Incredible TOK Essay Example

As a student studying for your International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma, you will have to write a Theory of Knowledge (TOK) essay. This is part of your program, and they are different from the regular essays. This fact alone causes some students to panic as they worry, they may not get a good score. However, you don’t have to panic. This article will show you some good IB TOK essay examples and guide you on how to write yours.

What Is an IB TOK Essay?

As already explained, this is a mandatory part of an International Baccalaureate (IB) program. This TOK essay is usually accompanied by a presentation after the essay has been submitted.

IB TOK Essay Example

A TOK essay example will help introduce you to the process of writing, so you don’t have to fret.



Personal knowledge implies that information which is developed from an individual’s own opinions, ideas, and experiences and can be used in one’s own reasoning in order to put an argument forth. Personal knowledge is used subjectively as it may not apply or be accepted by everyone as we tend to have our own personal knowledge. 

Shared knowledge is that knowledge or information which is agreed upon collectively and that they contain more facts that universally apply to a lot of people.  On shared knowledge people agree on the facts they contain and that they may be of great and varied use in a society. From these distinctions, it is therefore right to classify science or math as shared knowledge due to their applicability and universal acceptability (van, 2005). This leaves art to be regarded as personal knowledge as any idea on the art can be personally drawn. Knowledge that is widely known to the public is the shared knowledge but new and personal concepts are regarded as personal knowledge.

The knowledge that an individual owns can be influenced by shared knowledge depending on different factors. The individually owned knowledge can be shaped by how the public argues on certain issues, by the mode of discussion and need to understand that information in the given way of thought. The meaning of the shared knowledge to an individual’s life is very important in determining the way he or she argues and reasons. The other aspect that can sway one to change or shape his or her personal knowledge is determined by the purpose the information serves our lives. Shared knowledge seems to be more justified than personal knowledge. This is linked to the possibility that shared knowledge is believed to be a true belief by many people in a society (Van, 2005).

Sharing of Knowledge between Art and Science

The transformation of personal knowledge into ways in line with shared knowledge is associated with the learning process that one undergoes while sharing knowledge. In the process of sharing knowledge, people get to know how important it is to accept given ideologies and which can shape their own knowledge (Baker, Jensen & Kolb, 2002). Shared knowledge like in the case of nurse sharing information about a psychiatric diagnosis to a patient may change the patient’s ideology on the same. This is subject to the importance of the patient accepting the knowledge. There are some kinds and forms of knowledge that are very purposeful to our lives regardless of the personal information we hold about the same area of knowledge. The scientific view on the understanding on psychiatric diagnosis is very vital to the patient as this may influence his or her life in matters related to medication of the same individual (Corrigan, Dillon & Gunstone, 2011).

The meaning of this knowledge is implied in the usefulness to our lives. Normally, no individual would go against the doctor’s prescriptions in the process of medication. The lessons we learn from listening to a nurse and sharing the knowledge on the same is important in doing healthy things in life. There is great importance in believing in public knowledge for all those who believe in shared or public knowledge have had benefits from the same.  The perception held on given information is often comparable in relation to the benchmarking platforms. Personal knowledge is a perception held by an individual on his or her own personal experience. On the other point of view shared knowledge is believed by many people and that the perception they hold is often much more than in personal knowledge (van, 2005).

When people engaged in sharing of knowledge, there is a superior thought or belief that one might be more experienced than the other. In such a case the less experienced individual is likely to believe the shared knowledge. This may also happen in the situation where one is sharing knowledge with a group of people. More people engaged in a discussion or sharing of knowledge are likely to convince individuals to change their perceptions. This is due to the magnitude of the experiences of the people and the usefulness of the information to the entire community, if not for the individual. This is an attempt to make someone believe in the shared knowledge. Personal knowledge is embedded on personal belief on given information, ideas and experiences. The involvement into sharing of knowledge through dialogue, discussion or public speaking, alters the perceptions of the individuals and probable change in the personal knowledge he or she holds on the subject of the talk.

In sharing knowledge, one identifies opportunities that lie beyond the current knowledge that he or she possesses as personal information on the tropic talked about. The presentation of opportunities to be a better a person in life while arguing in the same line makes them change their personal knowledge into the course of thought that shared information directs. Like in the situation where a nurse gives direction to a patient on psychiatric diagnosis, the patient gets to believe the nurse due to the vast experience and professionalism in the scientific field of medicine, and will consequently get convinced that the idea is the right one. The patient believes the information to be the truest knowledge and discards or realigns his or her personal knowledge on the topic of psychiatric diagnosis (Corrigan, Dillon & Gunstone, 2011).

In situations of art, which is a different area of knowledge in the course, the change in the perception or thought of others will change due to the presented emotions of the artist.  The transferability of knowledge on art is dependent on the scope of the knowledge contained. The scope of the knowledge in the artistic viewpoint relates to the level of emotional expression that the artist may present to its audience and followers. Arts generally, express the extents to which one is experienced in the issues relating to human life are relating to culture of the people at times (Harorimana, 2010).This implies that arts area viewed as means of shaping belief on given ideologies.

In most cases arts are identified with the general public’s knowledge and are regarded to be shared knowledge.  When an artist is performing in a podium, the artist will not use other means of expressing knowledge such as reasoning and perception. In several instances the artists will express the emotions while performing in order to change the perceptions of the audience. Some of the poor performing artists often use this trick and ability in tuning the moods of the audience into the show. Reason presents a restrictive framework in proving the art knowledge as cultural and useful to the lives of the people involved in the performance of the given art (Baker, Jensen & Kolb, 2002).

Arts are at times referred to be having inner logic to the human life and therefore an emotional performance would improve the understanding relating to the given art. Arts have the potential to prove to the people the artistic-cognitive function that may be extrapolated from the cultural outlines. It presents great knowledge on the cultures of the people in their societies. The expression of the identification of the culture in the people gives audience a perception of the art being educative in nature. The close examination of the art presents the people with the knowledge and the need to incorporate this knowledge into their daily activities (Duijn, 2009).

For instance, the performance of a musician on stage inspires people to dance when the mood of the singer is jovial and warm enough to accommodate the expression of happiness. In another instance the performance of an actor at the stage while expressing feelings of despondency and sorrow will let the audience in a mood to learn as they learn on different causes of sorrow in the communities in the world. Recently there was a show on the BBC TV station involving the performance of Martin Lawrence on the discrimination on orphans and the need to accept them as part of our societies. He performed while presenting the ideological state at which the orphan children should be handled in the societies. The expression of pain and sorrow which the community goes in times when such children are not accepted within the social settings is more detrimental   than the cost of mainstreaming them into our societies. He therefore used the emotional expression to indicate the sorrows of the children, the love they should be given and the consequences to derail our social lives. The art was hereby presented as means to transform our social lives (Harorimana, 2010).


Shared information affects the perceptions of individuals through reasoning, change in perceptions, and increment in the level of understanding, learning and identification of opportunities in the shared knowledge. Personal knowledge is highly shaped by shared knowledge due to the ability of an individual to alter or realign his or her perceptions due the changes in the experiences she/he is exposed to during the sharing session. In arts, emotion is used at the personal level to change the perceptions and ideology of the public about their performances. In science, experience and reasoning are used in changing perceptions of the people (Corrigan, Dillon & Gunstone, 2011).


Baker, A. C., Jensen, P. J., & Kolb, D. A. (2002). Conversational learning: An experiential approach to knowledge creation. Westport, Conn. [u.a.: Quorum Books.

Corrigan, D., Dillon, J., & Gunstone, R. (2011). The Professional Knowledge Base of Science Teaching. Dordrecht: Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Duijn, M. (2009). Embedded reflection on public policy innovation: A relativist/pragmatist inquiry into the practice of innovation and knowledge transfer in the WaterINNovation program. Delft: Eburon.

Harorimana, D. (2010). Cultural implications of knowledge sharing, management and transfer: Identifying competitive advantage. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

Van, L. R. (2005). Theory of knowledge for the IB Diploma. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Here are some IB TOK essay examples of topics

  • Is knowledge constant in bringing about change or action
  • Must the element of trust be involved before one can accept knowledge?
  • How do statistics hide as much as they show?
  • Do areas of knowledge need each other to be relevant?
  • How does avoiding bias downplay its positive role in the pursuit of knowledge?
  • Labels are essential to human knowledge, but they also affect our judgment.
  • What is the evidence that individuals perceive knowledge differently? Why do some individuals ask the why question and others ask the why not question?
  • How does personal experience add to your knowledge?
  • Individuals must compare two theories to aid understanding and not just to make justification.
  • Because every theory is limited in nature, we must never stop creating theories to increase knowledge.
  • The description of something and its explanation thereof are two different things. Explain what you understand by this.
  • The knowledge we have today and the knowledge we will have tomorrow depends on the knowledge of yesterday.
  • To resolve arguments or disagreements about knowledge, one must listen to both sides of the argument. How is this good advice?
  • To understand a thing, the first step is to answer the “What if?” question.
  • The manner in which knowledge is gotten is more important than the end result.
  • We ask questions not because we don’t know, but because we already know.
  • The knowledge that we rely on may be uncertain.
  • The quality of knowledge is determined by how well people accept it.
  • Knowledge revolves around humans as though they were the most important part of the universe.
  • Knowledge production is done by a team and an individual.
  • Not all good explanations are true.
  • A disinterested mind is required in the pursuit of knowledge.
  • Knowledge production goes beyond accepting conclusions despite presenting evidence for them.
  • To ensure the health of a discipline, there must be nurturing contrasting perspectives.
  • In the process of acquiring knowledge, the user and not the producer are responsible for its accuracy.
  • Humans are unique, unassuming, and unpredictable in their own way. Discuss how these challenges the production of knowledge.
  • Knowledge shared between people changes with time.
  • One effective way of gaining knowledge is by observing and documenting your observation. How true is this saying?
  • What similar values are present in both the successful production of knowledge and scepticism?
  • The process of knowledge is not just about discovering facts but also finding valuable facts.
  • What are the various ways that new knowledge can be classified?
  • What is the relevance of technology to personal knowledge?
  • Discuss how knowledge can be resolved within a discipline.
  • Can knowledge be predicted?
  • What hinders the production of knowledge?
  • Discuss knowledge, facts, and ambiguity.
  • How explanatory are the interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge?
  • The more we get knowledge, the more we doubt. How does this happen?
  • Knowledge but be universally questioned. Discuss this using two areas of knowledge.
  • In knowledge production, we must not accept doubts. Do you agree with this saying?
  • Adequate knowledge must be accepted and rejected.
  • Discuss the historical timelines for the disciplines of knowledge.
  • The process of knowledge can be tedious yet that is what we appreciate the most.
  • Individuals need theories to make sense of facts. Do you agree?
  • Do we measure the historical development of knowledge by the same standards?
  • In knowledge production, old methods of areas of knowledge provide corrective ways of knowing.
  • If we use the same process to get facts, why are there differences in our arguments?

TOK Essay Sample Writing Guide

  1. Make sure you understand the structure of your TOK essay. If you don’t, ask questions.
  2. Choose a Way of Knowing and two Areas of Knowledge that you understand well to help you answer your Prescribed Title.
  3. Draw out your outline. This basically consists of your introduction, body, and conclusion. Your introduction should be between 150 – 250 words, presenting your claim or counterclaim and your WOK and AOKs. Having a clear outline should help you break down your thoughts and find the relevant literature for your work.


With the examples given, you should now be less fearful of writing your TOK essay.