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TOK Essay Assessment Skills

There are five different assessment skills which candidates are expected to demonstrate. This table outlines what students need to do to place their essay in the ‘excellent’ band on the rubric.
Making links to TOK
The discussion is linked very effectively to the AOKs
Understanding perspectives
There is a clear awareness shown of different points of view, and these are evaluated
Offering an effective argument
Arguments are clear and coherent, and are effectively supported by specific examples
Keeping discussion relevant
The discussion offers a sustained focus on the title
Considering implications
Implications of arguments are considered

Formative assessment tasks for the essay

You should practice the five skills identified above in normal lesson contexts, via discussions, short written tasks, and group activities. But you should also think about setting specific formative assessment tasks, which you formally assess, and use as a way of familiarizing students with what’s required to create an effective TOK essay.
Below we suggest two practice exhibition tasks, which you can use to prepare students for the final exhibition task. Underneath the table, we’ve gone into a little more detail about how these tasks help to build up the relevant skills.
TOK journal
Essay plan
Final essay
Implications of arguments
Relevance to title
Relevance to title
Quality of arguments
Quality of arguments
Links to TOK
Links to TOK
Links to TOK
TOK journal This task is best used early in the course (perhaps in the first unit you deliver), to get students thinking about the type of real-life situations that we’re interested in in TOK (ie the ones that prompt us to ask knowledge questions) and how TOK concepts are relevant to real world situations (which is useful not only for the essay, but also the exhibition) , and thinking about how different perspectives can shift the way we understand the world. We recommend a word count of around 300-400 words for the journal, perhaps asking students to write two different entries for this task.
Members of can access a journal task, with a rubric, exemplar journal entries, and a step-by-step guide to create the task. See the site for more details.
TOK essay plan This task bridges the gap between the journal and the final essay, getting students to apply their understanding from the journal task to a TOK-essay style question (which can be taken from previous prescribed titles), and constructing arguments to explore it. You can either include an assessment of their ability to consider the implications of arguments, or leave this as a final strand to be assessed only in the final essay task - although you should find another way of preparing students for this.
Again, at you can use our ready-to-run essay plan, which includes a rubric, instructions, and exemplar, and is delivered within a lesson as part of the first unit of the ‘BQ’ course. See their site for more information.

Level 5 assessment characteristics

Within the assessment instrument, you’ll also find words identified that characterize an excellent assessment task. These are:
Assessment task
Characteristics of excellence
The essay
  • Insightful
  • Convincing
  • Accomplished
  • Lucid
The exhibition
  • Convincing
  • Lucid
  • Precise
We suggest that you draw on these words to give feedback during the formative assessment tasks, and during the course in general, so that students are able to calibrate accurately what is meant by each one. You can consult the full assessment instrument in the TOK guide to see the qualities of other mark bands.