The Extended Essay (EE) is a compulsory part of the IB diploma that you must pass in order to obtain your diploma. It usually must be handed in before December of Y13, although this deadline varies from school to school. Often, schools require your first draft much before this date, some even asking for it during March of Y12 or right before the summer. However, it is a very common choice for students to decide to complete their first draft of the EE during the summer holidays between Y12 and Y13.
Why is it a good idea?
This could be a good idea if you feel overwhelmed with school work in late Y12, where some subjects might begin to ask about IAs and when mocks are due. By deciding to complete the EE during the summer, you leave time for you during the school year to focus on homework, revision and other activities. The summer is also a long length of time during which you could undoubtedly finish your EE with enough motivation.
Okay, but are there any cons?
While it seems like an easy choice to do the EE over summer, it is actually much more complicated than it looks. Firstly, motivation to do work during the summer is doubtful -- many people choose to travel abroad where you may have activities planned every day and shaky WiFi connection, stopping you from writing your essay. Also, completing the EE over the summer makes it much harder for you to reach your EE supervisor, given that they are away enjoying their holidays and seldom check emails. This means that you cannot get updates on your work and determine whether you are on the right track.
What do you propose?
If possible, I would say that it is much more responsible to complete your first draft right before the summer, and then use the holidays for some editing. By doing this, you may have finished your EE right before Y13, which leaves the crucial October-December months of Y13 open for you. These months are especially difficult: you must complete your IAs, tackle the most difficult topics in your classes, and do the huge load of work that comes with filling in university applications! As such, you can see how the problem arises when you have only completed your first draft over summer and still have the long task of editing ahead. However, this advice does not apply for everyone - you might be able to complete your entire EE in the summer, not only the first draft. I would recommend this for you if you are an independent and motivated learner who believes that they can finish the task.
Regardless of your situation, my best advice for the EE would be to start early. January of Y12 is a great time to begin thinking of your research question, and - why not - begin to make a plan and write your first draft. It is never too early, and in those months of Y12, your workload won’t have increased yet.
Good luck, and make sure to use the EE portion of the forum for any other questions! You can also add in there any other articles about the EE you might want to see.