essay, however, means that these are not always appropriately used in the sub-headings, and this hinders the effective communication of the issue as a consequence (see further comment under criterion D, below). Thus, whilst the essay achieves the overall standard for the top mark band, it merits a “5” rather than a “6” under this criterion.

B: Knowledge and understanding

[6]

5

The selection of source material is clearly relevant and applicable to the research question. A sound knowledge of the topic under discussion is demonstrated, although more direct quotation from both texts would have provided more detailed evidence for this. In terms of genre, some acknowledgement that as a graphic novel, Persepolis relies heavily on its illustrations—and therefore the candidate is not comparing “like-with-like” as if the texts chosen were both novels—would also have been appropriate here (see further comment below). Persepolis can also be regarded as a memoir, rather than a completely fictional work such as A Handmaid’s Tale. Because of these reservations, once again the appropriate mark would be a “5” rather than a “6” under this criterion.

The use of subject-specific terminology is good.

C: Critical thinking

[12]

8

A mark in the middle of the 7-9 mark band seems appropriate here.

The research is analysed in a way that is clearly relevant to the Research question and conclusions to individual points are supported by the evidence, although, once again, more direct references to the texts would have illustrated this in more depth. The essay clearly shows the manipulation of women through male-dominated groups, with some religious relevance. The essay occasionally shows “misuse of texts”, but this could have been strengthened by better, more directly apposite use of the religious epigraphs, whose purpose is not always clearly identified or explained. As indicated above, examples of the graphics used in Persepolis, especially in the discussion of Islamic strictures on dress (and as compared to Offred’s red uniform as a handmaid), would have added to the candidate’s argument.

The final conclusion is consistent with the evidence presented in the essay, which has been critically evaluated.

D: Presentation

[4]

3

The formal presentation is good and the structure and layout generally support the reading, understanding and evaluation of the EE. As mentioned above, the use of religious epigraphs is not always clearly explained, and thus the focus of the chapters are unclear, hindering the reader’s ability to “navigate” through the essay in terms of following the argument, and meriting the award of a “3” rather than the top mark of “4” for this criterion.

E: Engagement

[6]

(not included)

 

The assessment of an accompanying RPPF will affect the overall mark awarded and the grade achieved.

Total marks awarded

21/28

Although the candidate has chosen to concentrate largely on the two primary texts and relevant extracts from religious texts despite a range of critical reading being available on her chosen topic, her discussion is nevertheless both interesting and informed. Relevant aspects of the primary texts are compared and contrasted directly (rather than the essay being structured to deal with one, and then the second, as discrete entities) and as a result the analysis sheds new light on the issue of the manipulation of women as portrayed in both theocracies. Overall, the essay can be placed securely in the middle of the 19-23 grade band.

Please note: as a result of modifying existing extended essays for illustrative purposes, not all exemplars have an accompanying RPPF for assessment under criterion E (this is a mandatory element for all essays as of 2018). As a result, this essay has been marked out of 28 rather than 34.

 

Studies in language and literature Sample C

Extended Essay: Exemplar Commentary

Subject

English

If applicable, theme for WSEE

 

If applicable, category for language essays

Cat 3

If applicable, subjects used for WSEE

 

Title of essay

To what extent do the confessions of public figures have the purpose of using language and structure to manipulate audience response? 

Essay number

A

Examination session

May 2014

Assessment of extended essay

Criteria

Mark awarded

Commentary

A: Focus and method

[6]

6

The introduction offers a clear rationale for the exercise. The research question is clear and addresses an original and intriguing area of research into a specific type of public address. The purpose and focus of the exercise are both confidently explained and an interesting range of academic sources and methods has been employed (see further comments below). The essay satisfies all three strands at the 5-6 level of achievement, and merits the higher mark in this band.

B: Knowledge and understanding

[6]

6

Academic and other sources are used in an appropriate blend, including the theories of Benoit and Todorov concerning the structure and audience of the speech under discussion. Subject specific terminology is employed confidently throughout and overall an excellent knowledge and understanding of the candidate’s chosen topic is demonstrated. Once again, a mark at the higher end of the third level of achievement can be awarded.

C: Critical thinking

[12]

12

The speeches are analysed effectively, maintaining the focus on the use of emotive language and other linguistic “tricks” and devices to elicit sympathy (or other emotional responses) from the audience. In addition, the results of the word-choosing exercise in Appendix 2 and the production of the word clouds in Appendices 3 and 4  support the effective analysis of the research and provide evidence for the candidate’s conclusions to individual points of analysis within the essay. The summative conclusion reflects the evidence presented, and the research has been critically evaluated. A different approach – but one obviously discounted by the candidate at his planning stage  – might have been taken, referring in addition to the body language of Clinton and Woods in their respective broadcasts and audience/ press response to their apologies. Within the chosen scope of this essay, however, it is difficult to see how the critical thinking could have been bettered; as a research paper produced by an 18-year-old it merits the top mark in the 10-12 achievement level.

D: Presentation

[4]

4

The formal presentation is good and the structure and layout support the reading, understanding and evaluation of the EE. The transcript of the two speeches (including the candidate’s working notes) in appendix 5 was a helpful addition for the reader.

E: Engagement

[6]

(not included)

 

The assessment of an accompanying RPPF will affect the overall mark awarded and the grade achieved.

Total marks awarded

28/28

Summative comment

A really interesting, well written essay demonstrating some serious research, a strong sense of engagement with the topic and an excellent application of skills from the Language and Literature course. Instead of selecting texts from the more usually-chosen area of inspirational speeches, the candidate has cleverly changed the focus to situations where a speaker might employ rhetoric to very different effect; public confessions are – as stated in the introduction – “a novel exercise in audience manipulation”. The use of language is lucid and articulate throughout.

 

Please note: as a result of modifying existing extended essays for illustrative purposes, not all exemplars have an accompanying RPPF for assessment under criterion E (this is a mandatory element for all essays as of 2018). As a result this essay has been marked out of 28 rather than 34.


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