How to choose a topic for TOK?

24 April, 2021
How to choose a topic for TOK? – During IB program, most students are always bewildered when it comes to how to choose a topic for TOK?

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To assist students in learning how to choose a topic for TOK, we have compiled a structured TOK outline and related knowledge questions. The following outline isn’t perfect, but for some individuals it can prove to be helpful. Students should note that it is almost impossible to complete everything below unless your writing is a paragon of concision, and cuts will have to be made.


  • Lay the groundwork for your essay, provide quick and immediate evidence of the interpretation of questions by identifying your main points.
  • You want to focus on one possible interpretation of the question/prompt. When you define a term, you must use your definition later, and it must be a reasonable definition. You should mention your related knowledge questions and the answers you have proposed for them, and say why these answers will matter for your thesis.
  • Finally, you should end the Introduction by giving a brief answer to these following questions: “So how do you think about the subject given? Why?”.
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Section 1: First related knowledge question

This is a genuine knowledge question (see handout on Knowledge Issues on OCC, obtainable from your TOK teacher), whose answer should impact your answer to the prompt. Ask yourself: “What knowledge questions, not identical to the prompt, will I need to answer in order to show that my thesis is true?”.

  1. Argument: With the main ideas you have given, you must reinforce that intention with the appropriate evidence. Students can use real life examples and an explanation of why the example relates to the main idea as a valid proof. This explanation is essential to any good example and discuss the implications of the claim explicitly (if the claim is true, then…).
  2. Counterargument: Explain the strongest argument you can muster against your claim, supported with justification and real life examples. This provides a different perspective on the problem – and if you can make your point clear, the evidence is justified. If you end up convincing yourself, restructure your essay to reflect this fact.
  3. Reconcile your arguments: Explain what is wrong/mistaken about the counterarguments and associated perspectives, such that your eventual position is your thesis. This will often take the form of extensive discussion of the implications of the counterargument (e.g., “if the counterclaim is true…”, or perhaps more complexly, “if the justification for the counterclaim holds in this case, then it should hold in these unacceptable cases”).
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Section 2: Second related knowledge question

  1. Argument: See section 1
  2. Counterargument: See section 1
  3. Reconcile your arguments: See section 1

Section 3: Stance on prompt and state your position clearly

(This section should be about half of your final essay)

  1. Argument, with reference to previous knowledge questions: See section 1
  2. Counterargument: See section 1
  3. Reconcile your arguments: See section 1

Section 4: Conclusion

This section will bring together the evidence outlined in the previous sections. In this section, no significant intellectual work should be done here because this is only the part to help summarize the content of your TOK..

Further advice: This is not a literary essay, students will not receive additional points for verbal. How to choose a topic for TOK is you should tell in one or two sentences what you will conclude overall. Furthermore, for each paragraph, make sure you have one or two topic sentences that clearly state what you mean by that paragraph.

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