The thought of writing an Extended Experimental Investigations (EEI) often sends shivers down science students’ spines every single year. Whether you’re Year 8 or Year 12, a scientific report can be an intimidating piece of assessment for students to undertake, all tutors know that. We see the stress firsthand from our clients and we noticed they often don’t know where to start their EEI or what to do for each of it’s section let alone how to get a good mark.
Luckily for the students and parents reading this guide, you’ll be ahead of the rest by following the steps that are listed in this article. If you really want the upper hand and to seriously reduce your writing time, A Team’s resource, “Writing A+ EEIs & Research Reports” is available on our website. This manual breaks down every facet of an A+ EEI and helps you piece it together section by section.
We tested this resource with our own students and found that when using this manual, 86.25% of A Team students achieved an A or A+ in their senior school EEIs (the rest got B’s). If that’s not proof that our manual works, then I don’t know what is!
EEI reports, contrary to popular belief, are not written from the Abstract to the Conclusion. Different sections should be finished at different times, so keep this guide as a reference whilst you progress through each stage of the writing process. We’ve broken this blog into two parts due to the amount of tips we had to give you, so here we go, welcome to how to get an A grade in an EEI, buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Your Task Sheet is Your Best Friend
There is a saying that our Operations Manager loves to use here at A Team HQ:
“Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance”
This holds true in many facets of life and an EEI is no different, particularly when you are a young adolescent who hasn’t quite mastered the art of time management (no judgement here, we’ve all been there).
One crucial key to make your planning easier is your task sheet and even more so, your marking criteria. Familiarising yourself with the task sheet is not only going to tell you what you need to be doing (this part is obvious), but when combined with the marking criteria this will paint a clear picture of what your teacher will be looking for in your report.
Some tasks sheets are explicitly detailed and will provide all the information about the topics available for research, the expected report outline, required formatting and necessary information you need. Others can be quite vague, leaving the experiment open to interpretation. In either circumstance, your marking criteria should be quite uniform, as they list the curriculum criteria that you are required to meet, and that is standardised across the state you are studying in. Whilst this may look like a lot of teacher jargon, if you take the time to break it down, it is incredibly informative about what expectations you need to meet for a certain grade.
Most criteria sheets will also tell you where this information should be placed in the report. Depending on how you like to study, you can use the criteria sheet in two ways. Firstly, you can use it to: pick the mark that you’re wanting to achieve, look at what the requirements needing to be met and start developing your work to that standard. On the other hand, you can start your EEI and each time you finish a section, use the criteria sheet to evaluate what mark you think you would get. If you want to improve your mark, simply look at the next grade and add whatever you need to.
When planning an EEI, knowing your time limits are important. So, don’t forget to look at the grade weighting for each of the sections. This will inform how much time and attention you should be placing on each section in order to capitalise on your marks. Typically, the introduction or the discussion hold the greater weight as the former is the basis for your entire experiment, whilst the latter is evidence of how well you can synthesise information and draw conclusions in a logical manner.
Your task sheet may also tell you how many references you need to include in your report – this is ideal as you don’t want to spend too much time looking at research when you don’t need to!
Allocate Your Time Wisely
Whatever method you may use to time manage, it is crucial that you do so! This fundamental to staying on top of your EEI and ensuring you aren’t sacrificing your other subjects and study to do so. This creates a vicious cycle of assessment hopping and places significant stress on yourself.
To avoid this, note down when you should be starting each part of your investigation and when you’re finishing it as soon as you receive your task sheet. By setting these mini goals, it will make you more accountable, therefore, making you more likely to do the work and as well giving you a little bit of satisfaction when you tick off each mini due date.
The easiest way to set these mini goals is to work backwards from the due date to work out when you need to start each part.
Overall you will most likely need to allocate a third of your time for researching, designing the method and writing the introduction; another third for executing the experiment which includes creating the set up for the experiment and your testing and finally, the last third is writing up the results.
So that means for a six-week assignment you should assign two weeks to each different section.
If you need to add more time to the testing section, for instance, sacrifice the research time. This will allow you to start testing earlier and means that you have left yourself two weeks to write up the report which you will need to do to guarantee yourself an A+ (unless you have our manual of course). Any extra time at the end can be used to do research during the writing stage to make sure that your drafts and redrafts keep improving, ensuring that you achieve that A. Once you’ve set out your mini goals, it’s time to start doing your assignment starting with research for your hypothesis and introduction.
Research and Referencing – How to Do It
In order to write your hypothesis, method, introduction and discussion you need to conduct research. We know that these parts of your report could be the difference between a C or an A, so research skills are really important.
The point of research is to gain an insight into the history and existing studies on your topic and to identify a gap in the literature which warrants your experiment.
Like anything else, researching is a skill and it takes time to get good at it. However, once you get the hang of it, it really is a piece of cake. Just note there are rules to good research!
Firstly, start by searching not with our old friend Google but it’s slightly smarter cousin, Google Scholar, which searches for research articles in all the free journals across the internet.
Secondly, utilising appropriate search terms will improve the outcome of your search dramatically. For example, if you were researching about glucose concentration in sports drinks, you might type “Glucose Concentration Sports Drink” into Google Scholar.
Try to use industry specific terms when searching. This will increase the amount, and relevance, of papers found in your search. When reading papers, try to look at those words and then change your search terms to match. For example, lifting weights is referred to as “resistance training” by the sport science community and “growing muscle” is called “muscle hypertrophy.” So, a better search term would be “resistance training and muscle hypertrophy for cross country running.”
Now that you have an abundance of papers, you need to pick good ones
The quality of information you find will impact the outcome of your report and understanding that there is a hierarchy of research will help you decide what to include.
If you want to use reputable sources, using peer reviewed journals that are less than 10 years old are most preferred, followed by textbooks and then websites run by scientific or government organizations (such as ANSTO or CSIRO).
Journal articles are considered as the best sources to use for EEI’s because they’re peer reviewed. This means that the article has been reviewed by a panel of scientists to ensure that there are no questionable results being reported. See the list to the right to have a look at the hierarchy of research evidence if you want to take it to the next level. Tertiary students, you DEFINITELY need to know this.
Patience is key because the first few sources that you find may not be what you’re looking for – but they can lead to the ones that you do need. Look at the references at the end of papers, there you’ll find hidden gems in the form of great papers or textbooks that were used in the article. Search for those articles to get some better papers if you’re not finding any good ones yourself.
You also need to reference throughout your investigation. Use a table to keep track of the sources you find and use whilst you’re researching. The table should have the who, when, where and what of the publication. That is: who wrote the source? When was it made? Where was it made or published? What was the name of the publication?
However, only include references in your the reference list that you “in-text” referenced in your investigation. How your references are presented both within your EEI and in the reference section will depend on what your teacher prefers. Often the recommended format is APA or Harvard.
Don’t forget researching is a part of the EEI process, so don’t get down if you can’t find good sources, just keep working and using your search terms until you find the right one. For a step by step guide and example of a reference table you can refer to our Writing A+ EEIs & Research Reports manual and save yourself some serious time when it comes to writing the final parts of your EEI.
So this should be enough to get your EEI well underway, stay tuned next week as we release part 2 of our How to get an A in EEI’s, which will show you how to plan and write your way to an A+!