We wrote this guide to help you learn how to write a good TOK essay even if it’s going to be your first time.
In fact, with the help of the information shared in this post, you can write a great theory of knowledge essay in just one night, and without trying so hard.
It’s important to understand that a TOK essay will require you to compare and contrast the different ways of knowing through reason, language, and perception with different areas of knowledge.
This essay normally covers eight areas of knowledge, which you should already be familiar with by now.
How to Write a TOK Essay: Understanding the Structure and Requirements for a Killer Copy
In the rest of this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know so that you can write a good theory of knowledge in less than 24 hours.
Let’s get to it.
1. Understand the Prescribed Titles
The title demands of you and you should try as much as possible to comprehend the command terms and the theory of knowledge questions being asked.
What type of knowledge is being asked?
Does it demand shared or personal knowledge?
Note whether the prescribed title asks you to tackle two disciplines or areas of knowledge.
Except for History and Math, you need to be extremely clear about the discipline of AOK you have chosen. As for the title, take some time to unpack it. This means defining the keywords, understanding what the title asks, and then coming up with a response.
2. Choose Your Title Carefully
The topic you choose should contain an AOK that you are familiar with or one you have a lot of interest in to say the least.
But you shouldn’t just grab a topic because it appears simple or appealing. Instead, you need to read each title on the list carefully and ask yourself many questions:
Read the title carefully and note any concepts or words you aren’t sure about.
3. Rewrite the Title in Your Own Words
Theory of knowledge titles will seem complex when you read them for the first time. You will even struggle to understand the terms and concepts in the title.
You may even be unsure of what you need to compare and contrast in the title. But you can Y rephrase the title and then break it down into even two sentences to make it clearer.
Breaking it down into shorter sentences enables you to have a clearer picture of what is being asked in the title as well as how you may proceed about how to answer the title sufficiently.
4. Understand the Grading Criteria
The IB assesses your essay on four criteria that each carries equal weight. It’s recommended to have a copy of these grading criteria and stick to them while writing your essay. The four areas of assessment are as follows:
5. Read the Essay’s Instructions Carefully
Take note of the keywords contained in the essay instructions. The question might ask you to “evaluate” or “assess” a claim. This simply means that you need to consider for the title and against it.
You will also need to factor in any grey areas or ambiguities linked to the title.
Here are two examples worth looking at:
6. Brainstorming Ideas around the Title of the Essay
Don’t just dive straight into creating your outline. Rather, take a few minutes to brainstorm.
By its very nature, the TOK essay is reflective. This means that you need to show demonstrable proof that you have carefully thought about the title and are sufficiently prepared to analyze and reflect on the title.
To start, do a general brainstorming. Note down all you can think about when you see the title.
After around 5 minutes of brainstorming, go over the notes you wrote down. Pick the ideas that are related to each other or those that contradict each other.
If you are assessing or evaluating a claim in the title, have two columns, one for and the other against that title. Put the ideas into either of the columns. Create another third column where you will write ambiguities or grey areas, and then put ideas into that column.
Identify any examples of the ideas you jotted down.
7. Identify the Knowledge Issue in the Essay Title
This might be a question or even an issue about how you understand yourself and the world in relation to the quest for knowledge.
A knowledge issue in the title of an essay often relates to one or two of the eight AOK and tends to examine the possible conflicts or problems in these AOKs or between them.
8. Create Your TOK Essay Outline
From your brainstorming and the AOK you chose, you should be able to create an outline. The outline is your roadmap and contains the structure of your essay. An outline might contain 5 paragraphs, which are more often than not as follows:
To conclude, answer the title completely while taking into account all the limitations and counter-arguments against the areas of knowledge.
9. Craft a Thesis Statement
Go over the essay title once more, and also your essay outline and brainstorming notes before creating your thesis statement.
Remember, the thesis statement is the main claim you want to make in the essay. It should link everything in the essay.
You can write your thesis statement after you are done writing the first draft. At this time, you probably have a better idea of the key arguments in the essay, which enables you to write a clear and concise thesis statement.
10. Write Your Essay
Your essay outline will be key to your writing as you can use it as a guide. Just expand each part of your outline, while noting that the word limit will have to be anywhere between 1200-1600 words.
Refer to your brainstorming notes to find the supporting examples for the two areas of knowledge that you chose. Also, your main arguments and counter-arguments are in your brainstorming notes.
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11. Don’t Use Dictionary Definitions in the Essay
You should demonstrate to the TOK assessment committee that yours is a reflective essay, not one filled with textbook definitions.
Avoid relying too much on textbook definitions to support a counter-argument or prove your argument. This way, you will demonstrate to the assessment committee that you didn’t engage with the topic and circumvented the topic’s complexities in favor of dictionary definitions.
12. Cite Your Sources
When writing a TOK essay, you will need to cite all your sources using the MLA style citations.
This is a no-brainer and therefore should be as straightforward as you can possibly imagine.
13. Read Your Essay Out Loud
Knowing how to write a perfect essay is one thing. But you can’t be confident that your work is up to the standard unless you read it from the beginning, again. And sometimes you may have to read it even aloud.
Reading your essay out aloud enables you to gauge how clear and precise your language is. It also helps you to confirm that your arguments have been properly supported and structured accordingly.
Your writing needs to have a natural rhyme to it and a flow from one part to the next.
14. Proofread Your Work
You don’t want to undo your effort by handing in work that’s full of silly grammatical or spelling mistakes. It’s advisable to take a break before proofreading. This gives you a fresh mind and eyes to go over it.
If possible, get someone to read it for you to make sure there are no obvious mistakes.
The TOK is often assessed through a 1200-1600-word essay and an oral presentation. The essay asks you to reflect on the nature of knowledge, as well as how you know what you claim to know. It is usually a part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma and is compulsory for all students.
Every TOK essay is different. To pass your essay, you will need to prepare thoroughly. Treat it as you would any type of research and take some time to create an outline and write your thesis statement. After writing, make sure you cite your work properly and proofread it.