How to Structure and Format your TOK Essay!

tok essay title page format

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 under-appreciated 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? 

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.

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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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."

IB Resources you will love!

Nan + free ib flashcards, -1 + free ia samples, nan + ib videos by experts, -1 + ib sample practice questions, ib resources for nan + subjects.

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How to Write a TOK Essay

Last Updated: December 28, 2023

This article was co-authored by Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA . Stephanie Wong Ken is a writer based in Canada. Stephanie's writing has appeared in Joyland, Catapult, Pithead Chapel, Cosmonaut's Avenue, and other publications. She holds an MFA in Fiction and Creative Writing from Portland State University. This article has been viewed 250,172 times.

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

Choosing Your Essay Title

Step 1 Understand the structure of a TOK essay.

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

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

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

Step 3 Select a title carefully.

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

Step 4 Put the title in your own words.

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

Structuring the Essay

Step 1 Note the assessment criteria.

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

Step 2 Read the essay instructions.

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

Step 3 Brainstorm ideas around the essay title.

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

Step 4 Identify the knowledge issue in the essay title.

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

Step 5 Create an outline.

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

Step 6 Create a thesis...

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

Writing the Essay

Step 1 Use your essay outline as a guide.

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

Step 2 Avoid using dictionary definitions in your essay.

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

Step 3 Cite all external sources using MLA style citations.

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

Step 4 Read your essay out loud.

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

Step 5 Correct any spelling or grammatical errors.

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About This Article

Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA

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

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TOK essay guidance

TOK Home > Free TOK notes > TOK essay guidance

tok essay title page format

You write your TOK essay on your choice of six prescribed titles, which are released at the beginning of DP2, and you have approximately 6 months to complete it.

Learn about the basic details of the TOK essay on this page. After you’ve grasped these, move onto our four-step guide to the essay: 1 Understanding the rubric , 2 Choosing a title , 3 Planning and structuring , 4 Writing and uploading .

10 TOK essay starting points

  • 1 The TOK essay is an individual task
  • 2 It represents two thirds of the overall mark for TOK
  • 3 It is externally marked
  • 4 You choose your title from a list of six prescribed titles, which change every exam session
  • 5 The word count for the essay is 1600 words
  • 6 You’ll meet your teacher for 3 interactions to discuss your essay
  • 7 Key areas that are assessed include the clarity of arguments, level of effectiveness of examples, and the focus on the title
  • 8 You’ll fill in a Planning and Progress Form (PPF), which you submit with your essay (although this is not assessed)
  • 9 The context of the essay is explicitly about the five  areas of knowledge
  • 10 There is a single criterion for marking, and four characteristics of an excellent essay (insightful, convincing, accomplished, and lucid)

A four-step guide to the TOK essay

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

tok essay title page format

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

You’ll find more videos on this and other aspects of TOK here , and you can dive into much more depth via our free and premium webinars, here .

Watch our essay & exhibition webinars

Click on the images below to access these premium webinars on how to create the essay and exhibition. Access more webinars here , and watch our videos on the assessment tasks on this page .

tok essay title page format

FAQs about the TOK essay

How do i choose my tok essay title.

You choose your essay from six prescribed essay titles, that are released at the beginning of your second DP year. We give a few tips on how to choose a PT that will work for you here . But briefly, choose one that links to your pre-existing knowledge, and that you find personally engaging.

What will I be writing about in my TOK essay?

You’ll be answering your prescribed title, within the context of two areas of knowledge, considering how different perspectives might affect our response to the question, and what the implications of your arguments are.

Can I use ChatGPT to write my essay?

You can use ChatGPT to help you gather materials for your essay, but you should definitely not be using it to write the essay. Be very careful with ChatGPT. It bases its answers on online material, and much of this is inaccurate or out-of-date. For example, depending on what you ask it, it may tell you that you have to explore multiple areas of knowledge (rather than the two stipulated by the titles), and that you have to identify a separate knowledge question to the title (which is absolutely not the case).

How much help should I expect from my teacher?

Your teacher should run through the PTs when they are first released, and then meet you for three interactions, during which you’ll discuss your progress. They are allowed to give you one set of written feedback. But you can consult them at other times with specific questions.

Do I need to use real-world examples in my TOK essay?

Yes, real-life examples help illustrate your points and make your arguments more tangible. They can be drawn from personal experiences, historical events, scientific discoveries, etc.

Should I include my personal opinion in the TOK essay?

While the TOK essay is not about your personal opinion per se, it’s important to reflect on your perspective and how it shapes the way you understand the title. However, you should avoid using the essay as a platform for rants or unsubstantiated claims.

Is it necessary to include counter-arguments in my TOK essay?

Yes, including counter-arguments shows a deeper understanding of the complexity of the topic and demonstrates your critical thinking skills. It also enables you to consider different perspectives, and evaluate the implications of arguments.

Should I include the 12 key concepts in my essay?

Yes, as much as you can, draw on the key concepts such as justification, evidence, perspective, bias, certainty, and objectivity within your arguments linking them to the title, and to the real-world examples you draw on.

How do I ensure that my TOK essay reflects my own original thinking, and avoids plagiarism?

Clearly attribute ideas and sources that are not your own, and strive to present original insights and interpretations supported by evidence and reasoning. See our point above on using ChatGPT – never view this as more than a tool to help you gather material for your essay, rather than a tool to write it for you.

What are some common pitfalls to avoid when writing a TOK essay?

Avoid oversimplifying complex issues, relying solely on personal opinion without justification, neglecting counter-arguments, veering off the question, and failing to include a consideration of different perspectives.

How long do I have to write my essay?

You’ll have 6 months from the time the prescribed titles are released, to the deadline date for uploading your essay to the IB. However, most schools will set their own deadline for completing the essay, so that everyone has plenty of time to complete your PPF, and upload it on time. Follow what your school tells you about this.

How important is the TOK essay PPF?

The PPF (‘Planning and Progress Form’) is the document that you fill in to outline your discussions during the three essay. Although this is not directly assessed, it is an important part of demonstrating that you have approached the TOK essay in an ethical way, which is now particularly important in the era of ChatGPT.

What are some effective strategies for revising and editing my TOK essay to improve clarity and coherence?

Take breaks between revisions, seek feedback from peers or teachers, and carefully proofread for grammar, punctuation, and coherence.

Should I include references or a bibliography in my TOK essay?

While not required, referencing sources appropriately adds credibility to your essay; use footnotes or endnotes for citations.

tok essay title page format

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

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

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

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

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

Choosing Your Essay Title 

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

1 – Selecting your prescribed title and knowledge question

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

Tip #1: Brainstorming

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip #2: Understanding the question in your own words

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

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

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

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

Structuring your Essay

1 – knowing the assessment criteria .

Overall Assessment 

2 – Theory of Knowledge Essay 

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

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

There are 8 different Areas of Knowledge are as follows:

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

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

  • Sense Perception
  • Reason 
  • Imagination

Analysis of a Sample Essay 

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

Important Keywords in the Title 

“To what extent” 

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

Paragraph 1: Introduction 

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

1 – Start the essay by saying something relatable or interesting

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

2 – Your Thesis/ Stand

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

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

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

3 – Outline of the paragraph

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

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

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

Paragraph 2: First Area of Knowledge. 

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

This helps you to outline your argument about the title. 

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

2 – Explain and Elaborate

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

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

3 – Give an example with an explanation

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

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

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

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

4 – Linking back

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

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

Paragraph 3: Counter

1 – state your counterclaim.

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

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

2 – Give an Example and Explanation

Add in an example and explanation to support your counterclaim. 

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

3 – Linking back

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

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

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

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

Paragraph 4: Second Area of Knowledge

  • Topic Sentence
  • Example + Explanation 

Paragraph 5: Counterclaim 

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

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

Paragraph 6: Your conclusion

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

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

Implications and significance

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

Perspectives and Extension

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

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

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

A Quick Tip for writing a ToK Essay

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

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

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

Try Getting Expert’s Help

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

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

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

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Example essays

As part of theory of knowledge (TOK), each student chooses one essay title from six issued by International Baccalaureate®(IB). 

The titles change in each examination session. 

Upcoming and past questions include: 

  • “To what extent are areas of knowledge shaped by their past? Consider with reference to two areas of knowledge.”
  •  “'There is no reason why we cannot link facts and theories across disciplines and create a common groundwork of explanation.' To what extent do you agree with this statement?”
  • “There is no such thing as a neutral question. Evaluate this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.”
  • “'The task of history is the discovering of the constant and universal principles of human nature.' To what extent are history and one other area of knowledge successful in this task?”

Further guidance on the TOK essay and exhibition can be found in the IB’s Programme Resource Centre (PRC) .

Materials in the PRC are only available to existing IB World Schools. These materials are free.

There are a number of resources on TOK in the IB Store , which are available to everyone.

Find out how to become an IB World School .

tok essay title page format

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TOK Outline Essay: Structure and Format

Table of Contents

A lengthy process is involved in composing a TOK essay, which starts long before the first word is written. Many authors utilize a TOK outline essay to arrange their thoughts before writing better.

A TOK essay outline is a two- to three-paragraph overview on the first page. It is a strategy that ensures an essay is well-organized and conveys its intended message.

This article provides an overview of the structure and outline of a TOK essay.

fountain pen on black lined paper

What Is a TOK Essay?

TOK means Theory of Knowledge Essay. It is usually an introduction to a complex, theoretical topic. To succeed in this essay, a writer must dig deep into particular areas of knowledge to build a case. The author would need to be intellectually motivated.

A TOK essay is a written inquiry and argumentative essay, not an essay on your knowledge or writing skills.

After the author briefly defines the TOK essay, they introduce each of the five areas that make up the essay. These are the thesis, the author’s role, the proof, the case, and the conclusion.

Let’s get into the TOK essay elements that every student should know without further ado.

Step-by-Step Guide: TOK Essay Outline Example

Introduction (150 – 200 words).

The introduction describes the question the essay will answer and the desired outcome for the reader. Here is an outline to follow:

  • Introduce your TOK essay
  • Provide definitions for essential terms
  • Identify the knowledge issues to be addressed
  • Present a thesis statement.
  • Provide a concise summary of your key points
  • Establish a transition for the TOK essay’s body

Body Paragraphs (1000 – 1200 Words)

The body paragraph in a TOK essay is the central piece of your work. Here you can show your familiarity with the topic and cite important pieces of information while giving examples to back your claims. You should:

  • Provide your subject sentence
  • Provide your primary justification for why your argument is true.
  • Give instances and evidence from practical life to support your ideas.
  • Emphasize the significance of the knowledge issues in your conclusion.

The Conclusion of a TOK Essay

The author concludes the TOK paper by restating his thesis statement, summarizing the primary points.

Step-by-Step Guide: TOK Essay Structure and Format

The structure and format usually consist of the Introduction, Body paragraph, and conclusion. Here’s how to get started.


Your reader will gain a basic understanding of the subject at hand after reading this section. The introduction explains in depth what you plan to say and offers some context.

There are two main sections to this section in a theory of knowledge essay. It’s where you put your main argument or thesis statement, which lays out the overall goals of your paper.

Second, it has the knowledge problem, the key issue you’ll have to solve. Give some justification for why this subject matters and warrants investigation.

For the reader’s comprehension, you must define any unfamiliar terms used in your work.

The Body Paragraph

The following paragraphs both argue for and against your position. They offer evidence to support the assertion you stated in your thesis statement.

Your claims are supported by the evidence presented in each paragraph. Paragraphs typically have a:

  • Topic sentence (the major idea in support of the thesis)
  • Evidence to validate that notion
  • Counterclaim (an argument against the thesis)
  • Evidence in support of that claim
  • Rebuttal (why that claim is inadequate)
  • conclusion.

Keep the title and your thesis in mind at all times. What is your conclusion after analyzing the title? It’s usually not a good idea to take a firm stance on a contentious issue. Doing so may indicate a failure to appreciate the other side’s arguments.

Tell us which side you think is more plausible after reading your analysis and why. Also, justify the relevance of the response to this inquiry.

Final Words

A TOK outline essay helps a writer draft content in the best possible, logical manner. This allows the essay to flow well and be coherent .

TOK Outline Essay: Structure and Format

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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Ace Your IB TOK Essay With This Detailed Outline

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by  Antony W

October 22, 2023

tok outline

The Theory of Knowledge essay is a mandatory test given to all IB diploma (IBDP) candidates, one that causes a lot of unfounded terror.

The fact that it is so different from many of the essays you are likely to do makes it all the more exciting, albeit with a bit of hard work.

While the IB TOK exam is split into two parts, 67% of the points come from the essay and the rest from the exhibition project . You need to ace the essay if you are to get respectable marks. 

As the TOK IB essay rubric shows, what is being tested is how well you use the concepts of the nature of knowledge to critically explore how we know, using arguments for and against a real-life situation of your choice.

As such, official guidelines do not define a TOK essay structure, but you won't get anywhere without one. It takes skillful manipulation to get through it, and we will show you to pass your IB TOK essay assessment.

Help for Assessment has a collection of some of the most highly qualified academicians willing to help you ace the TOK essay.

Think of masters and Ph.D. holders, IB gurus, and even professors in various disciplines willing to write your essay at the most affordable rates in town.

If an impending TOK IB essay is giving you the shivers, don’t worry. Click the button below and let us help you get the essay done in time. Quality and confidentially guaranteed.

Still, you might want to learn all there is to know about the TOK essay requirements, its recommended structure, and how each part should be written.

If so, settle down somewhere comfortable and off we go. Along the way, we will also suggest some proven tactics to help you pass the TOK essays.

You Need to Know How to Write the Essay

A good TOK essay starts with a good approach. Before you get into the actual writing, you will need to select a topic, understand it, redefine it using your own words, and construct an appropriate knowledge question.

Our guide on how to write a compelling TOK essay can point you in the right direction. 

Selecting a TOK Essay Topic

The essay usually comes with several prescribed titles (PT), from which you're supposed to pick one and run with it. For example, Do good explanations have to be true was one of the prescribed title for May 2019. 

You can follow these simple steps to choose an appropriate topic for your TOK essay .

  • Brainstorm:  Go through the list of topics and let the ideas for potential topics flow, writing each down. How interested are you in each? How knowledgeable are you in each?
  • Interest:  How do you relate to each topic? Ultimately, you will be required to use real-life examples and explanations to support your arguments. Choose a topic to which you have a personal connection and interest.
  • Understanding : Make sure you understand the depth and scope of each topic to be able to make an informed decision. Any topic that seems ambiguous or too difficult for you may be passed on. However, it is also fun to choose one that is challenging to help you learn along the way.

For our purpose in this essay, suppose we choose to explore: "Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not" .

Understand the Question and Redefine It in Simple Words

Ideally, the title you pick should be one you can understand, but they are usually convoluted and confusing. Make sure you understand your chosen topic fully, look up any terms that are new to you, and define any new terminology. As you probably know by now with TOK, things aren’t always what they seem.

Once you have understood what the essay is about, paraphrase with simple, direct language. Set out the perspective, contrast, and comparison in the title clearly enough for a nonprofessional to understand. You can do this by first breaking it down into parts and then putting it together again.

For our chosen PT, we gather that it is asking how new knowledge is acquired. Is it by asking 'why?' or 'why not?' Which method is more reliable, and why? Answering this question will give the substance of the essay.

Once you have your title understood in depth, put it at the top of your document, centered and in bold. You are now officially on your way to a great TOK essay.

Set a Knowledge Question

From your topic and in the simplest language you can master, create your knowledge question (KQ). This is the question that your topic is going to answer, put together by words and phrases from the topic.

It is always best to work with an open-ended question that leaves you lots of room to explore different viewpoints and allows you to have a bang in the conclusion. It usually starts with, ‘to what extent’. As in: 

“With regard to religious systems, does asking ‘why?’ limit our knowledge of what actually is, or does it protect us from fallacious faith?”

Set Out Your WOK and AOK

Explore the prescribed title and your knowledge question to discover what way of knowing (WOK) and areas of knowledge (AOK) you are working with. You will need 1 WOK and at least 2 AOK - 2 is the recommended number because one is too few, and 3 or more would not allow you to explore any one area thoroughly enough within the word count of 1600 words.

There are 8 ways of knowing , which are the ways we make sense of the world and in this case, we make sense of and understand the prescribed topic.

TOK recognizes 8 areas of knowledge . We’ve outlined and explained each on the Help for Assessment Blog. 

Once you have picked one WOK and 2 AOK, you are ready to set out your TOK essay structure. 

For our example, you can easily see that religious knowledge systems are one of our AOKs. To set contrast, let us pick out ‘Natural Sciences’ for the second AOK and ‘faith’ as a way of knowing.

Let’s check out one of our recommended formats.

TOK Essay Outline

As with most essays, the Theory of Knowledge essay outline is quite simple in theory. It consists of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

However, the logical distinctions made between the parts are very different, so that is what we shall focus on. The recommended TOK format is designed to inspire your thinking, give form to your ideas, and present the result neatly and acceptably in a readable format.

Before you check out the TOK essay format, a word of caution: this is not a definite structure that you have to use. Instead, it is meant to be a guideline.

As stated before, there is no official format, but using this proven outline will get help to get you all three points if you do it right.

Parts of a TOK Essay

A Theory of Knowledge essay is about exploring how we know what we know . 

Again, like most essays, you can think of yourself as a smart lawyer trying to convince a judge of something. Only in this case, you will be presenting both claims and counterclaims against your argument, picking out its strong and weak points, and supporting them with evidence. 

The essay will have 7 paragraphs, totaling 1600 words. They consist of an introduction and conclusion each taking up about 200 words, and the rest split between 5 paragraphs for your claim and counterclaim.

The body will have 2 'divisions' for each AOK.


Paragraph 1: say something interesting about the prescribed topic, designed to hook the reader’s attention. You can give a twist to the topic to make it uniquely yours, and this twist will be what you will be addressing. E.g., 

‘Many people dismiss faith on the grounds that it offers little datum for belief, yet this criticism might be closing our understanding to so much more that could be.’

Use this chance to define any new, ambiguous, or complex term in the PT. Even if you know what the terms mean, the person marking your essay might not be working with the same definition. Thus, use it to bring them to the same page. In this case, you might define ‘faith,’ ‘datum,’ ‘criticism,’ and ‘understanding.’

In the same paragraph, give your thesis statement on the topic. Try to make it different from mainstream ideas on the same to keep things interesting. Since we have already picked a combative approach to our topic, this will be easy:

‘Faith as a way of knowing is taken to completely disregard or overlook reason and logic. Yet, science has much evidence that could form the basis of faith even with a purely logical approach.’

Tell the reader what you plan to discuss. Narrow your focus and state which WOK and AOKs you will use. From this point on, decide whether you are for or against your argument.

Body: First AOK

Paragraph 2: Just like all the paragraphs in the body, the second paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that describes clearly what your main claim or counterclaim here is. In this case, we might open it with,

‘From astronomy to biology, scientific datum shows that there is a lot yet to be understood.’

  • It is then followed by an explanation/elaboration, where you clarify your claim to show what you mean.
  • Give a real-life example as evidence from your own experiences, and make sure that it actually supports it. A poor example would be picked apart by an opposing lawyer. Remember, the defense is smart (if not smarter).
  • Link back to the claim and question you are trying to answer to provide flow and coherence to your essay. 'E.g. 'thus, the observable phenomena in the universe is clear evidence that there is so much more than what scientific reason tells us.'

Paragraph 3: Set out a strong counterclaim to your argument in paragraph 1. You will be following the same TEEL format where you start with a strong topic sentence, explain, give an example, and link back.

Body: Second AOK

Paragraph 4 : With a focus on the second AOK, set out your claim using the same format.

Paragraph 5 : Set out your counterclaim to the claim in paragraph 4.

Paragraph 6 : conclusion. Explain what insights you have gathered from your discussion on the PT. You will also describe the implications and significance of what you have uncovered. Why do you think we (the audience) should know it? Why does it matter that we understand what you are saying?

Paragraph 7 : Perspectives and extensions. You are not closing the case in your conclusion, rather, show your audience that the discussion is still open. The goal is not to defend or refute the thesis statements, although you will also prove or disprove it here. Rather, it is to show your method of knowing.

You can acknowledge one or two questions that remain unaddressed or unresolved. Better still, adopt a different perspective from what your essay has uncovered and show you are open to new discussions.

That is the outline that can help you write an excellent TOK essay.

However, the ones marking will not be looking at the format. What will they be looking at?

The IB TOK essay rubric uses a list of descriptors to judge your essay on various points.

Since it is up to the examiner to decide how well your essay fits the descriptor tags given, make it easy for them to realize how good your essay is. Here is what they are looking for when marking the IB Theory of Knowledge essay.

1. Essay on a prescribed title

How well have you understood the prescribed title chosen? How comprehensive and cogent is your point of view on the topic? Your essay should demonstrate that you understood the topic and can draw contrasts as well as parallels in AOKs and WOKs.

You should also demonstrate that you recognize your own perspective or biases upon the subject and can analyze them as objectively as possible.

Analysis of knowledge questions

This criterion tests how thoroughly you have explored claims and counterclaims in your essay. Your main points should be well justified and your arguments compelling enough to sway your audience. You should also thoroughly explore the main counterclaims and identify any assumptions made in the process.

2. Presentation

How well do you make your point?

More to the point, how effectively do you use real-life examples to make a point for your claims and counterclaims? 

Your findings and insights should be used to extend the relevancy of these claims (or counterclaims) to other real-life situations.

What do you think, are you up to exploring your own knowledge systems and present them coherently and persuasively in a TOK essay? One unique feature of the essay is that it largely disregards fluency and quality of writing unless it impedes understanding or is too flowery to prove actual understanding.

Nevertheless, you can see that getting all three points will be a tall order. With the right essay and a respectable presentation, you can do it. Let Help for Assessments handle the essay portion for you and assure you of the 67% of points given for it. Our experts are all it takes to ace the IB Theory of Knowledge essay, thanks to our ground-breaking format and years of experience.

We will also help with other IB assessments as well as high school, college undergraduate and postgraduate coursework assignments and projects. Explore our services today to make your order. As always, we are the one-stop-shop for affordable quality and reliability, complete with 100% confidentiality.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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EXPLAINED: May 2024 TOK Essay Prescribed Titles

What happened to this post? HackIB has been acquired by MyIBTutor . All content is now available on the MyIBTutor Blog with more exciting IB content to come! Click here to see it for yourself!

TOK Essay Titles – May 2024 Examination Session

The titles for May 2024 are released! Here they are below:

Make sure to bookmark this page as I explain and provide examples for each of these titles in depth! UPDATE: Title 1, 2, 5 and 6 are now available. Stay tuned for more! For general guidance on how to write a good TOK essay, check out my TOK Essay advice collection .

Is subjectivity overly celebrated in the arts but unfairly condemned in history? Discuss with reference to the arts and history.

How can we reconcile the opposing demands for specialization and generalization in the production of knowledge? Discuss with reference to mathematics and one other area of knowledge.

Nothing is more exciting than fresh ideas, so why are areas of knowledge often so slow to adopt them? Discuss with reference to the human sciences and one other area of knowledge.

Do we underestimate the challenges of taking knowledge out of its original context and transferring it to a different context? Discuss with reference to two areas of knowledge.

Do we need custodians of knowledge? Discuss with reference to two areas of knowledge.

Are we too quick to assume that the most recent evidence is inevitably the strongest? Discuss with reference to the natural sciences and one other area of knowledge.

This title attempts to challenge students on the main school of thought that you learn over the TOK course. The gist of your TOK teaching on both of these AOKs probably boiled down to something like: everything is art and it’s just whatever the artist wants to create, while history is always biased because the winners always write all of history. However, this eliminates much of the nuance in each of these AOKs that are worth exploring. That’s what makes this prompt interesting.

Is subjectivity overly celebrated in the arts? I will be honest, I never thought we really ‘celebrated’ subjectivity. It just, was. Inherently, art is a subjective exercise – you can think about this point a little further. You will find some heated discussion on whether art is subjective or could it be objective on the internet and I won’t delve into that here, because it isn’t the point of this title. The key here is to focus on the EXTENT of subjectivity and is it to the detriment of the area of knowledge itself. Then, we have to consider, whose subjectivity are we talking about: is it the artist’s subjectivity, or the audience’s subjectivity. For example, the Mona Lisa wasn’t that well known when it was first painted. I’m sure the Da Vinci thought it was quite a nice piece, but it seems like we didn’t really celebrate his subjectivity. It wasn’t until a certain audience found it subjectively good, that we accepted it as one of the greatest pieces of art in the world! That is an example of how subjectivity is relevant in the dissemination of artistic knowledge. For a more modern example, what about your favourite YouTuber? Do they truly make what they want? NO! They are often beholden to sponsors, and you – the audience! What you want to see, is what they will make! So it is YOUR subjectivity that drives their decision to produce art, not necessarily purely their subjectivity. Subjectivity by definition is just a person’s opinions, emotions, thoughts. This connects well with the TOK concept of values. What VALUES and WHOSE values are determining what art is created (in a variety of contexts), how art is perceived, and how art changes in its reception over time? These are all good questions to ponder. For more unconventional examples about art, think about how museums choose what art to display, what constitutes good art for prizes like the Nobel Prize for Literature, or why some art is considered more expensive than others? Are there systematic ways to think about our subjectivity and how we apply it to art? Is it really overly celebrating subjectivity or simply a necessity to make sense of the abundance of artistic knowledge in a sea of information today?

History gets a bad rep in the TOK classroom. Students like to trash on History calling it biased and unreliable. In this prompt, I don’t want you to refute these claims, but just think about how they aren’t necessarily catastrophic as we might think. We aren’t denying that biases in history could be problematic. I would be suspicious too, if the only accounts of the Rohingya Genocide came from the Myanmar military. However, the word condemned in the title suggests that we might be too harsh on historians when they get things wrong. We should focus on how the historical method recovers itself from failures in biases from its sources. Yes, it might be biased, but is it better than no history? Furthermore, does subjectivity actually ADD value to the way we produce, and interpret historical knowledge? While I’m sure a completely objective, news story like report of what happened in 1886 would be a historian’s dream, that isn’t the case! No matter how objective we try to be, we colour the events we experience by our own opinions, feelings and emotions. But isn’t that history in itself? In an almost cliched way, history’s subjectivity tells us more about what happened in the past and their beliefs and values more than words could ever say.

In both the historical and artistic discussions, you should focus more on the methodologies of these AOKs and how they achieve their AOK’s purpose. Subjectivity manifests in different ways in these AOKs and their methodology reflects that. In the overt awareness of subjectivity in the Arts, its method to produce knowledge is characteristically defined by subjectivity. In History, the method is to identify the covert influences of subjectivity, then to produce the most truthful knowledge possible. You can see that the goals of these two are different, and hence they deal with subjectivity differently. Don’t fall in the trap of focusing your discussion too much on your examples, but generalise to the patterns of how subjectivity manifest in your AOKs and whether their treatment of it is problematic.

It is crucial, when writing the essay for this prompt, to clearly define in your introduction what specialisation and generalisation means. DO NOT use the dictionary definitions here – since this is a TOK Essay, you want to make a TOK version of specialisation and generalisation, in terms of how these two things differ in the production of knowledge. Clearly defining the two in this way will form a solid foundation for you to have a nuanced discussion on this process of reconciliation between the two. The prompt hints at the competing demands on knowledge of specialisation and generalisation – i.e. you might not be able to produce knowledge in the same way if you were aiming for specialisation versus generalisation. So, this provides a point of contrast for you to choose examples and frame your discussion. Remember, the idea of competing demands is an ASSUMPTION, not an argument posed by the question. You should focus on how your chosen examples demonstrate a way to balance the interests of both and reach a ‘middle-ground’ rather than arguing that specialisation or generalisation are compatible with each other. TLDR: Don’t challenge the assumption.

For the first AOK of Mathematics, you should have encountered many personal examples just from your study of IB Maths. Most of your learning has been on generalisation, and the application of such generalisations. For instance, you learn about Calculus, a general topic within Mathematics, and then apply it in various contexts. Mathematicians love generalisations – that Calculus you learned? Well, the definition of a derivative generalised for all functions could be summarised by the first principles of derivatives function that HL AA students learn. You would have less interaction with specialisation of Mathematical knowledge. In a broader sense, the specific components of mathematics, cannot be separated from the general. You can’t solve calculus problems without the fundamental theorem of calculus. However, you could argue that the fundamental theorem of calculus didn’t need calculus problems to exist. Thus, an interesting dilemma arises in Mathematics – the generalisation could be produced, without a particular need for specialisation, but specialisation often calls for generalisation to first exist.

Looking at the latest mathematics research, you will find that applied mathematics is most common. Rarely do you see people get excited by new discoveries of solutions to elliptical curves, but more do when you tell them a new mathematical model to improve our prediction of the weather. We may place greater value on specialisation of knowledge, because we could see its usefulness more immediately, but, the Area of Knowledge does not require such specialisation to produce knowledge. So, do we encourage people to produce knowledge with the goal of specialisation in mind, or do we tell them to produce whatever theoretical generalised mathematical knowledge they can? Look to how mathematics is applied to Quantitative Finance, Econometrics, and Actuarial Science. They specialise mathematical knowledge and provide for some of the most lucrative careers. Does that speak to our preference and demand for specialised knowledge? But then again, what of the interdependence between generalisation and specialisation? How do we balance the two and how does the methodologies of the AOK contribute to this balancing act?

For the second, complimentary AOK, you could have discussions with all of the AOKs. For the Sciences, you could present a similar argument about needing to have some general theories before you could specialise. The scientific method is essentially one big generalisation process – you take specific observations and you make inferences so that you can generalise about some natural process. However, the knowledge that produces need not be general, it can still be specific. If we take specialisation as the goal, then we could pose narrow hypotheses to test. If we take generalisation as the goal, then we might need multiple of these narrow hypotheses to form a full picture, testing each individual case. Thus, specialisation could lead to specialisation alone, but more often, generalisation is the result of many specialisations.

One last question you might want to consider and attempt to answer in your essay is, do you want to know something about everything or everything about something? The answer to that will depend on your AOK. While we want to know about everything on everything, that is simply not reality. So, what trade offs do we make in each AOK, and how does each AOK decide on what we need to know more on?

You might be able to appreciate how long it takes ideas to actually be implemented in reality by looking at the recent Nobel Prize winners for Economic Sciences. The winner of the 2017 prize was Richard H. Thaler, for his contributions to behavioural economics. He explored the impacts of limited rationality, social preferences and the lack of individual self-control on economic decision making on an individual and market level. He started these findings from the 1980s, but it is only recently, in the 2022 revision of the IB syllabus that Economics students learn about the field of Behavioural economics in any detail! So why is it so?

To some extent, it is hard to criticise things for moving slowly. After all, new discoveries like behavioural economics represents a fundamental paradigm shift towards the way research is conducted in the particular AOK. Often times, fresh ideas are left to “ferment” so that their truthfulness can be tested with time. Nothing is more embarrassing than going down a rabbit hole only to find that your assumptions turned out to be monumentally incorrect. Even if we are making a big shift in light of new ideas towards the way we produce knowledge, doing so takes time! For many years and still now, we rely on strong assumptions of rationality to make economic models function. While the psychology of such behaviours are well researched, applying them to an Economic setting may not be. That is to say, it is important to consider how these new ideas arise, and what effect it has on existing knowledge, and the way we produce future knowledge. New ideas is simply new knowledge, but with the added implication that it has some effect on the existing knowledge within an AOK. It could potentially change how we view current knowledge, or how we conduct research given a particular discovery.

In the AOK of the human sciences, which broadly follows the scientific method, you could drawn some inspiration from the philosopher Thomas Kuhn’s view of scientific progress. He argues that within a period of “normal science” where we make incremental progress under the assumption of an overarching model, but there comes a point where we notice accumulation of imperfections with such a model that leads to new paradigms – new ideas, that fundamentally change how we do science. Then we undergo a sort of scientific revolution, where there are debates and decisions made over what sort of model we need to follow, until everyone eventually accepts the new paradigm and returns to a normal science period so that continual small improvements are made to knowledge, until another paradigm shift happens again. While you are not expected to demonstrate such strong philosophy knowledge within the TOK Essay, it is helpful to consider how each AOK handles such ‘revolutions’. For instance, it is harder to irrefutably find falsities in human sciences given the difficulty in replicability and corroborative studies compared to natural sciences.

As for complimentary AOKs, any would suit here, as each AOK has a very different way to handle new ideas. Many factors influence the way new ideas is accepted. For this title, we need to take the assumption that their acceptance is slow, not argue with it. Instead, you should consider what factors influence this slowness, and how different AOKs have different factors in mind when deciding how to accept new ideas. This relates to the nature of the AOK (what is its purpose) and the methodology guiding knowledge production in them.

Have you ever said something that sounds very weird out of context? That might have just been something silly with no real consequences, but in the realm of knowledge, we need to be careful about the consequences of knowledge taken out of their original context. This article highlights how the context of medical treatment matters a lot! As you can imagine, something that works in one field, doesn’t always apply in a straightforward manner to another. This is why there are whole research teams dedicated to what we call “translational research”. That is, trying to “translate” what you get from something like a lab setting, into actual products, like life-saving medications.

The obvious links to AOKs here are the Natural and Human Sciences. For Natural Sciences, we often start off knowledge production in a lab setting, or in a controlled environment. However, the application of such knowledge is rarely as controlled! So an interesting point to consider is how natural scientists have to account for the fact that their findings won’t ever be used in as perfect a setting as their research. Sure, you might have developed bullet proof wood , but how is that going to work in practically when it comes to mass manufacturing it for the army or the police? This is one of the biggest challenges that natural scientists face. It’s not that we aren’t trying to produce exciting knowledge, but that the application of such knowledge in a practical and appreciable context is often very difficult. Something like the mRNA technology (which recently was awarded a Nobel) took a long time to be developed into actual vaccines. The question then is, do we underestimate this process? Often it depends on the goal of the scientist. If the knowledge producer set out with an idea to commercialise in mind, then they would often consider the practical implications of findings. However, people studying theoretical physics for example, would struggle to immediately find very accessible real life implications. That doesn’t mean the knowledge is worthless, but certainly, the challenges are there.

What about non-scientific disciplines? Recently, I went to an art exhibition that trend Van Gough’s paintings into a 3D digital display. There was a Banksy exhibition that took the original murals he painted on the street, into this museum environment. Does changing the context of how art work is shown, and the manipulation of artistic knowledge change its meaning? What is the goal of transforming art into a different context? There are many reasons. Sometimes, it is to create satire (have a look at the parodies of the Mona Lisa), bringing old art onto a new audience (like VR exhibitions of Da Vinci), or simply making it more accessible to people (by making art works digitally available). The producers of these adapted forms of knowledge take great care in considering how this impacts the meaning of the art in its changed form. When artwork is so subjective, the context of art is often required to understand the artist’s meaning and intention, to ‘interpret’ works accordingly. At the same time, as we know art is quite subjective, is a ‘correct interpretation’ always required? If we are to remain artistic purists, then many of the joys of art could be lost! Imagine if you were admonished for listening to Taylor Swift through Spotify on your AirPods because it isn’t the original uncompressed music file with all the details, and you aren’t listening to it on the exact set of thousand dollar speakers it was created with? It would be ludicrous to assume that artistic knowledge is always going to be disseminated in the same context. Thus, this must be a consideration of artists. Is this consideration more or less difficult for different types of art? How is this consideration different to science considering there is no ‘right’ answer to interpreting art?

When thinking about this title, we aren’t arguing whether it is difficult. I think we all agree it is. However, it is about whether we underestimate just how difficult it is! Center your focus on how each AOK’s methodology highlights the consideration of being able to change contexts, and whether that affects the interpretation of the knowledge in question.

The term ‘custodians of knowledge’ is not something TOK students have likely heard of before, but this concept is relatively simple to understand. If you think positively about it, it could be protectors of knowledge, people who preserve knowledge, keeping it for generations to come – for example, some people might consider the Indigenous Peoples’ in Australia to be custodians of their unique cultural knowledge and what they call dreamtime stories. In this way, they keep culture alive, even if most people nowadays speak English and don’t readily tell their history. However, thought about negatively, it could also mean “gatekeepers’ (pardon the Gen Z language) of knowledge. The idealogical “protection” of knowledge could also be seen as a way to prevent some forms of knowledge from becoming knowledge in the first place. Talk to any university academic, and they will tell you how many times their research papers have been rejected. That’s why there is a bias towards statistically significant results, while research that showed that nothing significant has happened doesn’t often get published. Thus, these two contrasts provide for interesting discussion, particularly when considering how each AOK has different forms of custodians of knowledge and how they “gatekeep” or “protect” knowledge in different ways.

Take the AOK of the arts as an example. The career of artists are laughed upon because it is so hard to “break in” to the fine world of art. Many artists aren’t acclaimed until they are long dead. Perhaps most famously, the Mona Lisa wasn’t very well known until several hundred years after it was made. Thus, artists are often at the mercy of custodians of artistic knowledge like art curators and critics, who decide what merits acknowledgement as knowledge. After all, knowledge is only knowledge when there is consensus it is. And if the big wigs in the art industry doesn’t think it’s worth a mention, your art, however brilliant it seems to you, would not reach the consensus required to be considered knowledge. Of course, there are debates on the necessity of custodians in such a subjective AOK. After all, there were many times I questioned how some “artworks” even made it into the modern art museum when it’s literally splashes of paint on a canvas. I digress. However, there is something to be said about maintaining some form of standard to art. We judge whether some art is good or bad, but not in a very rigorous way. Custodians of knowledge supposedly have a framework to make such judgement in a way which preserves the nature of the AOK, and the knowledge within it. Therefore, discussion about the necessity of the custodians should focus on how they contribute to the purpose of the AOK, and whether it is compatible with the nature and methodologies of the AOK.

To further illustrate what I mean, you could see that Natural Sciences might present a stronger argument to the necessity of such custodians. We implicitly “trust” science, for better or for worse, because we know that there is a level of credibility imbued by the scientific method. It is the custodians’ role to maintain the standard of adherence to the scientific method that keeps this credibility alive. This is why, when flat earthers argue that they can’t see the curvature of the earth from the horizon, that it doesn’t get published in a scientific journal as fact! This is why, when research emerges that denies the existence of climate change, custodians have a responsibility to retract such research . However, at the same time, it also places much pressure on producers of such knowledge to create something worthy in the eyes of custodians. You might have heard of the data manipulation scandal that forced Stanford’s president to resign. Thus, custodians do appear quite important in this AOK, when we value the truthfulness of knowledge so much, but that isn’t without its consequences.

I recommend picking two contrasting AOKs that value much different things when writing the essay. While comparison is not a requirement for the essay, it gives you a more nuanced understanding of the question and thus a more reflective piece. For instance, we have just demonstrated that art is relatively subjective, while the sciences are less so. Thus, this influences the role which custodians need to play in each AOK.

The framework to answering this title for many students will follow a similar structure: an example of when novel evidence was accepted and had groundbreaking impacts, and another example where such evidence was problematic and disputed. Repeat this for the second AOK you choose and you’ll have 4 contrasting examples. This is not the only way to approach this title, but is my personal preference considering the structure I suggest to most students that ensures firstly, you will pass the basic criteria of a TOK Essay, and secondly, you will have a strong foundation to succeed. However, since everyone will have a similar style and collection of examples, it is even more important for this title, that you tease out the meaning and the effect on each area of knowledge, and knowledge in general, that your examples represent.

To demonstrate what I mean, let’s focus on two natural sciences examples. First, consider the case of “Cold Fusion”, a theory that you could supposedly have nuclear fusion at room temperature, discovered and subsequently debunked in 1989. A contrasting example, could be recent Nobel Prize winner of Medicine and Physiology, for the research on mRNA vaccines. Immediately, it is obvious that one shows where recent evidence isn’t the strongest, while the latter shows that it could be. But the focus should be on are we TOO QUICK in assuming so, not whether we should or not. Well, what are the reactions and timelines for each example? While Cold Fusion was met with excitement from the general public for the potential it holds for energy production, I wouldn’t say we ‘assumed’ it to be strong. Looking at the news reports from that time, you can see that there was great anticipation about the discovery, leading to lots of sudden funding and interest to investigate it and replicate it. As for mRNA, that discovery took a long time! First the technology, and the getting it to not appear foreign to the human body was very tricky. Even after it was discovered, we waited quite a while, with many people’s first experience with mRNA to be their COVID 19 vaccine. What you need to draw from these two examples is the methodological similarities and differences which reflect the NATURE of Science, and thus, the purpose of science. You see in both how there is an emphasis on replication which corroborates or falsifies, and only after doing so for a long time do we accept it to be true, otherwise it is debunked. So yes, there are moments where Natural Sciences provides strong compelling evidence that ends up false, there are many hurdles with in the methodology of the Natural Science that prevents us from being TOO QUICK to assume it to be true.

For this prompt, it is too easy to fall into the debate of why something was true or why something was false and tricked the population. This is not the point of the essay. You should avoid talking about the specifics of your examples at length. You need to demonstrate how your examples reflect the wider methodologies of the Natural Sciences (and similarly, for your second AOK) that either encourages or discourages our assumptions that novel evidence is always best. As you can see from my examples above, I focused on how such assumption does not happen too quickly because there are many ways we verify scientific knowledge to be true. I don’t discuss the specifics of the actual science behind Cold Fusion or mRNA as that isn’t required. You are better off focusing on the methodologies behind the AOKs themselves and answering the question.

Some interesting complements to the Natural Science AOK could be History (particularly focusing on revisionism and how historical events could be interpreted differently over time), Mathematics (how could the methodologies differ and are there ‘mistakes’ in Maths), or even Human Sciences (replication is a bit more difficult with that!).

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20 responses to “explained: may 2024 tok essay prescribed titles”.

Brandon Avatar

Hi, when will you deconstruct #6? Much appreciated.

hackib Avatar

I just did! Hope it helps.

Brandon Avatar

Thank you so much!

dora Avatar

hello! when will you deconstruct #2? would really really appreciate it !!!

Just posted!

Mathias Ndinya Avatar

Hi when will you deconstruct No. 5? Much appreciated.

Tim Habay Avatar

Could you please deconstruct no5. ?

Check it out!

alisha wang Avatar

Please Please deconstruct 5 ASAP, first draft due in 5 days!!!! Thanks!

I just did! It’s a very interesting title.

sally Avatar

Hi, when will you deconstruct #3? Much appreciated.

I have just posted this. Thanks!

TOK2024 Avatar

Hi, when will you deconstruct #4? Thanks!

Just updated!

Jais Avatar

Hi, is there more in depth analysis of title 4 coming?

Sorry it took a while, but it’s here now!

anis ayuni Avatar

I have a question, for PT3, so what will be our possible counterclaim? is it another factor that will make it slow? or find another RLS that show sometimes fresh ideas can be adopted fast ?

I would reread the prescribe title. The title is asking you “why”. So all you need to do is propose different sorts of reasons as to why this slowness occurs. You don’t need to challenge the assumption within the title that it is slow. Accept that it is slow, and propose various ideas for why that is the case according to the properties of your chosen AOK.

MS Avatar

Could you explain how you would format number One. Would I only be talking about two examples one for each AOK and what about them? Introduction, aok 1 and aok2 and conclusions

For sure! You should refer to my article on structuring for TOK Essay for more details. In general though, you can approach this prompt with two examples for each AOK, with one example about subjectivity being overly celebrated, and one not in the arts, while for history, it would be one where it is condemned unfairly vs not.

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May 2024 TOK Essay Titles Guide. Short Descriptions & Writing Tips

Hello, IB scholars! As someone deeply immersed in the International Baccalaureate (IB) world for years, I’m thrilled to share my insights on the May 2024 TOK essay titles. Understanding these complex topics can be daunting, but fear not! I’m here to guide you through each one, offering my seasoned perspective on approaching them effectively.

What Are TOK Essay Prescribed Titles?

As an experienced IB writer and advisor, I’ve guided numerous students through the intricate world of the IB Theory of Knowledge essays. In my years of involvement, I’ve understood the essence of TOK essay titles and their significance in the IB curriculum.

TOK essay titles are a unique set of essay questions the IB organization releases annually. They are designed to challenge students to reflect critically on the nature of knowledge and how we come to know what we claim to know. So, each title poses a unique question that encourages deep thinking. As you contemplate your TOK essay, consider these key elements:

  • Clarity of Understanding . Ensure you fully comprehend the nuances of the prescribed title.
  • Select AOKs and WOKs . Choose relevant Areas of Knowledge and Ways of Knowing that align with the title.
  • Real-Life Examples . Include practical situations to illustrate your arguments vividly.
  • Critical Thinking . Analyze and evaluate your examples and arguments from multiple perspectives.
  • Personal Insight . Reflect on your views and experiences concerning the title.

After choosing your focus, it’s time to structure your essay. A well-organized essay presents your ideas clearly and demonstrates your ability to think logically and coherently. Also, remember about word count . Start with an introduction outlining your understanding of the title and thesis. In the body, develop your arguments systematically, using your chosen AOKs and WOKs. Each paragraph should present a unique point supported by real-life examples and critical analysis.

Concluding your essay is just as important. An excellent conclusion summarizes your key points and reflects your argument’s broader implications. It’s a chance to leave a lasting impression on your reader, showing how your research contributes to a deeper understanding of knowledge.

May 2024 TOK Essay Titles: Detailed Breakdown

The May 2024 TOK essay titles cover intriguing and challenging topics that encourage critical thinking and deep analysis of knowledge:

  • Is subjectivity overly celebrated in the arts but unfairly condemned in history? Discuss with reference to the Arts and History.
  • How can we reconcile the opposing demands for specialization and generalization in the production of knowledge? Discuss with reference to Mathematics and one other Area of Knowledge.
  • Nothing is more exciting than fresh ideas, so why are areas of knowledge often so slow to adopt them? Discuss with reference to the Human Sciences and one other Area of Knowledge.
  • Do we underestimate the challenges of taking knowledge out of its original context and transferring it to a different context? Discuss with reference to two Areas of Knowledge.
  • Do we need custodians of knowledge? Discuss with reference to two Areas of Knowledge.
  • Are we too quick to assume that the most recent evidence is inevitably the strongest? Discuss with reference to the Natural Sciences and one other Area of Knowledge.

For a successful TOK essay, it’s essential to blend personal insights with academic viewpoints, create a clear and cohesive argument, and effectively address counterarguments. Remember, it is about presenting facts, researching, and reflecting on the nature of knowledge and key TOK concepts . Take this opportunity to engage critically and creatively with the topics. Now, I will guide you through each title and offer my perspective on addressing them.

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May 2024 TOK essay titles

You might be interested:

  • How to Write a TOK Journal Assignment: The Complete Guide
  • ToK Journal Writing Tips: A Comprehensive Guide
  • TOK Exhibition Word Count: A Quick and Convenient Guide
  • How to Write TOK Essay in One Week?
  • AOKs in IB TOK: Mastering the Easiest and Hardest Areas
  • Unpacking the Aims of a TOK Journal: A Guide to Enhance Your Thinking
  • IB TOK Essay Structure in Detail
  • How To Structure A Theory Of Knowledge Exhibition

1. Subjectivity in Arts and History

The debate over subjectivity’s role in arts versus history is fascinating. Often, we see a celebration of personal interpretation in the arts, whereas history demands objectivity. But should this be the case? Consider Arts and History as your Areas of Knowledge (AOKs) as you write this essay. For Ways of Knowing (WOKs), Emotion and Reason can provide deep insights. Real-life situations (RLSs) might include the analysis of a historical event or an art movement. My advice? Highlight the contrast in how subjectivity is perceived in these fields. Additionally, reflect on whether this difference is justified due to cultural bias.

2. Specialization vs. Generalization in Knowledge

Balancing the tension between specialization and generalization in knowledge production is a challenge. Mathematics is a perfect example of specialization, while Ethics can represent generalization. Logic and Intuition, as WOKs, play significant roles here. Consider using examples like mathematical theories for specialization and ethical dilemmas for generalization. To write a compelling essay, balance the two sides, providing arguments and examples from both Mathematics and another AOK of your choice.

3. Adoption of New Ideas in Knowledge Areas

Why are some knowledge areas slower to adopt new ideas? It is a question of cultural and academic inertia. Consider using Human Sciences and perhaps Natural Sciences AOK to research this. Imagination and Memory, as WOKs, are crucial in understanding this phenomenon. Use examples like breakthroughs in scientific research or new sociological theories as RLSs. Your essay should examine the resistance to new ideas and hypothesize why this occurs.

4. Knowledge Contextualization Challenges

One of the most underestimated aspects of knowledge is its context. Whether it’s Indigenous Knowledge Systems or Religious Knowledge Systems, the challenges of transferring knowledge to a different context are immense. Ways of Knowing, like Faith and Sense Perception, can be crucial in understanding these challenges. Use examples from different cultural contexts or religious texts to illustrate your points. Your essay should investigate these complexities and offer insights into how context shapes understanding.

5. The Role of Custodians in Knowledge

The question of whether we need custodians to safeguard knowledge is intriguing. Ethics and History can serve as your AOKs here, with Language and Emotion as WOKs. Consider using examples like ethical guidelines in research or preserving historical documents as RLSs. In your essay, debate the necessity of having custodians in knowledge, providing arguments for and against their role.

6. Evaluating Recent Evidence in Knowledge

Finally, the assumption that recent evidence is inherently more substantial is worth examining. Natural Sciences and Arts are suitable AOKs for this discussion. Use Reason and Perception as WOKs, and look at examples like the latest scientific findings or contemporary art trends as your RLSs. It’s essential to question the validity of new evidence compared to established knowledge. Your essay should balance this evaluation, presenting a nuanced view of how we perceive and value new information in different AOKs.

TOK Essay Titles: Common Mistakes to Avoid

With the May 2024 TOK essay titles announced, I want to share some common pitfalls to avoid, ensuring you can write a well-thought-out and engaging paper. Be sure to pay attention to these mistakes.

1. Misunderstanding the Title

A standard error involves failing to understand the essay title fully. Each TOK prompt is intricately designed to provoke deep thinking. Make sure you grasp the nuances of the question and understand its connection to the Areas of Knowledge and Ways of Knowing.

2. Lack of Personal Engagement

While TOK essays require academic rigor, they also demand personal reflection. Students often miss the opportunity to express their perspectives and experiences. Relate the title to your insights, ensuring your essay reflects your unique understanding.

3. Over-Reliance on One Area of Knowledge

Frequently, essays become unbalanced by focusing too heavily on a single AOK. Discussing multiple AOKs where applicable is crucial, showing a broad understanding of how the title applies across different areas.

4. Ignoring Counterarguments

A good TOK essay presents a balanced view. You must acknowledge and investigate counterarguments to strengthen your essay. Demonstrate your ability to consider different perspectives and their implications.

5. Inadequate Structure and Flow

Essays often lose marks due to poor organization. A well-structured TOK essay with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion makes your argument more persuasive and accessible.

6. Insufficient Evidence and Examples

TOK essay without concrete examples lacks depth. Use relevant real-life situations and examples to support your points, making your arguments more compelling.

7. Neglecting the Criteria

The IB provides specific criteria for TOK essays. Familiarize yourself with these guidelines and ensure your TOK essay aligns with them. Pay attention to aspects like knowledge questions, analysis, and implications.

8. Plagiarism and Inaccurate Citations

Originality is key in TOK essays. Avoid plagiarism by properly citing sources and presenting your analysis. TOK is about your interpretation of knowledge, not just repeating others’ ideas.

The Bottom Line

This guide aims to spark your interest and offer a direct path for tackling the TOK essay topics. A remarkable essay achieves its essence by balancing your perspectives with thoroughly researching the Areas of Knowledge and Ways of Knowing. I encourage you to incorporate real-world instances that substantiate your viewpoints.

Above all, take pleasure in the process of dissecting these intricate questions. The experience gained in engaging with TOK is as valuable as the result itself. Also, you can contact our IB Writing Service specialists for guidance or assistance. We provide top-quality help in writing TOK essays so that you can focus on what’s essential — studying!

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Nick's article, featured in Routledge's " Entrepreneurship in Central and Eastern Europe: Development through Internationalization ," highlights his sharp insights and unwavering dedication to advancing the educational landscape. Inspired by his personal motto, "Make education better," Nick's mission is to streamline students' lives and foster efficient learning. His inventive ideas and leadership have contributed to the transformation of numerous educational experiences, distinguishing him as a true innovator in his field.

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tok essay title page format

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

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ToK Essay Format

By Pasta May 27, 2008 in Theory of Knowledge

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Hello there. Noobie to the forums here. I've just finished putting together the final parts of my Theory of Knowledge essay, and have just realized a problem. I have no idea how to format the thing, and what information I should or should not give at the top of the paper. I know I should of course put my last name and page number as a header, but how about the essay title? Do I need to list the number of the prompt along with the prompt itself? Along those lines, do I need to include my full name, instructor's name, and submission date at the top left hand corner of the first page? Thank you for any aid you can give me!

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I'm not sure myself. But when in doubt, just put whatever you think your examiner will need to know.

Guest Lily Bean

Guest Lily Bean

The idea is to give enough info to identify you if the paper comes loose but don't cluster it up. So name, candidate number would probably be enough.

  • 1 month later...

I myself am unsure....perhaps you should contact your IB counselors or your teachers?

On the title page: Question number: TITLE then underneath that, somewhere on the title page: Name Candidate Number Theory of Knowledge (Course name) Word Count Date As a header, I had my candidate number only, so it appeared on all the pages, and at the bottom of each page (cept the title page), I had my page number. 12 font, double-spaced was the standard for my class



I didn't do a title page because we were given a cover page that was attached to the essay anyways and the official cover page has all your info on it. On the essay itself, I had my name, candidate #, and instead of a title, I had the number and question that I was writing the essay about.

  • 3 years later...

Does the date refer to the date completed, or the date it has to be submitted?

The date refers to the submission date of your essay. You can learn the submission date from your instructor. The general submission dates are already declared by IB.

  • 10 years later...


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