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History Notes - Theory of Knowledge

I know you'll find these TOK History notes helpful, but there is an even better version available to our supporting members here (the full History notes) --along with some very helpful TOK videos and other sources for your TOK essay and exhibitions. Click here to join IBMastery.

History Quotes

  • “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know no way of judging the future but by the past.” (Edward Gibbon)
  • "We spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let's face it, is mostly the history of stupidity." (Stephen Hawking)
  • “Men think themselves free because they are conscious of their actions, but ignorant of their causes.” (Baruch Spinoza)
  • "History is but the register of human crimes and misfortunes." (Voltaire)
  • "History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it." (Winston Churchill)
  • "Historians are dangerous people. They are capable of upsetting everything." (Nikita...
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Human Science Notes - Theory of Knowledge

I know you'll find these TOK Human Science notes helpful, but there is an even better version available to our supporting members here (the full Human Science notes) --along with some very helpful TOK videos and other sources for your TOK essay and exhibition. Click here to try IBMastery for free.

Human Sciences Quotes 

  • "The social sciences are good at accounting for disasters once they have taken place"  (Claude T Bissell)
  • "If it cannot be expressed in figures, it's not science; it is opinion." Lazarus Long
  • "Life is heredity plus environment." (Luther Burbank)
  • "An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday did happen today." (Laurence J Peter)
  • "Human behaviour makes most sense when it is explained in terms of beliefs and desires, not in terms of volts and grams." (Steven Pinker)
  • "We need more understanding of human nature, because the only real danger that exists is man himself." (Carl Jung)
  • According to...
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How to Answer IB Business Management Questions

For some reason students find the longer IB Business Management questions very hard to master.

Actually I know why this is.

Just have a look at the list of things you have to do to get full marks in a 10-mark Business Management question.

Or don't. It's a bit overwhelming!

You don't need to read this paragraph, but... (For a 9 or 10, you need to show: "Good understanding of the demands of the question, including implications, where relevant. • Relevant business management tools (where applicable), techniques and theories are explained clearly and applied purposefully, and appropriate terminology is used throughout the response. • Effective use of the stimulus material in a way that significantly strengthens the response. • Evidence of balance is consistent throughout the response. • The judgments are relevant and well substantiated.")

Do all of those things, while also answering the question. How are you supposed to remember to do all of that? 



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Are there Examples You Should Avoid in TOK Essays

In Theory of Knowledge it's sometimes more interesting when a student uses an example (a quote, a story, a fact) that we haven't heard of before.

However, "original" evidence in your essays doesn't necessarily make them better essays, so don't worry about this too much. The more important thing is that you have used your examples well. 

Common examples

Here's a story from quite a few years ago, but it's an interesting. One in the May 2016 TOK Subject Report, there was a list of some common examples that the TOK Chief Examiner at the time suggested students shouldn't use. In that person's opinion, they should be avoided because of their popularity.  However, and this is the important part, there was a huge push-back from around the world about this. TOK teachers disagreed with the examiner and it was later clarified (many, many times) that students should feel very free to include whichever examples work best for them. Don't worry about trying to find examples that we...

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How to Change Your Habits in Three Simple Steps

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit" (Aristotle).

A lot of what we do every day is habitual. Obviously, some of our habits are good and some aren’t, but they all work in the same way.

Think of how powerful it would be if you did the things you knew you should: If you didn’t procrastinate; if you did you got in the habit of getting ahead in your homework, if you always asked questions in class; if you did extra questions from the textbook.

A lot of times we see our habits as something we simply have to deal with, something we have or don’t have, a result of undisciplined childhood. But changing habits isn’t so hard when you understand how they work. I just finished Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit, which explains the psychology and social science behind habits and outlines the simple, three step process involved in all habit.

Let’s take one of Duhigg’s examples: alcoholics anonymous. The...

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Words That Don't Have An English Equivalent

This post is the result of the work of my Theory of Knowledge classes at the Overseas Family School. The idea here is that we want to pull into the English language some of the richness of other languages. Other languages have words that simply do not translate easily into English. These are sometimes called "untranslatable" words, but of course any word can be translated. More accurately they are words that don't have equivalents in other languages.

Often these words show us something unique or special about a culture --they might have a word for something that people in other cultures may have never thought about. Some students also think that to fully understand these words you need to understand the culture or how people think about things a little differently in that part of the world.

Please share words that you know in your language (in the comments below), that we should (or could) start using in English. Don’t forget to provide an example. 

Unique Words from...

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How to Make a Good Theory of Knowledge Essay Great

The purpose of this article is to help you strengthen the logic and argument of your ToK essay. This is great for making final touches to your work and to help you spot some common mistakes. And it will, of course, pull your mark up. I’m just going to assume that you’re already using my Essay structure (click here if you're not sure). (It’s a 7 paragraph, 2 section structure which works with just about every question). It will make a lot more sense if you are following this approach

Getting Started

When you first get assigned your real ToK essay, you’ll have a few “titles” to choose from. You choose a title, and then you have to come up with a KI for it and then a thesis. The thesis is your brief answer to your KI (or your hypothesis).

The Approach

In general your essay is about claims (with examples), counterclaims (with examples) and conclusions. It’s important that you understand that your claims always support your thesis and your...

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How to Structure an HL Business Management Internal Assessment


This page gives details for the IA for students graduating in November 2023 or earlier. Click here for the new IB Business IA details --which you should follow if you're graduating from May 2024 or later. 

Here is a layout you can follow for your HL Business Management IA, for November 2023 or earlier 

(If you're looking for the SL Business IA structure, for November 2023 or earlier, that one is right here). 

The Proposal and the IA should be included in a single document, using double-spaced Arial, sized 12 font. 

Please remember to include all of your sources (preferably using MLA) as you go. This goes for every fact that you include or any opinion that you write, which was informed by something you read. Citing your sources is VERY important. Be careful with it.  


Pre-Research Proposal Material

Title page 


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Evaluation in IB Business

Sometimes (normally in 8-mark questions) you will be asked to evaluate. This is about going beyond the insights you have made from doing your analysis (your Dr Tests). But let's make sure you are clear on the difference between analysis and evaluation. By analyzing in Business we mean giving your Defi­ni­tions, Expla­na­tions, Exam­ples and Development (making sure you have fully answered the question) (Doing the 'DEED'). And then, after you analysis is done, you go on to evaluate, to make sense of it for the reader. You are telling us, in clear terms, what we should think about the situation.

This is a bit like Theory of Knowledge because you are not only showing that you can think about things using the course theories, but also showing that you can think about things in a complicated (or complex, or advanced) way. You can contrast the results of two ways of appraising an investment opportunity for example and tell us which insights are most important for this...

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How to be a Successful Student

Ask questions when you don't understand something and when you do. All of my classes are about questioning what we know, how we know it and how we change (and our actions change) as a result of knowing. So if your teacher introduces something in class that you don't get, stop them. Clarify.

If someone else offers a point of view that makes no sense, ask for clarification. One way I can tell that you're truly progressing is by the kinds of questions you're asking.

Participate in class discussions. Silence may be golden in some settings, but not in my classroom. By speaking up during class discussions two good things happen: I get to know you better and I get to give you a correction --we get the chance to show you something you didn't realize already. You might be passionate about the subject, but silent passion doesn't help much in my grade book.

3 Be a little bit selfish. If you believe that your success at school is important to your future (and I hope you do) make...

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