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10 Great Essay Writing Tips

writing a good tok essay

Knowing how to write a college essay is a useful skill for anyone who plans to go to college. Most colleges and universities ask you to submit a writing sample with your application. As a student, you’ll also write essays in your courses. Impress your professors with your knowledge and skill by using these great essay writing tips.

Prepare to Answer the Question

Most college essays ask you to answer a question or synthesize information you learned in class. Review notes you have from lectures, read the recommended texts and make sure you understand the topic. You should refer to these sources in your essay.

writing a good tok essay

Plan Your Essay

Many students see planning as a waste of time, but it actually saves you time. Take a few minutes to think about the topic and what you want to say about it. You can write an outline, draw a chart or use a graphic organizer to arrange your ideas. This gives you a chance to spot problems in your ideas before you spend time writing out the paragraphs.

Choose a Writing Method That Feels Comfortable

You might have to type your essay before turning it in, but that doesn’t mean you have to write it that way. Some people find it easy to write out their ideas by hand. Others prefer typing in a word processor where they can erase and rewrite as needed. Find the one that works best for you and stick with it.

writing a good tok essay

View It as a Conversation

Writing is a form of communication, so think of your essay as a conversation between you and the reader. Think about your response to the source material and the topic. Decide what you want to tell the reader about the topic. Then, stay focused on your response as you write.

writing a good tok essay

Provide the Context in the Introduction

If you look at an example of an essay introduction, you’ll see that the best essays give the reader a context. Think of how you introduce two people to each other. You share the details you think they will find most interesting. Do this in your essay by stating what it’s about and then telling readers what the issue is.

writing a good tok essay

Explain What Needs to be Explained

Sometimes you have to explain concepts or define words to help the reader understand your viewpoint. You also have to explain the reasoning behind your ideas. For example, it’s not enough to write that your greatest achievement is running an ultra marathon. You might need to define ultra marathon and explain why finishing the race is such an accomplishment.

writing a good tok essay

Answer All the Questions

After you finish writing the first draft of your essay, make sure you’ve answered all the questions you were supposed to answer. For example, essays in compare and contrast format should show the similarities and differences between ideas, objects or events. If you’re writing about a significant achievement, describe what you did and how it affected you.

writing a good tok essay

Stay Focused as You Write

Writing requires concentration. Find a place where you have few distractions and give yourself time to write without interruptions. Don’t wait until the night before the essay is due to start working on it.

writing a good tok essay

Read the Essay Aloud to Proofread

When you finish writing your essay, read it aloud. You can do this by yourself or ask someone to listen to you read it. You’ll notice places where the ideas don’t make sense, and your listener can give you feedback about your ideas.

writing a good tok essay

Avoid Filling the Page with Words

A great essay does more than follow an essay layout. It has something to say. Sometimes students panic and write everything they know about a topic or summarize everything in the source material. Your job as a writer is to show why this information is important.


writing a good tok essay

help for assessment

How to Write a TOK Essay in One Night (A Step-By-Step Guide)

antony w

by  Antony W

September 22, 2022

how to write a tok essay

We wrote this guide to help you learn how to write a good TOK essay even if it’s going to be your first time. In fact, with the help of the information shared in this post, you can write a great theory of knowledge essay in just one night, and without trying so hard. It’s important to understand that a TOK essay will require you to compare and contrast the different ways of knowing through reason, language, and perception with different areas of knowledge. This essay normally covers eight areas of knowledge, which you should already be familiar with by now. 

How to Write a TOK Essay

There are two ways to write a TOK essay in one night: 

You can get help from Help for Assessment . 

Help for Assessment are experts in IB TOK Essay and can help you score a minimum of 7. 

Or, you can read this complete, step-by-step guide to learn how to write a Theory of Knowledge essay yourself. 

1. Understand the Prescribed Titles

prescribed title tok

The title demands of you and you should try as much as possible to comprehend the command terms and the theory of knowledge questions being asked . What type of knowledge is being asked?

Does it demand shared or personal knowledge?

These essays are comparative in nature. Therefore, when selecting your   AOK and ways of knowing , it’s important that you can comfortably draw the comparisons and contrasts.

Note whether the prescribed title asks you to tackle two disciplines or areas of knowledge.

Except for History and Math, you need to be extremely clear about the discipline of AOK you have chosen. As for the title, take some time to unpack it. This means defining the keywords, understanding what the title asks, and then coming up with a response. 

2. Choose Your Title Carefully

The topic you choose should contain an AOK that you are familiar with or one you have a lot of interest in to say the least.

But you shouldn’t just grab a topic because it appears simple or appealing. Instead, you need to read each title on the list carefully and ask yourself many questions:

Read the title carefully and note any concepts or words you aren’t sure about. 3. Rewrite the Title in Your Own Words

Theory of knowledge titles will seem complex when you read them for the first time. You will even struggle to understand the terms and concepts in the title.

You may even be unsure of what you need to compare and contrast in the title. But you can Y rephrase the title and then break it down into even two sentences to make it clearer.

Breaking it down into shorter sentences enables you to have a clearer picture of what is being asked in the title as well as how you may proceed about how to answer the title sufficiently.

4. Understand the Grading Criteria

The IB assesses your essay on four criteria that each carries equal weight. It’s recommended to have a copy of these grading criteria and stick to them while writing your essay. The four areas of assessment are as follows:

5. Read the Essay’s Instructions Carefully 

Take note of the keywords contained in the essay instructions. The question might ask you to “evaluate” or “assess” a claim. This simply means that you need to consider for the title and against it.

You will also need to factor in any grey areas or ambiguities linked to the title.

Here are two examples worth looking at:

6. Brainstorming Ideas around the Title of the Essay

Don’t just dive straight into creating your outline. Rather, take a few minutes to brainstorm.

By its very nature, the TOK essay is reflective. This means that you need to show demonstrable proof that you have carefully thought about the title and are sufficiently prepared to analyze and reflect on the title.

To start, do a general brainstorming. Note down all you can think about when you see the title.

After around 5 minutes of brainstorming, go over the notes you wrote down. Pick the ideas that are related to each other or those that contradict each other.

If you are assessing or evaluating a claim in the title, have two columns, one for and the other against that title. Put the ideas into either of the columns. Create another third column where you will write ambiguities or grey areas, and then put ideas into that column.

Identify any examples of the ideas you jotted down.

7. Identify the Knowledge Issue in the Essay Title 

This might be a question or even an issue about how you understand yourself and the world in relation to the quest for knowledge.

A knowledge issue in the title of an essay often relates to one or two of the eight AOK and tends to examine the possible conflicts or problems in these AOKs or between them.

8. Create Your TOK Essay Outline 

From your brainstorming and the AOK you chose, you should be able to create an outline. The outline is your roadmap and contains the structure of your essay. An outline might contain 5 paragraphs, which are more often than not as follows:

To conclude, answer the title completely while taking into account all the limitations and counter-arguments against the areas of knowledge.

9. Craft a Thesis Statement

Go over the essay title once more, and also your essay outline and brainstorming notes before creating your thesis statement.

Remember, the thesis statement is the main claim you want to make in the essay. It should link everything in the essay.

You can write your thesis statement after you are done writing the first draft. At this time, you probably have a better idea of the key arguments in the essay, which enables you to write a clear and concise thesis statement.

10. Write Your Essay

Your essay outline will be key to your writing as you can use it as a guide. Just expand each part of your outline, while noting that the word limit will have to be anywhere between 1200-1600 words.

Refer to your brainstorming notes to find the supporting examples for the two areas of knowledge that you chose. Also, your main arguments and counter-arguments are in your brainstorming notes.

If you don’t the time to write your TOK essay first, we at Help for Assessment can help you conceptualize the project and get it done within the shortest time possible. Click here to order a TOK essay , and we’ll write it for you within 24 hours. 

11. Don’t Use Dictionary Definitions in the Essay

You should demonstrate to the TOK assessment committee that yours is a reflective essay, not one filled with textbook definitions.

Avoid relying too much on textbook definitions to support a counter-argument or prove your argument. This way, you will demonstrate to the assessment committee that you didn’t engage with the topic and circumvented the topic’s complexities in favor of dictionary definitions.

12. Cite Your Sources

When writing a TOK essay, you will need to cite all your sources using the MLA style citations.

This is a no-brainer and therefore should be as straightforward as you can possibly imagine. 

13. Read Your Essay Out Loud

Knowing how to write a perfect essay is one thing. But you can’t be confident that your work is up to the standard unless you read it from the beginning, again. And sometimes you may have to read it even aloud. 

Reading your essay out aloud enables you to gauge how clear and precise your language is. It also helps you to confirm that your arguments have been properly supported and structured accordingly.

Your writing needs to have a natural rhyme to it and a flow from one part to the next.

14. Proofread Your Work

You don’t want to undo your effort by handing in work that’s full of silly grammatical or spelling mistakes. It’s advisable to take a break before proofreading. This gives you a fresh mind and eyes to go over it.

If possible, get someone to read it for you to make sure there are no obvious mistakes.

The TOK is often assessed through a 1200-1600-word essay and an oral presentation . The essay asks you to reflect on the nature of knowledge, as well as how you know what you claim to know. It is usually a part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma and is compulsory for all students.

Every TOK essay is different. To pass your essay, you will need to prepare thoroughly. Treat it as you would any type of research and take some time to create an outline and write your thesis statement. After writing, make sure you cite your work properly and proofread it.

Not sure whether to order from Help for Assessment? Check out our samples. 

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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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In short, I can’t recommend this article enough. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in topic above. Good work to the writer, you have truly outsmart yourself! Keep the good content coming.

IB TOK Essay Guide (Updated 2021)

Learn how to write an impeccable TOK essay by understanding the fundamental concepts of the subject.

writing a good tok essay

How to write a TOK Essay? Well to answer that you must familiarise yourself with what a TOK Essay is really about.

Here are the things you will learn after reading this article:

(Feel free to skip to the topic of your interest by clicking on the hyperlink ;))

Purpose of TOK 

Assessment of tok, the gameplan, execution of the gameplan, planning for tok essay, sample tok questions, structure of tok essay.


Before you start reading this article, Amanda has some awesome TOK tips for you!

Theory of Knowledge is one of the most meta subjects that IB offers. Despite its complexity, TOK helps in providing a base for holistic learning and allows students to have a multidisciplinary experience. 

To understand TOK is to understand the essence of IB; a task which most people consider to be unattainable.

But not for you! Thank your lucky stars which made you land on NailIB. How exactly will NailIB help you, well, to nail International Baccalaureate is something that we will talk about later. For now, let us focus on cracking your TOK essay, shall we?

TOK demonstrates the ways in which students can apply their knowledge with greater awareness and credibility .

Big words, huh? 

Now that we know that Theory of Knowledge is something we cannot just slide through, let’s understand how can we conquer this battle all guns blazing.

1. Purpose of TOK

TOK essay’s primary objective is to answer the why behind our studies. It makes one aware of the real-life implications of their subjects. The students gain greater awareness of their personal and ideological assumptions and appreciate the diversity of different perspectives. All in all, it helps the students find their unique perception which is a prerequisite for excelling in IB TOK essay.

2. Assessment of TOK

Before we dive into our gameplan, let’s overview the rules of the game.

There are two assessment tasks in the TOK: an essay and a presentation . While a presentation encourages students to explore a real-life situation through the lens of TOK, an essay is written on the basis of the various questions provided by the International Baccalaureate Organisation.

Now that we have unleashed the game, let’s move ahead towards the gameplan of acing both, your presentation and your essay.

3. The GamePlan

One of the fundamental tasks of TOK is to examine different areas of knowledge and find out their similarities and differences.

The TOK essay requires the students to investigate two Areas of Knowledge (AOK)  and two Ways of Knowing   (WOK) . AOKs and WOKs are investigated via questions such as:

1) How do we know what we know? (WOK)

2)  What counts as evidence for X? (AOK)

3) How do we judge which is the best model of Y? (WOK)

4) What does theory Z mean in the real world? (AOK + WOK)

The aforementioned are  Knowledge Questions  which help combine the Areas of Knowledge and the Ways of Knowing that they are using. This eliminates the superficial way of learning and makes an individual sensitive to the nature of the information.   Our acquisition of Knowledge can be broadly divided into Shared Knowledge and Personal Knowledge.

Shared knowledge: What WE know It is the product of more than one individual. Although individuals contribute to it, shared knowledge does not solely depend upon the contributions of a particular individual—there are possibilities for others to check and amend individual contributions and add to the body of knowledge that already exists.

Personal knowledge: What I know It is essentially dependent on the experiences of a particular individual. Also known as procedural knowledge, it is gained through experience, practice and personal involvement and is intimately bound up with the particular local circumstances of the individual such as biography, interests, values, and so on.

4. Execution of the Gameplan

The best hack to ace TOK essay is to develop a habit of m aking connections between the construction of knowledge, its acquisition and its relevance in the real world. 

After that one needs to develop an interest in understanding the difference between diversity and cultural perspectives and personal assumptions.

One also needs to critically reflect on their own beliefs and assumptions, leading to more thoughtful, responsible and purposeful lives.

Yes, this is what you signed up for. It may sound a little intimidating but once you get the hang of it you will be able to see the matrix and understand this beautiful world a little better. 

5. Planning For TOK Essay

Understand that to provide the best version of your writing, it will take you more than one or two drafts. First and foremost, you need to pick your essay topic diligently. Try to choose an essay topic that best interests you. The topic should also allow you to explore the Areas of Knowledge towards which you are naturally inclined. Here are a few sample questions:

a) 'Ways of knowing are a check on our instinctive judgments.' To what extend do you agree with this statement?

b) With reference to two areas of knowledge discuss the way in which shared knowledge can shape their personal knowledge.

c) How can we know if knowledge is produced more through 'Passive Observation' or 'Active-Experiment' within the Human and Natural-sciences under a Mathematical-Perspective?

d) "The whole point of knowledge is to produce both meaning and purpose in our personal lives". Assess the validity of this statement.

Great things take time. It took me more than a couple of weeks to finalize this TOK essay guide. It is completely okay if the first few drafts may not look pleasing or award-winning to you. You will require sharpening your perspective towards the topic each time you polish your draft. Your writing journey from a dull draft to a masterpiece will be a whole process that you will have to be patient with. Have faith in yourself and proceed stepwise.

You need to consider the opinions of others who have devoted hours of research and a lifetime of dedicated studying the topic that surrounds your writing. Unravelling the realms of your mind palace is so Sherlock but let’s not deny the fact that at times, Watson is the one whose expertise helps Sherlock through pretty difficult times. I mean even Batman needs a Robin. In support of my awesome sauce examples, the point I am trying to make is that finding support for our claims and counterclaims through research is a good thing .

Use real-life examples to support your claims and counterclaims. These examples need to be documented researched examples like studies, experiments, articles, presentations by well-known people, etc. Examples that stem from your diploma subjects are highly encouraged, but those will need to be supported by research as well.   

It is suggested that you choose a title, stick to it, tackle it and not be afraid. Do not change your mind unless there is a good reason. Also, try choosing Areas of knowledge that you truly enjoy. You know slaying a known devil is much easier than an unknown one.  Allot a TIMELINE to your essay. Start with creating an outline of your essay. This will help you to track your progress and accomplish your goals

You can use tools like Trello  to organize your ideas and plan your TOK essay.

Areas of Knowledge (AOKs): TOK distinguishes between eight areas of knowledge. They are mathematics, the natural sciences, the human sciences, the arts, history, ethics, religious knowledge systems, and indigenous knowledge systems. It is suggested that students study and explore six of these eight.

Ways of knowing (WOKs): TOK identifies eight specific WOKs- language, sense perception, emotion, reason, imagination, faith, intuition, and memory. It is suggested that studying four of these eight in-depth would be appropriate. WOKs underlie the methodology of the areas of knowledge and provide a basis for personal knowledge.

6. Structure of TOK essay

Moving ahead, let us discuss the structure of your TOK essay.

Your essay will consist of 4 broad segregations:

Before breaking down further on the pillars, keep the following in mind:


Introduce your topic accurately and state your thesis statement for the essay carefully.  A thesis statement is like a teaser to your entire essay wherein you define your key terms and introduce your interpretation of the question. Make sure that you do not reword the prescribed title in your thesis. Instead, it needs to, as the word says, INTRODUCE your readers to what your essay is about. A strong introduction allows the reader to deduce what knowledge question(s) you are trying to answer.

So, in a nutshell:

The body can be mainly divided into 3 segments. 

Body (1st Segment):

Body (2): Follow the above process for your second AOK.


Your conclusion section will make your essay come together. It is the glue that will make your essay stick together. Herein, you need to


We recommend all the ib students use the  citation machine  (It's FREE) to organize or generate a bibliography for your TOK essay. Please go through this extensive guide provided by the IB before you start working on your citations.

If you are still struggling heaps with your TOK essay feel free to subscribe to our tok notes bundles or get access to more than 500+ IBDP notes and past papers here .

Nail IB is your virtual companion that helps you hustle through your diploma and provide you with the right resources at the right time. To know more about acing IB, click  here .

I hope this article will become the foundation for figuring out how to write a TOK Essay. 

Remember to have faith in yourself.

I hope you NAIL your TOK essay!

Quoting the great Napolean Hill "Whatever the mind of a man can conceive and believe, it can achieve."



This FREE guide reveals the most powerful information for boosting your extended essay score and opening the floodgates to that sweet 45! Get for free what others have paid $100’s in tuition classes to learn/preach!

How To Write a ToK Essay IBDP – Step-By-Step Guide

Let’s learn how to write a ToK Essay with Tutopiya. The IB ToK Essay contributes to the overall score of a student’s IB Diploma. The award of points for the IB ToK Essay is in conjunction with the extended essay. A maximum of three points is awarded according to a student’s combined performance in both the TOK and Extended Essay. 

Tutopiya will help and guide our IB Diploma students on the following:

Choosing Your Essay Title 

Before you can dive into structuring or writing your essay, you will need to spend time to decide on a topic you wish to write on. For the IB ToK Essay, you are required to compare and contrast different ways of knowing through perception, language, reason, emotion with different areas of knowledge (AOK). 

1 – Selecting your prescribed title and knowledge question

Before you hastily decide on a title you wish to write, take some time to read each title carefully on the list and brainstorm ideas. 

Tip #1: Brainstorming

Get some initial ideas you have of each and every title/ question down on paper. Ask yourself some simple questions when brainstorming for each title. 

Am I confident to write an essay about this? Is the question asking what I am thinking? Do I understand the keywords or concepts in the title?

You may not be clear on what the title is asking you to do. Go through the title and highlight any keywords and concepts you are unsure about or may have missed out. 

Do you have a strong interest in the title? We recommend that you should at least be interested since you will be spending time and effort on researching this topic, pick something you are willing to research more about!

Can you relate anything to the title? Though the IB Tok Essay should be as objective as possible, you can always inject the essay with personality and character.

You can always do so by adding in ideas or topics you have learned or studied in class or even personal experiences. 

Tip #2: Understanding the question in your own words

The titles of these essay questions can sometimes be long and difficult to grasp when you first read them so before you write the IB ToK Essay, consider paraphrasing the question in your own words.

You may struggle to understand the keywords and concepts in the title, you may even be unsure about the perspective, comparison and contrast of the title. 

To help our IB students, we recommend breaking down the question/ title by first, understanding the keywords in the title. Then, put the title together and understand what they are asking. 

This way, you will be able to understand the title more in-depth than before and able to answer the title sufficiently. 

Structuring your Essay

1 – knowing the assessment criteria .

Overall Assessment 

2 – Theory of Knowledge Essay 

The rubrics require students to be able to understand the knowledge questions and their quality of analysis of knowledge questions. View the TOK Essay Mark Scheme here .

You will have to choose two Areas of Knowledge (AOK) to explore.

There are 8 different Areas of Knowledge are as follows:

You can also use Ways of Knowledge (WOK) in your essay and the are as follows:

Analysis of a Sample Essay 

Question: “Doubt is the key to knowledge (Persian Proverb). To what extent is this true in two areas of knowledge?

Important Keywords in the Title 

“To what extent” 

When keywords like this appear, note that you need to present 2 different perspectives to the question, a for and against argument in your essay. 

Paragraph 1: Introduction 

You would provide an explanation and interpretation of the title and identify the key terms in the title. You would also need to state your thesis and explain or identify the areas of knowledge you will be exploring in your essay.

1 – Start the essay by saying something relatable or interesting

By doing that, you can capture the reader’s attention and make them want to read more by evoking a sense of curiosity to find out more about your essay. 

2 – Your Thesis/ Stand

You can also state your thesis (that is different from mainstream ideas – to capture the reader’s attention). You can make the decision to be a for or against stand in your essay. If you decided 

In your own words , give an interpretation of the title and show that you are able to identify the key terms of the question.

“The problem with doubt as the key to knowledge is that doubt isn’t a way of knowing. Doubt is an emotion we feel that motivates us to seek knowledge.” 

3 – Outline of the paragraph

Give the readers an idea of what you will be going through in your body paragraphs , a sentence that gives the readers a preview. Let the readers know which AOKs you will be exploring, making it easier for the examiner to know what to look for. 

“However this motivation can manifest itself differently in contrasting areas of knowledge like Mathematics and Religion.” 

Your introduction should not be too long, use around 150 to 200 words for your first paragraph would be sufficient. 

Paragraph 2: First Area of Knowledge. 

1 – begin your paragraph with a claim or topic sentence.

This helps you to outline your argument about the title. 

“Mathematics is an area of knowledge that is only concerned with reason.” 

2 – Explain and Elaborate

Now, give explain and elaborate on your topic sentence/ claim. 

“In a right-angled triangle a²+b²=c² and that’s it. There are no alternative answers or personal interpretations. An answer to a mathematical problem is either right or wrong. This is because the main way of knowing in math is reason and evidence is required for a mathematical statement to be true or false.” 

3 – Give an example with an explanation

This helps you to further elaborate and explore your topic sentence or claim.

The example you give should be personal, specific, precise and real.

This way you can make your claim believable and relatable in some sense. This also helps to evoke a sense of authenticity in your essay. 

“When we first learned about negative numbers in math class it made no sense to me. How could a bigger number have a lower value than a smaller one? It was illogical and it contradicted all the math I had learned before that day….. Either the previous mathematical information was wrong or the new information about negative numbers were wrong. But he explained the concept of a number line with a central point 0 and that they were both right.”

4 – Linking back

Remember to link back to your claim and the question after you are done exploring this example. 

“My doubt led to understanding and was the key to my knowledge.”

Paragraph 3: Counter

1 – state your counterclaim.

This paragraph would focus on counterclaim . You are supposed to discuss 2 different perspectives to your claim, a for and against. You are to argue against your claim above this paragraph.

“On the other hand, doubt in mathematics can be detrimental to education.”

2 – Give an Example and Explanation

Add in an example and explanation to support your counterclaim. 

“For example, after I do a question from the International Baccalaureate mathematics textbook I always look at the back in order to check if my answers are correct because it has answers in the back. If I do not have the book and I am in class then I ask my mathematics teacher for the correct answer. I do this when I am uncertain of my answer to a question and my doubt allows me to gain knowledge i.e. whether my answer is wrong or right. My doubt also helps me to assess how much of the mathematical concept I have understood by marking myself. However, this can be detrimental to progress because I started to become dependent on the answers at the back of the book or my mathematics teacher. Every time I do a question I feel like I have to verify my answer with an authoritative source which I have now come to understand leaves no room for exploration or the development of my own methods.”

3 – Linking back

Link back to your prescribed title and your claim of this paragraph. 

“My doubt caused a loss of confidence in my mathematical abilities and dependence on authoritative sources.”

Now, follow this format and carry on writing for the next two body paragraphs, exploring on another Area of Knowledge, in this case, this student will have to write one more AOK on Religion and a counterclaim for it. 

Aim to write a maximum of 600 words for each Area of Knowledge (Paragraph 2 and 3, Paragraph 4 and 5). 

Paragraph 4: Second Area of Knowledge

Paragraph 5: Counterclaim 

Finally, write your ToK Essay conclusion in one paragraph totalling 200 to 250 words .

Paragraph 6: Your conclusion

Explain the different insights you have gained or have come out of this essay. 

“As illustrated by the example of dependence on authoritative sources in mathematics doubt can be detrimental and cause a loss of confidence. Similarly, doubting conjectures has also proven to be unfruitful. However, within mathematics individual doubt can lead to the acquisition of knowledge.” 

Implications and significance

Tell the readers why it is important to know that and how does it matter that they understand this when you write your IB ToK Essay.

Perspectives and Extension

If you can, try to input a very different perspective on your conclusion. Perhaps recognizing a different way of approaching the question, which could have resulted in different insights. 

You can mention the limitations of your essay saying there are one or two unresolved questions that this essay has revealed. It’s about showing the readers that the conversation is not over yet. And that, there is more to the question and more rooms that you can explore. 

“Furthermore, in areas like religion where we do not yet have the tools to prove it one way or the other simply doubting something by itself is a step towards acquiring knowledge because by suggesting that certain view is not absolute it makes room for new knowledge.”

A Quick Tip for writing a ToK Essay

Tip: try not to use dictionary definitions in your essay.

You want to show the examiners that you are writing a reflective essay, not a textbook definition heavy essay. Don’t rely too much on dictionary definitions to prove your argument or support a counterclaim. This will demonstrate that you did not engage with the topic and bypassed complexities around the topic. 

Instead of using standard answers or cliche examples, you can try to use your own personal experiences to make it original and insightful for your readers. Though the essay should be objective, your essay should still have a personality and character. 

Try Getting Expert’s Help

Tutopiya is a 1-1 Live Online Tutoring for all students aged 8 to 18 years old. Tutopiya offers the IB Diploma Program curriculum to all students, visit our IB curriculum page to find out more about the subjects we teach here. We also have a blog full of useful IB resources for our students, why not read another sample essay for IB TOK ?

Interested to try our online learning with our expert IB tutors? We provide FREE 60 minutes trial lesson to all new students. You can sign up or simply fill up a trial form application here to begin learning with Tutopiya! Come learn how to write a ToK essay with Tutopiya today!

I am currently a full-time student studying at a local university in Singapore while freelancing as a writer. I enjoy writing and sharing useful education-related tips with my fellow studying peers. During my leisure time, I enjoy doing creative arts and volunteering work. I am passionate about sharing my experience as a student! ☺

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Writing a TOK essay

TOK Home > TOK essay guidance > Writing a TOK essay

Writing your TOK essay

After you’ve understood the essay rubric , followed our advice about choosing a title , and are aware of the importance of the interactions , you’re ready to start writing your essay.

Check out our short video explainer for the TOK essay; you can find more explainers about other aspects of the course in our TOK explainer playlist .

TOK essay pages

Learn about how the essay is marked, and the skills you are expected to demonstrate in order to succeed.

Find out how to evaluate the six prescribed essay titles, and decide on which one will work best for you.

Learn about the three interactions with your TOK teacher, and what you should be discussing in each one.

Gain a few tips on how to structure your TOK essay, how to articulate your ideas, and ways to justify your claims.

Find out about how to fill in the essay PPF, and why this is an important indication of your engagement with TOK.

Tips for writing your essay

Get started.

The most important part of writing your essay is getting started. You can procrastinate for ages, thinking about whether you’ve chosen the right title, which areas of knowledge to explore the question in, key thinker and ides to draw on, and so on. Obviously you need to choose the right title, and have an effective plan, but this means nothing until you have put your thoughts down on paper. You will find that many of your uncertainties start to resolve themselves when you start writing.

The introduction is all important

Your introduction should begin with a ‘hook’ to engage the reader, offer your interpretation of the key words or ideas from the title (don’t just copy a definition out of a dictionary – give your take on what the title means), outline the scope of the essay. Get your introduction right, and you will have set up the foundations for a great essay. If you rush it, or not view it with the importance it really requires, you’ll struggle to develop clear ideas in the main body of the essay.

Follow a clear essay plan

By two, you should have formulated a clear essay plan. This means knowing which  AOKs  you are using as the context of the essay, the arguments and counterarguments you’ll be presenting, the real-life examples you’ll be drawing on to justify discussion points, how you’ll indicate the implications of your arguments, and the way in which you’ll challenge assumptions in the question. Agree with your teacher on this plan, and let them know if you are deviating significantly from it.

Justify each point you make

Each of the discussion points you make should be supported by a real-life example. These can come from your own experiences as a knower (inside, and outside of the school), or from events, issues, and topics you’ve read about or encountered from the news and other media sources.

Don’t jump straight into your examples

A common mistake made by students is to move straight onto real-life examples without offering a proper discussion about knowledge questions related to the title. Discuss your own take on the question, perhaps referring to a key thinker or theory, before relating this all to a real-life situation.

Consider counterarguments

You need to offer a consideration of different points of view, and the way to do this is via counterarguments. For each of your claims or arguments, you should offer a counterclaim or counterargument, weighing up how the issue could be considered from another point of view. Make sure you evaluate these counterarguments, and don’t just mention them.

Find your own voice

Make sure that you offer your own opinions, give your own interpretation of the title, and offer your own experiences to support your arguments. This will demonstrate your skills as a critical thinker, and distinguish your essay from those that rely on generic and cliched discussions.

Make full use of the interactions

In order to develop your ideas, and ensure that you’re on the right track with your essay, make sure you make full use of the with your teacher. It’s during these one-to-one sessions that you can discuss your arguments, evaluate your examples, and consider which key thinkers and concepts work in your essay.

Don’t neglect the non-assessed elements

 Make sure that you format your essay in the right way, offer a decent bibliography, hit the word limit (without going over it), and follow all the other protocols for submitting your TOK essay. This will present a great impression to examiners, and show that you are ready and willing to follow the IB requirements for the assessment task.

More support for the TOK essay

Make sure that your TOK teacher has given you access to all the documents and online material that support the essay. These include the TOK Subject Guide, the TOK essay rubric, and exemplar TOK essays (found in ‘MyIB’, which is accessible to teachers).   Make sure you go through our other pages on writing the TOK essay. You’ll find help on understanding what the is looking for, that works for you, what each of the should focus on, how to an effective TOK essay, and how to fill in your .   If your school is a  member  of, we have designed a series of lessons on the essay, with two formative assessment tasks. These will familiarize you with the essay rubric, knowledge questions, real-life situations, how to deal with perspectives and implications, and structuring an essay. If you are signed into the site, you can access these lessons  here .   You can also find out our thoughts on the TOK essay (and the TOK exhibition) in several webinars that we have delivered. The main one is the TOK Assessment 2022 webinar, but we also consider this form of assessment in our free webinars on the 2022 course. You can see these webinars on  this page  of the site.

writing a good tok essay

Using the exploration points

The EPs enable you to develop a deeper understanding of the AOKs, via media sources and unpacking suggestions, links to TED talks, guidance on the 12 key concepts of TOK, and other features.  Join us  to gain access to this incredibly useful tool for supporting your essay arguments.

FAQs about the TOK essay

Can i meet my teacher outside the three interactions.

You shouldn’t expect to meet you teacher for long discussions, but you can ask specific questions about aspects of your essay. You can check the suitability of examples, the validity of points you’re trying to make, and the key thinkers and ideas you’re using to explore ideas.

Where do I record what we discussed in the three interactions?

Write a short account of what you have discussed in the interactions straight away. If your school uses  ManageBac , this will make your life slightly easier; otherwise, you should fill in the fields of the PPF, which we discuss on.

Can I change my essay title?

Yes, you can change your chosen prescribed title at any point during the essay-writing process, but obviously the longer you leave this, the less time you’ll have to complete it. This is one of the points of the interactions – to identify any problems early on, and, if they can’t be resolved, think about which alternative to move onto.

Links to the areas of knowledge

Use the links below to take you to the areas of knowledge. You’ll find ideas from influential thinkers, the latest real-life situations, key terms and concepts, and other content to help you create an authoritative and accomplished TOK essay.

You should explore your prescribed title within the context of two or more areas of knowledge. Follow the link below to take you to the arts.

You should explore your prescribed title within the context of two or more areas of knowledge. Follow the link below to take you to history.

You should explore your prescribed title within the context of two or more areas of knowledge. Follow the link to take you to human sciences.


You should explore your prescribed title within the context of two or more areas of knowledge. Follow the link below to take you to mathematics.

You should explore your prescribed title within the context of two or more areas of knowledge. Follow the link to take you to natural sciences.

writing a good tok essay

Get real with TOK by subscribing to the newsletter

Step into the real and unpackaged world by subscribing to our unique monthly TOK newsletter. You’ll receive links to great media sources from all over the world that place the TOK themes and areas of knowledge into an authentic context.

You’ll meet great thinkers and ideas, hone your understanding of key TOK concepts, and build up a library of examples for the essay and exhibition. Subscribe HERE !


Top essay writing tips 

General information about the essay:, how will your essay be assessed in practice, assessment criteria.

writing a good tok essay

How to structure your essay

writing a good tok essay

The introduction

writing a good tok essay

Introduction: 30 second structure guide.

The main body

writing a good tok essay

Main body: 30 second structure guide.

The conclusion

writing a good tok essay

Conclusion: 30 second structure guide.

Formalities and references

A word about language: Useful phrases, style guide and how to improve clarity

Useful TOK essay writing phrases

Do's and don'ts.

writing a good tok essay

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7 Tips for Your TOK Essay

By  sandro lau.

TOK Essay

Just thinking about the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) essay can be overwhelming. However, since it is an IB Diploma requirement, the TOK essay is unavoidable. There is a silver lining to this: Although the essay itself represents a small portion of the 45 Diploma points, it can significantly boost your college and university applications whilst also strengthening your critical skills. Like any essay assignment, practice makes perfect; the more you write, the stronger your writing skills become. Utilize the following 7 tips to strengthen your TOK essay.

Disclaimer: The order of the tips does NOT denote importance.

1. Become friends with Ways of Knowing (WOKs) and Areas of Knowledge (AOKs)

Having a basic understanding of WOKs and AOKs is of the utmost importance: they allow you to pinpoint the knowledge claim of your question. You should aim to use 2-3 WOKs and AOKs in your essay. You should review all of your notes to ensure you see relevant connections as well as confirm that they have both interesting claims and counterclaims.

2. Familiarise yourself with terminology

A thorough understanding of the vast amount of vocabulary and their definitions is vital to a high-scoring TOK essay. Incorporating TOK-specific jargon improves your chance of receiving scores in the higher levels (Level 4 and Level 5).

3. Challenge personal biases and preferences

Challenging your own biases and preferences will allow you to formulate counterclaims to claims. In essence, TOK is meant to show your ability to look at an issue (or issues) from multiple perspectives and argue in support of and against those perspectives. Furthermore, being able to be critical of others’ ideas and your own is essential at any stage of life, from high school to university and beyond.

4. Vary research methods

Using a variety of research sources allows you to find arguments that support both sides of your thesis and examples that support your claims and counterclaims. Consider class notes, websites, and people’s (classmates, teachers, friends, and family members) opinions as useful sources to develop your insights.

5. Make an outline first

Speaking of notes, you should always organize your ideas using outlines. Outlines serve as roadmaps allowing you to make minor and major changes as well as organize your body paragraphs so each paragraph builds on the previous one. Remember that a strong thesis statement is essential – it should be arguable, clear, specific in scope, and relevant. To this last point – it should answer the “so what?” question. That is to say, what is the importance of your research?

6. Read past TOK essays that received high scores

Finding your own writing voice can be challenging. Try reading essays written by others. This can significantly help you overcome your challenges in writing, since seeing how others form their arguments can provide you with opportunities to determine what works for you.

7. Reverse engineer outlines for past TOK essays

Creating outlines for past TOK essays is a great way for you to practice structuring arguments/counterarguments. In addition, you can see how past TOK essays incorporate examples and evidence to support and explore claims/counterclaims.

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