Your Psychology extended essay – how to start writing

You’ve chosen your topic, done some reading, refined your question…now what? The temptation is to keep reading, more and more. But please don’t do that. Start writing, and read to answer the questions that arise as you write.

3. How to start writing.  You might think that you’ll just start at the beginning, but instead, just take a piece of A4 paper and a pen or pencil, and outline the 4 sections of your Extended Essay. Plan where you’re going to go. It’s like going for a walk. If you leave home and don’t have a plan, you can end up getting lost, walking further than you intended, getting sidetracked, retracing your steps, and your walk may not end up being what you intended. It is the same with a long piece of writing. You need to plan your route. Once you have done this, you can start writing, but again, possibly not at the beginning!

So what are the four sections? 

EE writing


What is current research on the topic?

What are the questions raised?

State your research question and say why it’s important in an academic context.

What will you argue?

Which theories and studies will you use? (You will be able to add to these as you continue reading).

Main argument

What is your main argument?

What is the evidence for it? List the studies you plan to use. Make sure you have the full references saved somewhere. (When you start writing the EE you will summarise AND evaluate the studies AND show how they support the argument).

Check that these studies are as diverse as possible in method and participants. (If they are not, this will form part of your evaluation of them, both here and in the next section).

Limitations of argument

What does this argument fail/struggle to explain? (No one theory or argument can fully explain a behaviour).

Why does it fail or struggle to explain this? (This is where the methodological weaknesses from the previous section could be used).

What other argument could also have explanatory power?

What is the evidence for it? (You will add to this as you read and write)

This is where you engage in not only a discussion of the studies used BUT an evaluation of the argument.


We know ‘it’s complex’ – but this cannot be your whole conclusion. 

How strong was your argument?

Did the limitations of it outweigh its strengths?

Was the empirical evidence for a counter-argument stronger?

ANSWER YOUR RESEARCH QUESTION (This answer may change as you read and write, but at least plan an answer).

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