Tips for IBDP-TOK and a Sample Essay


International Baccalaureate (IB) is an educational system offering high-quality challenging academic programs for students aged 3- 19 years. Four exceptional programs are provided under this system that focuses on enhancing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, mainly concentrating on encouraging diversity, curiosity, international mindedness, and a healthy learning environment.

This board is different as

  • It is child-centric and encourages inquiry-based learning, stressing on ‘ask’ rather than ‘tell’ pedagogy
  • Apart from academics, it focusses on arts, music, business administration
  • Focusses on concept-based learning rather than textbook based learning
  • The curriculum is recognized worldwide

The four programs that are offered as categorized age wise:

  • Primary Year Program (PYP) – This program is devised for nurturing and developing children aged 3 -12 years and aims at having active participation of the children. This program not only focusses on the children as inquirers, but also on the world beyond.
  • Middle Years Program (MYP)This program is open for children aged 11-16 years, a five-year program with assessments at the end of the 5 years.
  • Diploma Program (DP)This program is for children aged 16-19 years and helps the children gain independence in research and undertake project with complete freedom and objective of community service.
  • Career Related Program (CP) – This program is for children aged 16-19 years and focuses on academic strength, providing practical knowledge, teaching real world approaches, and developing core skills and competencies necessary for lifelong learning.

Diploma Program (DP) – This program is anchored by its broad subject groups, in which the students select specific courses paved towards their personal interests or professional aspirations. This way, they feel in control of their own education, increasing their motivation to complete the coursework and succeed in a specific subject. The five subject groups are – Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies, Sciences, Mathematics, and the Arts.

Apart from these five subjects to be chosen one each from each of the subject group, the IBDP students need to mandatorily complete the three core elements of the course. The core elements aim at nurturing and fostering international mindedness with the final goal of developing responsible global citizens.

The three core elements of the IBDP are:

  • Theory of Knowledge (TOK) – In this element, the students reflect on the nature of knowledge and how we know what we claim to know
  • Extended Essay – This is an essay to be submitted over an extended period and an4000 worded independent, self-directed piece of research
  • Creativity, Activity, and Research – Students participate in a variety of activities in and outside of school


Structure of TOK

As an inquiry into the different ways of knowing, and the different kinds of knowledge, TOK is entirely composed of questions.

The most important one, “How do we know?”, while the other ones that automatically tag along are:

  • What is the evidence for X?
  • How do we justify the best model of Y?
  • What does theory Z mean in the real world?

Through discussions of these question and other questions as well, the students gain greater awareness of their personal and ideological assumptions and an appreciation of diversity and richness of cultural perspectives.


Step-to-Step Guide for a Great TOK Essay

Choosing the Prescribed the Title

You would want to look at all the prescribed titles and choose one of them. Sometimes the simple one may not be the best one and the complicated ones may be more interesting. The essay you write must more importantly answer the prescribed title. So, every paragraph you write must relate to the title question. Consider two to three titles before you freeze on the final one.


Select, Choose the Two AOK (Areas of Knowledge)

Now that you have selected your prescribed title, you need to choose the AOK which you explore. Some titles would require you to explore two AOKs, so you would need to choose two AOKs.


Writing the Essay

Paragraph 1

Say one or two interesting things about the prescribed title you have chosen. Define one or two key terms in the title and finally give a road map for the reader. This clarifies how you are exploring the essay question and what AOks are being used in the essay. This way, the reader will know what to expect in the essay.

Paragraph 2

Here you would explore your claim for AOK1. State your claim – a topic sentence that outlines your argument related to the prescribed title. Give supporting example for your claim. The example needs to be relevant, precise, strong, and real. Finally explain how the example supports your claim.

Paragraph 3

Argue against your claim above. And as mentioned above, you need to give supporting example for the counter claim and explain how the example justifies it.

Sum up, linking to the prescribed title and highlight the insights you have had about this chosen AOK and the prescribed title.

Paragraph 4

This is similar to the paragraph 2, but you work with the AOK2.

Paragraph 5

This is similar to the paragraph 3. You argue against the claim in the paragraph 4 and work with the AOK2.

Paragraph 6

This is the conclusion paragraph. Explain what insights you have made, related to the prescribed title and synthesize the insights you have made from the two chosen AOKs. Explain and clarify how it matters that we understand these insights. Finally, try to give a different perspective in your conclusion, perhaps a different way of approaching the question, which leads to different insights other than you have discussed. Or you could also mention a unresolved question or limitation that your research and exploration revealed.


An Example of a TOK Essay

The role of analogy is to aid understanding rather than to provide justification. To what extent so you agree with this statement?

The writer uses the first paragraph is explain the use of analogies to acquire knowledge – for understanding and for providing justification. And says that the essay is to explain the role using the two AOKs – Natural Sciences and Ethics.

The Second paragraph explores the Ethics AOK using the example of ‘determination rules and Descartes Evil Genius argument to support the claim that Analogy is used for justification in Ethics.

The Third paragraph explores the Natural Sciences AOK. Since there is no empirical data in Natural Sciences, analogies operate to communicate abstract theories through comparison through more relatable scenarios. The write uses an example of a Standard model in physics and supports the claim that the analogies are there to aid understanding rather than justification. He then moves on to give examples to show necessity for empirical evidence for an analogy to become justification.

In conclusion he arrives at the claim that the Analogy is versatile in all Areas of Knowledge in its ability to aid understanding and provide justification depending on how it is used. He also mentions a limitation in analogy statements in the Ethics AOK – how deductive analogies are impossible due to complexities, and how inductive analogies are possible given a set of certain criteria, although the conclusion may be less reliable.


Manya – The Princeton Review Advantage

Manya – The Princeton Review offers end-to-end study abroad services encompassing admissions consulting services, test preparation, English language training, career assessment, and international internship opportunities to study abroad aspirants. Founded in 2002, Manya holds an impeccable track record of enabling more than 4 lac students to accomplish their study abroad dreams through its network of 47+ centers across India.

Manya has formed long-lasting global alliances with several market leaders in the education industry in order to maximize the benefits of its large service portfolio. Their list of esteemed partners and affiliations includes – The Princeton Review (TPR), Cambridge University Press (CUP), Cogito Hub, British Council, Tuding to name a few. Manya has also forged 600+ partnerships with international universities across top study abroad destinations.

Sharing is caring:
Book your Free Counselling Session now!


What is the purpose of IBDP – TOK?

The purpose of IBDP – TOK is to encourage students to reflect on the nature of knowledge and how it is acquired, and to consider the extent to which knowledge can be trusted and verified.

What are some tips for succeeding in IBDP – TOK?

Tips for succeeding in IBDP – TOK include reading course materials carefully, developing critical thinking skills, practicing writing clear and concise essays, using examples to illustrate points, and staying up-to-date with current events and developments.

What is a common mistakes to avoid when writing an IBDP – TOK essay?

A common mistake to avoid when writing an IBDP – TOK essay is failing to consider alternative perspectives or counterarguments.

How can I improve my critical thinking skills for IBDP – TOK?

You can improve your critical thinking skills for IBDP-TOK by questioning assumptions, evaluating evidence and arguments, and considering different perspectives and viewpoints.

What is a knowledge question in IBDP – TOK?

A knowledge question in IBDP – TOK explores the nature of knowledge and how it is acquired and requires critical thinking and analysis to answer.

Just One Step Away!
Our Experts require more information to assist you in a better way.

Your privacy is important to us

Admissions Consulting Packages

IGCSE & IB Side Banner