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How to Write a TOK Essay
Last Updated: January 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 248,068 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
- Natural sciences
- Human sciences
- Religious knowledge systems
- Indigenous knowledge systems
- “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?”
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”  X Research source
Writing the Essay
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
You Might Also Like
- ↑ https://ibpublishing.ibo.org/exist/rest/app/tsm.xql?doc=d_0_tok_gui_1304_1_e&part=2&chapter=4
- ↑ 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
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 - 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.📝💡
Table of content
Purpose of tok, assessment of tok, the game plan, execution of the gameplan, planning for tok essay, structure of tok essay, introduction, conclusions, bibliography.
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.
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.
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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Guide to the TOK Essay
- What is Theory of Knowledge (TOK)?
- What is the Theory of Knowledge Essay?
How is the Theory of Knowledge Essay Scored?
How to structure your theory of knowledge essay.
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB/IBDP) is a rigorous and rewarding internationally based educational program that offers courses in numerous studies, from humanities to chemistry. Students take part in a two-year curriculum that includes external examinations, internal assessments, research papers and community service hours. Essentially, students will have to do a bit of everything, especially with IB’s core, which is CAS, TOK, and the extended essay (EE). Understanding how TOK, IB’s flagship class, is assessed with its essay is important to success in the course overall.
What is Theory Of Knowledge (TOK)?
Theory of Knowledge is IB’s way of introducing a more intuitive way of thinking into classrooms. TOK is at its surface as simple as it sounds: you essentially learn the “what” and “why” of how we learn and understand knowledge. In order to assess students of their skills in TOK, IB uses an essay and a presentation. The essay makes up 67% of your total TOK score, making it the most important task to focus on for getting a high score.
What is the Theory Of Knowledge Essay?
The TOK essay is a 1600 word essay written about topics usually given to students from their teachers from a list of numerous options. It is an essay that promotes arguments and counterarguments for the topic at hand. Understanding your ways of knowing (WOKs) and areas of knowledge (AOKs) is extremely crucial before you even start choosing a topic to write on, as your essay will revolve around and structure itself based on these two concepts. Being able to demonstrate higher-level thinking and using examples to solidify the points you make in your essay is also important. Additionally, you’ll need to reference every source of information that you use, since that is something examiners look for as well.
As said earlier, 67% of your grade is from the essay, and your overall TOK score receives a letter grade using a calculated score out of thirty. Your essay score and presentation score are each out of ten. The grades for your TOK presentation and essay are determined by sending material to the board of IB, from which they designate a grader/examiner to read your essay and grade based on a rubric that determines the level of knowledge you exhibit in your writing.
The following formula should better explain how to find your TOK grade.
(presentation score) + (essay score * 2) = overall score out of 30
The grade boundaries out of 30 that determine your letter grade can vary each year so checking in with your school for the most recent ones is the best course of action, but an example set would be like this:
Once you have a letter grade for IB, your extended essay, which is another part of the core, is also included into a larger grading schema to calculate your core score, which is three additional points required to complete and earn the diploma. The following table details this grade further:
Doing well in the core is important to passing IB and getting three points out of the total 45 attainable points.
There’s a trick that most IB students use in writing the TOK essay, and it boils down to understanding four key components of learning:
- Content : Understanding knowledge issues
- Clarity : Structuring your essay in a legible and clear/easy to read manner
- Creativity : Using your personal ways of thinking and applications of knowledge specific to your understanding of the knowledge issue
- Critical Thinking : Using a counter argument for every argument you have to analyze your own claims constantly
Dividing your actual essay into three main chunks helps, starting with an introduction. Your introduction should be where you state your knowledge question, the central point of your essay, and you should make use of jargon specific to the concept. As the basis of your essay, the introduction should be where you form claims and counterclaims that either support or challenge the knowledge question through heavy analysis and evaluation.
The body of the essay follows the introduction, and it is where most of the conceptual analysis of your knowledge question takes place. Every argument and its counterargument should have a dedicated paragraph of its own, and make sure to not jump back and forth too much throughout the essay. to avoid creating messy transitions for the reader and potentially harming your score. Understanding the essay from the reader’s point of view is important, as it will help you better understand how to structure the body of your essay.
A conclusion in the TOK essay is mainly for finding closure among the numerous arguments that have been taking place thus far in the essay. Make sure to summarize but not repeat previous information entirely to refresh the reader. A conclusion should essentially loop back to the beginning of the essay, the knowledge question. The knowledge question’s answer should be the conclusion and the stopping point of the essay, and by now the answer you provide should be backed by paragraphs of supporting claims and counterclaims. If done right, concluding the essay can be how you earn most of your points.
Starting early is an obvious and effective advantage to students. Aside from TOK, let alone the presentation, IB has substantial work that requires focus and allocated time dedicated to it, such as external examinations and the extended essay. These tasks are equally as important as the TOK essay, so starting your outlining, drafting or even just planning early will set you up for success.
Send Your Drafts to Your Teacher
Your TOK teacher is a great resource for drafting essays and making edits to perfect your final product. Making use of time outside of the classroom to catch your teacher for a quick review of your essay could be a bigger advantage than you realize. Making use of an outside perspective is essential to forming a great essay.
While your final IB grade isn’t as important as you’d think regarding college admissions, understanding how to pass TOK and using the lifelong practices you’ll learn in the class is even more important. TOK creates students who think outside conventional methods, making them excellent candidates in the eyes of college admissions offices. Taking TOK and showing proof of understanding it as well as capability of academic rigor is what colleges are looking for. For more information on how your chances of college admissions might look, use CollegeVine’s admissions calculator !
Related CollegeVine Blog Posts
How to Structure and Format your TOK Essay!
TOK is, for many, an extremely difficult subject to get your head around. A lot of the questions you get asked in class might seem entirely nonsensical to you, and perhaps the TOK essay titles seem just as confusing! One thing that we at Lanterna think is the most underappreciated thing that truly aids understanding and expressing those more confusing concepts is clear structure and format .
So many of the TOK essays we’ve seen students submit have had some great ideas but they seem too rambling and incoherent. Taking a few extra hours to address the structure of the essay is not just something that will make your essay ‘look’ better, but it will actually express your ideas much more clearly! What results is an examiner that clearly understands your viewpoint, rather than having to search for what you actually mean, and your grade is sure to increase! So… how do we structure and format our TOK Essay?
Did you miss our blog on breaking down the title? Click for part 1!
Introduction (150-200 words).
- Start by focusing on the prescribed title (PT) – what catches your attention about it?
- Define a few key terms from the prescribed title. Typically your PT will contain some words or phrases that aren’t easily definable, like “progress in knowledge” vs. “change in knowledge”, so the way in which you define these key terms is extremely important to the way that you then answer the PT.
- Choose the AoK’s that you will consider related to this PT and perhaps a brief description of why you think these are good choices of AoK’s to discuss this title!
- State your thesis – typically the PT will be a question that you can agree, disagree, or partly agree with.
- Give a general overview of what you will be discussing in your essay, potentially referring to the real life examples (RLE’s) that you will consider, or the Ways of Knowing (WoK) that you will discuss further in your body paragraphs.
Body Paragraph 1 (250-350 words)
- Explore the first AoK you chose. State why that AoK either supports or doesn’t support the PT.
- Introduce a real life example
- Explain why this real life example supports or doesn’t support the PT using WoKs
- Talk about if this is a unique example, or if that example is true for most of that AoK.
Body Paragraph 2 (250-350 words)
- Counterclaim to the example you gave above – explaining why it might be flawed or what downsides it might have
- Introduce a real life example within the same AoK that counters the example in paragraph 1, using different WoKs
- Refer back to the PT with a concluding sentence stating to what extent your first AoK supports or doesn’t support your thesis based on the example and counterexample you’ve highlighted.
Need some more help with TOK? Click above for our free guide!
Body Paragraph 3 (250-350 words)
- Similar to Body Paragraph 1, explore your second AoK by bringing up a real life example, explaining it using WoKs, and evaluate
Body Paragraph 4 (250-350 words)
- Similar to Body Paragraph 2, give a counterclaim to your previous example and then refer back to the PT showing whether your second AoK supports or doesn’t support your thesis.
Body Paragraph 5
- If you have additional words to play around with then we’d recommend adding a body paragraph where you compare and contrast the 2 AoKs that you chose. Why is that they address the PT in different ways? Is it purely down to the WoKs we use when getting knowledge from those areas, or are there other factors at play?
- Most importantly, refer back to the PT and your thesis. Through your analysis what is your response to the PT? Generally it’s unwise to come down extremely strongly on one side of the argument, as that probably implies that you’ve failed to recognize the arguments on the other side of the aisle. With that said, state what side you lean towards after your analysis and what examples backed that up!
- Tell us why it’s important to know the answer to this question!
Every TOK Essay will look different and this isn’t the only format you can use for your essay. In fact, for some prescribed titles you might even want to steer away from this structure if the PT lends itself to another format! However, as a baseline, this is a clear, well-thought out way to approach the confusing essay that is your TOK Essay. Let us know if you have any more questions about the TOK Essay and we’ll be happy to help you out! Good luck!
We also offer online private tuition if you would like more support with your TOK essay, and our packages here .
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Writing a TOK essay
TOK Home > TOK essay guidance > Writing a TOK essay
Writing your TOK essay
After you’ve understood the essay rubric , followed our advice about choosing a title , and are aware of the importance of the interactions , you’re ready to start writing your essay.
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 .
Tips for writing your essay
The most important part of writing your essay is getting started. You can procrastinate for ages, thinking about whether you’ve chosen the right title, which areas of knowledge to explore the question in, key thinker and ides to draw on, and so on. Obviously you need to choose the right title, and have an effective plan, but this means nothing until you have put your thoughts down on paper. You will find that many of your uncertainties start to resolve themselves when you start writing.
The introduction is all important
Your introduction should begin with a ‘hook’ to engage the reader, offer your interpretation of the key words or ideas from the title (don’t just copy a definition out of a dictionary – give your take on what the title means), outline the scope of the essay. Get your introduction right, and you will have set up the foundations for a great essay. If you rush it, or not view it with the importance it really requires, you’ll struggle to develop clear ideas in the main body of the essay.
Follow a clear essay plan
By two, you should have formulated a clear essay plan. This means knowing which AOKs you are using as the context of the essay, the arguments and counterarguments you’ll be presenting, the real-life examples you’ll be drawing on to justify discussion points, how you’ll indicate the implications of your arguments, and the way in which you’ll challenge assumptions in the question. Agree with your teacher on this plan, and let them know if you are deviating significantly from it.
Justify each point you make
Each of the discussion points you make should be supported by a real-life example. These can come from your own experiences as a knower (inside, and outside of the school), or from events, issues, and topics you’ve read about or encountered from the news and other media sources.
Don’t jump straight into your examples
A common mistake made by students is to move straight onto real-life examples without offering a proper discussion about knowledge questions related to the title. Discuss your own take on the question, perhaps referring to a key thinker or theory, before relating this all to a real-life situation.
You need to offer a consideration of different points of view, and the way to do this is via counterarguments. For each of your claims or arguments, you should offer a counterclaim or counterargument, weighing up how the issue could be considered from another point of view. Make sure you evaluate these counterarguments, and don’t just mention them.
Find your own voice
Make sure that you offer your own opinions, give your own interpretation of the title, and offer your own experiences to support your arguments. This will demonstrate your skills as a critical thinker, and distinguish your essay from those that rely on generic and cliched discussions.
Make full use of the interactions
In order to develop your ideas, and ensure that you’re on the right track with your essay, make sure you make full use of the with your teacher. It’s during these one-to-one sessions that you can discuss your arguments, evaluate your examples, and consider which key thinkers and concepts work in your essay.
Don’t neglect the non-assessed elements
Make sure that you format your essay in the right way, offer a decent bibliography, hit the word limit (without going over it), and follow all the other protocols for submitting your TOK essay. This will present a great impression to examiners, and show that you are ready and willing to follow the IB requirements for the assessment task.
TOK essay pages
The TOK essay rubric
Learn about how the essay is marked, and the skills you are expected to demonstrate in order to succeed. Read more here .
Choosing your TOK essay title
Find out how to evaluate the six prescribed essay titles, and decide on which one will work best for you. Read more here .
The three TOK essay interactions
Learn about the three interactions with your TOK teacher, and what you should be discussing in each one. Read more here .
Gain a few tips on how to structure your TOK essay, how to articulate your ideas, and ways to justify your claims. Read more here .
Find out about how to fill in the essay PPF, and why this is an important indication of your engagement with TOK. Read more 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.
FAQs about the TOK essay
Can i meet my teacher outside the three interactions.
You shouldn’t expect to meet you teacher for long discussions, but you can ask specific questions about aspects of your essay. You can check the suitability of examples, the validity of points you’re trying to make, and the key thinkers and ideas you’re using to explore ideas.
Where do I record what we discussed in the three interactions?
Write a short account of what you have discussed in the interactions straight away. If your school uses ManageBac , this will make your life slightly easier; otherwise, you should fill in the fields of the PPF, which we discuss on.
Can I change my essay title?
Yes, you can change your chosen prescribed title at any point during the essay-writing process, but obviously the longer you leave this, the less time you’ll have to complete it. This is one of the points of the interactions – to identify any problems early on, and, if they can’t be resolved, think about which alternative to move onto.
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 .
Get real with TOK by subscribing to the newsletter
Step into the real and unpackaged world by subscribing to our unique monthly TOK newsletter. You’ll receive links to great media sources from all over the world that place the TOK themes and areas of knowledge into an authentic context.
You’ll meet great thinkers and ideas, hone your understanding of key TOK concepts, and build up a library of examples for the essay and exhibition. Subscribe HERE !
US IB Theory of Knowledge: TOK Essay
- Knowledge Framework in TOK
- TOK & The Learner Profile Attributes
- The Learner Profile Attributes Quiz
- Areas of Knowledge
- Optional Themes
- Knowledge Questions
- TOK Exhibition
- TOK Exhibition Prompts
- TOK Exhibition Rubric
- Ways of Knowing (Pre 2022)
- Recommended Reading
- RSS News Feeds
TOK Prescribed Titles
The International Baccalaureate Organization releases six TOK essay titles, twice a year for submission either in May or November. So you need to know which cohort you're submitting with. The essay titles for submission in May are released in the previous September. The essay titles for submission in November are released the previous March.
- May 2022 topics
- November 2021 topics
- May 2021 topics
- November 2020 topics
- May 2020 topics
- November 2019 topics
- May 2019 topics
- November 2018 topics
- May 2018 topics
- November 2017 topics
"A" example Essays
- Reason vs Emotion in Ethics
- Breaking Conventions
- Context is All
- Moral Wisdom
- Valuable Knowledge
- Experience & Culture
The word count is 1600 words. This includes quotations. You have to write down the number of words when you submit the essay. The examiner will not read past 1600 words. References, maps/charts/illustrations and bibliographies are not included in the word count. You can choose any standard referencing system, but be consistent with the one you chose.
Assessment Criteria: Markscheme from the TOK Guide (as of Class of 2022)
TOK Essay Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions that students and teachers frequently ask about the TOK essay. Read through these questions and the answers to check that you are doing the right thing.
What’s the most important thing to bear in mind?
The first thing is to BE CLEAR! Most students do not even manage to communicate their ideas clearly to the examiner. Regardless of whether or not your answer is stunningly original or crammed with a variety of interesting examples, if it is clear then you will already have a massive head start over the majority of other students from elsewhere in the world. That is why it is absolutely vital to plan in detail – if you have a clear plan you will write a clear essay. If you start the essay without a clear plan then the chances are you will not do very well.
The second thing is to remain focused on the question. It is really easy to lose focus and when you do your score will instantly drop. A slight switch from discussing ‘what we believe is true’ to ‘what is true’ might be enough to make most of your answer irrelevant to the question that you have been asked so you have to be really, really careful here. Always ask yourself whether you are correctly focused on the question.
If my answer is not completely different to everyone else’s will I lose?
Most good essays will offer well balanced, plausible and convincing answer to the knowledge question that has been asked. Clearly there is not an infinite variety of plausible and convincing answers to any question and so you should not expect your answer to be completely different to everyone else’s and nor should you strive to make it bizarrely and outlandishly strange in an attempt to seem original. A good answer will usually point out that x is true in some case cases because of a certain set of reasons, while it is less true in other cases and pretty much completely untrue elsewhere. Students who take very extreme positions tend not to do so well in TOK because, unlike in English where you can usually find some evidence to back up even the most unusual reading, TOK is meant to be firmly grounded in the real world and so, for instance, it is not really that plausible to argue that we can never know anything because that just doesn't fit with how we live our daily lives. Similarly, answers which are overly simply probably won't do that well because most things in TOK just aren’t that clear cut. For example students who claim that Art is completely subjective and that we can never know whether one painting is better than another have trouble when accounting for how the IB award some students Level 7s in art while failing others.
So in this sense your essay might be balanced in the same way as someone else’s but the difference between your essay and everyone else’s should be in exactly how you strike that balance, exactly which discriminations you make and the kinds of evidence that you use to persuade me that your answer is correct. The more convincing your position: the better you will do.
How many examples do I need?
In terms of number of examples there is no set answer. However, in a 1600 word essay you should try to have about 4-6 main body points with one clear example that is central to each one. The best marks will not go to those students who have lots of examples but those who choose examples that support their point really well and then go on to consider the counterclaims against this position (possibly using the same example or a different one) and then respond to this counterclaim (again using the same example or a different one - however three examples in paragraph might be getting a bit too much).
How important is it to talk about myself?
It is important to demonstrate personal engagement, indeed the highest marks will really only be awarded to essays that create a sense that the writer has really engaged and got to grips with the question that they have chosen to answer. However, there are a number of different ways to do this. Using the personal pronoun ‘I’ and talking about something that has happened to you is one way to do this but it will not score highly unless it is a strong example that convincingly supports the point you are trying to make. For example, you will are unlikely to get any points for a personal example about your summer holiday or your Mum’s noodle soup unless it clearly and convincingly supports your answer to the question.
Other ways to demonstrate personal engagement and independent thought are by offering personal definitions of key words and researching original examples that you have come up with yourself rather than the obvious example or the one that everyone else in your class is using because that is the one that the teacher gave you.
Ultimately the best way to demonstrate your personal engagement with the question is through your tone of voice and the sense that you have really ‘got’ what this question is asking and honestly offered your own answer to it. However, this can be hard to identify for an examiner so it is probably best if you try to cover all of the different methods mentioned above in order to come across as a student who is thinking for themselves and relating this question to experiences in their own education.
Should I offer definitions of all the words in my title?
Obviously not – beginning your essay with a list of personal definitions does not make for a very engaging start. However, there may be some terms in your question title that it is important to define and so you might need to start by doing this. In these case it is best to offer a brief personal definition (avoid Dictionary.com!), but be careful with going into any more detail than that. Otherwise the best way to show that you understand what the words in the title mean is to continually link back to the key words from the question throughout your essay. Just like in an English essay you would usually do this at the beginning or end of a paragraph but the best students will be able to make the link clear throughout.
One handy trick to bear in mind when thinking about definitions is that, considering different definitions of key words can actually be a good way of incorporating different perspectives into your essay. For example, if your essay question asks you whether progress is equally possible in the sciences and the arts then how you answer that question might depend on how you define progress and a good structure for the essay might be to start by considering one definition of progress (i.e. progress from one perspective) and then go on to contrast this with the answer that we get if we consider a different definition of progress from another perspective.
Is it a good idea to argue that it’s impossible to know anything at all?
Generally no … TOK examiners tend to be quite dismissive of essays that argue either that we can’t know anything at all or that you can have your ‘truth’ and I can have my ‘truth’ and that these truths are both true. The first of these approaches is often called ‘lazy scepticism’ and the second ‘easy relativism’ and you can see that the names imply that these are not particularly impressive positions to adopt. This is not to say that it’s impossible to be sceptical about knowledge and argue that there are problems with it because clearly there are. It’s also not to say that it’s impossible to argue that in some situations the ‘truth’ might actually be different for different people. However, by and large TOK is looking at how we can know things despite the problems we face when acquiring with knowledge or in spite of the different opinions that exist. TOK is in many ways a pragmatic and realistic subject that is trying to move away from creating the impression that we just can't know anything at all. As such, the best essays will admit that the acquisition of knowledge may not be straight-forward, but will go on to consider how we can overcome these obstacles in the successful pursuit of knowledge.
Do I have to cover every AOK and WOK in my essay?
No, you won’t have enough space. However, you should start by considering all of the AOKs and WOKs when you begin planning your essay and then narrow it down to the 2 or 3 AOKs or WOKs where you can say the most interesting things. Make it clear that this narrowing down is a conscious decision that you have made and you can even briefly explain the reasons why you have made the choice that you have, if you think that it is relevant. Remember that the highest marks will go to the students who explore a few really key ideas in depth rather than those who try to cover everything. Remember also that the best and most original ideas are not necessarily going to be the ones that spring to mind first so try to use AOKs or WOKs that not everyone else is using – as long as they work.
So how do I know which AOKs or WOKs would be good ones to pick?
In general, it can be good to compare an AOK where a statement 'x' really applies well and contrast that with one where it doesn't or doesn't seem to. So for example 'All knowledge is subjective' seems to fit well with The Arts and Ethics, but less with Maths and Science so if you just talk about The Arts and Ethics then you are just going to have an essay that keeps saying ... and this is also true in Ethics, and we can see another example of subjectivity in the Arts, etc. It would be much better to say that this is true in the arts because of xyz reasons and not true in Maths because of abc reasons.
If you are really confident with TOK you might try inverting an obvious stereotype about an AOK and seeing if you can find examples where that isn’t true. For example, most students’ first reactions are that the Arts are a subjective subject whereas Maths is a subject which contains objective, universal truths. While there is some truth to this stereotype it is not true all the time and the best students will be able to explore where that stereotype breaks down and why it breaks down. For example, while judgement in art is subjective, some truths – e.g. that this picture was painted by Da Vinci - are empirical and so we can have objective agreement about them. Additionally, even the subjective truths aren't allowed to be absolutely anything - even my Mum doesn't think that my Primary School paintings are as good as Da Vinci's. This kind of subtlety is what marks out the best answers.
In addition, do not make sweeping statements about aspects or areas of knowledge that imply that what you are saying is always and absolutely true without exception. Instead, phrase things in a way that acknowledges the limitations of your own knowledge and experience: for example ‘Accepting for the moment the premise that … then we can say …’
Do I have to use TOK words like ‘Areas of Knowledge’ in my essay?
Yes you do as this will demonstrate a good understanding of the course but be wary of just throwing them in everywhere: judicious and correct use of TOK terminology is better than going over the top. The words that should come up more frequently are the key words from the question to show that you are remaining focused on the question and not getting distracted by anything else.
Do I have to include any Philosophy or Philosophical words?
No - the IB have made it clear that TOK is not a philosophy course, instead it is meant to be grounded in the real world and your own experiences as a student. As such you should try to avoid including complex philosophical points unless you really understand them and they really are fully relevant to the essay, even then it is often to put these points into your own words rather than quote philosophers because TOK is about you thinking for yourself rather than quoting someone else’s thoughts.
Do I have to research the quotations in the question title?
It is a good idea to know where the quotation came from, who said it and why but you wouldn’t necessarily include any of this in your essay. In fact, the quotation may not really be relevant at all to the essay question as they are sometimes just used to give you a flavor of the what the essay is about. For example in the ‘What I Tell You Three Times is True’ question – the number ‘three’ and the fact that this comes from Lewis Carroll are not necessarily as important as the point about repetition and so detailed research into the works of Lewis Carroll will not really help you with this question.
Can I use quotations from famous people to back up my argument?
Students often like starting essays, concluding essays or supporting points with quotations from famous people like Oscar Wilde or Albert Einstein. The fact that these people are experts tends to lend an air of credibility to your argument. However, the opinion of someone like Oscar Wilde is only going to be relevant in certain, very specific circumstances, for example, if you are exploring esthetics (the theory about what makes beautiful things beautiful) then it might be worth considering Oscar Wilde’s perspective on this topic as he was an artist… but you have to remember that his view is only one perspective and just because Wilde said it, it doesn’t mean that he has the best or most convincing theory about beauty. You should also remember that, outside of the topic of esthetics, it might not be a such good idea to quote Oscar Wilde at all: his opinions on how to live a good life, for example, can be sharply witty and sound quite appealing ... but we need to remember that he did die penniless and alone in Paris so is he really someone that we want to listen to?
Similarly, Einstein is a hugely important figure in the history of science and it might be worthwhile quoting him if you were exploring the forces that drive or inspire genius. However, again you should bear in mind that Einstein’s personal statement about what inspires him is not necessarily something that is going to be true of all thinkers. On top of that you should remember that it has been almost 100 years since the publication of Einstein’s last great work, the General Theory of Relativity, so if you are looking for an up to date comment on the nature of scientific knowledge then it might be best to look elsewhere.
In general the rule with quotations is that you should only quote from someone when they are an expert in the relevant field and even then you have to bear in mind that their opinion is nothing more than that, an opinion. Just like your opinions have to be backed up with evidence and proof, so do the opinions of experts… just because Einstein said it, it doesn’t mean it’s true until you show me the proof. One danger you should also be aware of if you quote too much is that the expert’s voice can come to replace your own and so you should only quote opinions sparingly. One additional way to prevent the expert’s voice from dominating your essay is to use quotations from them in your counterclaims; if you go on to disagree with the expert then that’s usually a clear indication that you are thinking for yourself.
Finally, be careful where you get your quotation from. ‘Brainyquote.com’ might be a repository of thousands of fantastic and completely accurate quotations but it doesn’t create a great impression of your ability to select reliable sources so try to find the original source for your quotation and quote that!
Do I need to include different perspectives in my essay?
Definitely, although remember that ‘different perspectives’ can mean a range of different things. One nice way to include different perspectives is by considering the question from the ‘perspective’ of the different AOKs . So, for example, you might answer the question from the perspective of the sciences and then compare this with the perspective of the arts – this is a particularly nice trick because it also enables you to draw in some comparisons between the AOKs at the same time. However, there are other perspectives that you considering and exploring different cultural, political, philosophical, historical and intellectual perspectives or different schools of thought within an AOK can lead to a more interesting and more convincing essay.
Do I have to distinguish between ‘personal’ and ‘shared’ knowledge in my essay?
It’s definitely a good idea to consider these ideas in your planning but, as with anything, you should only really include them if they are relevant to your essay. One effective way to include these different kinds of knowledge in your essay is to treat them as different perspectives on the same issue. For example, if you are looking at whether it is possible to make progress in the arts then the answer might be quite different depending on whether I am talking about progress at a personal level (clearly I can get better at drawing) or at a shared / communal level because it’s not entirely clear what it would mean for art overall to get ‘better’. This links nicely with the previous point as a way of considering different perspectives on the same issue and can be a good way of killing two birds with one stone.
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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 .
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:
- 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
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.
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How to plan and structure your TOK essay
Table of contents.
Are you struggling to plan and structure your Theory of Knowledge (TOK) essay? Thinking about the components that make up a TOK essay can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! By breaking down each part of the structure into manageable pieces, you can create a solid framework for your own unique ideas. Keep reading to find out how planning and structuring your TOK essay is easier than you think!
This article is a part of Comprehensive Guide to Writing a Strong IB TOK Essay
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Understanding the requirements and guidelines for tok essay.
Assessment Criteria: The first step in writing a successful TOK essay is understanding the assessment criteria. Your TOK essay should demonstrate knowledge, clarity of thought, appropriate analysis and structure, as well as accurate referencing throughout the text. You should also provide reference material from outside sources that is relevant to your argument or topic. This will help you achieve higher marks on the assignment.
Word Count: The maximum word count for your TOK essay is 1600 words; however, it can be shorter depending on your school or teacher’s specific guidelines. It is important to note that this word limit does not include citations or footnotes, but only includes the body of your essay itself. A good rule of thumb when writing any type of academic paper is to use a clear and concise approach; this will help keep your word count within the acceptable range.
Formatting Requirements: Another important aspect of writing an effective TOK essay is formatting it correctly according to IB standards. Your document should include a title page with your name, date of submission, school name and the title of your paper clearly stated at the top of each page.
You should also use double-spacing throughout the body text and one-inch margins on all sides. Furthermore, each section should be clearly labeled with headings (e.g., Introduction/Main Body/Conclusion). Finally, make sure that you include references throughout your paper via endnotes or footnotes at the bottom of each page where applicable; these references must follow APA format style guidelines as specified by the IB organization.
Guidelines Provided By School/Teacher: Depending on where you attend school or which teacher you have assigned for this coursework assignment, there may be additional guidelines you need to follow when completing your TOK essay – including due dates for drafts if applicable. Make sure that you are familiar with these instructions so that you can complete your work accurately and efficiently without running into any problems later down the line due to misunderstanding or miscommunication regarding these key elements in writing an effective TOK essay!
Choose a clear and focused title for your TOK essay
One of the first steps in writing a successful TOK essay is choosing an appropriate title. Choosing the right title can help you plan and structure your essay effectively, so it’s important to spend some time carefully considering all your options before committing to a particular topic.
Brainstorming Ideas for Your TOK Essay Title
The best way to start brainstorming titles for your TOK essay is by reflecting on the six areas of knowledge (AOK). These include mathematics, natural sciences, human sciences, history, the arts, and ethics. Think about which area interests you most or has the most potential for interesting discussion. Once you’ve narrowed down the AOK that you want to focus on in your essay, it’s time to start exploring potential titles.
When coming up with a title, try to identify key words or phrases that capture the heart of your argument or that spark your interest. You might also want to consider using questions as titles since they encourage readers to think critically about the topic at hand. Keep in mind that whatever title you choose should meet all requirements set out by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) for TOK essays. This includes being specific enough so that readers know what will be covered in your essay but broad enough so that there is room for exploration and analysis within it.
Once you have come up with several possible titles for your essay, evaluate them carefully against each other. Ask yourself whether each title is clear and focused; does it accurately convey what you are trying to say? Does it leave room for exploration? Does it meet IBO requirements? Answering these questions will help you determine which title is best suited for your argument and purpose.
Develop a clear and well-defined thesis statement
The key to success is developing a clear and well-defined thesis statement that reflects the main argument or point you want to make in your essay. Let’s explore how to do this.
Step One: Understanding the Prompt
Before you begin writing your TOK essay, it’s important to understand the prompt thoroughly. Read it over several times and make sure you understand what is being asked of you before proceeding. Once you have a full understanding of the prompt, you can start formulating your thesis statement.
Step Two: Brainstorming
Brainstorming is an excellent way to come up with ideas for your TOK essay. Take some time to think about what your main argument or point will be before jotting down any ideas that come to mind on paper. This could involve researching the topic further, or simply reflecting on what knowledge claims already exist within the given topic area. Once you have established some potential knowledge claims that fit within your overall argument, you can start formulating them into one clear sentence that expresses exactly what point you are trying to make in your essay.
Step Three: Formulating Your Thesis Statement
Your thesis statement should reflect the overall argument or point that you want express in your essay – it should answer the question posed by the prompt directly while also providing insight into how exactly this point will be argued throughout your essay. Make sure it is clear and concise; avoid using overly complicated language or unnecessary qualifiers as these may confuse readers or cause them to lose interest in your work. Additionally, ensure that all claims made in your thesis statement are supported by evidence from reliable sources later in the essay itself; this will help strengthen its validity and increase reader engagement with your work further still!
Create an outline for your TOK essay
An outline will help you organize your ideas, plan out how to structure your essay, and make sure that all of your points are included. Let’s take a look at how you can create an effective outline for a ToK essay.
An outline is essentially a map of what you want to include in your ToK essay. It’s important to create one before you start writing so that you have a clear focus on what information needs to be included and how it should be presented. When creating an outline, it’s important to think about the main points that will drive your argument forward and the supporting evidence that will back up each point. Additionally, consider the transitions between each point or idea so that your paper flows smoothly from one section to the next.
Creating Your Outline
When creating an outline for your ToK essay, there are several steps you should follow:
1. Brainstorm ideas – Think about the topic of your paper and come up with 10-15 related ideas that could potentially be included in your paper.
2. Group these ideas into categories – Categorize these ideas into 3-5 overarching topics or themes which form the basis of each section in your paper.
3. Write down key points – Make notes on each category outlining what key points need to be discussed within them including any supporting evidence or relevant examples needed to back up those points.
4. Create transitions – Once all of the categories have been created and outlined it’s time to add connecting statements between them so they flow together logically when reading through them as a whole piece of work.
Write the introduction
The introduction of your Theory of Knowledge (TOK) essay is the first opportunity you have to make an impression on your reader and set the tone for your essay. It is important to start strong and capture your reader’s attention with an attention-grabbing opening. Here are some tips for writing the introduction of your TOK essay:
- Begin with an attention-grabbing opening: You can start with a quote, a rhetorical question, a surprising fact, or an anecdote to engage your reader and make them want to read on.
- Introduce your topic: Provide a brief overview of the topic you will be discussing in your essay. This should be specific and focused, and it should set the stage for the rest of your essay.
- Thesis statement: A thesis statement is a one-sentence summary of your main argument or claim. It should be clear and concise, and it should provide the reader with a sense of the direction your essay will take.
- Main points: After introducing your topic and thesis statement, you should outline your main points or arguments. This will give the reader a sense of what to expect in the body of your essay and help them understand the main ideas you will be discussing.
Writing the Body Paragraphs of your ToK Essay
Let’s break down how you can structure your body paragraphs and make sure that your essay is organized, clear, and effective.
The body paragraphs are where you will develop each of your main points and support them with evidence and examples. It is important to remember that each paragraph should focus on one main point; don’t try to cram too much information into one paragraph!
For example, if your essay prompt is “What does it mean to know something?”, then you might have three main points: knowledge as understanding, knowledge as experience, and knowledge as certainty. Each of these points should be developed in its own paragraph.
When writing each paragraph, start with an engaging hook sentence that introduces the point you are going to discuss. Then provide evidence or examples from personal experience or from other sources that support this particular point.
Use linking statements throughout the essay in order to show how this point relates to others discussed earlier in the essay; this will help keep your argument organized and coherent. Finally, end each paragraph with a concluding statement that summarizes what has been discussed in the previous sentences.
How to write a thought-provoking conclusion for your TOK essay
You’ve worked hard to craft your argument and make sure that your essay is well-organized and interesting. But all of that effort will be for naught if you don’t write an effective conclusion. A strong conclusion ties together the points in your essay and brings it all to a satisfying close. It should also leave the reader with something to think about after they are done reading.
Summarize Your Main Points
The goal of your conclusion is to tie together the points of your essay and bring it all to a satisfying close. To do this, you should start by summarizing the main points from your body paragraphs. This doesn’t mean just rehashing what you’ve already said – you should strive to be concise while still conveying the most important information from each paragraph. This will help remind readers of the key points that support your thesis statement without restating everything in detail.
Restate Your Thesis Statement
In addition to summarizing the main points in your essay, it’s also important to include a restatement of your thesis statement as part of your conclusion. This gives readers an opportunity to review where you started and how far you’ve come in making your argument. It also serves as a reminder that everything in the essay should be connected back to this central idea or claim.
Close With Something Memorable
Finally, it’s important to end with something memorable or thought-provoking that makes readers think about what they have read even after they are done with the paper itself. You can accomplish this by posing a question, offering advice, or providing some other kind of call-to-action that encourages the reader to consider the implications of what they have read beyond just what is written on the page. This can help ensure that readers remember both the content and tone of your essay long after they finish reading it.
Edit and revise your TOK essay
Editing and revising your essay is an important step in the writing process, as it allows you to fine-tune your ideas and improve the overall quality of your writing. While it may seem tedious or time-consuming, the benefits of editing and revising far outweigh the effort.
Grammar and Spelling Errors
It’s crucial to review your essay for grammar and spelling errors before submitting it. Grammatical mistakes can make your essay seem unprofessional, while spelling errors can prevent readers from understanding the intended meaning of your words. Even if you are confident in your grammar skills, it’s always good practice to proofread your work carefully before submission. This will help you catch any small mistakes that may have been overlooked when writing the first draft of your essay.
Clarity and Coherence
Editing and revising also allows you to ensure that your TOK essay is coherently structured and clearly expressed. It is essential that readers are able to follow the flow of thought in an argumentative essay such as this one. Rereading will help you identify any areas in which more clarification or evidence may be needed, so that readers understand the point being made throughout the entire essay.
Editing and revising gives you an opportunity to evaluate whether or not your message has been effectively communicated through the entire piece. Are all ideas relevant? Does each paragraph contain supporting evidence? Does each sentence build up logically toward a conclusion? Asking yourself these questions will help you determine if there’s anything else that needs to be addressed before submitting the final version of your paper.
Following these steps will help you plan and structure your TOK essay so that you can confidently articulate your ideas and explore the prescribed title. Remember to stay within the word count, adhere to the formatting requirements, and familiarize yourself with the assessment criteria. With a clear title, well-defined thesis statement, and detailed outline in hand, you are on your way to writing a great TOK essay.
Articles and Guides related to IB TOK Essay Writing
- How to choose a good TOK essay title
- How to plan and structure your TOK essay
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- How to use the TOK prescribed titles effectively
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- How to revise and edit your TOK essay
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Valerie Green is a dedicated educator who spends her time helping high school and college students succeed. She writes articles and guides for various online education projects, providing students with the tools they need to excel in their studies. Friendly and approachable, she is committed to making a difference in the lives of students.
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How to Write a TOK essay - A step-by-step guide
Essay writing is pervasive, with various types of essays contributing to the art. Most students will understand essays as the kind of write-ups you will write as long as there is an introduction, body, and conclusion.
However, there is more work than we can imagine. It is also good to understand that several types of essays are written for specific purposes. An excellent example of such an essay is the TOK essay. Our write-up today will cover the basics of a TOK essay and all that it comes along with.
What is a TOK essay?
The abbreviation of TOK stands for Theory of Knowledge . It is a kind of essay with a range of between 1200- and 1600-words discussing problems through compare and contrast, just like a comparative essay . The concept of the TOK essay came along through the International Baccalaureate and has specific features that make it unique.
The essay aims at allowing the students to reflect on knowledge and have a chance to prove what they know. It has comprehensive coverage in terms of titles and many others hence maintaining the quality standards. Such an essay is essential both during the school days and after the school days.
You need to know several things about the essay, including the choice of titles and the format. It is also essential to understand the specific role that the essay needs to play. Apart from getting the writing samples, you also need to know the most effective ways of writing the essay.
Who writes a TOK essay?
The TOK essay is designed for students who want to achieve a specific qualification. Students such as those doing IB have something essential to learn about these essays and their formulation. The students specifically write the essay so that they get an endorsement for their diplomas.
Purpose of the TOK essay
The purpose of the TOK essay is to answer the questions about why specific studies were made. It also makes the students gain awareness about their implications concerning their areas of studies. Application of the studies to real-life becomes easier and possible when we have the TOK essays.
Addressing the different perspectives becomes easier using the essays. The students can mix their knowledge and beliefs with those from other people, hence getting a more comprehensive understanding of the topics.
Features of the TOK essay
There are specific areas and features that make the TOK essay effective. Including these features while writing will make you write a TOK essay that earns you a good grade. Most readers and writers will call them the 4c. You have to ensure that the essay has a strong background of;
- Creativity : A good essay must have a lot of creativity. This means that the thoughts must be those that are independent. Having a personal thought is good because it makes the essay sound original and makes the tutors understand the level of creativity of their students.
Creativity is a sign that the students understand the subjects and topics and apply them in real life. Having independent thought from the existing knowledge and having a solid argument proves that the course is appropriately grounded.
- Content : Under the content section, the students must understand and properly analyze the knowledge areas. The upcoming issues in the area must be clear, and the student's knowledge gets to the proper expression.
- Clarity . The clarity of the essay has all to do with the structure. It has to have a proper outline and cover the areas well. The topic that needs coverage must also have a proper explanation of the details. The sections must flow, and each section must have an independent thought. The reader should have an easy time picking the facts and the explaining points. The structure must be very clear and adhere to the writing rules.
- Critical thinking : One of the goals of the TOK essay is to assess critical thinking. What tells if there was critical thinking is the presence of the arguments. The student has to argue using the facts and the knowledge that they have. Each reader has to get a conviction with the points that the student is arguing out.
Common Terms used in TOK Explained
There is a specific lingo or jargon that only students who write TOK essays would understand. If you are new to writing a TOK essay, here are some basic explanations so that you are not confused. You will encounter terms such as Prescribed Titles (PT), Areas of Knowledge (AoK), Ways of Knowing (WoK), Knowledge Question (KQ),
- Prescribed Titles (PT)
These are the titles set by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) – typically ten questions. You have to choose one to write your essay.
The titles are often comparative in nature, which means that you are required to compare and contrast diverse ways of knowing such as perception, reason, language, and emotion or different areas of knowledge such as mathematics, natural sciences, history, ethics, or arts.
For instance, in 2007, two of the PTs read:
- When mathematicians, historians, and scientists say that they have explained something, are they using the word ‘explain’ in the same way?
- Compare the roles played by reason and imagination in at least two Areas of Knowledge.
- Areas of Knowledge (AOK)
The areas of knowledge are basically the branches of knowledge that challenge students to know more about given topics. These areas of knowledge include history, arts, religion, natural sciences, indigenous knowledge, human sciences, mathematics, and ethics.
- Ways of Knowledge
Ways of knowledge refer to how people know what they know, such as sense/perception, imagination, language, faith, reason, emotion, intuition, or memory.
- Knowledge Question (KQ)
KQ refers to the questions that contest knowledge in a manner to provoke a discussion instead of a response.
- Real-Life Situation (RLS)
These are the situations encountered in real-world settings that derive from the knowledge question.
TOK essays begin with knowledge questions that evoke your perspectives about the theory of knowledge. Mostly, these questions should be about specific knowledge and not subjects such as archeology, anthropology, or sociology.
Knowledge questions must relate to the three aspects of knowledge, especially the AoK and WoK.
11 Steps to writing an A+ grade TOK Essay
A good TOK essay is a good essay. It is more than an assemblage of statements that are loosely connected to the question. Rather, a good essay is well-structured and clearly written. We have a detailed guide on how to compose a good essay if it would help. But, for now, we focus on the steps to take when writing a TOK essay for you to score well.
Writing an effective TOK essay is easy only if you have everything planned and structured. Therefore, we have come up with steps to make it easy to write the essay and get the best result.
1. Thoroughly Read the Instructions
Before planning and writing a TOK essay, spend some quality time reading the essay prompts or instructions. When reading, take note of the keywords that the instructions use.
Focus on such words as “explore,” “evaluate,” “assess,” “critically analyze,” or “synthesize” a claim. These keywords mean that you should consider the points that are for or against the prescribed title. It is also the chance to factor in any ambiguities or grey areas related to the title.
For instance, questions using “in/to what extent” require you to offer arguments either for or against the statement that follows.
On the other hand, where the questions are direct, you should address in or to what extent you either support or disagree with a given argument or position.
Reading the instructions also includes understanding the grading criteria. IB assesses essays based on four criteria, each with equal weight to the other. You can print these criteria and pin them on your work table. The assessment criteria include understanding knowledge issues, knowers' perspectives, analyzing knowledge issues, and organization of ideas.
2. Understand the Prescribed Title
In a TOK essay, the title is everything. Therefore, ensure that you comprehend what it requires of you regarding the theory of knowledge question it brings forth.
Consider if the type of knowledge allows you to use shared or personal knowledge. For example, given that TOK essays are comparative, select an AoK and WoK that can allow you to draw comparisons and establish contrast comfortably.
Even when your PT asks you to use two disciplines or AoK, you should be clear about the chosen discipline, unless it is history or math. Then, take some time to unpack the PT by defining the keywords, understanding what it asks, and responding.
3. Be careful when choosing the title
By this time, you would already have familiarized yourself with the title. When choosing a topic, ensure that it contains an AoK you are interested in or familiar with. Do not choose a topic only because it is simple or appealing. Instead, focus on the title, and notes on concepts, and definitions.
In most cases, rewrite the title in your own words when developing the topic. Then, rephrase it so that it makes sense to understand what you are writing your essay about.
A good title turned into a topic creates an excellent first impression to your readers. Therefore, when selecting the title from the list provided by IB, ask yourself:
- Can you write an essay on the title?
- Is the title interesting to you?
- Does the title appeal to your interests?
- Are you familiar with the concepts and keywords in the title?
- Is the title relevant to what you intend to discuss?
- Is the title comprehensive enough to allow you to write an essay in 1600 to 2500 words?
If you can answer these questions, you have yourself a good PT for your TOK essay.
4. Brainstorm ideas around the essay title
Although choosing the prescribed title and knowledge question can be part, it is often a great idea to brainstorm. Brainstorming helps you gather enough facts, ideas, and examples for your essay. When brainstorming, ask yourself:
- Am I confident to write an essay on the topic?
- What are some good examples I can use when writing this essay?
- Do I understand the keyword and concepts in the title?
- What is the appropriate WoK and AoK for the PT?
- Is the knowledge question clear enough?
- Are my thoughts aligned with the question?
- Is there anything I can relate to the title?
5. Do the research
Before you start writing the essay, you must have done proper research. First, you have to look at all the issues you want to address and then write the main points. These points will be easier to write about when you have thoroughly researched what you will write about.
6. Create an outline
Now that you understand what you want to write about, it is time to know how to write it. Preparing an essay outline helps you organize your paragraphs and points in an essay. Although no specific structure or way is preferred when writing an outline, ensure that it ensures a good flow of ideas.
There is no correct sequence or way to answer the knowledge question. However, how you lay out the main points, ideas, arguments, and examples matters greatly.
Create an outline based on your brainstorming and the AOK issue you selected. It should be a blueprint for your essay.
We have highlighted the main sections of a TOK outline in this article.
Related: How to create a great outline for an essay.
7. Write the introduction
After doing the research, you will do the introduction. This part will have between 150 and 200 words. You will highlight the whole topic explaining why it is a topic of concern. You will also explain the things that the essay will have. One of the best things to look at is the catchy introduction directly linked with the title.
While writing our comprehensive guide on writing a good introductory paragraph for your essay, we noted the significance of a captivating introduction. It is your second contact point with the writer after the title page and should be done better.
Your introduction paragraph contains the knowledge issue, overview of the knowledge question, WoK, and AoK in your essay.
The introduction must have a good essay hook and a great thesis statement.
8. Structure the body
Even though you had brainstormed earlier, it is good to brainstorm the points to prove your thesis in the body paragraph. Doing so helps to create a flow of ideas in your essay.
Begin by figuring out the similar ideas that are against the opposing ones. Then, you can simply write anything that comes to mind about your title. The Freewriting technique can be great during this stage. Skim through your writing, refine the good points, and then arrange how they will appear in your essay.
If you have done good and thorough research, you must know what you will include in the body. You will write the various parts of the body to have an easy time writing and completing the body of the essay.
You can first write the body in point form to capture all the details you want in the essay. Writing the points is important because you will have an easy time finishing the main body and doing exhaustive writing.
9. Write the body
You have now to do the actual job: writing the body. Spending more time doing analysis and creating arguments is the main job here. You will go point after point, writing what you have gathered from the research.
Include all the facts and the argumentative points in the TOK essay. But, of course, you have to take caution at this point so that you don't go out of topic.
When writing the body, you will begin with the development paragraphs that account for around 600 words. These have to be the basic points about the topic that you are writing about. They give a better explanation of the introduction and the title.
Now write the remaining two paragraphs creating a comprehensive approach. At this point, you have to complete the remaining parts of the body, which have arguments and facts. You have to give your independent thoughts and express them clearly and easily understood. This is where the objective of the essay proves itself.
10. Do the conclusion
once you have done the body, you will do the conclusion. The conclusion is not so comprehensive as it has to be less than 100 words. A good conclusion will summarize the parts you have covered in the essay's body. After the summary, you will write a parting statement that concludes the whole essay.
11. Proofread and edit
You now have to proofread and edit the areas that are unclear on the TOK essay. You will check if there are any grammatical errors, factual errors, and other errors. An error-free essay scoops a higher mark.
Best tips for writing a TOK essay
- You need to have a proper backup for the statements you write. Considering that the essay is reflective, you have to share your thoughts and opinions with a basis from the fact sources.
- You can include meaningful examples to make the essay easier to understand. But, of course, the examples you choose must be accurate and relevant.
- Include the "how do you know" phrase as a guide.
- Check on the readability score of the essay. First, you have to ensure that the essay is easy to read and get the facts. Then, you can use the available apps that help you to gain a readability score.
- Check on the punctuation marks. It is essential to have all the punctuation makes in the proper placement.
Essential Parts of a TOK Essay
The structure of an essay holds it together, determines its scope, and gives it a sense of direction. Therefore, you must critically and creatively think about how you will order your major points to achieve natural flow and help your readers understand your arguments.
The TOK essay has four main areas. First, it has the title, introduction, and conclusion. Second, each part has its features and implications.
The title of the essay is the representation of the specific thing you want to write about. The topic that the essay covers has to be short, with less than 7 words. It is a condensed version of your thesis statement.
The introduction is the part that introduces the topic. Therefore, it has to be brief but comprehensive coverage of the topic. Under the introduction, the writer highlights a few arising things that pertain to the topic.
Think of the introduction as a contract between you (the writer) and the reader. This means that you tell the reader what to expect and then deliver the goods in the body of your essay.
A good introduction:
- Captures the attention of the readers
- Explains what you understand by the question or about the topic
- Briefly outlines how you plan to tackle it
- Explains the central argument in your essay (thesis statement)
You can arouse the readers' interest using an essay hook: a question, anecdote, quote, statistic, fact, or a puzzling statement.
When explaining what you understand by the question, ensure that you formulate it in your own words without changing its meaning. As well, indicate the key terms that are unclear or ambiguous. Finally, say why the question is important. Try to impose your limits on the question. For instance, if you tackle the question of imagination and reason, limit yourself to comparing their roles in literature and mathematics. This will apply if the question is “ Compare the roles played by reason and imagination in at least two Areas of Knowledge .”
Finally, your introduction must have a good thesis statement , the fundamental claim you make in your essay. The thesis is the thread that runs through the essay and holds everything in your essay together. All the body paragraphs give evidence that supports the essay. Initially, it is good to develop a preliminary thesis, which you can refine when writing or editing the first draft to get a comprehensive thesis statement.
The essay's body has everything to do with the main contents of the whole write-up. It has to fulfill the purpose of the topic. It has to be comprehensive and have a good backing of the facts and the arguments.
The body paragraphs of an essay signal the introduction of major points that support the main argument – the thesis statement.
Paragraphs are like mini-essays since they have a beginning, middle, and end with a clear line of development. A good paragraph consists of a cluster of evidence and arguments with a specific theme. This means that a paragraph must only have a single main idea.
A paragraph begins with a topic sentence that sets up a new topic for analysis and ends with a concluding sentence that clarifies how it contributes to developing your essay’s thesis.
In terms of order and length, here are a few insights:
- Focus more on major points and avoid getting derailed by irrelevant or trivial details
- Think of your readers and help them by occasionally signposting where you are in the overall development of your arguments.
- Use adequate and relevant transitions between your paragraphs
- Organize your paragraphs such that there is a smooth flow of ideas and concepts
You will use examples and other creative thoughts to bring out the concepts you want to put across.
The last part of the TOK essay is the conclusion. It is usually a summary of the whole essay and the facts. One thing about it is that it has to cover all aspects you have done in the body of the essay but briefly. It also contains the final thought about the whole essay.
Your conclusion should draw things together and give your readers a sense of closure for you to avoid ending your TOK essay abruptly.
Instead of repeating what you said in the essay, find new ways of formulating the critical insights of your essay without introducing new ideas. Mention any unresolved issues and implications of your argument.
Finally, your last sentence should be striking, well-crafted, and memorable so that it is an effective full stop that gives your readers a positive impression.
TOK Essay Outline Template
Let us break down the anatomy of a TOK essay to make it easier when planning, drafting and writing your essay.
Introduction (150-200 words)
- Explanation and interpretation of the title (PT). What about the title catches your attention?
- Identify and define the key terms in the PT.
- Choose the AoKs that you consider related to the PT and briefly describe why they are the best choices to discuss the PT.
- State the thesis with an answer to the prompt – mainly, the PT is a question that you either fully agree, disagree with, or partly agree with.
- Explain or identify a knowledge issue relating to the title. Provide a preview of the major points in the essay (explore the 3 AoKs/WoKs in relation to the essay prompt)
- Offer some general overview of what your reader should expect in your essay, potentially giving real-life examples (RLEs) that you will consider.
- Transition to the body paragraph
Body Paragraphs (approximately 1200 words)
Body Paragraph 1(200- 300 words)
- Explore the first Area of Knowledge or Key Issue or Problems of Knowledge that you chose. Then, state why the AoK supports or does not support the PT.
- Explain your main reasoning on why the thesis is true using first AoK or WoK
- Identify your first Key Issue (KI)
- Use a real-life example to justify your position (it is best if you use personal examples)
- Use the appropriate TOK terminology (AoKs and WoKs)
- Note any counter-arguments against the title or limitations of the supporting examples
- Transition to the next paragraph
Body Paragraph 2 (200 -300 words)
- Write your counterclaim to the example you gave in body paragraph 1. Explain how and why it might be flawed. Explain its downside
- Introduce a real-life example within the same AoK that counters your example but uses a different WoK. Give an example or two of why your thesis is wrong.
- Provide outside examples to justify the counterclaim
- Refer to the PT with a concluding sentence that states to what extent the first AoK supports or refutes your thesis based on the RLE and counterexample you have highlighted
Body Paragraph 3 (200-300 words)
- Explore your second knowledge issue, the problem of knowledge, or AoK by bringing up real-life examples and explaining it using WoKs, and evaluate
- It is the same as paragraph 1, only that you use a different AoK.
Body Paragraph 4 (200-300 words)
- Like body paragraph 2, give the counterclaim to the previous example and refer back to the PT.
- Show whether the second AoK supports or does not support your thesis
Body Paragraph 5 (200 -300 words)
- If you still have additional words, you can now compare and contrast the 2 AoKs you chose.
- Explain why they address the PT differently, whether purely on WoKs used when getting knowledge or other factors.
Conclusion (200-300 words)
- Refer to the PT and thesis statement
- Let the reader know your response to the PT based on your analysis
- Explain why it is vital to know the answer to the KQ
- Offer an alternative perspective to your thesis (how someone else would view the thesis)
Examples of TOK topics
There are various topics that the TOK essays address. Some areas where you can get the topics are the arts, ethics, human science, natural science, indigenous knowledge systems, religious knowledge, history, and mathematics. The students formulate titles from the subjects and the topics they cover. Such topics include;
- Write about the religious systems and how they relate
- Write about philosophical theories and how they apply
- Explore the various methods of data collection
- Write about knowledge and how difficult it is to acquire knowledge
- Doubt is the key to knowledge (Persian Proverb). To what extent is this true in two areas of knowledge?
- What is it about mathematics and science that makes them so convincing?
Dos and Don’ts when Writing a TOK Essay
Writing a convincing TOK essay requires 1200-1600 words, or sometimes more than 1600 words. As you write your two AoKs, main argument, and main counterargument, consider these dos and don’ts.
Do these things when writing your TOK essay and score the best grade:
- Create an outline for your essay
- Use relevant examples where necessary
- Use a mixture of long and short sentences
- Choose a great topic based on the PT
- Include the AoK and WoK
- Craft a good thesis statement
- Carefully begin the essay with a hook
- Refer to theories of knowledge written by others
- Edit the essay thoroughly
- Read out the essay aloud
- Be clear, concise, and coherent when writing
- Explore at least 2 AoKs in the main body of your essay
Do not do this when writing your TOK essay:
- Don’t use jargon, slang, and cliché
- Avoid using dictionary definitions
- Do not use run-on sentences in your essay
- Do not introduce new ideas in your conclusion
- Do not misinterpret the topic
- Do not use vague examples and evidence
- Do not use old sources when supporting facts. Stick to sources written recently.
FAQs about TOK Essays
How to write a TOK essay introduction
The introduction of the TOK essay has to be very interesting. You will start by saying something that is attention-catching to the reader. The second thing you do is the thesis or the stand and then highlight the outline.
Starting with a claim topic is the most effective way of doing it. First, you will link back the facts and then use examples and explanations to understand what you say. Proper explanation and elaboration will make you get the objective quickly.
Is it possible to write a TOK essay in one night?
Yes, you can write a TOK essay in one night or overnight if you plan out everything, gather the right sources, and find an excellent place to write your assignment.
Begin by brainstorming the major points you want to feature in your essay. Next, research to familiarize yourself with the points, write an outline, then write your fast draft. Also, focus on writing first, then editing and proofreading later.
If you are not great at writing fast, you can hire fast essay writers to help you write your TOK essay. However, this should only be after you are sure there is no deadline extension or when you are overwhelmed to write.
Once you receive the paper, revise and customize it as your own. Buying essays help you know how to write one yourself as you have a model paper for the next series of assignments.
How do I write a TOK essay conclusion?
Writing a TOK essay conclusion is not as complicated as we expect. You will restate the thesis first and then brief the arguments and limitations you want to have based on the structure. Finally, you will express the main argument in the last statement, acting as the TOK essay's final statement.
What does a TOK essay outline look like?
The outline of the TOK essay is simple to write. You will write it by doing the introduction first, which should have 200 words. The body has to have 1200 words, and the conclusion must have between 100 and 250 words. Part of the outline is the topic of the whole essay.
As you write, you will address the issues of the thesis and then define the scope of the essay. A strong account of evidence and your language style is also part of the outline.
Can I write my TOK essay in 4 hours or less?
It is possible to write an essay fast if you are committed, determined, and organized. You can take 15 minutes to brainstorm the title, including understanding the knowledge issue, AoK, or WoK you must incorporate into your essay.
Spend the next 25 minutes finding examples to illustrate the knowledge issue. Use personal examples or real-life examples if possible.
You should then budget around 10 minutes to identify the critical concepts to introduce so your reader can understand the examples. Use the next 10 minutes to identify two or more sides to the positions on the knowledge issue. Budget the next 25 minutes to evaluate the arguments and support each position.
Spend the next 10 minutes finding assumptions underlying the arguments and doing some comprehensive analysis. Some assumptions can be ethnicity, culture, religion, age, gender, social status, etc.
You should then spend the next 20 minutes outlining your TOK essay. Then, comfortably write, edit, and revise your first draft into the final draft TOK in 2 hours. Good research will make the flow of thoughts easier and more convenient. So, spend as much time in your research as you do when writing.
Can I write a TOK essay fast?
Writing the essay at a fast speed has all to do with the preparation. You will ensure that you understand the prescribed titles, choose the titles, understand the writing and grading criteria, read the instructions, get the ideas, create the outline, and then get to actual writing.
Under actual writing, you will craft the thesis, go directly to the body, and finalize with the conclusion.
How do I develop a TOK essay plan?
A TOK essay plan involves writing what each paragraph will have. You will have sections that will represent all the facts and the points that you need to cover. You will pick the relatable plan in the introduction, then go to the thesis and outline the paragraph.
You will next go to the body and then make the claim statement. You can also so other statements and explain them later. Choose the examples and link back to the sources and the facts you want in the essay.
In conclusion, you will write the counterclaim. The final parts will involve doing the summaries and the final statement.
How should I write a knowledge question for a TOK essay?
It is good to note that writing the knowledge question is the best way to start the essay. The formulation of the question must be such that it makes the writer get a wide range of questions to answer. Thus, it greatly contributes to the development of the whole write-up.
How much does a lack of knowledge affect illiterate persons? This is an example of a question that you can write. Such a question involves doing thorough research to get the outcomes. The analysis is another thing that such a question will facilitate, and the outcome will also carry a thorough representation.
How long does it take to write a TOK essay?
There is no specific time that you will take to write the TOK essay. Some people will have a low writing speed, and some will be super-fast writers. The basic thing is to have the essay written to completion and in the right order.
The best essay will take above 4 hours and can take more than 6 hours. Once that the writer has done proper research will take a shorter time. Initial and thorough preparation is good, making the whole process faster or slower. Poor preparation will consume too much time.
IB ToK Essay Writing Service
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If you’re looking for the most affordable website that can help you to write a ToK essay, you’ve come to the right place. Our team has professional writers with over 10 years of writing experience, and we’re always online ready to help you write your essay fast. So if you’re asking "who can write my ToK essay for me" or you want to buy ToK essay online, get our professional custom writing , and let us help you write the assignment fast.
ToK Essay Writing Service Tailored to Your Needs
The Theory of Knowledge essay is worth 67% of the final grade. That’s a lot, so you don’t want to wait until the last minute to start working on the essay. Hire someone from Help for Assessment to increase the chances of bumping up your scores. Don’t let your Theory of Knowledge essay wait until the last minute. Get the professional writing help that you need to complete the paper fast, so you can have enough time to focus on other IB assignments.
First, we discuss your ToK essay assignment with you to understand exactly what you’re looking for.
We will help you choose a relevant prescribed ToK essay title that fits your needs based on our discussion. Our service even covers 2023 and 2024 topics.
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The writer passes the paper to the editor who proofreads and edits it for coherence and clarity.
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How Help for Assessment Works
Hiring a professional writer from Help for Assessment is a quick pain-free 6-step process. Follow the guidelines below to get on the track to academic success.
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2. Place Your Order
Mention all your requirements accurately in the online form and submit it for further processing.
3. Make Your Payment
Pay an affordable price for the order to begin the academic writing work process.
4. Track Progress
Track progress of your order in the customer panel where you can add materials, edit order or cancel.
5. Assignment Dispatched
After going through a strict process of quality check, your order is shipped so that it reaches you before the submission deadline.
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Sample on areas of knowledge in tok, why you should trust our writing service.
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Frequently Asked Questions
We charge $20.9.94 to write a ToK essay in 3 to 5 hours. An essay with 12 hours deadline costs $149.94. If you want the essay written and delivered within 24 or 48 hours, you’ll pay $131.94 and $119.94 respectively. If your essay is due in five days, the price will be $101.94.
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ToK Essay Word Count and Structure in 2023/2024
Table of contents
- Writing Metier
Since TOK essay is one of the most important papers you should hand in during your IB, many students are curious about the TOK essay word count in the years 2023/2024. In this article, I will give you the exact TOK essay length together with the outline. Let’s ready to know how many words are in each part of the ToK essay.
The Theory of Knowledge is one of the parts of the IB that allows for great learning to happen. Students can have a multidisciplinary experience while also learning to analyze things in great detail. The main purpose of a TOK essay is to help students understand the ‘why’ behind things and provide analytical arguments for and against things in the best way.
IB TOK essay word count for the years 2023/2024
TOK essay constitutes 67% of your final great. You have a prescribed set of November 22 TOK essay titles as well as November 2023 TOK essay topics to choose from. You need to pick one and then write an essay on that. The TOK essay word count is 1600. You need to make sure that you make all of your arguments in this given word count in the best possible way.
Please note that 1600 words limit is only counted in the body section of the TOK essay. It has nothing to deal with TK PPD or TOK essay PPF word limits as they have their own criteria.
To write your TOK essay, you first need to choose a title to which you can do justice. This is not that hard to do because you just need to choose something you can easily work with. Once you have chosen your title, you need to start by jotting down your ideas so that you can begin working on them. Next, you need to choose your areas of knowledge. You can choose from arts, history, human sciences, mathematics , and natural sciences. You must be careful when choosing these since you will have to make claims for and against the examples you give here.
In a TOK essay, you need to follow the courtroom analogy. Like checking with several concepts in CUEGIS essay , in TOK it is almost as if you are providing two sides to an argument in front of a judge who is there to make a decision for you. once you are done with that, you need to conclude your argument by giving one final verdict on it. Make sure to select AOKs and WOKs before start writing your paper. And the other super important part is to select a great suitable RLS – real-life situation . So, you must put your point across and defend your argument by giving claims for and against what you are talking about.
The TOK Essay Structure
There are a total of four sections for your TOK . This part will give you an overview of what you have to include in these four sections and an overview of the word count here.
This section should be around 100 to 150 words.
You must start by saying something interesting about the topic in the section. Remember that this is the part where you really have to hook the examiner so that they continue reading what you are writing. So make sure that you write something very impactful. You have to set the tone for the entire essay here. So you must first describe the key terms in the title. Once you do that, you can further work towards uncovering those and basing your entire essay on that. Then you also need to shed light on the different areas of knowledge that you will be using here. This way, the reader will know everything you are talking about here.
In this section, you should write around 600 words, divided into two paragraphs.
You will be exploring the first area of knowledge here. So you need first to state your claim and then give an example that helps explain your claim clearly. Then you need to further work towards providing a counterclaim, and then you give an example for that as well. This way, you explore the first area of knowledge in great detail, allowing the reader to understand what you are saying fully. You also need to highlight the way of knowing that you have used for this argument of yours. This can be anything like reasoning, faith, sense perception, and so on.
Again, you need to break this up into two paragraphs, and you have to focus on writing a total of 600 words here.
Then in this section, you have to move on to the second area of knowledge. You have to do the same thing you did in the previous part here, except that this time you will have another area of knowledge you are exploring. You also need to pick another way of knowing that helps the reader understand how you came to this conclusion. Towards the end of this part, you need to sum up your argument to make the reader understand your point of view much better.
This needs to sum up to around 200 words.
This is the part where you near the end of the essay. Here, you need to talk about your final conclusion. Not just that, but you also need to talk about the different implications of this. You also need to shed light on how this research that you have done is important. This way, you will be able to explain your point of view in a much better way. You could also add in an unresolved question here that can help give greater insight into your essay. So this way, you can finally conclude the essay from this standpoint.
Useful Tips for TOK essay
Many students find the TOK essay very challenging since it follows a very different format. Here are a few tips that can help you understand this and approach it better.
- Choose a topic that you are very comfortable with. That way, you will be able to provide your arguments much better.
- Choose your ways of knowing and your areas of knowledge very wisely. Remember that you have to give examples about these, so make sure that you do justice to them.
- Put aside personal biases so that you can easily work on this in the best way.
- Do not forget about the main TOK concepts before writing your first draft.
- First, make an outline and then follow through with that outline so that you can understand this clearly and so that you also have material to write on.
- Use varied research methods to come up with useful examples for your essay.
- Do not forget about the TOK essay submission deadline . Time management is the key.
- Familiarize yourself with the TOK terminology first to be able to write something great.
- Last but not least, be prepared to get an A in TOK essay , because you deserved it, my friend 😉
With these few tips in mind, you are sure to be able to write a good TOK essay!
Do not forget that you can always opt to buy a ToK essay using our company’s services. We have a team of expert IB writers who can cover almost any type of IB TOK essay you throw at us.
And also read some of our other related articles:
– IB EE Word Count
– IB IA Word Count
Vasyl Kafidoff is a co-founder and CEO at WritingMetier. He is interested in education and how modern technology makes it more accessible. He wants to bring awareness about new learning possibilities as an educational specialist. When Vasy is not working, he’s found behind a drum kit.
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The theory of knowledge is one of the most challenging components of the IB for most students. Not only do students have to write an essay for the theory of knowledge, but they also have to work on a TOK exhibition. This exhibition is worth 33% of the entire grade. So, students try very hard to score high on this. In this article, you will learn about why students fail the TOK exhibition and what they can do when they fail. This will help you decipher a better course of action once you fail.
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