Theory of Knowledge: The TOK Essay
The TOK Essay is a 1200-1600 word essay which must be sumbitted by each IB Diploma candidate for external assessment. The topics are prescribed each year by the IBO, and students must respond to the question exactly as stated by the IBO without modifying it in any way. You may find the prescribed topics for your year in the Misc. Resources section. Ten Tips on Writing a Good Theory of Knowledge Essay
1. Familiarise yourself with the Assessment Criteria : notice, for example, that
i. your examples should be varied and culturally diverse,
ii. you will lose marks if you do not properly cite any sources you use,
iii. you need a clear introduction and conclusion.
Do not get bogged down in definitions. While it is important to know what you are talking about, you could waste a whole essay in trying to, say, define 'truth'. Also, dictionary definitions are not always helpful - if a dictionary says that "reality is that which is real" then what does this tell you?
Make distinctions between different Areas of Knowledge and different Ways of Knowing. You should avoid making claims that apply to all aspects of knowledge - because different Areas of Knowledge or Ways of Knowing 'work' differently, and what is true for example maths is unlikely to be quite right for example biology.
Do not make grandiose but rather meaningless claims. The best (or worst) one I have seen was something like " Since the dawn of the universe, truth has haunted mankind ". The same sentiment (if I understand it correctly, which I may not), would be much better put as " Humans are a curious species, always seeking the truth " (which may still be an exaggeration).
In your introduction spend a few lines explaining the question , and clarifying how you are going to interpret it. You may want to offer a position that you know is wrong, and explain why it is wrong, perhaps developing it into a better one. For example, one essay title...