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IB TOK Essay examples

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Filter exemplars, for artists and natural scientists, which is more important: what can be explained or what cannot be explained discuss with reference to the arts and the natural sciences., does it matter if our acquisition of knowledge happens in "bubbles" where some information and voices are excluded discuss with reference to two areas of knowledge., want to get full marks for your tok essay allow us to review it for you 🎯, is replicability necessary in the production of knowledge discuss with reference to two areas of knowledge., are visual representations always helpful in the communication of knowledge discuss with reference to the human sciences and mathematics., fast track your coursework with mark schemes moderated by ib examiners. upgrade now 🚀, to what extent is the knowledge we produce determined by the methodologies we use discuss with reference to history and one area of knowledge., tok essay: 5. “how can we distinguish between good and bad interpretations discuss with reference to the arts and one other area of knowledge”, 如果我们是在排除某些信息和声音的“信息同温层”里获取知识,这有关系吗请参考两个知识领域展开你的应答。, does it matter if our knowledge acquisition happens in "bubbles" where some information and voices are excluded discuss with reference to two areas of knowledge., is replicability necessary in the production of knowledge discuss with reference to two areas of knowledge, do you agree that it is “astonishing that so little knowledge can give us so much power” (bertrand russell) discuss with reference to the natural sciences and one other area of knowledge., does it matter if our acquisition of knowledge happens in “bubbles” where some information and voices are excluded discuss with reference to two areas of knowledge., to what extent is the knowledge weproduce determined by the methodologieswe use, for artists and natural scientists, which is more important: what can be explained or what cannot be explained discuss with reference to the arts and natural science., êtes-vous d'accord qu'il est "étonnant que si peu de connaissance puissent nous donner autant de pouvoir" (bertrand russell) - discutez cette question en faisant référence aux sciences naturelles et à un autre domaine de la connaissance, est-il important que notre acquisition des connaissances se fasse dans des « bulles » où certaines informations et certaines voix sont exclues discutez cette question en faisant référence à deux domaines de la connaissance., to what extent is the knowledge we produce determined by the methodologies we use discuss with reference to history and one other area of knowledge., is replicability necessary in the production of knowledge discuss with reference to two area of knowledge, are visual representations always helpful in communicating knowledge discuss with reference to the human sciences and mathematics., are visual representations always useful in communication of knowledge discuss with reference to the human sciences and mathematics., for artists and natural scientists which is more important: what can be explained or what cannot be explained, is replication necessary in the production of knowledge discuss with reference to two aoks., do you agree that it is "astonishing that so little knowledge can give us so much power" (bertrand russell) discuss with reference to the natural sciences and one other area of knowledge., is replicability necessary in the production of knowledge.

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How To Write A ToK Essay - Updated 2023

Ace your ToK Essay with our expert tips & tricks! Get the latest and greatest techniques on "How To Write A ToK Essay" and impress the IB examiners.📝💡

How To Write A ToK Essay - Updated 2023

Table of content

  • Introduction

Purpose Of ToK

Assessment of tok, the game plan, execution of the gameplan, planning for tok essay, structure of tok essay, conclusions, bibliography.

Introduce your topic accurately and state your thesis statement for the essay carefully.  A thesis statement is like a teaser to your entire essay wherein you define your key terms and introduce your interpretation of the question. Make sure that you do not reword the prescribed title in your thesis. Instead, it needs to, as the word says, INTRODUCE your readers to what your essay is about. A strong introduction allows the reader to deduce what knowledge question(s) you are trying to answer.

So, in a nutshell

  • Write interesting things about the given TOK essay title .
  • Define key terms
  • Narrow in on the particularly interesting aspect
  • State your thesis statement . This will be your short answer to your given title if you don't know how to write a killer thesis statement check out this blog from SparkNotes .
  • State your Roadmap. This will help the readers in understanding the direction of your essay.

How to write a TOK Essay? 

To answer that, you must familiarise yourself with what a TOK Essay is about.

Before you start reading this article,  Amanda  has some excellent TOK tips for you!

Theory of Knowledge is one of the most meta subjects that IB offers. Despite its complexity, TOK helps in providing a base for holistic learning and allows students to have a multidisciplinary experience. 

To understand TOK is to understand the essence of IB, a task that most people consider unattainable.

But not for you! 

Thank your lucky stars who made you land on Nail IB. How exactly will Nail IB help you? 

Well, nailing International Baccalaureate is something we will discuss later. 

Let's focus on cracking your TOK essay, shall we?

TOK demonstrates how students  can apply their knowledge  with  greater awareness  and  credibility .

Big words, huh? 

Now that we know that we cannot just slide through the Theory of Knowledge, let's understand how we can conquer this battle all guns blazing.

ToK essay’s primary objective is to answer the  why  behind our studies. 

It makes one aware of the real-life implications of their subjects. The students gain greater awareness of their personal and ideological assumptions and appreciate the diversity of different perspectives. It helps the students find their unique perception, a prerequisite for excelling in the IB TOK essays.

Before we dive into our gameplan, let’s overview the rules of the game.

There are two assessment tasks in the TOK: an essay and a presentation . While a presentation encourages students to explore a real-life situation through the lens of TOK, an essay is written on the basis of the various questions provided by the International Baccalaureate Organisation.

  • The presentation is to assess a student’s ability to apply TOK thinking to a real-life situation whereas IB TOK essay is more conceptual.
  • The essay is externally assessed by IB and must be on any one of the prescribed TOK essay titles issued by the IB for each examination session.
  • Word limit of a TOK essay is 1600 words ( excludes extended notes, footnotes, bibliography).

Now that we have unleashed the game, let’s move ahead towards the gameplan of acing both, your presentation and your essay.

One of the fundamental tasks of TOK is to examine different areas of knowledge and find out their similarities and differences.

The TOK essay requires the students to investigate two Areas of Knowledge (AOK)  and two Ways of Knowing   (WOK) . AOKs and WOKs are investigated via questions such as:

  • How do we know what we know? (WOK)
  • What counts as evidence for X? (AOK)
  • How do we judge which is the best model of Y? (WOK)
  • What does theory Z mean in the real world? (AOK + WOK)

The aforementioned are  Knowledge Questions  which help combine the Areas of Knowledge and the Ways of Knowing that they are using. This eliminates the superficial way of learning and makes an individual sensitive to the nature of the information.   Our acquisition of Knowledge can be broadly divided into Shared Knowledge and Personal Knowledge.

Shared knowledge: What WE know It is the product of more than one individual. Although individuals contribute to it, shared knowledge does not solely depend upon the contributions of a particular individual—there are possibilities for others to check and amend individual contributions and add to the body of knowledge that already exists.

Personal knowledge: What I know It is essentially dependent on the experiences of a particular individual. Also known as procedural knowledge, it is gained through experience, practice and personal involvement and is intimately bound up with the particular local circumstances of the individual such as biography, interests, values, and so on.

The best hack to ace TOK essay is to develop a habit of making connections between the construction of knowledge, its acquisition and its relevance in the real world. 

After that one needs to develop an interest in understanding the difference between diversity and cultural perspectives and personal assumptions.

One also needs to critically reflect on their own beliefs and assumptions, leading to more thoughtful, responsible and purposeful lives.

Yes, this is what you signed up for. It may sound a little intimidating but once you get the hang of it you will be able to see the matrix and understand this beautiful world a little better.

Understand that to provide the best version of your writing, it will take you more than one or two drafts. First and foremost, you need to pick your essay topic diligently. Try to choose an essay topic that best interests you. The topic should also allow you to explore the Areas of Knowledge towards which you are naturally inclined. Here are a few sample questions:

a) 'Ways of knowing are a check on our instinctive judgments.' To what extend do you agree with this statement?

b) With reference to two areas of knowledge discuss the way in which shared knowledge can shape their personal knowledge.

c) How can we know if knowledge is produced more through 'Passive Observation' or 'Active-Experiment' within the Human and Natural-sciences under a Mathematical-Perspective?

d) "The whole point of knowledge is to produce both meaning and purpose in our personal lives". Assess the validity of this statement.

Great things take time. It took me more than a couple of weeks to finalize this TOK essay guide. It is completely okay if the first few drafts may not look pleasing or award-winning to you. You will require sharpening your perspective towards the topic each time you polish your draft. Your writing journey from a dull draft to a masterpiece will be a whole process that you will have to be patient with. Have faith in yourself and proceed stepwise.

You need to consider the opinions of others who have devoted hours of research and a lifetime of dedicated studying the topic that surrounds your writing. Unravelling the realms of your mind palace is so Sherlock but let’s not deny the fact that at times, Watson is the one whose expertise helps Sherlock through pretty difficult times. I mean even Batman needs a Robin. In support of my awesome sauce examples, the point I am trying to make is that  finding support for our claims and counterclaims through research is a good thing .

Use real-life examples to support your claims and counterclaims. These examples need to be documented researched examples like studies, experiments, articles, presentations by well-known people, etc. Examples that stem from your diploma subjects are highly encouraged, but those will need to be supported by research as well.   

It is suggested that you choose a title, stick to it, tackle it and not be afraid. Do not change your mind unless there is a good reason. Also, try choosing Areas of knowledge that you truly enjoy. You know slaying a known devil is much easier than an unknown one. Allot a TIMELINE to your essay. Start with creating an outline of your essay. This will help you to track your progress and accomplish your goals

You can use tools like  Trello  to organize your ideas and plan your TOK essay.

Areas of Knowledge (AOKs): TOK distinguishes between eight areas of knowledge. They are mathematics, the natural sciences, the human sciences, the arts, history, ethics, religious knowledge systems, and indigenous knowledge systems. It is suggested that students study and explore six of these eight.

Ways of knowing (WOKs): TOK identifies eight specific WOKs- language, sense perception, emotion, reason, imagination, faith, intuition, and memory. It is suggested that studying four of these eight in-depth would be appropriate. WOKs underlie the methodology of the areas of knowledge and provide a basis for personal knowledge.

Moving ahead, let us discuss the structure of your TOK essay.

Your essay will consist of 4 broad segregations

Before breaking down further on the pillars, keep the following in mind

  • Please note what the TOK essay title is asking you. (Read it a couple of times. We highly recommend that you brainstorm ideas with your TOK coordinator)
  • Make sure you understand the command term and the question it is asking.
  • What kind of knowledge is being elicited?
  • When choosing your areas of knowledge (AoK) and ways of knowing (WoK) make sure that you are able to draw contrasts and comparisons, that is, you are able to find evidence that supports as well as challenges your claims.
  • Identify key terms in your TOK essay title. Make sure you define them. Your essay will gravitate around them. Key terms/words in your titles are your essay anchors. Your response should be built around them.
  • Your writing skills come in handy while you work on your IB TOK essay. Like any other essay make sure you have proper thesis statements and topic sentences to guide the evaluator through your work.
  • Respect the TOK essay title. Rephrasing the topic is not encouraged . Your main job is to address the title.

The body can be mainly divided into 3 segments.

Body (1st Segment)

  • AoK Claim:  Here you investigate your first Area of Knowledge and draw parallels between your AoK and the question. This is done by stating your claim. Claims can be general in nature and need not reference a particular area of knowledge. They help you shape your essay and investigate the question further. 
  • Evidence: Example of a real-life situation, describe thoroughly and accurately, which supports your stated claim. (AoK)
  • Counter-Claim: State your counter-claim: like claims, those can be general and need not reference a particular area of knowledge. Counterclaim helps you show the other side the coin and gives your essay a holistic nature. 
  • Evidence: A referenced real-life situation/example. Describe thoroughly and accurately, show how this supports your counterclaim (AoK ).
  • Don’t forget to weave in your WoKs:  You need to take into account the source of your knowledge. Here you can also investigate if your nature of acquiring the knowledge has, in any way, affected it. It is good practice to question if your knowledge would be different had it been acquired through a different source/method
  • Mini-conclusion: Here you analyze your examples in reference to your claims and counterclaims. You must connect to your thesis statement and the prescribed title. How does your proposed argument, in this particular part of the body, connect to the prescribed title and the knowledge questions you are trying to answer?

Body (2): Follow the above process for your second AOK.

  • Use this part of your essay to compare and contrast your varying AoKs. You need to connect them to your thesis and your prescribed title clearly showing how your arguments respond to the PT.

Your conclusion section will make your essay come together. It is the glue that will make your essay stick together. Herein, you need to

  • Reiterate your thesis (initial response).
  • Use your mini conclusions to write a final conclusion.
  • Tell the reader what the significance is for knowing what we know in this particular PT.
  • Discuss implications as well.
  • Offer another perspective, how will the perspective of a different person affect the claims/counterclaims you make in the essay?
  • Don’t forget to make the end strong.

We recommend all the ib students use the  citation machine  (It's FREE) to organize or generate a bibliography for your TOK essay. Please go through this extensive guide provided by the IB before you start working on your citations.

If you are still struggling heaps with your TOK essay feel free to subscribe to our tok notes bundles or get access to more than 500+ IBDP notes and past papers here .

Nail IB is your virtual companion that helps you hustle through your diploma and provide you with the right resources at the right time. To know more about acing IB, click  here .

I hope this article will become the foundation for figuring out how to write a TOK Essay.

Remember to have faith in yourself.

I hope you NAIL your TOK essay!

Quoting the great Napolean Hill

"Whatever the mind of a man can conceive and believe, it can achieve."

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  • EXPLORE Random Article

How to Write a TOK Essay

Last Updated: December 28, 2023

This article was co-authored by Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA . Stephanie Wong Ken is a writer based in Canada. Stephanie's writing has appeared in Joyland, Catapult, Pithead Chapel, Cosmonaut's Avenue, and other publications. She holds an MFA in Fiction and Creative Writing from Portland State University. This article has been viewed 251,164 times.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Theory of Knowledge essay is a 1200–1600 word essay on prescribed topics or titles created by the IB. As the name suggests, your Theory of Knowledge (TOK) essay should focus on knowledge issues (what is knowledge? why and how do we know things?) and link to other areas of knowledge as well. About two-thirds of your final TOK grade is determined by your score on your TOK essay.

Choosing Your Essay Title

Step 1 Understand the structure of a TOK essay.

  • Mathematics
  • Natural sciences
  • Human sciences
  • Religious knowledge systems
  • Indigenous knowledge systems

Step 2 Ask your teacher for the prescribed titles for the TOK essay.

  • “Compare the roles played by reason and imagination in at least two Areas of Knowledge.”
  • “When mathematicians, historians and scientists say that they have explained something, are they using the word ‘explain’ in the same way?”

Step 3 Select a title carefully.

  • Do you understand the keywords or concepts in the title? You may not be clear on what a title is asking you to do. Go through the title and highlight any words or concepts you are unsure about. Some titles will use keywords from TOK courses, such as “belief”, “knowledge” “truth”. You may want to check back on your class notes and consider what these words mean in the context of the title.
  • Do you have a strong interest in the title? The title should play to your interests and you should feel you can write about the title with care and diligence. For example, if you are skilled or interested in the arts, you may choose a title like “Compare the roles played by reason and imagination in at least two Areas of Knowledge” and pick the arts as one area of knowledge. Keep in mind, however, you should balance your passion for the title with an objective perspective.
  • Do you have something relevant to say about the title? It’s important that you relate the question to the ideas you have covered in your TOK course, as well as the topics you have studied in class, and your own personal experiences or thoughts. The essay should have an objective tone, but you will still need to inject it with personality, passion, and clarity.

Step 4 Put the title in your own words.

  • For example, in a title like: “When mathematicians, historians and scientists say that they have explained something, are they using the word ‘explain’ in the same way?”, you may rephrase it into two sentences. The title refers to three AOK: mathematics, history, and science. It is then asking you to compare and contrast the way these three AOK use explanation as a way of knowing about a topic or issue.
  • By breaking down the title into short sentences, you now have a clearer picture of what the title is asking you to do and how you might go about answering the title sufficiently.

Structuring the Essay

Step 1 Note the assessment criteria.

  • Understanding the knowledge issues: your essay must be focused on the knowledge issues, link and compare at least two knowledge issues, show relevancy between at least two knowledge issues, and demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the knowledge issues.
  • Knower’s perspective: your essay must demonstrate independent thinking, self-awareness, at least two different perspectives, and several supporting examples.
  • Analysis of the knowledge issues: your essay must show insight and depth, justify your main points, present arguments and counter-arguments, and explore any assumptions and implications of your topic.
  • Organization of ideas: your essay must be well structured, explain key concepts, be factually accurate, and cite references where applicable.

Step 2 Read the essay instructions.

  • You may also be asked “to what extent” or “in what way” a statement is justified. You will then need to present for and against arguments for the statement.
  • If you are asked a direct question, your essay should address to what extent or in what ways you are for and against an argument or position.

Step 3 Brainstorm ideas around the essay title.

  • Start by doing a general, open brainstorm. Write down everything that comes to mind when you think about the title without passing judgement on any of the ideas, or stopping to read over your brainstorm.
  • After five minutes of brainstorming, read over your notes. Identify ideas that relate to each other or that contradict each other. If you are evaluating or assessing a claim in the essay title, create a for column and an against column. Group your brainstorming ideas into either column. Create a third column for grey area ideas, or ambiguities, and place ideas in that column.
  • Note any examples of the ideas that you wrote down. For example, you may be addressing a title like: “When mathematicians, historians and scientists say that they have explained something, are they using the word ‘explain’ in the same way?” You may create a brainstorm for each area of knowledge (mathematics, history, science) in relation to the idea of explaining something. You may then use examples of “something” that can be explained in each AOK: a mathematical equation, a historical moment in a battle or a trial, and a scientific theory.

Step 4 Identify the knowledge issue in the essay title.

  • You should also identify the areas of knowledge you will be discussing in your essay. For example, for a title like: “Compare the roles played by reason and imagination in at least two Areas of Knowledge” you may choose two AOK: the arts and science. You may then compare and contrast the function of “reason” and “imagination” in the arts and in science.

Step 5 Create an outline.

  • Paragraph 1: Introduction. You would provide an explanation and interpretation of the title and identify the key terms in the title. You would also state your thesis and explain or identify a knowledge issue related to the title.
  • Paragraph 2: First Area of Knowledge. For example, the arts. Discuss how the arts answers the title and provide supporting examples. You should also note any counter-arguments against the title or any limitations of the supporting examples.
  • Paragraph 3: Second Area of Knowledge. For example, mathematics. Note how mathematics answers the title and provide supporting examples. You should also note any counter-arguments against the title or any limitations of the supporting examples.
  • Paragraph 4: Third Area of Knowledge (if applicable)
  • Paragraph 5: Conclusion. Summarize your main ideas and restate your thesis. Conclude by answering the title fully, taking into account the counter arguments and limitations of the areas of knowledge.
  • You may also decide to structure your essay based on a main argument and a main counter-argument. Your outline may contain four paragraphs total:
  • Paragraph 1: Introduction and explanation of the knowledge issue.
  • Paragraph 2: Main argument, with justification and one to two supporting examples.
  • Paragraph 3: Main counter-argument, with justification and one to two supporting examples.
  • Paragraph 4: Conclusion.

Step 6 Create a thesis...

  • Some students find it useful to draft their thesis statement once they have finished writing a first draft of the essay. By this point, you will likely have a better sense of the main arguments in the essay and be able to write a clear, concise thesis statement.
  • For example, you may need to create a thesis statement for this title: “Compare the roles played by reason and imagination in at least two Areas of Knowledge.” You have chosen two AOK: the arts and mathematics. Consider how reason and imagination function in the arts and in mathematics, as well as the different ways they function in each AOK. Your thesis may be: “Through reason and imagination play an important role in both mathematics and the arts, the imaginative thoughts of mathematicians must be provable, while the imaginative thoughts of artists need only be reasonable.” [5] X Research source

Writing the Essay

Step 1 Use your essay outline as a guide.

  • You may want to also refer back to your brainstorming notes to identify the supporting examples for your two areas of knowledge, or your main argument and your main counter-argument.

Step 2 Avoid using dictionary definitions in your essay.

  • For example, you may be discussing the use of reason and imagination in the arts. Rather than discuss a familiar artist, like Picasso, or a familiar example of imaginative thinking, like the Sistine Chapel, use supporting examples that feel original and insightful. Though the essay should be objective in nature, it should also feel reflective and personal. Using a supporting example that you feel passionate about, like Pollack’s kinetic movement paintings, or Rodin’s sculptures, will show you have taken the time to explore unique examples.

Step 3 Cite all external sources using MLA style citations.

  • Reference surprising or little known claims, but not well known facts or commonly held opinions. For example: “The sun is the center of the solar system” is a well known fact you will not need to cite. But “Rodin was a traditionally-schooled artist and had a craftsman-like approach to his work” will require a citation as it is maybe a little known fact.
  • Reference any sentences or sections where you are closely following someone else’s train of thought or argument, even in your own words.
  • Reference exact quotes, and use quotation marks.
  • Be consistent with your citations and the way you reference certain sources.

Step 4 Read your essay out loud.

  • As you read your essay out loud, make sure there are no vague or abstract sentences or terms. You want to ensure you use your 1600 word count in a clear and concise way. Every word will count in your TOK essay.
  • Confirm you have addressed knowledge issues in your essay. Your essay should answer the question “How do you know?” and assess the strengths and weaknesses of knowledge claims in at least two areas of knowledge. You should also use arguments and counter-arguments to support your thesis statement, as well as strong supporting examples.

Step 5 Correct any spelling or grammatical errors.

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  • ↑ http://www.dirk-solies.de/TOK/how%20to%20write%20a%20ToK%20essay%20cambridge.pdf
  • ↑ http://www.toktalk.net/2009/11/20/starting-and-planning-the-tok-essay/

About this article

Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA

To write a TOK essay that compares several areas of knowledge, start with an introductory paragraph that explains your title and states your thesis. Then, write 2-3 main body paragraphs, discussing in each a single area of knowledge and how it relates to your title. Try to provide supporting examples in each case, and address any potential counter-arguments, as well. Finally, end your essay with a conclusion that summarizes your main ideas and restates your thesis. When you’re done, check to be sure that you’re within the 1,200-1,600 word limit for the essay. To learn from our English reviewer how to choose an essay title and create your thesis statement, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How To Write a ToK Essay IBDP – Step-By-Step Guide

  • Created on October 3, 2019
  • Blog , IBDP , Learning Tips

Let’s learn how to write a ToK Essay with Tutopiya. The IB ToK Essay contributes to the overall score of a student’s IB Diploma. The award of points for the IB ToK Essay is in conjunction with the extended essay. A maximum of three points is awarded according to a student’s combined performance in both the TOK and Extended Essay. 

Tutopiya will help and guide our IB Diploma students on the following:

  • How to Start a ToK Essay
  • Cover the ToK Essay Structure
  • How to Write a ToK Essay Conclusion
  • Analysis of a ToK Essay Example 

Choosing Your Essay Title 

Before you can dive into structuring or writing your essay, you will need to spend time to decide on a topic you wish to write on. For the IB ToK Essay, you are required to compare and contrast different ways of knowing through perception, language, reason, emotion with different areas of knowledge (AOK). 

1 – Selecting your prescribed title and knowledge question

Before you hastily decide on a title you wish to write, take some time to read each title carefully on the list and brainstorm ideas. 

Tip #1: Brainstorming

Get some initial ideas you have of each and every title/ question down on paper. Ask yourself some simple questions when brainstorming for each title. 

Am I confident to write an essay about this? Is the question asking what I am thinking? Do I understand the keywords or concepts in the title?

You may not be clear on what the title is asking you to do. Go through the title and highlight any keywords and concepts you are unsure about or may have missed out. 

Do you have a strong interest in the title? We recommend that you should at least be interested since you will be spending time and effort on researching this topic, pick something you are willing to research more about!

Can you relate anything to the title? Though the IB Tok Essay should be as objective as possible, you can always inject the essay with personality and character.

You can always do so by adding in ideas or topics you have learned or studied in class or even personal experiences. 

Tip #2: Understanding the question in your own words

The titles of these essay questions can sometimes be long and difficult to grasp when you first read them so before you write the IB ToK Essay, consider paraphrasing the question in your own words.

You may struggle to understand the keywords and concepts in the title, you may even be unsure about the perspective, comparison and contrast of the title. 

To help our IB students, we recommend breaking down the question/ title by first, understanding the keywords in the title. Then, put the title together and understand what they are asking. 

This way, you will be able to understand the title more in-depth than before and able to answer the title sufficiently. 

Structuring your Essay

1 – knowing the assessment criteria .

Overall Assessment 

2 – Theory of Knowledge Essay 

The rubrics require students to be able to understand the knowledge questions and their quality of analysis of knowledge questions. View the TOK Essay Mark Scheme here .

You will have to choose two Areas of Knowledge (AOK) to explore.

There are 8 different Areas of Knowledge are as follows:

  • Mathematics
  • Natural Sciences
  • Humane Sciences
  • Religious knowledge systems 
  • Indigenous knowledge systems 

You can also use Ways of Knowledge (WOK) in your essay and the are as follows:

  • Sense Perception
  • Reason 
  • Imagination

Analysis of a Sample Essay 

Question: “Doubt is the key to knowledge (Persian Proverb). To what extent is this true in two areas of knowledge?

Important Keywords in the Title 

“To what extent” 

When keywords like this appear, note that you need to present 2 different perspectives to the question, a for and against argument in your essay. 

Paragraph 1: Introduction 

You would provide an explanation and interpretation of the title and identify the key terms in the title. You would also need to state your thesis and explain or identify the areas of knowledge you will be exploring in your essay.

1 – Start the essay by saying something relatable or interesting

By doing that, you can capture the reader’s attention and make them want to read more by evoking a sense of curiosity to find out more about your essay. 

2 – Your Thesis/ Stand

You can also state your thesis (that is different from mainstream ideas – to capture the reader’s attention). You can make the decision to be a for or against stand in your essay. If you decided 

In your own words , give an interpretation of the title and show that you are able to identify the key terms of the question.

“The problem with doubt as the key to knowledge is that doubt isn’t a way of knowing. Doubt is an emotion we feel that motivates us to seek knowledge.” 

3 – Outline of the paragraph

Give the readers an idea of what you will be going through in your body paragraphs , a sentence that gives the readers a preview. Let the readers know which AOKs you will be exploring, making it easier for the examiner to know what to look for. 

“However this motivation can manifest itself differently in contrasting areas of knowledge like Mathematics and Religion.” 

Your introduction should not be too long, use around 150 to 200 words for your first paragraph would be sufficient. 

Paragraph 2: First Area of Knowledge. 

1 – begin your paragraph with a claim or topic sentence.

This helps you to outline your argument about the title. 

“Mathematics is an area of knowledge that is only concerned with reason.” 

2 – Explain and Elaborate

Now, give explain and elaborate on your topic sentence/ claim. 

“In a right-angled triangle a²+b²=c² and that’s it. There are no alternative answers or personal interpretations. An answer to a mathematical problem is either right or wrong. This is because the main way of knowing in math is reason and evidence is required for a mathematical statement to be true or false.” 

3 – Give an example with an explanation

This helps you to further elaborate and explore your topic sentence or claim.

The example you give should be personal, specific, precise and real.

This way you can make your claim believable and relatable in some sense. This also helps to evoke a sense of authenticity in your essay. 

“When we first learned about negative numbers in math class it made no sense to me. How could a bigger number have a lower value than a smaller one? It was illogical and it contradicted all the math I had learned before that day….. Either the previous mathematical information was wrong or the new information about negative numbers were wrong. But he explained the concept of a number line with a central point 0 and that they were both right.”

4 – Linking back

Remember to link back to your claim and the question after you are done exploring this example. 

“My doubt led to understanding and was the key to my knowledge.”

Paragraph 3: Counter

1 – state your counterclaim.

This paragraph would focus on counterclaim . You are supposed to discuss 2 different perspectives to your claim, a for and against. You are to argue against your claim above this paragraph.

“On the other hand, doubt in mathematics can be detrimental to education.”

2 – Give an Example and Explanation

Add in an example and explanation to support your counterclaim. 

“For example, after I do a question from the International Baccalaureate mathematics textbook I always look at the back in order to check if my answers are correct because it has answers in the back. If I do not have the book and I am in class then I ask my mathematics teacher for the correct answer. I do this when I am uncertain of my answer to a question and my doubt allows me to gain knowledge i.e. whether my answer is wrong or right. My doubt also helps me to assess how much of the mathematical concept I have understood by marking myself. However, this can be detrimental to progress because I started to become dependent on the answers at the back of the book or my mathematics teacher. Every time I do a question I feel like I have to verify my answer with an authoritative source which I have now come to understand leaves no room for exploration or the development of my own methods.”

3 – Linking back

Link back to your prescribed title and your claim of this paragraph. 

“My doubt caused a loss of confidence in my mathematical abilities and dependence on authoritative sources.”

Now, follow this format and carry on writing for the next two body paragraphs, exploring on another Area of Knowledge, in this case, this student will have to write one more AOK on Religion and a counterclaim for it. 

Aim to write a maximum of 600 words for each Area of Knowledge (Paragraph 2 and 3, Paragraph 4 and 5). 

Paragraph 4: Second Area of Knowledge

  • Topic Sentence
  • Example + Explanation 

Paragraph 5: Counterclaim 

  • Topic Sentence (Counterclaim)
  • Example + Explanation
  • Link to prescribed title and your initial claim of this Area of Knowledge 

Finally, write your ToK Essay conclusion in one paragraph totalling 200 to 250 words .

Paragraph 6: Your conclusion

Explain the different insights you have gained or have come out of this essay. 

“As illustrated by the example of dependence on authoritative sources in mathematics doubt can be detrimental and cause a loss of confidence. Similarly, doubting conjectures has also proven to be unfruitful. However, within mathematics individual doubt can lead to the acquisition of knowledge.” 

Implications and significance

Tell the readers why it is important to know that and how does it matter that they understand this when you write your IB ToK Essay.

Perspectives and Extension

If you can, try to input a very different perspective on your conclusion. Perhaps recognizing a different way of approaching the question, which could have resulted in different insights. 

You can mention the limitations of your essay saying there are one or two unresolved questions that this essay has revealed. It’s about showing the readers that the conversation is not over yet. And that, there is more to the question and more rooms that you can explore. 

“Furthermore, in areas like religion where we do not yet have the tools to prove it one way or the other simply doubting something by itself is a step towards acquiring knowledge because by suggesting that certain view is not absolute it makes room for new knowledge.”

A Quick Tip for writing a ToK Essay

Tip: try not to use dictionary definitions in your essay.

You want to show the examiners that you are writing a reflective essay, not a textbook definition heavy essay. Don’t rely too much on dictionary definitions to prove your argument or support a counterclaim. This will demonstrate that you did not engage with the topic and bypassed complexities around the topic. 

Instead of using standard answers or cliche examples, you can try to use your own personal experiences to make it original and insightful for your readers. Though the essay should be objective, your essay should still have a personality and character. 

Try Getting Expert’s Help

Tutopiya is a 1-1 Live Online Tutoring for all students aged 8 to 18 years old. Tutopiya offers the IB Diploma Program curriculum to all students, visit our IB curriculum page to find out more about the subjects we teach here. We also have a blog full of useful IB resources for our students, why not read another sample essay for IB TOK ?

Interested to try our online learning with our expert IB tutors? We provide FREE 60 minutes trial lesson to all new students. You can sign up or simply fill up a trial form application here to begin learning with Tutopiya! Come learn how to write a ToK essay with Tutopiya today!

I am currently a full-time student studying at a local university in Singapore while freelancing as a writer. I enjoy writing and sharing useful education-related tips with my fellow studying peers. During my leisure time, I enjoy doing creative arts and volunteering work. I am passionate about sharing my experience as a student! ☺

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TOK Course reflection

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TOK Course reflection

Document Details

  • Word Count 769
  • Page Count 1
  • Level International Baccalaureate
  • Subject Theory of Knowledge

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ToK Essay: Balancing Real World Examples and Theory of Knowledge Analysis

Daniel Trump

  • August 29, 2023
  • Student Support , ToK Essay

I recently reconnected with a friend after a significant amount of time. When he asked about my current endeavors, I shared about the launch of my website and YouTube channel, focusing on Theory of Knowledge (ToK) support. His cheeky response – “Too much RLS not enough ToK?” – inspired this blog post, a critical issue we often encounter when reviewing ToK essays.

The Dilemma of Too Much RLS and Not Enough ToK

RLS stands for Real Life Situation. It refers to real-world contexts or examples, providing the practical side to your ToK essay. ToK, on the other hand, represents the Theory of Knowledge content, which includes the discussion of knowledge acquisition, knowledge construction, methodology, scope, perspectives, and other related concepts.

A drawing of a student writing "I know that I know that I need to write more about knowledge."

In this article, the third of a four-part series on writing ToK essays, we tackle the recurring issue that plagues most ToK essays—too much emphasis on RLS and inadequate focus on ToK content. This imbalance is prevalent in around 80% of ToK drafts that I’ve reviewed, and approximately half of all the ToK essays I evaluated as an examiner were also guilty of this imbalance.

The first criterion in the ToK Essay assessment rubric requires a sustained focus on the essay title. Essays leaning more towards the RLS than ToK content often lack this necessary focus.

Striking the Right Balance Between RLS and ToK Content

You may be wondering how much ToK content should be included relative to RLS content. Although there is no definitive answer—it varies depending on the essay title, knowledge argument, RLS used, writing style, and other factors—there are certain tests we can apply to gauge what RLS content to include and what to exclude.

For each sentence of RLS content, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this sentence contribute to the knowledge argument I’m making?
  • Does the sentence confirm or evidence the knowledge argument I am making?
  • Is this sentence directly linked to the essay title?

Applying these tests usually results in a rough balance of 80% ToK content and 20% RLS content. There might be exceptions, but generally, the RLS content shouldn’t significantly exceed this guideline.

Applying the Balance: A ToK Essay Example

To better understand this concept, let’s analyse two responses to the knowledge claim: “ Not everything can be explained by AoK The Natural Sciences because scientific explanations are a product of that which is known, and not everything is yet known. “

Let’s look at an excerpt Student A’s essay: The Duck Billed Platypus was first encountered by Europeans in Australia in 1798. The second Governor of New South Wales sent a sketch and pelt to the Natural History Museum in London ( collection founded in the 1750s by Sir Hans Sloane in Bloomsbury London). The biological and natural scientists at the museum were perplexed by the Platypus as it has a beak like a bird, lays eggs like a bird or reptile, feeds milk to its young like a mammal, has fur like a mammal, has venom like a reptile, In his 1802 book, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Colonel David Collins wrote ‘the most extraordinary circumstance observed in its structure was, it having instead of the mouth of an animal, the upper and lower mandibles of a duck.’ Scientists thought the Duck billed Platypus was a hoax as they couldn’t classify it. This shows that not everything can be explained by AoK The Natural Sciences. Student A

Now let’s look at Student B’s Essay:

The claim that scientific knowledge can’t explain everything because scientific explanations are a response to pre-existing knowledge can be illustrated looking at the case of the Duck Billed Platypus. When the platypus was first encountered by Europeans in 1798 its phenotypical characteristics (e.g. it has a bill, lays eggs, produces milk, has venom) prevented it from fitting neatly into any single taxonomic class. The classification system at that time had been developed based on all animals that had been encountered up until that point (pre-existing knowledge). Upon encountering an animal that did not fit the classification system scientists had to create a new order (called Monotremata) that could account for the combination of characteristics of the Platypus. This demonstrates that pre-existing scientific knowledge may not be able to explain everything. However the scientific method enables the scientific framework to adapt to new knowledge, and for that new knowledge to be incorporated into the body of scientific knowledge. Student B

Student A’s essay focuses heavily on the story of the platypus discovery, while Student B’s response emphasizes the limitations of pre-existing scientific knowledge, using the platypus as a reference point.

Student A’s approach falls into the “ too much RLS, not enough ToK ” pitfall. While it provides a captivating narrative, it fails to highlight the knowledge argument or directly answer the essay title. On the contrary, Student B’s essay maintains a stronger balance between RLS and ToK content, demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of the ToK framework while providing relevant real-world context.

The Takeaway

Ensuring the right balance between RLS and ToK content is pivotal to writing a compelling ToK essay. It allows for a more precise exploration of knowledge issues, steering clear of the all-too-common mistake of overusing real-world examples at the expense of substantial ToK analysis.

ToK Essay Help e-book

For more insights into avoiding common mistakes in ToK essays, check out the blogpost, “ The 3 Most Frequent Mistakes on the ToK Essay “. And for extensive guidance, consider my popular e-book, “How to Write The ToK Essay in 6 Easy Steps” .

Stay tuned for the final post in this series, “How to Get an A in The ToK Essay”, and remember to maintain a fine balance in your essays for a more impactful ToK exploration.

Stay Toktastic, my friends!

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Understanding the TOK essay rubric

TOK Home > Free TOK notes > TOK essay guidance > Understanding the TOK essay rubric

tok essay reflection examples

After understanding the of the basics of the essay, your next step is to grasp how it is evaluated and marked, which is outlined in the ‘assessment instrument’. Your TOK teacher will give you a copy of this, or you can find it online in the 2022 TOK Guide.

The overall assessment objective of the TOK essay is to answer the prescribed essay title in a clear, coherent, and critical way. In order to do this, the assessment ‘instrument’ looks for five different skills.

STEP 1: Understand the TOK essay rubric

1. making links to tok.

The discussion within your TOK essay should be linked very effectively to the  areas of knowledge . Most, TOK essays expect you to discuss two AOKs, which will provide you with the context to explore and answer the prescribed title you’ve chosen.

2. Understanding perspectives

Your TOK essay should show a clear awareness of different points of view, and should offer an evaluation of them. This means considering how different perspective might approach the question in different ways.

3. Offering an effective argument

The arguments within your TOK essay are clear and coherent, and are supported by strong examples.

This means expressing your opinions clearly, and supporting them with original and meaningful real-life situations.

4. Keeping discussions relevant

Your essay’s discussions should offer a ‘sustained focus’ on the title. This means that you should be able to pick out any section of your essay, and be able to identify what question it is answering.

5. Considering implications

Your essay needs to not just present and evaluate arguments, it also needs to say why these arguments are significant, and what their implications are.

After you have grasped the rubric strands, you are ready to move on to choosing your prescribed title from the choice of six that are published in March or November – which we provide guidance on here .

Creating a TOK essay: our four-step guide

Click on the buttons below to take you to the four steps of creating a great TOK essay. Don’t forget that we have plenty of videos on this and other aspects of the course, and members of the site have access to a huge amount of other resources to help you master the course and assessment tasks.

tok essay reflection examples

How to write a TOK essay: webinar

This 80-minute webinar video and presentation gives you a clear, engaging, step-by-step guide to the task, helping you to understand the assessment rubric, choose the right PT, and produce an essay that hits all the assessment targets.

The video is supported by a presentation, and a Q&A debrief answering some of the most common questions asked about writing a TOK essay. Purchase your ticket here .

More support for the TOK essay

Make sure that your TOK teacher has given you access to all the documents and online material that support the essay. These include the TOK Subject Guide, the TOK essay rubric, and exemplar TOK essays (found in ‘MyIB’, which is accessible to teachers).   Make sure you go through our other pages on writing the TOK essay. You’ll find help on understanding what the is looking for, that works for you, what each of the should focus on, how to an effective TOK essay, and how to fill in your .   If your school is a  member  of theoryofknowledge.net, we have designed a series of lessons on the essay, with two formative assessment tasks. These will familiarize you with the essay rubric, knowledge questions, real-life situations, how to deal with perspectives and implications, and structuring an essay. If you are signed into the site, you can access these lessons  here .   You can also find out our thoughts on the TOK essay (and the TOK exhibition) in several webinars that we have delivered. The main one is the TOK Assessment 2022 webinar, but we also consider this form of assessment in our free webinars on the 2022 course. You can see these webinars on  this page  of the site.

tok essay reflection examples

Subscribe to the free TOK newsletter!

Subscribe to our free newsletter, and collect fantastic examples that will help you to understand the key ideas of TOK, support your essay and exhibition discussions, and help you to become an authentic critical thinker .

You’ll encounter some of the most important thinkers from the past and the present, go beyond the headlines of contemporary events and issues around the globe, and see how TOK concepts manifest in the real-world. Subscribe HERE !

IMAGES

  1. Tok Essay Example sample, Bookwormlab

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  2. TOK Essay Outline

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  3. TOK SAMPLE REFLECTION IB

    tok essay reflection examples

  4. EE TOK and CAS Reflection at St. Robert.ppt (1)

    tok essay reflection examples

  5. ARTS TOK ESSAY for Theory of knowledge. Short draft

    tok essay reflection examples

  6. Tok Essay Reflection.pdf

    tok essay reflection examples

VIDEO

  1. ToK Essay 6 May 24: Recent Evidence #shorts #tok #tokessay #ibtok

  2. Essay reflection

  3. TOK May 2024 Essay Title 1

  4. TOK May 2024 Essay Title 6

  5. TOK November 2023 Essay Title 3

  6. hl essay reflection

COMMENTS

  1. IB TOK Essay examples

    See what past students did and make your TOK Essay perfect by learning from examiner commented examples! Exemplars. Review. Login. JOIN FOR FREE. Home. TOK. Essay. IB TOK Essay examples. Type a search phrase to find the most relevant TOK Essay examples for you ...

  2. Planning and structuring the TOK essay

    Once you've grasped the essay rubric, and chosen your title, you can start planning and structuring your TOK essay. You base this around the 3 interactions with your teacher, which are one-on-one meetings discussing your progress, and receiving feedback. As well as the interactions, you can also ask your teacher specific questions about your ...

  3. PDF Sample TOK Essays with Comments and Scores

    and judge TOK essays, and why I understand that the scores awarded were justified. This docu ent cannot be considered to be authoritative in terms of IB standards or judgments. m. You may distribute this document freely, but do not remove this disclaimer. If you use only . sample essay 2, include this disclaimer. Meadowbrook HS Richmond, VA 23234

  4. Reflections on May 23 ToK Essay Session

    The most obvious examples of this could be: Essay #2: what can and cannot be explained may not be exclusive and consistent categories. ... So there we have it, reflections on M23 ToK essay session, a bit of learning from the May 23 Essay Session. I'm looking forward to the Nov 23 titles coming out next week,n Have a great day, stay tok-tastic !

  5. Example essays

    Further guidance on the TOK essay and exhibition can be found in the IB's Programme Resource Centre (PRC). Materials in the PRC are only available to existing IB World Schools. These materials are free. There are a number of resources on TOK in the IB Store, which are available to everyone. Find out how to become an IB World School.

  6. TOK Essay essentials

    Tell students that TOK essay is a "formal, sustained piece of writing" in response to one of six prescribed titles. It is externally assessed, with twice the weighting of the Exhibition. ... The Mona Lisa as an art example in a TOK essay is a cliche. Duchamp's 1919 Dadaist version L.H.O.O.Q. is not. The title is an obscene pun in French ...

  7. How To Write A ToK Essay

    Introduce your topic accurately and state your thesis statement for the essay carefully. A thesis statement is like a teaser to your entire essay wherein you define your key terms and introduce your interpretation of the question. Make sure that you do not reword the prescribed title in your thesis. Instead, it needs to, as the word says ...

  8. How to Write a TOK Essay: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

    Download Article. 1. Use your essay outline as a guide. Focus on expanding each section of your outline, keeping in mind the 1200-1600 word limit for the essay. Your introduction and your conclusion should be the shortest paragraphs in your essay, and the body paragraphs should be the longer sections of your essay.

  9. Theory of knowledge

    Theory of knowledge (TOK) is assessed through an exhibition and a 1,600 word essay. It asks students to reflect on the nature of knowledge, and on how we know what we claim to know. TOK is part of the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) core, and is mandatory for all students. Learn more about theory of knowledge.

  10. How to Structure a Theory of Knowledge Essay

    Paragraph 1. - Say one or two interesting things about the prescribed title question. This shows us, right away that you know what the question is asking. - Define one or two of the key terms in the title. Get definitions for all of the main words in your title. You don't need to include all of them in your essay, but it's useful to see how ...

  11. How To Write a ToK Essay IBDP

    A maximum of three points is awarded according to a student's combined performance in both the TOK and Extended Essay. Tutopiya will help and guide our IB Diploma students on the following: Learn how to write a IB ToK Essay with our step-by-step guide. The guide helps you with the ToK Essay Structure as well as a ToK Essay Analysis Example.

  12. PDF The TOK Essay: An In-Depth Guide

    The following guide will provide you with an overview of what examiners look for in a TOK essay before breaking down the steps you need to take to complete yours to a high standard. Your essay will be marked by an external IB examiner and given a score out of 10. These 10 points are divided into 5 levels, ranging from 'excellent' to 'rudimentary'.

  13. PDF Planning and progress form Theory of knowledge I

    X has shown a thorough response in all areas of research for her essay, investigating her Knowledge questions carefully, reflecting on her strength Areas of knowledge From the course and applying her ways oF knowing appropriately. The choice of title was scrutinized and chosen to display her interests in her courses.

  14. TOK essay reflection examples? : r/IBO

    However, the reflections are meant to be 500 words combining all three, so, as you might imagine, you don't really have to say much. Similarly to your EE, TOK essays require meeting with your teacher. The chronology for those meetings is pretty much the same as for the EE (relative to the writing process). Each reflection should pretty much ...

  15. TOK essay guidance

    1 The TOK essay is an individual task. 2 It represents two thirds of the overall mark for TOK. 3 It is externally marked. 4 You choose your title from a list of six prescribed titles, which change every exam session. 5 The word count for the essay is 1600 words. 6 You'll meet your teacher for 3 interactions to discuss your essay.

  16. PDF Writing Reflections in Theory of Knowledge

    prior reflections. Generally coherent; uses occasional examples to illustrate ideas. Mostly logical development of ideas. Regular, in-depth reflection that challenges material studied and uses outside sources occasionally to do so. Problems of Knowledge addressed. 2 Basic class record. Often incoherent. Some logic in development of ideas.

  17. How To Write IB Extended Essay Reflections

    How To Write IB Extended Essay Reflections. 1:30. As you already know, the new extended essay criteria include 6 marks for " Engagement .". That's 6 marks out of 35, meaning these reflections are worth 17.6% of your EE mark! Those 6 marks are almost enough to bring you from a C to an A. This is a lot of marks for just 500 words.

  18. TOK essay PPF

    Uploading your essay & PPF. Completing and uploading your Presentation Planning Form (PPF) means that you've done the hard part of writing your essay, and are nearly at the end of the process. Check out our short video explainer for the TOK essay; you can find more explainers about other aspects of the course in our TOK explainer playlist.

  19. Writing & uploading the TOK essay

    Check out our three-minute explainer video on the TOK essay here. The video goes over the basics of the TOK essay, such as how it's assessed, the word count and other practical details, terms such as 'perspectives' and 'implications', and the role of real-world examples in justifying claims and arguments. You'll find more videos on ...

  20. TOK Course reflection

    TOK Course reflection. International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge. Final Examination - Course Reflection Dear James, This semester of IB classes made me reflect a lot on important matters that on level classes wouldn't encourage me to reflect upon. I've noticed that IB really challenges students and fuels plenty of critical thinking ...

  21. ToK Essay: Balancing Real World Examples and Theory of Knowledge

    It refers to real-world contexts or examples, providing the practical side to your ToK essay. ToK, on the other hand, represents the Theory of Knowledge content, which includes the discussion of knowledge acquisition, knowledge construction, methodology, scope, perspectives, and other related concepts. In this article, the third of a four-part ...

  22. Understanding the TOK essay rubric

    2. Understanding perspectives. Your TOK essay should show a clear awareness of different points of view, and should offer an evaluation of them. This means considering how different perspective might approach the question in different ways. 3. Offering an effective argument. The arguments within your TOK essay are clear and coherent, and are ...

  23. Tok Sample Reflection Ib

    TOK SAMPLE REFLECTION IB - Free download as PDF File (.pdf), Text File (.txt) or read online for free. TOK SAMPLE REFLECTION IB