The Top Ten Theory of Knowledge Essay Tips
Here are my top tips for getting to top marks on your Theory of Knowledge essay.
1. All ToK essays are cross-disciplinary; they are never just about one way of knowing (perception, language, reason, etc) or one area of knowledge (mathematics, natural sciences, human sciences, history, etc). In general you’ll want to include at least
2. But be careful about which WoK's and AoK's you include. Review all of your notes to refresh your understanding and make sure you’re seeing the relevant connections and make sure (after you’ve done your research) that you have interesting points to make (claims and counter claims).
3. Make an outline first. The outline is your road map and it’s where you make a lot of your major decisions. It will also help you to develop an argument, with each paragraph building on the one before.
3. Research in a lot of different ways: websites, your class notes, talking with people (parents, classmates, your teachers). Find arguments which support both sides of (for and against) your thesis and examples that support your claims and counterclaims. As you develop insights you can use, make sure to record them. ]
4. Make sure you have clarified the scope of your essay (what you're aiming to do). Make it clear, in your introduction, which WOK's and AOK's ’s you’re using. And define your key terms carefully, in ways that are useful to your argument. Dictionary definitions rarely do this. At the minimum, be sure to not just use the first definition you find.
5. It’s easy to forget that ToK is about developing your ability to think for yourself. Give yourself some time away from your outline, to reflect before you begin your real essay. And then try to give yourself a few breaks from your essay as well, so you can come back to it with fresh eyes. It’s hard to see the weaknesses of your thinking while you’re busy trying to get it done (i.e. in a hurry). Come up with your own ideas.
6. Read at least 3 examples of excellent ToK Essays written by other people.
7. Keep editing. Each of your paragraphs should show opposing viewpoints concisely. Compare two opposing ideas about how natural science might relate to your knowledge question.
8. Use specific and qualified language. Rather than writing that “all science always provides useful insights,” instead say that, “chemistryoften provides useful insights.” Words like often or sometimes (instead of always), might or could (instead of should) help to keep from over-generalising or saying more than you can actually support in your essay.
9. To prove your essay's thesis you’ll need to rely on evidence. Various types of facts are fine (quotations, statistics, true stories from your reading or your own life). Avoid using clichés and common examples. If you can use examples that the marker hasn’t heard before this will show that you are thinking for yourself.
10. Read it out loud, after you have finished it. This will help you to find mistakes and areas that don’t flow as well as you thought.
Other Useful ToK Essay Resources
Six steps to writing a good TOK essay: A student guide by Colleen H. Parker at SPHS
Writing a TOK essay, by Richard van de Lagemaat
How to Write a Good TOK Essay, By Peg Robinson
This in link TheoryofKnowledgeStudent.com goes through a variety of examples of how to answer some of the questions from previous years.
Mr Hoyes’ Notes on The ToK Essay
How to Write a Good ToK Paper, from Collective Thinking
Writing a TOK Essay, from ‘Findings’ Part One, Two, Three, Four, and Five.
10 Tips on Writing a Good Theory of Knowledge Essay, from the American International School of Lusaka
Guide to writing the TOK Essay, from IBCram
Tips for writing a good ToK Essay by Ric Sims @ Nothing Nerdy
And consider some common problems, from ToK Talk
The SAT Writing and Language Test asks you to be an editor and improve passages that were written especially for the test—and that include deliberate errors.
It’s About the Everyday
When you take the Writing and Language Test, you’ll do three things that people do all the time when they write and edit:
- Find mistakes and weaknesses.
- Fix them.
The good news: You do these things every time you proofread your own schoolwork or workshop essays with a friend.
It’s the practical skills you use to spot and correct problems—the stuff you’ve been learning in high school and the stuff you’ll need to succeed in college—that the test measures.
- All questions are multiple choice and based on passages.
- Some passages are accompanied by informational graphics, such as tables, graphs, and charts—but no math is required.
- Prior topic knowledge is never tested.
- The Writing and Language Test is part of the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section.
Watch the Video
What the Writing and Language Test Is Like
To answer some questions, you’ll need to look closely at a single sentence. Others require reading the entire piece and interpreting a graphic. For instance, you might be asked to choose a sentence that corrects a misinterpretation of a scientific chart or that better explains the importance of the data.
The passages you improve will range from arguments to nonfiction narratives and will be about careers, history, social studies, the humanities, and science.
What the Writing and Language Test Measures
Questions on the Writing and Language Test measure a range of skills.
Command of Evidence
Questions that test command of evidence ask you to improve the way passages develop information and ideas. For instance, you might choose an answer that sharpens an argumentative claim or adds a relevant supporting detail.
Words in Context
Some questions ask you to improve word choice. You’ll need to choose the best words to use based on the text surrounding them. Your goal will be to make a passage more precise or concise, or to improve syntax, style, or tone.
Analysis in History/Social Studies and in Science
You’ll be asked to read passages about topics in history, social studies, and science with a critical eye and make editorial decisions that improve them.
Expression of Ideas
Some questions ask about a passage’s organization and its impact. For instance, you will be asked which words or structural changes improve how well it makes its point and how well its sentences and paragraphs work together.
Standard English Conventions
This is about the building blocks of writing: sentence structure, usage, and punctuation. You’ll be asked to change words, clauses, sentences, and punctuation. Some topics covered include verb tense, parallel construction, subject-verb agreement, and comma use.
Learn about the Writing and Language Test firsthand by viewing sample questions for the SAT.