Why Do IB Students Fail TOK Exhibition? (Quick Answer)

January 9, 2024

why students fail tok exhibition

In this guide, you'll learn exactly why IB students fail TOK exhibition assignments.

The Theory of Knowledge is one of the most challenging subjects in the IB program.

IB students not only have to write a 1,200-word TOK essay, but they also have to do a TOK exhibition, which account for 33% of the marks in the final grades.

We can agree that 33% marks for the exhibition, which replaced the TOK presentation, is quite a lot.

However, many students will still struggle to score high grades because there are things they don’t do right or steps they fail to complete.

In this guide, you’ll why it is possible to fail a TOK exhibition and exactly what you can do to score the highest grades.

In particular, we will look at the most common mistakes that IB students make, and fail, and then tell you how to fix those mistakes so you can stand the chance to do well in IB.

Do you feel like a TOK exhibition assignment is too difficult for you? Our TOK writers can help you get the work done in a short time.

Let’s get started.

The 7 Reasons Why IB Students Fail TOK Exhibition

The following are seven reasons why many students fail to pass their TOK exhibition assignment:

1. Not Choosing a Good IA Prompt

It is up to you to decide which IA prompt you would like to work on, but choosing a wrong one can make it difficult for you to work on your exhibition.

Some students choose their prompts based on sheer excitement or suggestions from their classmates, but that’s a wrong approach that sets you up for failure.

There are three steps to choosing a TOK exhibition prompt the right way.

  • First, read the list of the 35 questions carefully
  • Second, based on what you’ve learned about how TOK manifests itself in the real world and based on the concepts that you find interesting to explore, pick one question from the list.
  • Third, determine if you can link or relate the IA back to the core theme or one of the optional themes in TOK

In addition to these three steps, make sure the IA question is interesting to explore.

Or at least make sure it features concepts that you have always wanted to explore, whether you’ve learned about them in or outside your classroom.

2. Picking the Wrong Objects for the TOK Exhibition

You may have selected the best IA prompt to explore in the commentary, but choosing the wrong objects can equally cause you to lose significant marks.

We have written quite a lot on TOK Exhibition Objects here, but just to give you a condensed version of the guide, your exhibition will be a total failure if one or more of the objects that you choose don’t meet certain conditions.

You need to make sure that your objects:

  • Exist in a particular time and space
  • Have a real-world context
  • Not be symbolic or generic
  • Be unique. Another student in your class should not know about the objects that you pick for your TOK exhibition.
  • Relate back to the exhibition question and relate to a core theme or one of the optional themes in the Theory of Knowledge.

Follow these guidelines and you won’t make the mistake of choosing the wrong objects.

3. Holding Student Discussions for the Exhibition

The IB’s guide on TOK exhibition makes it clear that you should not hold a group discussion with your classmates to discuss your project.

The TOK exhibition is an independent assignment that you have to research and complete on your own.

As we already mentions, the objects (or images of objects) that you choose to use in your investigation and commentary should be unique and independent of what other students in your class chose.

4. Failing to Write the Commentary Properly

The commentary is a 950-word assignment that you can write in one sitting, but it can also come out as failed work if you don’t write it correctly.

We have a guide on how to write a commentary. Be sure to check that out right away if you’re struggling to write the commentary.

The guide teaches you how to do your commentary step-by-step, and it also highlights some of the common mistakes that you need to avoid.

5. Starting the Assignment Late

You know that IB is hard, and the number one cause for failure in the program is starting to work on your assignments late.

The only advice we can give you here is that you should start working on your exhibition early so that you complete it in good time.

6. Submitting Plagiarized Work

The temptation to plagiarize someone’s work and using it as your own can get you in big trouble.

Whether intentional or otherwise, plagiarism can make you look irresponsible, careless, and silly.

Avoid copied content. Start working on your exhibition early, do your own work, and submit a high quality commentary to your TOK teacher.

7. Failing to Link IA Prompts and Objects to Themes

Even if you choose an IA prompt that interests you or features concepts that you would like to explore and choose three objects with real-world context but fail to relate them to the themes in TOK, your exhibition assignment will definitely fall flat.

According to IB’s guide on TOK exhibition, students should relate the exhibition question and the three objects to a core theme or any of the optional themes in Theory of Knowledge.

So make sure you can relate your IA prompt and the objects to these any of these themes before you start writing your exhibition commentary.

Final Thoughts

If you are an IB student who has learned extensively about TOK exhibition from our guides, making these kind of mistakes can cost you important marks and lower your chances of earning an IB diploma.

On the other hand, if you’re just getting started to learn about TOK exhibition, it is important that you keep the details of this guide mind so you don’t make any of these mistakes.

We even have a guide on how to score full marks for your TOK exhibitionBe sure to check that out to learn more about making a good exhibition great.

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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