What are the features of a good TOK essay?

Remember to stay strictly within the essay limit of 1600 words. This is a must. However, it is difficult to do this if you have lots to say. The secret is to be concise. So here are some tips for keeping your essay within the limit. Be ruthless.

Cut out:

  • Any waffle or anything irrelevant to your argument
  • Anything irrelevant to answering the question

Keep in:

The IB describes the features of an essay that demonstrates an excellent:

  • Understanding knowledge questions: ‘There is a sustained focus on knowledge questions connected to the prescribed title and are well chosen—developed with investigation of different perspectives and linked effectively to areas of knowledge and/or ways of knowing.’
  • Quality of analysis of knowledge questions: ‘Arguments are clear, supported by real-life examples and are effectively evaluated; counterclaims are extensively explored; implications are drawn.’ (IB TOK Subject Guide. Quotations from p. 62)


When it comes to examples, use them to make effective points, but don’t give too much anecdotal or irrelevant information. Make sure the example supports the point you are making and then move on.

If you’re not sure whether to keep something in your essay or not, consider whether it really is saying something relevant or worthwhile? Hopefully this will help keep your essay within the word limit.

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