Tok Essay Prompts 2016

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The TOK prescribed essay titles have recently been published by the IB for those taking exams in May 2016:

  1. “In gaining knowledge, each area of knowledge uses a network of ways of knowing.” Discuss this statement with reference to two areas of Knowledge.
  2. “Knowledge within a discipline develops according to the principles of natural selection.” How useful is this metaphor?
  3. “The knower’s perspective is essential in the pursuit of knowledge.” To what extent do you agree?
  4. “Without application in the world, the value of knowledge is greatly diminished.” Consider this claim with respect to two areas of knowledge.
  5. To what extent do the concepts that we use shape the conclusions that we reach?
  6. “In knowledge there is always a trade-off between accuracy and simplicity.” Evaluate this statement in relation to two areas of knowledge.

For support with assessment tasks and TOK essay writing, see Unit 3 in Decoding Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diplomaby Wendy Heydorn and Susan Jesudason

Here are the TOK essay prompts for May, 2017:

1. “It is only knowledge produced with difficulty that we truly value.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?

2. “Facts are needed to establish theories but theories are needed to make sense of facts.” Discuss this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.

3. Should key events in the historical development of areas of knowledge always be judged by the standards of their time?

4. “In the production of knowledge, traditions of areas of knowledge offer correctives for ways of knowing.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?

5. Given access to the same facts, how is it possible that there can be disagreement between experts in a discipline? Develop your answer with reference to two areas of knowledge.

6. “Humans are pattern seeking animals and we are adept at finding patterns whether they exist or not” (adapted from Michael Shermer). Discuss knowledge questions raised by this idea in two areas of knowledge.

Your essay should be between 1,200 and 1,600 words. It must be double-spaced and typed in size 12 font. It must have the essay prompt at the top.

You must complete this: Essay Planning Document

Here is the outline Mr. Ferlazzo’s students have used for their essay: Essay outline

Here is the TOK Essay Rubric from IB

You can find all the TOK essay resources we used last year here.

Four key points that IB Examiners made in essays from last year were:

* Don’t use hypothetical examples. In other words, when you support your thesis with stories related to different Ways of Knowing and Areas of Knowledge, make sure they are real. Don’t say something like, “Suppose this was the case and that happened.”

* Make sure that ALL of your examples and points are explicitly connected to answering the prompt. End every example or point making that explicit connection.

* Make sure that you include counter-claims in your essay. In other words, what would people say who disagreed with your thesis and what would be your response to them?  These should have a source. In other words, don’t just write “Some people might say…”

* You can use TOK concepts from the book, but don’t use specific examples cited there to illustrate them. Instead, come up with your own examples.  It’s okay to use some personal examples, but a majority should be more “academic” ones.

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