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Extended Essay - Criteria: Criterion E: Engagement

Criteria E: The Strands

What is reflection?

One of the key attributes of the IB learner is to be reflective, considering the outside world and your own ideas and experiences. Being reflective also considers your learning and personal development through an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.


  • To determine the pros and cons of your approach
  • To adjust your approach
  • To fill any gaps in your research or analysis
  • To re-evaluate your goals
  • To learn from mistakes and to assess your success in overcoming them.

Qualities of a Good Reflection vs. a Bad Reflection

Good Reflection Bad Reflection
  • meaningful - 
    helps you realize what
    did and didn't work
  • descriptive only
  • formative - 
    explains how you reached 
    your learning goals

  • criticizing only
  • ongoing and episodic - 
    details the learning process 
    over time

  • complaining
  • corrective -
    corrects bad practice
    or errors

  • boring
  • social -
    seeks and finds solutions

    through discourse with

  • challenging -
    challenges your

Reflections on Planning and Progress Form (RPPF)

Reflection is a mandatory part of the Extended Essay and is formally assessed under Criterion E (engagement).

All IB Diploma Candidates are required to complete a Reflections on Planning and Progress Form (RPPF), which is sent to and assessed by the examiner.

The RPPF is worth six marks (almost 18% of the marks). A blank or missing RPPF will score zero marks under Criterion E.


The RPPF consists of three mandatory reflection sessions:

  • Initial Reflection Session
  • Interim Reflection Session
  • Viva Voce (Final Reflection Session)

How is the RPPF assessed?

Under this criterion, your engagement with the research process and the focus of your investigation is assessed.

You will meet with your supervisor at three key junctures in the Extended Essay process: 

  • Initial Reflection Session: early in the Extended Essay process; will outline your ideas, your research question, initial background research, and possible approaches.
  • Interim Reflection Session: middle to latter half of the process, before the first draft is completed; will present a more refined question, discuss your essay with some sustained writing, and comment on challenges and solutions.
  • Viva Voce: a closing and final interview after your EE is uploaded for assessment; an opportunity to reflect on the entire process and discuss achievements and challenges.

After each interview, you will write a corresponding reflection address the questions that you discussed with your supervisor.