Tok Essay Criteria

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As the name suggests, your Theory of Knowledge (TOK) essay should focus on knowledge issues (what is knowledge?

Theory of knowledge (TOK) is a required core subject in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.

This article was co-authored by Stephanie Wong Ken.

Stephanie Wong Ken holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Portland State University.

If you do use quotes or other people’s ideas, then you must give a proper bibliography, of course (as a matter of fact, points will be taken off otherwise). It lays the foundation of the essay and guides the reader.

If the intro is not clear, then the reader may have problems following your thoughts. For students who have no idea on how to start the introduction, I would recommend to do the following (this is not written in the assessment criteria, it is a personal advice, read the disclaimer at the top of the page! Should I define important terms in the introduction? What you need is a structured approach in analyzing the prescribed titles.

TOK examiners may have a different opinion on these issues. You get points for analysis and for understanding of these ideas. The introduction is one of the most important paragraphs of the essay.

Still, do not forget that the TOK essay is a formal essay. The TOK Essay is not a research essay, it is an argumentative essay.

It receives a letter grade like the Extended Essay, and combines with the latter to contribute numerically (maximum 3 marks) to the awarding of the full IB Diploma.

Although it may share similarities with epistemology and other theory of knowledge courses offered by many universities, it is definitely not a course in philosophy.


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