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Guide to the TOK Presentation

What’s Covered:

 

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB/IBDP) is a high school program offering courses in subjects, ranging from mathematics to Arabic. Students sign up for a holistic approach to learning including external examinations, internal assessments, research papers and community service hours. Students will have to do a bit of everything while completing IB’s core, including CAS, Theory of Knowledge (TOK), and the extended essay (EE). Understanding how to excel in TOK will usually help students in their other aspects of student life. It’ll be important to be familiar with the basics of TOK as a subject before progressing into one of its components, the presentation. 

 

What is the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) Presentation?

 

Quite similar to the TOK essay, the TOK presentation is an attempt to assess your critical thinking skills while conveying your opinions in a clear cut manner. While a TOK essay is more conceptual in its nature in tackling the focal point, the TOK presentation answers a knowledge question by making use of actual real life scenarios to display your understanding of TOK concepts.

 

The TOK presentation can be done individually, in pairs, or in a group of three. It’s usually delivered in front of your TOK classroom, making this an internal assessment that other students are watching and taking peer review notes on. Each presentation gets a max of 10 minutes per presenter, meaning if you have three people, you get 30 minutes. The actual presentation is followed by a discussion section where the presenter actively engages in a Q&A with the audience and the teacher.

 

A lot of students really struggle with where to start the presentation, but if you break it down by following a few steps it gets a lot more manageable:

 

1. Knowledge Question (KQ)


The knowledge question is the focus of your presentation. Upon being given a list of topics for the TOK presentation, keep in mind that the list of selections changes every examination set. So, once you pick a topic, you could create a KQ that analyzes this topic to a greater degree.

An example of a knowledge question could be: “What is the role of faith in making ethical decisions.” This is a good knowledge question because it incorporates ways of knowing (WOKs) which are important to analyze in any TOK presentation.

 

2. Real Life Situation (RLS)


A RLS is supposed to be an example or situation that you can directly use as an expression of your KQ. Relating your RLS to numerous WOKs and areas of knowledge (AOKs) strengthens the arguments you make (the claims and counterclaims for your presentation) and earns you a chunk of your grade for the presentation. 

 

3. Planning out your presentation 


Creating an outline that details each slide, and even writing down how many minutes you spend on each section of your presentation is important, allowing you to allocate time and manage your presentation efficiently. Creating this outline can also help you feel more confident when your presentation day comes around too!

 

These three tips can serve as the founding basis for your presentation and will definitely help get you started on the right track!

 

How is the TOK Presentation Scored?

 

The grade you get in IB includes the core (CAS, extended essay and TOK). And, 33% of your total IB TOK grade is dependent on your TOK presentation, which is usually graded externally, but recorded internally. What this means is, your actual presentation will be recorded by your teacher, and the recording with your slides will be sent to the IB board, who then assigns an external grader to assess it. The presentation is scored out of ten points, as well as the essay, and the following formula explains the grading schema:

 

(presentation score) + (essay score * 2) = overall score out of 30

 

To correlate a letter grade to your score out of 30, IB uses grade boundaries. These boundaries can change any year so checking in with your school for the most updated ones is best. Here is a past example of grade boundaries:

 

  • A – 22 to 30

  • B – 16 to 21

  • C – 10 to 15

  • D – 4 to 9

  • E – 0 to 3

 

Upon receiving a letter grade you can calculate your grade for the core of IB, which includes the extended essay, CAS, and TOK. Passing the core is essential to earning your diploma in IB and the table below outlines this further: 

 

 

Theory of Knowledge

Extended Essay

 

Excellent (A)

Good (B)

Satisfactory (C)

Mediocre 

(D)

Elementary (E)

Not Submitted

Excellent (A)

3

3

2

2

1 + Failing Condition

N

Good (B)

3

2

1

1

Failing Condition

N

Satisfactory (C)

2

1

1

0

Failing Condition

N

Mediocre (D)

2

1

0

0

Failing Condition

N

Elementary (E)

1 + Failing Condition

Failing Condition

Failing Condition

Failing Condition

Failing Condition

N

Not Submitted

N

N

N

N

N

N

 

How to Pick a TOK Presentation Topic

 

Your topic should be presented in the form of a knowledge question that isn’t easily answered with two-dimensional answers like “yes” and “no.” It should in its nature make both the presenter and the audience think deeper into multilevel ways of understanding knowledge as a concept. More often than not, a KQ will usually end up with people having more questions than ending up with a satisfying answer, and that’s exactly what IB wants from a presentation, a debatable and questioning idea. This is usually achieved with a KQ and RLS that work hand in hand, and successful students make sure to consistently link back to their solid topics throughout the presentation. An example of a good TOK presentation topic might look like this:

To what extent does faith play a part in online shopping experiences?

 

In this case a related RLS could be:

 

Purchases of overpriced and highly coveted products with little to no inherent practical value.

 

Your topic should have an RLS that the audience can at least relate to, making it easier for them to stay on board for the duration of your presentation, but as well as stay engaged with what you’re talking about. Once you pick a great topic for the presentation, the rest of the planning and work actually falls in place a lot more steadily. 

 

How to Structure Your TOK Presentation

 

Breaking the presentation down slide-by-slide is the best way to plan it out, and the following structure may help streamline the process of creating it from start to finish.

 

  • Slide 1 – Title Page

    This slide should just contain the names of all the members in your presentation, as well as the title (based on the KQ you picked earlier).

 

  • Slide 2 – RLS and Context

    In this slide you introduce your RLS and provide all the required context and information to explain what your RLS is to the audience. Make sure to start using jargon specific to TOK. Introducing your WOKs and AOKs is a good idea in this slide, and relating it to your RLS should be how you wrap it up.

 

  • Slide 3 KQ and RLS

    Declare the KQ that you’ve decided upon and analyze the KQ by breaking it down into segments that can be further developed on. If the KQ contains or mentions a WOK or AOK, further contextualize that specific AOK or WOK for the audience. Explain any assumptions you’ve made on the basis of your KQ and RLS as well, before you continue to develop on them.

 

  • Slides 4 to 6 – Developments on KQ and RLS

    State the AOKs and WOKs you plan on using to present a claim in favor of the argument your KQ brings forth. Supporting claims with reasonable, backed up evidence is a must! It’s important to remember for every slide that has a claim, follow up with a counterclaim, with as much as evidence. By this point, you should have already had at least three WOKs and AOKs in your presentation.

 

  • Slide 7 – Conclusions

    Conclusions in TOK are usually a chance for the student to choose a side between the claims and counterclaims they’ve previously discussed. Even then, writing down any shortcomings to the conclusion you’ve arrived at is imperative to explain to the audience that the analysis of KQ is still at the end of the day subjective, and holds no perfect answer. Making sure to link back to our KQ and RLS is ideal, and is usually a clean way to wrap up the presentation.

 

Final Tips

 

The most important tip for IB students when it comes to TOK is the most generic one: start as early as possible! IB is an ultra-holistic approach to schooling, so there’s a lot more than just TOK going on; students usually need to make time to study for internal and external assessments, CAS service hours, and even writing their extended essays. Starting TOK work as early as possible not only sets you up with more time to produce work of higher quality, but also allows you to allocate time for other tasks as well. 

 

Otherwise, you might find yourself feeling burnt out and unmotivated before actually submitting the essay, and maybe even prevent yourself from achieving that high score in IB that you wanted. So start early, and give yourself that easy extra advantage!

 

While your IB scores aren’t as important to college admissions as one might assume, showing proof that you’re taking rigorous classes and demonstrating hard work throughout your time as an IB student is more impactful. For better insight into how your chances of college admissions look, check out CollegeVine’s admissions calculator


Short Bio
Varun is a junior at Arizona State University, Tempe. He aims to share his knowledge of college admissions and the IB Diploma Program with high school students. In his free time, he can be found making music or trying a new recipe!