5 Top Tips to Ace your IB Theory of Knowledge Essay

Jun 26, 2018 by

Theory of Knowledge (ToK) is one of the main components of acquiring an IB diploma. As IB students with 10 years of formal education, you are expected to reflect on everything you have learnt so far, re-evaluate the sources of knowledge and challenge them. The aim of IB ToK is to encourage students to think critically and be better evaluators by the end of it.

IB ToK requires students to give an oral presentation, marked internally and a 1200 – 1600-word essay which is marked externally. An IB ToK essay is a detailed description of a specific area of knowledge covering mathematics, natural sciences, human sciences, history, ethics, the arts, religious knowledge systems and indigenous knowledge systems.

Students are required to analyze these areas of knowledge using methods referred to as ways of knowing which include language, sense, emotion, reason, imagination, faith, intuition and memory.

Yes, drafting a compelling essay can be quite a challenging task. Hence, we bring you 5 effective tips to help you ace your IB ToK essay –

Pick a Title Carefully

You will be asked to select a title of your choice from the list of ToK essay titles prescribed by IB. This is the first and most important step because the title will eventually define the outcome of your essay.

Make sure you go over each and every title and give it a good thought before narrowing down on one. While going over the titles, think about how well you know the concepts mentioned in the title and shortlist the ones you think you can generate the most powerful content on. Don’t rush into topics that just sound ‘interesting’ to you but ensure you make an informed decision instead.

Structure it Well

Once you have selected a topic, spend time giving your essay a structure before you start drafting it. Begin with generating knowledge questions from the title. What are knowledge questions you ask? These are the general, open-ended questions that arise when you dive deeper into the concept and probe further.

Your essay will be based on these knowledge questions and needs to be broken down into the introduction, body and conclusion.

While the introduction will be about outlining the topic and stating what you will touch upon, the body needs to clearly talk about the argument and counter argument (with evidences) you pose on the given topic. Finally, the conclusion needs to sum up your main ideas and leave the readers with your final, original view point. Establishing an outline in the beginning will help you draft the essay with greater ease going forward.

Use Examples

Essays without examples are nothing but abstract pieces of work. Using real-life, insightful examples strengthens your argument and adds immense value to your essay. They help in justifying your points and delivering your point of view more effectively. However, avoid using hypothetical and obvious examples. The best ones are those inspired by real-life situations.

Cite References

Another important aspect of drafting an IB ToK essay is citing references, properly. Referencing is nothing but acknowledging the original sources you have included in your essay. For instance, if you are including facts, figures and quotes – it is important to give credit to the original source of that piece of information.

This makes it easier for your examiner to verify and validate your arguments. Proper referencing adds weight to your essay and also reflects on your attention to detail.


So, you are finally done with your essay but do not hit send as yet. It is important to proofread your essay once or twice to ensure you have included all the points, not deviated from the topic and most importantly, not made any grammatical mistakes in the essay because nothing puts examiners off the way incorrect grammar and improper sentence formation does.

It will also be a good idea to get your teacher’s opinion on the essay before submitting it. Getting a second person’s point of view is always helpful to give you a fresh perspective you might have missed reading into.

Adela Belin is a private educator and a writer at Writers Per Hour. She shares her teaching experience with colleagues, students, and writers. Feel free to contact Adela on G+.

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