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The Secret to a Top Scoring IB Essay


As a teacher and tutor I specialize in helping students write top-scoring essays. I wanted to share with you a helpful way to think about this, which will help you show strong critical thinking --something that often counts for close to 50% of your essay grade, so you can do well, even if you don’t work with me as your tutor. 

First, let’s notice that there are 3 very different actvities required to create a great analytical essay. You need to: 

  1.  Gather relevant evidence, 
  2.  Present an argument, grounded in that evidence. And then 
  3.  Weigh up those arguments to write a judgement that seems very well-supported. 

If you do those 3 things thoughtfully you can definitely get a 7 (or an A, if it's TOK or your EE). 

We can think of those 3 activities as relating to 4 different roles you need to play: You need to

  1. Be a Detective,
  2. Be a Lawyer,
  3. Be a second Lawyer, who disagrees with the first one....
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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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Knowledge Questions in International Baccalaureate Subjects

Recently we had our staff compile a list of some knowledge questions in different subjects. They came up with a pretty good list, which I thought a lot of ToK students and teachers would appreciate having.

Some of the questions fit neatly in a given subject area, while others fit in more than one subject.



Are historical claims restricted by the language they use?

Is all history biased?

How important is the role of statistics in history?

Does history show we have made ethical progress?

To what extent does emotion play a role in historical interpretation?

Is historical objectively possible?

To what extent does historical knowledge change over time?

How is knowledge about the past different from other kinds of knowledge?

How does the language used to describe the past change how history is understood?


Natural science

(Key words: scientific method, Popper's principle of falsification, scientific revolution and paradigm shift)

Is language necessary for the...

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