Academic TOK

Overview: What is Theory of Knowledge (TOK)?

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) can appear a very ambiguous subject to tackle, but with the right approach, it is an opportunity to engage in very interesting discussions. Along with EE and CAS, TOK forms part of the IB Diploma’s Core subjects. TOK aims to expand a student’s awareness on the interpretive nature of knowledge, in particular towards the formation of biases, hence prompting the reflection of knowledge itself. The main frameworks in TOK are the Areas of Knowledge (AOKs), and Ways of Knowing (WOKs), listed below:

Elena’s graphic

1. TOK Essay

The Essay revolves around one of 6 Prescribed Titles given by the IBO. It has a 1,600 word limit and is marked out of 10. All essays are marked by external examiners, and accounts for ⅔ of your final TOK grade. The Essay component also requires the completion of a TOK Planning and Progress Form (TKPPF). This is not marked, but it is used to log reflections from meetings with your supervisor.

I wrote an in-depth overview of the Essay here.

2. TOK Presentation

The Presentation is a presentation that follows a central knowledge question and a main real-life situation. It is typically done individually, or in groups of 2 or 3 students. Each individual presents for 10 minutes, so a group of 3’s presentation would be 30 minutes long. It is important to note that Presentations focus on answering the central KQ that you formulate. You will also have to complete the Planning and Progress Document (TKPPD), which will not be marked, but will be used as a guideline for your examiner to better understand the message you are conveying. The Presentation is marked out of 10, and accounts for 1/3 of your final grade.

I wrote an in-depth overview of the Presentation here.

3. How is TOK assessed?

For reference, the TOK assessment model has detailed mark schemes and grading criteria. Both the Essay and Presentation are marked out of 10, however the total score is out of 30. The Essay score will be doubled, added to the presentation score, and the total will result in an A, B, C, D, or E depending on the year’s grade boundaries. The essay will normally be given to IBO and marked by external examiners, whereas the presentation will be internally marked. Your school’s TKPPDs will be viewed by the IB, however, and the Presentation grades may be moderated based on that.

4. How will it impact my IB score?

The TOK and EE work in tandem using a matrix that results in either 3 points, 2 points, or 1 additional point to your IB score. The matrix (as of 2020) can be seen below:

From IBDP Assessment Procedures

Best of luck! 🙂

Here is my overview of the TOK Essay.

Here’s my overview of the TOK Presentation.

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