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The TOK Exhibition is an internal assessment that is marked by the teacher (although a selection of files will be sent to the IB for moderation) and accounts for ⅓ (roughly 33%) of the total grade.

The Exhibition is meant to provide students with an opportunity to explore how TOK manifests in the world around us. Students create an exhibition and accompanying written commentary of three objects–or images of objects–that connect in some way to one of the 35 “IA prompts” provided in the Theory of Knowledge guide. The exhibition is an individual task, and cannot be undertaken in a group.

Some examples of IA prompts include

  • What counts as knowledge?
  • Are some types of knowledge more useful than others?
  • What features of knowledge have an impact on its reliability?
  • On what grounds might we doubt a claim?
  • What counts as good evidence for a claim?
Students are required to create an exhibition comprising three objects, or images of objects, and an accompanying written commentary on each object. To enable their exhibition to be marked by their TOK teacher and for samples of student work to be submitted to the IB for moderation, students are required to produce a single file containing:

  • a title clearly indicating their selected IA prompt
  • images of their three objects
  • a typed commentary on each object that identifies each object and its specific real-world context, justifies its inclusion in the exhibition, and links to the IA prompt (maximum 950 words)
  • appropriate citations and references
As always, one of the important factors in getting a good score is knowing exactly what examiners and teachers are looking for and giving it to them. The full exhibition assessment instrument can be found on page 47 of the Theory of Knowledge Guide, but here is the description for the top band:

The exhibition clearly identifies three objects and their specific real-world contexts. Links between each of the three objects and the selected IA prompt are clearly made and well-explained. There is a strong justification of the particular contribution that each individual object makes to the exhibition. All, or nearly all, of the points, are well-supported by appropriate evidence and explicit references to the selected IA prompt.

To break it down:

  • What counts as an “object” is extremely broad; it even covers screenshots of a tweet. However, it does need to have a specific time and “place” in the real world, and cannot simply be a broad concept, like “Buddhism”, or “babies”. Consequently, generic pictures that you’ve googled up to represent broad concepts, like a random picture of a Buddha statue or a stock photo of a baby also do not count. There are several resources that go into deeper detail on what can and cannot be used; if you are still confused, I highly recommend giving this page a look over.
  • Your chosen objects should help to illustrate points that in turn help to answer the chosen IA prompt
  • Each chosen object should help you to make a different point. If they all make the same point, then there’s no need to have all three of them. Every object has to have a good reason for being there.
  • The points you make should be supported by evidence
  • As with the essay task, focus on answering the IA prompt as given. Do not twist it into a different question altogether and start answering that.
Something that I recommend that students do is actually to treat the IA prompt like an essay question. That is to say, don’t just come up with three random objects that seem vaguely relevant and then try to link them to the prompt in a logical way. Instead, start from the prompt. Pretend it’s a normal essay question and ask yourself what points you would like to bring up in your discussion. From there, consider what real-life examples you would use to justify and illustrate your points, and then come up with objects that relate to those examples. What this does is that it ensures that you have a clear link between your objects and your prompts right from the get-go and that you have a spread of different discussion points for each object.

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Author Jessica

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