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The Theory of Knowledge Exhibition

The exhibition is an individual project worth 33% of your final grade in Theory of Knowledge. Basically you choose from one of 35 prescribed questions and answer it, using 3 real objects as your evidence. This page will show you how to get full marks. 

The exhibition has two parts. First is the presentation or display aspect. Each school will do this part differently. The second part is the 950 word written commentary and this is what counts toward your final IB grade. 

There is a lot you need to know about the exhibition, so I've created a 7-video course you can use to do a full-mark exhibition. It (along with brand new notes for every TOK theme) are already available to IBMastery subscribers. You can access them by taking a free trial here). 

Okay, here is the structure you can follow to get full marks in your exhibition on commentary. This structure isn't mandatory, but it works well. We’ll use Prompt 1, “What counts as knowledge?” for our example. If you'd like to see the entire sample I created of you, that's also available in the video mini-course.

The TOK Exhibition Commentary Structure 


What to write: 

      • Write (or better-yet paste) the prompt you chose at the top of the document, in bold and centred. Make sure it is exactly the same as it is written in the guide and include the prompt number with it. (Here is the list.)
      • It is also recommended to include the word count, just after or under the title.
      • For example: “1. What counts as knowledge?”

Introduction (30 words)

What to write: 

      • An introduction isn’t required (so you can skip this part if you want), but a short one is helpful to frame your exploration.
      • Explain why the prompt is an interesting question to explore, what your first thoughts on the prompt are or why it’s more complicated than it might seem at first.
      • For example, One popular definition of knowledge is that it is “justified true belief.” However, there are many different types of knowledge and some of them don’t fit neatly within that definition. (That’s 30 words)

Object 1 (290 words)

What to write: 

      • Start with an image of your first object. Centre it on the page, and make it around ¼ of the page in size, so it’s easy to see. This image should be taken by you, rather than an image you found online. 
      • Explain what the image is and it’s real-world context in your life-- where and how you used it. Or, if you’re talking about something that you don’t use yourself (i.e. a Donald Trump tweet), then explain the real-world context it exists in.
      • Make it clear that this is a real object, which you know about. For example, This is the calculator I use in SL Maths, especially to graph functions --such as this one "f(x)=1/x". The TI-84 allows me to graph functions without really understanding what functions even are. I still sometimes have difficulty explaining why this function works like this, or why it is a rational function, but the calculator allowed me to know what every point on the graph looks like.” 
      • Link the context of the image to your prompt question. Tell us what your object suggests is the answer to the prompt. For example, This leaves open the question, of how much knowledge I have of functions.” (This example is continued in the member's area).
      • Include very clear links between the object and the prompt question. Make sure these links are well-explained. There needs to be a very clear justification of each object; make it clear what each object uniquely contributes to the discussion. 
      • Make sure it’s clear how the “specific real-world context” of your object makes it a good example of the thing you’re trying to show (i.e. How the way I’ve been using the calculator could make it perhaps unclear whether my ability to graph the function would make it count as knowledge or not (Remember: the prompt we chose was 1. What counts as knowledge?, so we’re always linking the object back to that prompt). 

Object 2 (290 words)

What to write: 

      • Show the image of your second object
      • Explain the context of your second object and develop this explanation. 
      • Link your explanation of the context to your prompt.
      • Make sure the point you're making about the prompt, using your second object, is not the same point you’ve made before.

Object 3 (290 words)

What to write: 

      • Show the image of your third object
      • Explain the context of your third object and develop this explanation. 
      • Link your explanation of the context to your prompt. 
      • Make sure the point you're making about the prompt, using your third object, is not the same point you’ve made before.

Conclusion (50 words)

What to write: 

      • A conclusion isn’t required (so you can skip this part if you want). If you do include one you can use it to highlight, compare and contrast or synthesize your insights from the 3 objects.
      • Do feel very free to not include a conclusion or an introduction if you feel they are not helping you earn marks on the rubric.    


And that’s it for the structure. 

There is a lot more you need to know about the exhibition, so I really recommend watching the 7 videos I made for you. Once you've subscribed you can get them right here, plus a lot of other helpful resources for every IBDP course.  



Written by Tim Woods

Tim’s work to support students led to IBMastery--the best resources and support for IB students. After 17 years teaching and training around the world, Tim is now available to help you with private tutoring every day. Click here to work with him (i.e. for your TOK Exhibition, your TOK Essay, your EE or help with the Common App essay or Personal Statement).