TOK essay interactions
You’ll meet with your TOK teacher three times to talk about your progress in planning and writing the essay. Your discussions during these ‘interactions’ form the basis of your (PPF).
Check out our short video explainer for the TOK essay; you can find more explainers about other aspects of the course in our TOK explainer playlist.
Details of the three interactions
The three interactions are the most important part of the essay writing process, and give you a chance to work one-on-one with your teacher to develop your ideas really effectively. As well as meeting during the interactions, you can also ask your teacher specific questions about things like the suitability of arguments and examples, although you are only permitted to receive one set of written feedback.
In your first interaction, you’ll discuss the PT that you have chosen, and why, the general meaning of the title, the key words and phrases in the title, and possible AOKs that you can use to discuss the question. By the end of the interaction, you should have certainty about your choice of PT, a good idea of AOKs, and be ready to write your introduction.
During your second interaction, you’ll explain how you have moved your ideas forward (perhaps referring to key thinkers and ideas, challenges you’re making to assumptions in the PT, the suitability of personal experiences and other RLSs, points of view that you are considering, and any problems you’ve encountered so far. This will help you to construct an essay plan, and get you fully ready to write your draft essay.
In the third interaction, you’ll go over the written feedback that your teacher has given you for your draft essay, to ensure that you’ve understood all the comments and know how to implement them. After this interaction, you should feel completely ready to write the final version of the essay.
TOK essay pages
The TOK essay rubric
Learn about how the essay is marked, and the skills you are expected to demonstrate in order to succeed. Read more here.
Choosing your TOK essay title
Find out how to evaluate the six prescribed essay titles, and decide on which one will work best for you. Read more here.
The three TOK essay interactions
Learn about the three interactions with your TOK teacher, and what you should be discussing in each one. Read more here.
Writing your TOK essay
Gain a few tips on how to structure your TOK essay, how to articulate your ideas, and ways to justify your claims. Read more here.
The TOK essay rubric
Find out about how to fill in the essay PPF, and why this is an important indication of your engagement with TOK. Read more here.
More support for the TOK essay
Make sure that your TOK teacher has given you access to all the documents and online material that support the essay. These include the TOK Subject Guide, the TOK essay rubric, and exemplar TOK essays (found in ‘MyIB’, which is accessible to teachers).
Make sure you go through our other pages on writing the TOK essay. You’ll find help on understanding what the is looking for, that works for you, what each of the should focus on, how to an effective TOK essay, and how to fill in your .
If your school is a member of theoryofknowledge.net, we have designed a series of lessons on the essay, with two formative assessment tasks. These will familiarize you with the essay rubric, knowledge questions, real-life situations, how to deal with perspectives and implications, and structuring an essay. If you are signed into the site, you can access these lessons here.
You can also find out our thoughts on the TOK essay (and the TOK exhibition) in several webinars that we have delivered. The main one is the TOK Assessment 2022 webinar, but we also consider this form of assessment in our free webinars on the 2022 course. You can see these webinars on this page of the site.
FAQs about the TOK essay
Can I meet my teacher outside the three interactions?
You shouldn’t expect to meet you teacher for long discussions, but you can ask specific questions about aspects of your essay. You can check the suitability of examples, the validity of points you’re trying to make, and the key thinkers and ideas you’re using to explore ideas.
Where do I record what we discussed in the three interactions?
Write a short account of what you have discussed in the interactions straight away. If your school uses ManageBac, this will make your life slightly easier; otherwise, you should fill in the fields of the PPF, which we discuss on.
Can I change my essay title?
Yes, you can change your chosen prescribed title at any point during the essay-writing process, but obviously the longer you leave this, the less time you’ll have to complete it. This is one of the points of the interactions – to identify any problems early on, and, if they can’t be resolved, think about which alternative to move onto.
How to write a TOK essay: webinar
This 80-minute webinar video and presentation gives you a clear, engaging, step-by-step guide to the task, helping you to understand the assessment rubric, choose the right PT, and produce an essay that hits all the assessment targets.
The video is supported by a presentation, and a Q&A debrief answering some of the most common questions asked about writing a TOK essay. Purchase your ticket here.
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